Everybody copes with travel differently – some are happy to spend years out on the road travelling a nomadic type lifestyle. We came across a number of people like this; Jan, who we met at Genoa is an example. She’s a single middle-to-older aged lady and has been on the road for 14 years now, and had a motorhome identical to ours! Then there are others who can’t stand being away from home/work for more than a week or two, and just have to get back regardless of what further travels were planned!
Myself? I really enjoyed the trip, but would not like to live in that manner permanently. Not enough stimulation for me – I enjoy the challenges in my job and the stimulation it provides. Around the 4th month I did check work emails a few times, till my phone broke and the new one didn’t have work email set up on it (guess if I was keen I would have logged in via the notebook). Perhaps it would be possible to include more technical/engineering type stimulation into travelling, but the people management side of things would be harder! Or perhaps I’m not thinking broad enough and there are other activities I could do that would keep me on my toes. I guess the short story is that I thoroughly relaxed and enjoyed the trip, and was not bored, but I’m also not about to give up my job and go living like that for good! A trip like this once every 5-10 years sounds nice. 🙂
Writing this blog probably helped me a little, both in terms of a task/goal and in terms of contact/relationships with people. Of course there was also direct contact with family and friends via phone, texts etc. Nicole enjoyed the travelling lifestyle (except for the dirt roads 😉 ). It really suited her! She may have become a little anxious in the final month or two, but I think that was actually due to the thought of having to come back, more than the long time spent on the road!
We all generally got on very well, but I certainly won’t say everything was perfect! We had our fair share of annoyances with each other. A bit of friction between family members is usual though… During the day, I think the level at which we ‘got on’ was pretty similar to normal life back in the burbs. Which is a big positive/improvement considering we were spending a lot more time in close proximity with each other. More grumpiness and associated negative actions tended to be displayed at/after bed time however…
I’ve mentioned it previously, but I think managing bedtime was the single biggest practical problem we faced the whole 6 months. Daniel needs more sleep than Jonathan, and getting him off to bed, and asleep, was very difficult. Not because he wasn’t willing to try, but in a small space such as the motorhome there is no quiet bedroom you can go to – to shut out the noise and light emanating from other peoples activities.
We had something working reasonably well by the third month, but then we entered South Australia. Its timezone, combined with twilight, seemed to throw everything off again. We completely changed sleeping arrangements in the final month – Daniel went to the bed over the cab, by himself, as that that has a curtain that shuts the light out fairly well. Nicole and I went to the back bed, and Jonathan moved to the centre bed (which we now had to put up and down each night, but it wasn’t too bad). This arrangement was an improvement, but I was still looking forward to 3 separate bedrooms on arrival back in Brisbane!!!
The boys? Well lets just say they are not looking forward to going back to school! I’m sure they will be fine when it happens, but being on holidays (even if doing some schoolwork) is definitely preferred. However, they are keen to see friends again in person. They were not isolated from friends during the trip – hours were spent on the game minecraft (to Nicole’s disgust), whilst talking via Skype to coordinate their game activities (and general catching up) with various friends. Don’t worry, they did see Australia too! They can remember places and things that I’ve forgotten already. It has been a real educational experience for them, and I think they have grown lots (not just in height..).
They say a relaxed outdoors type lifestyle is good for your health, and it would seem that there is certainly some truth to that. About 3 months into the trip, Jonathan realised that his eczema had completely disappeared! He’s had it quite bad on his hands and feet for years, and had to use steroid cream to keep it at a manageable level. Seems it is starting to come back now though. My guess is that it was the sun exposure (we didn’t get a lot in the second half, thanks to frequent overcast weather down south), but humidity is another possibility.
What was the most enjoyable part of living on the road? Well of course there is the natural beauty that is everywhere. Once you get out of the cities, it’s inescapeable. There is the relaxed feeling of knowing you have no set plans or things that have to be done, but can take each day as it comes. Combine that with the comforts of a motorhome that has everything you need – an onboard fridge, cooking equipment, toilet, beds etc. Then throw in modern communications – being able to talk/communicate with anyone you want around the world. Wow, that’s pretty good – relaxing in the beauty of far flung places, in comfort, whilst still being in contact with friends and family.
But as good as that sounds, even better was catching up with friends and family in person. We hadn’t expected to meet up with as many friends and family as we did – all around the country – but are pleased we did so. One of our most enjoyable times combined these two factors – when we caught up with friends Nikki and her girls, and explored the natural beauty of central Australia together with them.
We’ll remember much from this trip, but some (all?) memories will gradually fade (they already are). You can be sure that the times we spent with other people, and the closest times we had together as a family, will be those that we remember the best.