Caravanning Australia reader Emily Harrison and her family embarked on a 12-month gap year to travel around the country. Here is part 1 of her experience with travelling the country on a budget.
When my husband and I started thinking about taking 12 months out of our lives to do the Big Lap, most of the families we started following on Facebook and Instagram had huge rigs we couldn’t afford, had sold their homes to fund their trip, and were travelling indefinitely. While we knew we wanted to take 12 months out to travel with our two kids, Master 7 and Miss 4, we weren’t planning a long-term lifestyle change – we wanted to be able to come home at the end of it.
We also didn’t own a caravan and unfortunately, didn’t have a bottomless pit of savings. So, we had two options: wait a few years while we saved up enough to buy a big caravan, a new car and fund our trip; or take a gap year on a budget. We decided on the latter. After all, our priority was to spend time together as a family before Miss 4 started kindergarten this year, not to live in luxury and go to every tourist attraction possible.
So instead of buying a huge new rig, we bought an older, second-hand caravan that we could tow with our existing car. We sold our second car, took leave from work, signed Master 7 up to distance education, and then we left – just four months after we had made the decision to do it.
We only had a very rough plan – the direction in which we were travelling (anti-clockwise to chase the sun and escape winter) – but that made the experience more enjoyable overall. We didn’t need to stick to a schedule as we were never in a rush. To be honest, it was hard for me to adjust to at first – I’m a planner who loves to be organised – but we stayed at some amazing places based on the recommendations of people we met along the way, places we wouldn’t have stopped at if we’d planned every campsite in advance.
If you’d like to follow our journey, check out @our.family.gap.year on Instagram and Facebook, or have a look at our blog https://ourfamilygapyear.home.blog
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Image courtesy of Emily Harrison, @our.family.gap.year