It’s been on their bucket list for years; travel around Australia and explore the beaches, forests and adventures right in our backyard. But we’ve all heard that before, right?
Our very own Karinda and her family of 5 are making their dream a reality by setting off this week in their caravan for an ‘undetermined’ amount of time driving around the country. This isn’t just a short-lived planned holiday, or a set one year adventure – Karinda and her partner Brendan have years planning, making choices, and setting things in motion to give them the freedom to work on the road for as long, or little as they like.
“COVID-19 was the push we needed to do it. We wanted to take the risk and give us a work-family balance that will allow us to spend time with our three kids before they turn 18.
18 is still a fair way off, but the new lifestyle will give Reef, 11, Aston-Jack (AJ), 3, and Ky, 1 some incredible memories, not to mention endless sand, sun, and ice-cream with their mum and dad.
Karinda and Brendan spent the better part of six months planning the start of their trip, preparing their car and caravan, selling most of what they owned and putting the precious things in storage. To start, they will be heading north for the first six to twelve months, stopping by to visit friends and family and staying in Noosa for a minimum of eight weeks.
So how are they going to balance work and school? It all came down to making smart choices up to this point. Karinda says “we worked so hard to give ourselves this flexibility and chose paths that meant we could work remotely”. Brendan owns small business The Medal Man which he can operate on the go, and Karinda has worked remotely with SF since March 2020. Their eight weeks in Noosa means Ky and AJ are enrolled in childcare three days a week locally, and Reef is enrolled in distance education, having started this year in preparation for the trip.
Their 22ft long caravan is completely self-sufficient with good wifi, clean computer setups, and internal bathroom, meaning they can take advantage of free campsites, off-road camping, and caravan parks on the way. But they’ll mix things up with a planned stay in an AirBNB over Easter.
This mix of available sites means a huge difference to their budget. With a family of five we all want to know whether a trip like this is even affordable. Karinda spelled it out, “we were spending $45,000 a year in rent where we were. We saved and paid for our caravan outright so there is no debt on it. Even if we stayed at paid caravan sites for an entire year, the maximum cost would be $10,000. That’s $30,000 towards our house deposit, let alone the reduced outgoings.”
That leads to the second purpose for the trip – to find their new home. Not sure where best to buy, Karinda and Brendan decided to use the journey to explore parts of Australia they never would have imagined living in. “We might find our dream property in Tasmania a year from now, but we want to see what’s out there.”
Everyone they tell about their plans says ‘that’s what I’ve always wanted to do!’ and Karinda says literally anyone can make it happen. It just comes back to that planning – if you own a home, rent it out and hit the road, cut back on what you own, and weigh up the benefits of not feeling like you have to constantly work to keep your head above water. She says they removed five trailer loads worth of junk for the tip which was a lesson in learning just how much stuff they accumulate. Now they can focus on time with each other rather than time with things.
So is she anxious? Nervous? Will there be things she’ll miss? “I might miss the space but I love that I can clean the caravan in ten minutes” she laughs. The positives outweigh the negatives every time; their space will be the warm outdoors up north, they’ll connect as a family rather than feeling like ships passing in the night, and if they need some stability, they just have to pick a spot, pull over and stay as long as they like.
“No matter what your situation is, it is possible. If this is your dream, do it. Just put the effort in around planning.”
We wish Karinda and her gorgeous family all the best on their adventure. You can keep up with them by following @smiths_ontheroad on Instagram, and follow the SF blog for regular updates.