The year was 2005 and I had just boarded a National Express bus in Glastonbury, England. I was well into my ‘round the world’ trip and would soon be jetting off to Canada to live and work in the Rocky Mountains. My attention was drawn to a mother and child walking past the bus. I began to speculate on the perils of parenthood, and in the process, began to draw comparisons to this complete stranger’s life and that of my own. Here I was, free to travel the world, not rooted to the routines and responsibilities of motherhood.
Then a curious thing happened. They boarded my bus, smiled politely and took their seats. The child, a girl of around 5 years old, carried a backpack that was covered in a chaotic collection of geographical patches. They were a German, mother-and-daughter-duo just doing a ‘short trip’ around the UK ‘this time’.
That was really a defining moment for me. I was so inspired by the experience that I vowed to never stop travelling because, as I’d just seen, having kids doesn’t mean you can’t travel – it just changes the way you go about it. Staying true to my promise has meant that I’ve had to find creative ways, or work-arounds, to keep exploring this beautiful continent and beyond.
State of Play
Get the lay of your land by exploring your own ’hood’. You don’t need to travel vast distances to have an amazing holiday. We travel around Victoria all the time. This year, we’ve indulged in some Murray River magic at both Moama and Mildura; we’ve camped at Capel Sound on the Mornington Peninsula; we’ve wandered through rainforests around Healesville and waded through the Yarra River in Warburton. For the recent Melbourne Cup break we camped at Wye River, then had a weekend in Bright. We’ve just returned from Christmas with the family at Rye (we parked our caravan in the driveway!) and finally in a few days time, we will be heading to Phillip Island for a few weeks.
Become a membership maverick
Check out the membership discounts you’re already eligible for from your roadside assistance club to union membership perks. If your kids are over 2 years old and don’t qualify for a free flight, sign them up to a frequent flyer program and pool your points people! My son is a member of Qantas’ Joey Club, so all frequent flyer points he earns will conveniently end up in my account. Invest in a holiday parks membership, we joined BIG4 before we left for our 2-month Australian road trip last year and we saved a lot of money, plus we’re still members.
Develop superhuman organisational skills
This one is important. You need to hustle! Get that annual calendar out and block out possible travel dates. Monitor your work leave balances. Take note of your children’s school curriculum days, list all term breaks and highlight those very welcome public holidays. Book things well in advance – it really does help to either get those good camping spots or membership perks like get 3 nights for the price of 2.
Our recent trip to Wye River was only possible because of a school curriculum day smack bang in the middle of a weekend and Melbourne Cup Day. And, that Bright trip I mentioned earlier, well it was a short 2-night trip (in a cabin, so lux!) so we could squeeze that sucker into a weekend – with the small caveat being that all of us are missed 2 hours of school and work, but I don’t really sweat the small stuff.
As you can see, our wanderlust does not have to be abandoned or shelved like a dusty old encyclopaedia. Sure, we may not be hitting ‘the road’ Jack Kerouac-style, but we can still have glorious adventures travelling with kids in tow and as willing participants. So, where are you off to next?
Note: This article was commissioned by BIG4 Holiday Parks, November 2018.