Our personal ‘Explore Australia’ TRAVEL STORY began in November 2015 over lamb chops and a two bottles of Pepperjack Shiraz. “I think we should travel around Australia for 12months. Will you come with me?” John blurted out while he topped up my glass of Shiraz. I knew instantly the answer was YES but I couldn’t help but ask, “How will we afford it? And “How will we travel?”. Over two bottles of wine that night we began to nut out basic ideas, and our dream first came to life.
During the next six months, we privately started plotting how we would make the trip work, only telling a handful of close family and friends our plans. Early December we opened a joint bank account and committed to saving travel money. In January we bought a Howling Moon Rooftop Tent and loaded it to our Nissan Patrol. John started refitting the truck to cater for our remote travels in February, and by early May, I had given notice to my employer.
We’ve compiled a list of topics below that we are often asked by other travellers. We hope that our experiences and advice may answer your questions or assist you with your preparations for your big adventure.
OUR TIPS FOR SAVING MONEY
- OPEN A TRAVEL SAVINGS ACCOUNT
Any amount of money that we would’ve spent on unnecessary purchases we transferred the dollar amount to our Travel Savings Account.
When I wanted to indulge in a manicure/pedicure or purchase ‘unnecessary items’, I chose not to and instead transferred that exact amount of money to the savings account.
A Manicure would have cost me $40. Instead, we SAVED $40
We quit ordering Takeaway and cooked dinner and TRANSFERRED $50 to our account.
John stopped eating lunch out regularly and SET ASIDE that money to the account.
- START SELLING on GUMTREE
Since our life was about to become very minimal on the road, we began to minimise our home, sorting through our belongings and selling anything on Gumtree that was not of importance or use to us. All the money we made was transferred straight to our TRAVEL ACCOUNT. Within months our funds were growing rapidly, and we realised that by having our TRAVEL GOAL firm within our reach we didn’t ‘want’ for many ‘extras’ in life.
These methods of saving worked really well for us and by seeing quick growth in our money, we were inspired to save more!
RENTING OUT OUR PROPERTIES
Thankfully we weren’t in a position that we needed to sell our houses to afford to travel. One of our houses was currently rented through a Real Estate agency and with the home we lived in, we decided that instead of paying for a storage unit for our contents, we would rent out the house fully furnished to trustworthy friends. We packed our personal belongings into the third room, closed the door and let go of any emotional attachment to our ‘stuff’ and confidently handed over the keys. After almost two years on the road thankfully it worked well for us. Our tenants were brilliant, we didn’t have too many issues with the property, and when we came home, that familiar feeling was there without the fuss and effort of having to move all our gear back in.
HINT: In your ‘planning phase’ seriously consider what is best for you and your financial situation. What’s the point of paying big bucks in storage if you are planning on being away for years? Maybe downsizing and selling up is the right thing to do. Or if you’re like us, find that suitable friend or family member who is needing a house to rent.
COST OF LIVING ON THE ROAD versus COST OF LIVING AT HOME
People often ask, “How do you afford life on the road?” In all honesty, we found that life on the road is a lot cheaper than living at home! So much of what we experienced travelling was FREE which meant we weren’t constantly spending to have a memorable time.
- You’ve got less space to carry “stuff” so you can’t consume “shit”.
- We were only paying for one Vehicle and Registration versus two.
- You cut down on Utility Bills!
- No gym costs and all those extra costs and events you tend to go along to.
- Your fridge/freezer/storage space is smaller on the road, so you aren’t buying food you don’t need.
- On the road, we didn’t purchase unnecessary clothing items ($30), go to the movies ($40), indulge in manicures/pedicures ($70) or trips to the pub with the boys ($100)….. you get the point ?!
“TRAVEL WILL MAKE OR BREAK YOUR RELATIONSHIP ”
If I had $1 for every time someone said that to us before departing, we would be loaded and travelling the WORLD in our Rig! Yes, travelling in small spaces tests your relationship but if you are solid, to begin with, and share a sense of adventure, you will be fine. Our biggest advice is to be patient with each other, take time out for your personal space and learn quickly to “build a bridge and get over it” if you have an argument.
One thing that worked well for us was having an hour or so a day (if possible) for solo time. I would exercise while John would go fishing and we had some time out. We didn’t always need it but it was important to give each other some space every now and again.
Living in the Patrol and Rooftop Tent, travelling through remote areas has been the best thing we’ve experienced (so far) as a couple. We’ve learnt to compromise, coexist and most of all, be a TEAM. There were certainly days we got frustrated and angry with each other, but overall, our trip was amazing, and we collected memories that we will reminisce about for years.
WHY WE CHOSE A ROOFTOP TENT
It was an easy decision! There was no chance I wanted to sleep in a Swag for a year or two, John wasn’t interested in towing a Camper trailer, and Caravans aren’t our thing! The destinations we had on our ‘4WD Bucket List’ list were very remote, rugged and much easier to explore when you don’t have to tow anything. Our style of travelling is minimal and efficient, so we wanted a set-up that matched this and wouldn’t cause us hassles. We needed a home on our Patrol that we could rely on, that could withstand ALL types of weather, was easy to set-up and pack down and kept us comfortable. John did plenty of market research, and we settled on the 1.4m x 2.4m Howling Moon Stargazer RTT after personally meeting Andre from Howling Moon on the Gold Coast and jumping up inside a tent he had on display.
We are happy we spent the money and got one of the best RTT’s on the market. You pay for what you get, and there was no way we wanted some cheap ass RTT that wouldn’t be comfortable and would leak in the rain! We’ve had no issues with ours in any of the crazy weather it’s been in and trust us, it’s been in some hectic weather! RTT’s aren’t for everyone so seriously think about what style of traveller you are, what you want from your trip and what luxury is important to you.
Advice from us:
1) Spend the $$ and buy a quality version if you’re planning on having it for a while.
2) If you pee a lot in the night, tend to drink lots of alcohol and can’t handle going up and down a ladder when you are wasted then a RTT may not be the best option for you!
If you missed our 2017 Travel Highlights, check out it below.