Our Journey So Far
So it is that six months living on the road traveling Australia in our caravan has passed. It’s hard to believe. But what a time we have had!
Chika our six year old border collie is loving this life as much as we are. Admittedly traveling with a dog has some restrictions and limitations but it is what it is and we have very rarely felt we have had to miss out on what we want to do. Chika although she is a reactive dog with anxieties, she is also a whole lot of fun and being on the road has been immensely beneficial to her.
Our journey started in the Blue Mountains two hours west of Sydney where we lived for over ten years. Our first major destination was Melbourne to get the ferry, Spirit of Tasmania to Tasmania. For fifteen weeks and a little over 6000 kilometres we caravanned the isle of Tasmania for the summer. See our series of articles on Tasmania here to find out what we did and how we kept our campground fees to $3 per week.
After Tasmania we travelled through the Gippslands and the South Coast of New South Wales over six weeks before we returned to the Blue Mountains for a few weeks to see our family and friends. Currently we are in the Hunter region of New South Wales.
What stands out to me when I look at a map of our journey so far is how little of this big wide country we have seen. It feels both exciting and a little overwhelming how much there is to see and do. Then I remember to breathe and live in the moment of today, this really is living and I look forward for the next six months and the years beyond that.
Our Six Month Stats
Duration: 182 days (as of 28 May 2018)
Distance: 11119 kilometres; 1853 per month, 427 per week; 61 per day
Costs: $1.19 per kilometre
Fuel consumption: 20 litres per 100 kilometres
Family and friends seen: 45
Tyres replaced: 6 (2 blow outs on the caravan and 4 on the car for registration
Kilograms lost: Daryl 12, Emma 2 and Chika 0
Number of years younger we look: Daryl 0, Emma 10, Chika 0
Number of blog articles: 24 (including this one)
Our Budget – How Did We Do?
Living on the road rather than doing a big lap over six months or a year means that we are both restricted in our budget as we need to make our savings stretch as much as possible and unrestricted in the speed we to have travel at. Taking this into account and with much deliberation and consideration prior to starting our life on the road we set a budget of $500 per week all inclusive including day to day living expenses, annual expenses such as insurances and registrations and for returning home to see family and friends. How we decided our budget and tips for deciding yours is discussed in our article Budgeting for Ongoing Travel Around Australia.
How did we go on $500 per week for two adults and one dog? We overspent our budget by $286 for the entire six months (see expenses below). Not bad if I do say so myself. In addition we also purchased a return ticket on the Spirit of Tasmania for us and our rig as well as a second hand kayak.
How did we keep to our budget? We did a few things but the main thing we did was allocate ourselves $400 per week for day to day expenses which we paid to ourselves from our savings account to our spending account each week. This meant $100 per week was allocated to expenses such as insurances.
To keep to our budget we:
- Free and low cost camp. Not once have we stayed in a caravan park and nor do we want to. We are set up to free camp and it is our preference.
- Cooking supplies. We have more space in our caravan dedicated to cooking supplies than any other single thing we carry. This includes food basics from flour to butter, sugar to herbs and spices, as well as cooking equipment and food storage. This means we can prepare and cook just about anything we want with just a few additions from the supermarket such as fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy products and meat.
- Prepare our own meals. We also almost exclusively eat food we have prepared in our caravan. It’s not that we never eat out, it is for us an occasion saved for when we are in the company of new or old friends or when we are celebrating six months living on the road!
- Enjoy free activities. There is so much to do out there that doesn’t cost a cent.
- Prioritised and budgeted for paid tours and activities. It wasn’t that we never paid to do things, we did however select what we really wanted to do and put aside an amount each week to pay for these so that we wouldn’t blow our budget in an particular week.
- Hand wash laundry regularly and make use of cheap laundromats or friends washing machines. A tub, water and wool wash to soak clothes overnight, wrung out and hung out the next day to dry is an easy way to wash most of the time.
- Travel slow and limit our kilometres each week. This is one of the benefits of living on the road full time, we are not time limited and can if we have spent our budget for the week, set up camp in one spot and wait until we ‘pay ourselves’ again.
- Repay ourselves any overspend. By this I mean if we go over budget in a week the next week we take that money from the next week. For example in one week we had to replace the tail lights on the caravan which put us over budget $35 (I think from memory), the next week I transferred back to our savings $35 from our $400 spending money.
Our budget going forward for the six 6 months? Our next part of our journey will take us to Queensland (at least this is the plan as of today but could change at any time), with rising petrol prices (predicted increase to an average of $1.60 per litre), Daryl and I deciding what paid tours and activities we may want to do in that time, there is potential we will increase our weekly budget by as much as $100 per week.
What Did We Spend Our Money On?
So here is a breakdown of our expenses over the last 6 months all inclusive:
- Fuel: $3199.44 total = $17.60 per day, $123.06 per week or $533.24 per month
- Groceries: $3155.24 total = $17.34 per day, $121.36 per week or $525.87 per month
- Car and Caravan Insurances and Registrations, Roadside Service (six months): $1561 total = $8.58 per day, $60.04 per week or $260.17 per month
- Car and Caravan Maintenance: $1556.98 total = $8.55 per day, $59.88 per week or $259.50 per month
- Mobiles and Internet: $707 total = $3.88 per day, $27.19 per week or $117.83 per month
- Tours, Entertainment and Activities: $629.90 total = $3.46 per day, $24.23 per week or $104.98 per month
- Alcohol, Takeaway, Restaurants and Pubs: $425.74 total = $2.34 per day, $16.37 per week or $70.96 per month
- Odd and Sods: $406.86 total = $2.24 per day, $15.65 per week or $67.81 per month
- Chemist, Dental and Medical: $400 total = $2.20 per day, $15.38 per week or $66.67 per month
- Campground Fees and Donations: $334 total = $1.84 per day, $12.84 per week or $55.67 per month
- Gifts: $312.95 total = $1.78 per day, $12.04 per week or $52.16 per month
- Gas: $180 total = $0.99 per day, $6.92 per week or $30 per month
- Golf Comp Fees: $147.50
- Op Shops: $97.50
- Postage: $74.75
- Showers: $48
- Parking: $23
- Laundry: $22
- Dog Minding: $5
Total = $13286.86 =$73 per day, $511.04 per week or $2214.48 per month
Overspend = $286 total = $1.57 per day, $11 per week or $47.67 per month
Other expenses not included:
Spirit of Tasmania: $1645
Top 10 Lessons From Six Months Living On The Road
Here’s our top 10 lessons from our first six months on the road:
1. Your most precious and valuable things are your time, your health and your relationships with those you love.
2. Water is invaluable.
3. Experiences and making memories is more important than stuff.
4. Life really is simpler and better with less possessions. Live by, if you don’t use it loose it.
5. Travel does wonders for your relationship with your spouse or partner.
6. Flexibility when planning your travels is important; have a plan but go where the wind (opportunity) takes you.
7. Slow down and take time to look around. You never know what you will discover, see or experience.
8. Is a must be organised. Living in or out of a space as small as a caravan and a 4WD demands organisation if you are to remain sane.
9. Be grateful.
10. Laundry, dishes, cooking and dusting are chores that cannot be avoided.
The Best Bits So Far
These were hard to pick! with so many great places visited, lovely campgrounds and brilliant things we fortunate to be able to do.
Our Favourite Places
Emma: Cradle Mountain, Stanley and West Coast in Tasmania as well as Bermagui and Narooma on the Sapphire Coast New South Wales.
Daryl: Boat Harbour, Cradle Mountain in Tasmania and Bermagui NSW.
Chika: Any off leash beach with no other dogs.
Our Favourite Campgrounds
Emma: Boat Harbour, Lake Gardiner in Tasmania and Kurth Kiln Scout Loop Camping Area in Victoria.
Daryl: Policeman’s Point Ansons Bay, Lagoons Beach Campground in Tasmania and Ludlows Reserve in Victoria.
Chika: Any campground she got to be off leash because there were no other campers, dogs or road nearby.
The Absolute Highlights
Emma: Kayaking with dolphins on Lake Wellington in Victoria, alking Cradle Mountain trails and Cape Raoul in Tasmania.
Daryl: Cradle Mountain, Port Arthur and Wineglass Bay in Tasmania and the seals in Narooma.
Chika: Any beach she could get on, be off leash and have her own space away from other dogs. The beach is her happy place. And adopting Blue (favourite toy) from an op shop in Beaconsfield Tasmania.
The Not So Good Bits
Travelling doesn’t have too many no good things. For me the stand out one is missing those I love particularly our children and niece. We keep in contact through phone and video chats, messaging and just this month went back to the Blue Mountains to see them.
The others for me is rubbish and road corrugations. Rubbish left behind by other humans is a behaviour I fail to understand and gets me enraged. I mean really WTF! Road corrugations which seems petty in the grand scheme of things are just no fun in my book.
Daryl’s golf game and therefore his handicap has suffered as it is more difficult to play in local competitions than we anticipated. This is his bug bare. It is usually due to comps not being on the day we are in town or conflicting with other plans. Also honestly the amount some clubs charge for comp fees plus green fees is criminal. Daryl also misses the convenience of having a washing machine.
Where To Next For Our Wayfaring Life?
Good question and one we have asked ourselves, answered and changed our minds multiple times. First we were going to South Australia but decided we wanted to go north where it is warmer for the winter. Then we planned to go north to Queensland travelling up to Rockhampton, across to Mount Isa, then to Uluru and then onto South Australia. Now think if we go to Queensland why not do all of Queensland while we are there? So our plan is now to make our way through northern NSW to Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast where we have friends and family to visit over the next couple of months and decide our next leg after that. We will go where the wind takes us.
Finding work for short stints is also on the agenda in the next six months. After visiting Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast we may just go where we get work. Time will tell.
Originally written and published: 30 May 2018
Edited and republished: 13 December 2019