This is the second of four Fun Extended Family Travel Itineraries that are included on the blog Extended Family Travel – Fun Itineraries (go figure)
The first trip we discussed, Lengthy Stays at Prime Destinations, had you choose a few destinations, rent accommodation and live a few months in each chosen locale. Maybe you prefer to be a little more mobile on your vacation? Maybe a year in constant motion does sound enticing as long as it was affordable and you didn’t have to pack and unpack all the time? What about buying a home on wheels? That’s right, a motor home, campervan, trailer, or whatever you like. ‘But I want to travel far away from home’ you may say. I would then say, ‘Travel to that far away place and buy one there’. North America, Australia, and Europe are great places to explore on wheels so why not try it? Renting is not a realistic option for the length of time we will be gone. There are a few leasing opportunities but with what I have seen, buying and selling is still your best option. You will need to obtain money ahead of time but selling your current mode of transportation and unneeded luxuries is a good place to start. You will get a good portion of your money back when you sell it at the end.
Before we had kids, Lisa and I did a very similar trip to Australia and we feel our experiences would have been great for families (we saw quite a few of them on the road). ‘Tell me about how you would do this trip now with a family’ you say? ‘I think I will’.
This trip will have 3 components (unless you currently live in Australia): Your trip to Australia, your trip in Australia, and your trip home from Australia. Australia, the isolated nation it is, has some pretty cool places to see en-route and I would strongly recommend at least one stop on the way to and from Australia. If you are coming from North America the South Pacific Islands make perfect stopovers. Don’t do Hawaii on this trip as this is your opportunity to see countries like Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia and others. Many Asian stopovers would fit perfectly if coming from the other direction. Before you go you will have to get your Visas in order for Australia and you may find that you can only stay for 3 or 6 months at a time. You may have to exit the country and then re-enter on another tourist visa to complete your Aussie trip. You can get relatively affordable flights to the South Pacific, Thailand, Bali, or New Zealand. New Zealand is close to nothing except Australia so if you have the desire to see this country sometime in your lifetime (and why wouldn’t you), this should be the perfect opportunity. Let’s say we got a 12 month Visa before we left so we will spend 10 days in the Cook Islands, 4 weeks in New Zealand, before landing in Brisbane Australia (I chose Brisbane as it is a good sized city but not as overwhelming as Sydney or Melbourne).
You may be inclined to have your transportation chosen before you arrive but I prefer to do all that after arrival. I recommend booking centrally located accommodation for a couple of weeks to give you time to get oriented and to find your RV. When Lisa and I did our trip we bought a station wagon and lived in a tent for 9 months. You can easily tent your way through Australia with a family, and it is a lot cheaper to buy a car then a RV and the climate is great for it, but you may find the added convenience worthy of a larger investment. If you are coming from a country that drives on the right than I would recommend renting a car for at least a day as you may not want your first experience with driving on the wrong side of the road to be behind the wheel of an unfamiliar RV. Once you find the perfect vehicle and have outfitted and adjusted it to fit your family, then it is time to hit the road.
Planning the driving portion of your trip is easy as all you have to figure out is if you want to go clockwise or counter clockwise. The ideal direction would depend on what time of year you are travelling. In Australia somewhere is always nice. Camping in the far south in the winter can be chilly and summer months in the tropical north can be wet and stifling hot. I would suggest that south in summer (June through September) and north in winter (December through February) is a good guideline. Going all the way round, plus a trip to the center to Uluru (Ayer’s Rock) Coober Pedy and Alice Springs, is a very long drive but can still be a relaxing holiday if you take your time. You will find some places just too nice to rush by and may stay a few extra nights or weeks. Must sees from our perspective are the Great Barrier Reef, Sunshine Coast, Sydney, Uluru, South of Perth, Ningaloo Reef, Karijini National Park, and Kakadu National Park though there are so many other great sights. Kids will absolutely love the animal and bird life as it is fascinating and abundant. I would not call Australia a beautiful country but it is unique and fascinating and worthy of a long look.
You will want to make your final stop a long one as you will need to sell your RV. This can be nerve-racking and I would suggest not holding out to find the best deal possible but don’t rip yourself off either. The best way to calm the nerves is not to have your return flight planned until you leave. We arrived on a one-way ticket and we figured out our way home when we were ready. Since we saw some of the South Pacific and New Zealand on the way down I think a trip to Indonesia (Bali, Lombok or others), Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, or other countries of interest.
You can trust us that this trip is fantastic and it would be amazing to take our kids on this type of adventure. You can easily do a similar trip in North America or Europe (which really intrigues me), it just depends on what interests you the most. I decided to save Europe for Fun Itinerary #3 which is quite similar with a twist. I can’t wait.