Our Backpacking Family
Welcome to our family’s travel journal. We’re an average Australian family living and working in Melbourne, and always dreaming of travel adventures. My husband Steve and I both travelled BK (Before Kids) and on our journey together, our lives expanded with four amazing kids, a number of pets, and an acre property. When it was time to come up for air…we realised that throughout all this change there was one constant, lingering yearning: to travel again.
We have honed living a hybrid lifestyle – a mix of ho-hum suburban life that includes careers/jobs, school and sport, mortgage and bills, pets and plants and an adventure-filled, DIY backpacking travel trips. Each time we travel, we seek out authentic experiences, travelling slowly so we have time to immerse in the local communities we visit and create connections with locals people.
On the road (intermittently) since 2012, our family is known as the Sixbackpacks.
Six humans setting off on adventurous travel carrying six backpacks. We waited until our youngest daughter was seven years old – an age we thought she could carry her own backpack – before setting off on our first overseas backpacking travel adventure to Vietnam.
The next journey followed soon after in 2013 to Myanmar (Burma), followed in 2015 to Thailand and Cambodia.
Then we upped the ante in 2017!
We lept in the face of all our fears and uncertainties by embarking on our first family gap year. Our 365-day backpacking journey around the world with our kids was the best year of our lives.
We packed up our entire home, renting out our house, finding long term pet-sitters for our two dogs and one very unfriendly cat. We enrolled our kids into Distance Education and happily swapped our ho-hum life for a year-long travel adventure and followed the sun!
The day had arrived – to do something different; something extraordinary. We wanted to create family memories together. Each year the kids were edging closer to adulthood and it was now or never. We jumped!
Dream, Plan, Save and Go…repeat! Dream, Plan, Save and Go.
‘Living the dream’ in Australia was an exhausting and unrelenting experience of the triad – home-work-school – that made life repetitive, uninspiring and so ho-hum.
You know how it goes, when I wasn’t working, I was cleaning or cooking, and when I wasn’t cleaning or cooking I was transporting kids to netball training, friends’ houses, and collecting them at midnight from teen parties.
I know I’m not the only parent who’s had to manage this scenario, but I also know what I really wanted was something else in my life and my family’s life.
So I got curious about what our life could look like outside of ho-hum ordinariness.
After discussions outlining the pros and cons and changing our minds several times with yes-no and maybes, we finally made the decision. We purchased one-way international plane tickets. It was real. All that was between us and going was a countdown of time. We were going on a family gap year, backpacking all of 2017.
I quit my job; Steve took a combination of long service leave, annual leave and leave without pay. The home renovation – an extra bedroom or two plus a modern kitchen set on ice. We knew that when we were old and feeble, stuck at home unable to go on gap year adventures, we would not regret this decision and think I wish we completed that renovation when the kids were young!
Once we booked those one-way tickets, the relief that we had finally made the decision settled easily and comfortably. At times we felt both excited terrified about our decision – negative niggles crept into our minds. But over time, we both felt a sense of following our passion and going after our purpose was the right way.
We saved by syphoning my pay into another account while living off the other. We went without the first world material wants. Our goal (and departure date) was bigger than any of that and it was real in front of us.
We downloaded a countdown app and as each day passed got more excited. No more credit cards, no more debt. We gave up drinking alcohol for an entire 10 months and the money we saved purchased 6 ONE-WAY tickets to Langkawi Island, Malaysia. No jokes!
There’s something sweet about saying one-way tickets that just sounds so pleasant. I’ll repeat it again…SIX ONE-WAY PLANE TICKETS!
For Steve and me, the decision to go felt so right. But for our four daughters, well they were less than impressed with the thought of travelling with their parents for an entire year. Unable to hang out with their friends was the hardest one to manage.
Here’s a video interview I filmed 60 days before departing on our family backpacking adventure. It gives an insight into how our quirky tribe actually felt about the trip but also shows some of the issues we’ve had to manage and navigate along the journey.
Feel free to say hi or send us your comments on our contact page or on one of our blog posts. We’d love to hear from you!