Hey you’re here! Welcome to our crazy family travel journal blog space. We’re Six Backpacks a family living the travel adventure. I’d like to introduce our family. We’re an Aussie family of six who have fallen in love with family travel – more to the point family backpacking adventures. We value authentic cultural experiences, exploring our friendly globe and connecting with people. Pretty much everything the world has to offer count us in (except bungi jumping for me!).
Since 2012 we have been traveling together as a family and in 2017 we took a leap of faith and have been backpacking full time around the world.
So how did it this obsession with family backpacking travel start? Well the origins of that particular story take us back to the previous century. Yep that’s right…back to 1999 when Steve and I got hitched and set off on our own two-month backpacking honeymoon across South East Asia.
We backpacked to the amazing countries of Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. It was on our unique honeymoon that we were so taken by the ease of traveling in these countries and of course the local’s friendliness that we made a promise for a future we had no certainty in yet. The promise was that if we were ever blessed to have children, we would take our family backpacking to Vietnam.
Why Vietnam and not any of the other beautiful countries and places we visited?
- the people.
- the food.
- the atmosphere.
We are the kind of couple that keeps our promises too.
After birthing, burping and raising four babies in five years, living off Steve’s wage for a decade while I took time out from my marketing career to be a stay at home mum, and by the age we felt our youngest could carry her own backpack, we were ready to fulfil our Vietnamese promise.
In 2012 we travelled to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for a two-day stop over to acclimatize to the warmer climate, different food and living conditions and spent five whole weeks family backpacking from north to south Vietnam via trains, buses, boats and taxis. It was so so so so much fun! Our traveling family connected so deeply to each other on the backpacking road that I yearned to continue the journey. Who wouldn’t?
But normal life commitments shouted back, and we returned to Australia with our hearts and minds filled with amazing memories and awesome stories. Being the more creative type, I created our very own heirloom: a travel coffee table book. Check it out…Six Backpacks – A Journey Through Vietnam.
I call it an heirloom because what could be more valuable than the collection of experiences and journey a family can go through together? Nothing in my opinion. Once they’re created, they belong to us to reminisce, share and laugh about. Our special keep sake is made up of the very first blog posts I wrote while traveling on our first family backpacking trip to Vietnam. That five weeks to Vietnam was so rewarding that when we returned home I struggled adapting back into normal life. I felt alone in an environment I didn’t quite fit into any more. My world had been irrevocably changed forever. There was no going back. But normal life in Australia went on. Steve returned to work, the kids went back to school, and I stayed at home in a wishful, longing travel daze.
And do you know what the best remedy for travel withdrawal is? Dream up and book another family backpacking adventure of course!
There’s nothing quite like the distraction from the woes of normal life like another family backpacking adventure. This time we decided to explore the unknown country Myanmar (Burma). In 2013 we traveled to Penang, Malaysia for a couple of days (you know the drill – acclimatize etc) and then onto Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon. First thoughts Yangon: an ant hill! People and vehicles teeming everywhere and the old buildings a mysterious sight.
We spent four glorious weeks stretching-our-perspectives in Myanmar visiting its major cities and the beautiful people in Yangon, Mandalay, temple strewn Bagan, Inle Lake and finally Chaung Tha beach.
Unfortunately after we returned from that family trip, the money tree died. Living on a single wage with a mortgage and four kids in Australia while jetting off to explore the world for a month every year was proving obviously unsustainable. The following year (2014) was a year of staying in Australia and me looking for work to alleviate financial pressures.
However, in 2015 we were fortunate to receive a family travel gift from my parents. They organised a 2-week family holiday in Phuket, Thailand for the extended family. And as any good longer term traveler thinks, since we were already in South East Asia…we could spend a teeny weeny extra time in Cambodia…yes? Of course! We made it happen and relished being back out in the world exploring the Cambodian cities and countryside and appreciating its people and culture.
We invited Andrea, my amazing sister-in-law, and our two nephews to join us for their first backpacking adventure in Siem Reap and we spent two weeks together. The mixing of travel with extended family was an amazing cocktail of fun and one we will all cherish with lasting travel memories together.
2016 came around very quickly. I accepted a work promotion which willingly flooded the bank account (finally) but working longer hours and taking on more managerial responsibilities had the opposite effect on my time. Unwillingly I lost time working for other people’s dreams and visions.
There seemed to be less hours for me in every day for me and my family. Where was the connection which was fostered on the family backpacking road? I was living my life as if I were a robot, switched to automatic pilot, trying to do and be everything, always attempting to stream line my life but in the end taking short cuts to pull it all off.
‘Living the dream’ was exhausting and the omnipresent triad of home-work-school duties made life empty and down right un-motivating. When I wasn’t working, I’d be cleaning or cooking, and when I wasn’t cleaning or cooking I was ferrying kids to netball training, friends houses, and picking them up at midnight parties. When I had time to myself I was lost in free time haziness. You know the drill. Nothing abnormal in so many other families and households ‘living the dream’.
But I was starting to wonder and get curious about what life is actually meant to look like? Our growing daughters were getting taller and older and their final years of primary and secondary school were approaching like a freight train.
Then we took a leap of faith. After much discussion and many nights of changing our minds and debating the yes-no and maybes, we made the decision to take our family on a wild safari adventure and backpack the world throughout 2017. I quit my job; Steve took a combination of long service leave and leave without pay. The home renovation – an extra bedroom and a modern kitchen – could wait. We realised that on our death bed we were fairly certain we would not say “I wish we had have completed that reno when the kids were young”.
We were relieved and happy as well as confronted and terrified about our decision but both felt a sense of purpose flow back into our lives. We saved like crazy siphoning my wage into another account while living off Steve’s. We went without purchasing all the usual materialistic crap we think we needed but it was easy to do this now. We had a big goal in front of us now – traveling the world with our family. This amazing journey was now waiting for us. No more credit cards, no more debt. We even gave up drinking alcohol for an entire 10 months and the money saved by doing this meant we could purchase SIX ONE WAY tickets to Langkawi Island, Malaysia to begin our year of travel (there’s something about saying one way that just sounds so pleasant to my ears). I’ll repeat here folks…SIX ONE WAY PLANE TICKETS!
For Steve and me, the decision felt right. But for our four daughters, well they were less than impressed with the thought of traveling with their parents for an entire year.
This is a video interview I conducted in our lounge room 60 days before departing for our family backpacking adventure. It gives an look at how crazy-funny my tribe actually are but also shows some of the ‘issues’ we’ve had to weed though.
We didn’t have all the answers, sorry we didn’t have the answers that they necessarily wanted to hear! They wanted the issue of our family traveling for a year to disappear. And when the decision wasn’t overturned, we invested time in having open conversations about why we had made the choice to travel, and shared travel plans and different perspectives on how long they perceived a year compared to the rest of their life. They slowly came round to accepting the reality of what we were creating. Their comfortable existence in Australia was about to be interrupted with an amazing opportunity of traveling around the world for an entire year.
And here we are! So far in 2017 we have been to Malaysia, India, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Cyprus, England (quick visit), Laos, and currently we’re in Vietnam. We have one stop to go before heading back home to Australia in December (Q&A: why do we really have to go back?) and that’s to Indonesia.
It’s been slow family backpacking travel with lots of moments experienced and recorded in our memories, blog words and Insta photos. I’d love to think that I could create another book about our round the world family travel adventures. Additionally, our eldest daughter Charlie started her own travel vlog on the road.
We’re still in the midst of our year of travel. We’re still on the backpacking road traveling the world until the end of 2017 and enjoying the freedom and challenges that come with traveling with four teenage girls. And when I reflect back at blog posts and photos, I’m reminded of why I originally set up the Six Backpacks blog in 2012. It’s always been my intention to use this space as an online journal to keep in touch with family and friends back home, to share the experience with them in words, photos and videos, and for us as a family to have something as a keepsake aka the family heirloom. A personal treasure trove of moments in time on the family travel backpacking road, so that our travel moments and experiences are kept alive for all of us into the future.
I hope you enjoy reading our Six Backpacks family travel journal. Thanks for visiting and taking a look around. Please send us a comment on our Contact Us page or on one of the blog posts. We’d love to connect with you, and other traveling families wherever you are in the world.