How To Make 'The Big Lap' A Reality
Packing up and taking a year off work to travel and do the big lap of Australia is the great Australian dream. Nearly everyone I know would love to do this……Just imagine sleeping in everyday, spending your days exploring and going on adventures in different locations every week! And when the day is over you can sit around a camp fire on the beach with a cold drink and watch the sunset. Sounds pretty amazing right?
Where do we sign up I hear you ask?
Let’s delve deep into making this BIG LAP happen!
Table of Contents
Step 1- Work Out How To Take A Year Off Work
Do you want it bad enough? Now this may seem like a silly question but it is one that has to be addressed at the start. Both you and your partner need to be both onboard to fully commit to the plan you are about to make and to both save together.
I suggest grab a drink and set out a night to talk over the logistics of taking a year off to do the big lap of Australia. Weigh up your pros and cons of doing the big lap and see where you both sit with the idea. Getting on the same page is important and will make this rad life decision a fun one! In this step have the discussion on how you can take a year off work.
Long Service Leave– This is an option for some spouses and can be used to your advantage. If long service leave is available in three years then save during those years and buy your caravan or set it up in that time.
Take A Year Off Work– Taking a year off work can be that you ask your boss to take a year off and still have a job when you return. This would be a great option. All you need to do is save the money and buy your set-up.
Quit Your Job– The other option is to quit your job and apply for a new job when you return.
Work Along The Way– If you are struggling to find options, don’t forget to look into working on your travels. If you have a trade/qualification then you can pick up work along your travels.
Remember the saying- ‘where there is a will there is a way’ and together you can both figure out the most important things in life to you both. Usually the two things that hold many families back from taking the plunge are
– Lack of finances (or having to budget)
– Fear of it not working and everything falling apart.
Once both of you are onboard then it’s time to talk finances. This is usually the biggest and only thing holding many families back from taking the big lap around Australia.
Step 2- Finances, Costs and Expenses
There is a myth that many hold that it costs a lot of money to travel Australia and I am going to bust that myth and tell you that just isn’t true. There are certainly costs involved in getting started and buying your set-up but overall you can travel Australia and live full time on the road for about the same amount of money as you spend at home or even half of that. This is going to come down to two pretty little words ‘comfort zone’. How far are you willing to step out of your comfort zone for the life of travel and freedom.
If you are wanting to stay at caravan parks, eat at restaurants and do all the top expensive tours as you travel Australia then yes you are going to want save a lot more than a family who is willing to choose free/low cost campsites (which in our opinion are the best), choose to make their own lunches/dinner, do limited tours and mostly choose the free or low cost attractions.
Either way you can travel Australia on $500 a week or you can travel Australia on $1500 a week and this is going to come down to what are you going to sacrifice to do this. For example- a caravan park will charge a family of 5 up to $70 a night for power and water with a caravan. In the same area you can choose a low cost camp at the local council showgrounds for $10 a night- no power or water but you will use the power from your solar supply and the water from your tanks. If you have the right set up then you can save $60 a night which is $300 a week!!!!
Your three biggest costs are going to be accommodation, fuel and food.
For all possible costs for on the road have a look at this blog post- What it really costs to travel Australia.
For a year of travels you are going to want to look at between $35,000-$50,000 for the big lap.
Step 3- Work Out Your Set-Up
The next step in the process is figuring out your means of transport and your set-up (accommodation) I have added this into your third step because it will impact your savings budget BIG TIME. Plus this will heavily impact the car you choose to buy if you need to upgrade on one.
One thing I would like to add now is that don’t get caught in the trap of ‘I have better and bigger than you’. Often families set off thinking they need the very best of everything, the most expensive brand of everything, crazy upgrades to their car or even brand new cars.. This way of thinking will chew your funds so fast and you won’t have even left your front doorstep.
My advice is always stay with what you can afford or what you feel comfortable paying for. Getting into crazy debt just to do the lap of Australia brings money stresses for when you return home if you have taken out loans. It doesn’t matter what you travel with, you will still have the same memories with your kids.
Here are some familiy set-up options.
When I was a kid my family and I went camping every year and it was in a tent, the memories that were made on those holidays were and still are priceless. I will cherish those forever. Back then we travelled with ice in an esky, we only had torches for light and had no water tanks. It was truly the simple life and it was a bloody blast.
– Purchasing a tent is the cheapest set up option. Less than $3000 for an entire set up with all the bells and whistles and you are set to go.
– Site fees are always cheaper with a tent. You also have more options to camp where caravans and larger rigs cannot access.
– There is a lot more work when tenting around Australia. Everything must fit in the back of the car or on top of the roof racks.
– You can only hold limited water, which will mean you will need to find shower blocks more often or go without showers.
– Putting up and taking down a tent can be time consuming, especially if it is raining or windy.
These are becoming ever so popular with there versatility of being able to travel to more places than a larger caravan. Many families swear by their camper trailer and have spent many years living and travelling Australia. I have recently looked at some of the latest camper trailers on the market and they are very luxurious.
– A second hand camper trailer can be purchased for as little as $10,000.
– Most camper trailers have a kitchen, can fit up to 4-6 people and can have a portable toilet and shower attached.
– Every camper trailer is different. For the majority of camper trailers the pack up and set up is time consuming and if weather is not on your side then this can become a job and half. It can take up to 30-60 minutes for set up/pack up.
Towing a caravan is basically the same as towing a house on wheels. We love our van and have no regrets in our purchase. Yes it brings comfort and luxury all in one place.
– Caravans come with it’s own solar system, water tanks, toilet, shower, beds, kitchen etc. You can expand your dollar and get a van with air conditioning, washing machine heck you can even get a dish washer if you like. The choices are endless.
– Having everything inside your tiny home is brilliant. It so good knowing that everything you need is towing at the back of your car. Find some free water and your good to go.
– Caravans can be expensive on their initial purchase (we purchased ours new for $70,000). We paid a deposit and had it custom made over a year. In that time we were able to pay the van off.
– Adding a tow load to the car means more fuel used. This will add up when driving around Australia. If your budget is tight then try to choose a lighter caravan.
– When or if something breaks they are usually expensive to fix. You will need some back up funds for when something goes wrong.
Motor homes are becoming more and popular for short term travel for families. These can be hired out and makes for an easy short travel. They are great for a small family who doesn’t need much room.
– Much like a caravan everything is inside your tiny towing home. They are exactly like a caravan but you don’t need to purchase a car to tow it.
– Every time you have to go to the shops you have to pack up the home and everyone must leave to.
Travelling in a bus is a popular choice and is becoming more and more popular for travelling families who wish to travel long term.
– Bigger living space
– The bus is a good option for larger families
– The bus is a good option for families travelling with toys for example motorbikes etc
– Some caravan parks and campsites cannot accommodate larger vehicles like buses
– If travelling with a bus you will need a small car to drive around town in.
Step 4- Start Your Saving Plan
The fun part….lol! Now your action plan is all set up and you are ready to put those dollars away for the big lap around Australia. The golden question on how much to save is always a questionable number. This can vary from family to family. Here is a blog I wrote about every expense that can possibly be on the road. This is what we spend living on the road.
The general rule of thumb is that it is about $1000 per week for a family of four. Be sure to check out other families and this blog post from Caravanning With Kids
Tips For Savings-
– Read The Barefoot Investor and start your savings plan. This book has helped thousands of families right the way around Australia to save.
– Sit down with your spouse and make a savings plan that you can stick with. Make a separate bank account to put all your pennies in.
– Work out what you need to earn to take a year off and work hard toward that goal. Pick up extra work, do whatever it takes to get to your goal.
– Cancel any subscriptions that you don’t need and all extra money put aside for that one whole year of holiday time…..the big lap!
– Check out a blog post here for some ways you can work from home- remote jobs.
Step 5- Start Planning Your Lap Around Australia
Now this is the fun part of your pre travel lap. Planning and gathering all the information to do your lap around Australia can be fun.
Some people do not like this and just leave on a certain day and a date that they need to be back. If you enjoy planning then you can have some serious fun. There is so much information out there already from families that have previous travelled the lap around Australia. You can check out this website for lots of information that we have already covered and start to plan your own bucket list.
Start by having a journal and write down all the places you want to visit. Ask your kids and your spouse so they feel involved. This is the start of your bucket list that you will proudly check off as you travel Australia.
Now you are ready with an actionable plan to push the dream of doing the lap into a reality.
See you on the road