THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. LEAVING IS THE HARDEST PART!! It’s the deciding to go, choosing to pack up your life, and then actually doing it that most people get stuck on. So here are some of the things to think about before you drive out your driveway & see the world.
Deciding to go
Ok, here’s the thing. ANYONE CAN DO WHAT WE ARE DOING. Now before you start with your ‘but my job’ ‘but my house’ ‘but I can’t afford it’ ‘but what about the kids’ excuses, please remember that every single person on the road travelling Australia had all the same excuses that they could have used to stop them doing it. But the difference is they simply didn’t let those things stop them. And that really is the key to deciding to go. If this is something that you want to do, then quite simply do it. You will find a way to overcome the barriers, if you really want to. We did. And so did everyone else travelling the country. So I don’t want to hear your excuses, believe me I hear them enough from everyone else.
Great so I’ve made the decision to go, now what?
Excellent, choosing to make the leap, leave your ‘normal’ life & hit the road is a massive, brave, excellent choice. So good on you for having the balls to do it! Once you’ve made that choice everything else is just logistics. So lets look at some of the major things you’ll need to consider.
What will I do with my house?
After deciding to go, this is probably one of the other biggest decisions you will need to make. And it is a big one, we get that. It’s also a very personal decision, so I’m afraid we can’t tell you what to do. But we can tell you what we did!
We bought a house in Melbourne back in 2012, and then decided to leave to travel in 2015. Over the 3 years we had lived in the house we had done quite a bit of work on it (Nathan is a Carpenter, which is convenient) so we had increased the value quite nicely, and had a good bit of equity sitting in the house. We actually drew on some of that equity to buy our camper trailer, meaning that we didn’t need to sell our house to buy our portable house. And we also found that we could rent the house out and the rent would cover the mortgage, although unfortunately it really just pays for itself and we don’t make any money off it. BUT the house is continuing to go up in value, and meanwhile someone else is paying our mortgage for us.
We also chose not to sell as we were worried about getting back in to the housing market with patchy employment history, and increasing property prices. We also didn’t know what else to do with the money that we had sitting in the house – we’re not financial experts and we had no idea where else to put that money. So keeping it in the house seemed like the safest option for us (& then we wouldn’t be tempted to spend it all!)
Now plenty of people DO choose to sell their houses to fund their travels, and it is certainly an option. But like I said it’s very personal so you will have to decide for yourself. And of course if you rent, the decision may be a whole lot easier as you can just put in your notice and get out of there!
But what about all my stuff?
Ah yes, the stuff. The stuff is a major issue. Honestly I think half the people who want to travel but aren’t, are stuck at home because they just can’t part with their stuff, or they just can’t imagine where to start. Our advice? Just get rid of anything that doesn’t have some sort of major sentimental value. Seriously. YOU DO NOT NEED ALL THAT STUFF. You may not realise it now, but I can assure you once you’ve finished your travels you will definitely understand how useless 90% of that stuff is.
The thing is though, regardless of how ruthless you are there will without a doubt be some stuff left over. And that stuff has to go somewhere. If you’re lucky you’ll have a friend who will let you dump your stuff in their massive shed for the next few years. But generally that won’t be the case. So you’ll probably start looking in to storage options, and that’s when you will start to realise how much you really don’t want to keep all of your stuff. Because storage is unbelievably expensive. Like seriously horrifyingly expensive.
So for us we thought outside the box and decided to store our stuff in our house. Yep, the one we rented out to strangers. Our house has a large double garage on it (built by Nathan) so we built a room inside that garage, about the size of a car space, gave it a door with a lock, and that is our storage space. This meant that we couldn’t keep anything that didn’t fit in that space. It also saves us a fortune in storage fees as it doesn’t cost us a cent. BUT we did run in to a significant problem that you need to be aware of. AFTER we had moved all our stuff into this storage box our thoughts turned to insurance. And unfortunately we could not find a single company that would cover our personal items if they were stored on a property that was rented out to tenants. Nope, not a single one. I should note that plenty of them said on the surface that they would cover it, but once we read the fine print it was clear that they actually wouldn’t. We even called a few brokers, all said the same thing: we couldn’t get cover, But in the end we were too lazy to move it elsewhere, plus we figured the items we had were really only worth the sentimental value, which couldn’t be replaced anyway, so we have taken our chances. If the place burns down, then it will take all our belongings with it as well. Oh well, it’s just stuff.
Choosing a car & home
Choosing a car & home on wheels is a very personal & difficult decision. But things to consider to narrow your decision include:
- Budget: How much can you actually afford. This will narrow things down greatly
- Offroad ability: Do you want to be able to access the over 50% of roads in Australia that are dirt? If so, this will also narrow things down greatly as very few caravans will be able to acheive this, so you may be looking more at hybrids or camper trailers
- Size/weights: if you already have a vehicle, then what weight is safe to tow with it? Plus, how big is your family, and will you all be able to comfortably fit? This may also narrow your choices greatly.
- Reliability: For us, this was very important. So it meant choosing a brand of camper trailer that had a proven track record (Cub celebrate 50 years this year!!) and is Australian made.
Once you've gone through these 4 key criteria, you should have narrowed the market down nicely to make your choice a little easier. Then have a chat to people actually travelling in the brands your looking at for inside advice - you'll find them on blogs like this, Facebook groups, or if you see one of the vans you want when you're out and about have a chat to the owners!
At the end of the day this is such a personal choice, so we can't tell you what will work for you - but hopefully this will give you a great starting point.
What about all the other stuff?
Well unfortunately there are some things you can't escape on the road. Things like rego & insurances still need to be paid. Important one to remember are:
- Car & Camper registration. It's a good idea to make sure these are paid in advance so you don't need to worry about them on the road
- Car & Camper insurance. We've claimed a full write off on our Camper Trailer, plus made a significant claim on our first 4x4 over the time we've been away. Things can & will go wrong on the road, I cannot stress enough the importance of good insurance! Make sure you're covered for an appropriate agreed value, including any modifications. And if you're going to go off road, make sure you're covered for that too. Read the fine print & ask lots of questions. Ensure your company knows you're travelling long term/full time, as some won't cover you under those circumstances (although most are happy if you give them a family members address as a 'base'). And definitely consider a company that will cover accommodation while your camper is getting repairs.
For the record our 4x4 is with Club 4x4 and the camper is with CIL. We recommend both highly.
- Breakdown cover. Seriously worth it's wait in gold. I can't tell you how many times we had to call RACQ for our first car. But again, do your research. Not all companies cover large caravans, and they have a variety of different towing limits and features like accommodation and hire cars.
- House, contents and storage insurances: If you're keeping your house make sure your insurance company knows if it's going to be empty, if it has tenants, or if you'll have a house sitter in. Be honest, and make sure your insurance covers your circumstances. And if you've left stuff in storage you'll be wanting insurance for that too.
- Health Insurance. If you felt that health insurance was important enough for you to have at home, then why would it be any different on the road? Both Nathan & I have had surgery on the road through the private system, neither of which would have been classed as urgent in the pubic system. Meaning we would have had lengthy waits in the public system that would have wrecked havoc on our travel plans.
- Ambulance Cover. Mandatory as far as i'm concerned. But again, choose wisely. Not all cover through insurance companies covers non-urgent ambulance or transfers, and may only cover you for one emergency ambulance a year. For this reason we chose cover direct with Amblance Victoria.
Ok, I've left my house & my job, I've got my home on wheels, and I've spent a fortune on insurance. Now what?
Now it's time hit the road & enjoy life! Check out our article on where to camp, plus some of our other tips for more ideas, follow us on Facebook, look out for us on the road, and happy travels.
Believe me, it'll be the best thing you ever do.