Part 2: Families Funding Full-Time Travel
Three Part Series On How To Fund A Life Of Travel.
As a family that travels full-time, we constantly get asked how we fund our travels. In a bid to make this lifestyle a possibility to more people, we have dug deep to unearth the real stories, tips and advice from other families who are currently funding a life of full-time travel.
We could talk for days about how to make money while travelling, but because we know you don’t want to be reading for days, we’ve broken the question of ‘how to fund a life of travel’ into three bite sized blogs.
In part one of this series, we talked to real families who were preparing for full-time travel. We discovered how they planned to fund their travel, the financial prep they needed to do before setting off, and what kind of work they would be doing from their home on wheels.
In this second blog we explore the reality of what life looks like once you’re on the road. We share the stories of three very different families who have been living life full-time on the road, how they’ve pulled this off financially, and the unexpected struggles that came up along the way.
In this blog we answer all your questions, from how they got started and the kind of work they do, to the hours they spend doing it, and all the pros, cons and tips that come with working from a home on wheels.
Michael and Angie, also known as the Alcalloughbys, have been travelling Australia for the last year in their expedition truck, Juggernaut. Their ability to work from the road meant very little financial prep was required before they set off.
In the last 12 months this adventurous duo have explored Cape York, Litchfield National Park, Kakadu National Park, Katherine, Mataranka and drove all the way to the red Centre where they visited Uluru, Kings Canyon and the beautiful West MacDonnell. They’ve been south to Coober Pedy, Adelaide, Victoria and Tasmania, and now have their eyes firmly set on WA. So, how does this couple fund this great adventure? That’s exactly what we asked them…
The Alcalloughbys own and manage a construction company in Sydney; Michael is the Director and Angie helps with marketing, advertising and socials. They attribute their work-from-the-road lifestyle to modern day technology and a highly qualified team.
“Many builders we know are confused how we managed to do it, as building is generally a very hands on business. The trick for business owners is to hire highly qualified staff that you can trust to manage any tasks you need done in person on you behalf,” they said.
Flexibility and planning is key for this working duo. Some weeks they work 20 hours other weeks it’s over 60. This style of work and travel means Michael and Angie need to be prepared to put their travel plans on hold for a few days if big urgent tasks arise.
“Generally the tasks we need to do are flexible and almost everything can be managed from our phones. Generally we do our work at night or other down time moments, Michael works as I drive, and if we can’t keep up with the work during down time we stop travelling for as long as needed to catch up. We try to plan activities where we know we won’t have reception or we can’t be with our phones for the weekend, so no important work that may arise is not dealt with immediately,” said Angie.
Modern day technology has meant a huge range of jobs can now be completed remotely, but what if your boss needs some encouragement?
“If you need to ease any trust issues an employer may have that you are actually working the hours you say you will, then get them to set KPIs or task targets. There is also computer monitoring software, vehicle tracking and phone tracking software which can be put in place to address any concerns an employer may have with allowing their employee to travel and work at the same time,” they said.
If this is not an option, these guys suggest moving into a role that can be done remotely. “Even if you take a reduced salary, the cost of living a van life is generally far less than living in the major cities.”.
Michael and Angie said they don’t budget, but they also don’t spend money on things they don’t need.
“We rarely stay in caravan parks, which means our overheads are extremely low,” said Angie, who loves the freedom of pulling up on the side of the road for a night.
“No-one told us that in many states in Australia it is legal to sleep in your vehicle, provided there is no sign saying no camping. We enjoy the freedom of not needing to book in caravan parks and waste time and energy going to check in before they close. It’s much more enjoyable just pulling over after a day of adventures in a quiet carpark or street, pulling up the handbrake and going to sleep,” she said.
This pair also avoid eating out too often, and are big advocates of planning your drives and trips.
“Once you have an idea about all the adventures you want to do, you can pin the stops on Google Maps so you can visit them in order and not waste money in fuel, and time doing unnecessary drives back tracking.”
When asked what they struggle with on the road, Angie and Michael were stuck for an answer. These two love the freeing feel that comes from having a flexible schedule and describe it as “hands down the best life we could ever dream of”.
“It is great to wake up every day with a different backyard! Getting to enjoy every experience you have with your family is priceless. Seeing this beautiful country and taking our home with us is just so easy and convenient, we are absolutely in love with life on the road,” said Angie.
When pushed to give us something they admitted that “it would be nice to flush your toilet and not to empty it every few days”. On a more practical note, bad reception can sometimes prove difficult for their business. To overcome this they have one phone with Optus and one with Telstra, and have a portable Telstra Wi-Fi router that they said works well for them.
For more information on how to stay connected while travelling, check out our blog: Communication Options While Travelling Australia.
Meet Reece, Gemma, and their two children Ida and Ari. Reece and Gemma have been road tripping for five years now. Their adventures started in 2015 when an eight month honeymoon pre-kids ignited a thirst for travel that this pair been quenching ever since!
In 2017 they set off again for a five month trip, this time with a toddler in toe and a baby on board. Come 2018 they were ready to live life indefinitely on the road, and that’s exactly what they’ve done ever since. This family has lapped Australia, and now zigzag around the country following the seasons.
“We sold our house and most of our belongings which allowed us to buy a caravan. We already had a 4WD and then we put the remaining money aside for our first year of travel,” said Gemma.
Regardless of how budget conscious you are, three years of non-stop travel requires some injection of funds, so how does this family top up their money reserves to keep travelling? Apparently, quite easily!
Now if you or your partner work a trade, this advice could be a game-changer for you. Whenever this family’s bank balance needs a top up, Reece picks up a little plumbing work.
“If you are a tradie there is lots of work out there all around Australia. We just ring up a few plumbing companies once we arrive somewhere we are happy to stay for a bit, and often have work within a day or two,” said Gemma.
The shortest work stint Reece has done was a week, and the longest was four months. Over the last three years Reece has worked about six months in total. During this time Gemma looks after the kids and joins local playgroups. They explore the surrounding areas until Reece is done, then head off again to explore new destinations.
If you are a tradie and want to consider working on the road like Reece, these guys advise to get a trade licence for each state you plan to work in. You can apply online, often with mutual recognition of the state licence you are coming from.
Gemma is a self-professed numbers nerd, so loves working on their budget and using their Spending Tracker app to keep them on track. They drip feed their budget from their savings, which gets topped up when they stop for Reece to work.
“Be realistic and live within your means. We don’t do many paid tours so to speak. We are basically on a playground tour of Australia,” said Gemma.
“Be set up for off-grid camping – you can save yourself a small fortune by free and low cost camping rather than using caravan parks all the time. And definitely have your own washing machine, it becomes very costly using a laundry or caravan park’s washing machines” she said.
Gemma and Reece have also done some farm stay work such as horse riding, cleaning and other farm jobs on their travels, which has scored them free accommodation.
Reece and Gemma love their quality time together as a family, the freedom and flexibility of choosing where to be and for how long, and not being caught up in the 9 to 5 rush of the working week. They don’t need to work full-time and pay for childcare, and they get to meet heaps of other travelling families on their adventures.
But with the sweet always comes the sour, and for these guys that’s missing the bath and their familiar supermarket, but they have found a way around this last one.
“Every supermarket layout is different, seriously does my head in and takes so long…. I have started shopping online and do click and collect now,” said Gemma.
Another tip from this couple, although not work related, is to take turns in taking the kids to the park so the other parent can have time out alone. They said that living 24/7 with your family in a small space is amazing, but does require an adjustment period.
Not Working At All
A lean budget and a savvy approach to saving has allowed this couple to travel the last ten months without having to work a single day. Carly and Kurt have two months left of their one year adventure, which they have managed to enjoy on an impressive budget of just $50k!
Don’t be fooled into thinking they had to miss out on destinations either! This pair have conquered Queensland, Northern Territory, South Australia, Tassie, Victoria and are currently in Western Australia. Here’s how they did it…
“We moved in with the in-laws and lived in our brand new caravan for eight months and saved every single pay cheque we received! We stopped eating out and shopping, which was super hard for me, but it was all worth it for the amazing places we have seen,” said Carly.
During this time this pair saved $50K, 40 of which was rationed out over the year, with the extra ten thousand tucked away in an emergency account. The emergency account has covered servicing, rego and unforeseen expenses like two new car batteries.
Ten months into the trip Carly and Kurt are still on budget.
“We only transfer each month’s budget into another account to use so we can’t go over, and we keep track with a spreadsheet and a weekly list of what we have to spend. So far we have not had to dip into the next month’s budget!” said Carly.
The couple have been travelling in a 4WD and caravan, and admit that you can travel cheaper if you’re prepared to make a few sacrifices.
“Don’t eat out at every bakery you see. It’s so easy to do but when you add it all up it’s insane how much it costs! Use fuel maps to research cheaper fuel, and save those beers for the weekends or when you’re in a social gathering,” they said.
“You get homesick, well we do! Somehow I imagined life on the road to be slow and relaxing but it’s not always the case. When you’re not researching where your next stop is you’re researching where to find water or find a dump point. Then something breaks and it’s a lot harder to locate parts and get to where they need you to be to fix it. But that’s just all part of the adventure!” said Carly.
Another thing that caught this couple off-guard was the cost of living, which wasn’t nearly as cheap as they were expecting.
“You actually spend just as much money on the road as you do at home! For some reason I believed it was a cheaper way of life. I do think Covid has changed the cost of camping and caravan parks as it hasn’t always been this expensive,” she said.
When asked whether this would stop them doing it again, Carly didn’t hesitate to answer.
“It still is a great way of life and I wouldn’t change our decision to do it ever! The amount you learn, the places you see and the moments you witness. I never imagined we would be swimming with seals and turtles, walking with wombats in the freezing cold mountains, and the people we have met along the way! We have made some life long friends.”.
“Routine, stability, family and my washing machine and couch! I guess how familiar we are with everything back home too. You’re not lost or feel like your searching all the time when you’re home,” said Carly.
Family and washing machines aside, this couple said they’d still do it all again in a heartbeat.
Time travelling this country with our children has allowed us to meet many amazing families, all of them living the dream in a different way.
Some families work from the road whilst travelling, others break their time up with short work stays here and there, and then there are savvy spenders who explore the world with their savings account.
We have shown you in this blog how three very different families are living each day like it’s their last, but this is certainly not an exclusive list. If you have a dream to spend each day with your loved ones, drinking in all that this beautiful world has to offer, than today is the day to set those wheels in motion.
Where there is a will, there is a way. So tell us, how will you make full-time travel a reality for your family? Let us know in the comments below.
Until next time,
The Wallaces x