Name: Jen Shipston
City and State you live: Hometown Gatton, QLD (currently “No Fixed Address”)
Favourite Quote: “The past is behind, learn from it. The future is ahead, prepare for it. The present is here, live it” – Thomas S Monson
In May 2017, my husband and I decided we were tired of the rat race. We didn’t want to work to live anymore, and didn’t want to miss out on enjoying our young children while we had the chance.
In the following 3.5 months, we prepared to turn our lives upside down in the best way – we packed up our stuff (of which we had way too much), took a redundancy, bought a caravan and hit the road with our three children aged 9. 7 and 5. We plan to spend the next 2-3 years exploring this great country of ours, and then step from “roadschooling” to “worldschooling” by taking our adventures overseas.
The first 3 months has been a wild ride, but we wouldn’t change it for the world and we are excited for the adventures that each and every day brings.
What’s the longest trip that you’ve been away from home?
Previously, 3 weeks in North Queensland on a working holiday. Otherwise, our current trip is by far the longest – 10 weeks and counting!
What has been your most favourite destination and why?
I never had much urge to travel when I was younger, I was happy living my small town life, like my parents did. Then we went to Tasmania for 8 nights in 2015 and it changed my life. So for me, Tasmania will always be #1 (well, in strong contention with Scotland), and we are excited to go for 3 months in Summer 2017-18!
What’s your favourite travel childhood memory?
We didn’t travel much when I was a child. We had an annual holiday at the beach, and I definitely have fond memories of that. Playing in the waves with my four siblings, building elaborate sand castles and burying each other in sand was the highlight of my childhood years.
What have you found (sights or activities) a bit off the beaten track? Beyond the tourist traps that made you go wow?
Honestly, we’ve not gone too far off the beaten track…..yet. But we do enjoy the longer walks in the national parks, the ones fewer people tread. There’s nothing like being at the bottom of an amazing waterfall, all on your own. I have fond memories of doing an 8 km hike through Central NSW, on a cool misty morning, seeing nothing but the rustling of the bushes and hearing nothing but birdsong, and not coming across anyone else for the entire 3 hours. Solitude tends to be something many of us avoid, but I believe it can teach us a lot.
We also stay with a lot of families, parking up our van in their yard, rather than in caravan parks, and getting an insight into the different ways people live their lives has been a really valuable experience for all of us, and allowed us opportunities to form friendships we may never have otherwise made.
What’s your biggest first world problem that you have while travelling?
The biggest first world problem we’ve had is definitely internet connection. We are so used to being constantly connected, that it’s easy to feel lost when you’re not. Mind you, I do rely on some internet connection to work and fund our travels, but in the scheme of things it still really is a first world problem, considering there are millions of people in the world who don’t even have the necessities like fresh water, let alone a computer and internet connection.
What’s been the weirdest thing you’ve seen?
We’ve seen some pretty weird creatures on our travels, the kids and I tend to keep an eye out for them as part of our “roadschooling” experience, and the project we are compiling as a result. Sea slugs were an interesting one, and also some not-as-yet-identified insects!
Where do you dream of visiting (anywhere in the world)?
Where do I start? There are so many places, but I would have to say that the Isle of Skye in Scotland would be the winner. Closely followed by my home country Australia (which is where we are currently travelling), and Scandinavia, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland and Germany.
What do you get from travelling?
The biggest thing would be connection. To live together, all five of us, in a 21 foot caravan, has meant that we are closer than ever before. And the shared experiences we are having will be something we can hold onto forever. We also get freedom from the “rat race” and that is something that many people only ever dream of.
What’s been your weirdest moment while travelling?
The weirdest thing has been getting used to having “no fixed address” – to getting used to the idea that home is now where we park it, which is an entirely different belief than the one I’ve previously held!
What has been the most useful item you’ve brought?
My camera, for sure. Not the most practical item, but without it we wouldn’t have such a fantastic record of our amazing adventures. It gets used EVERY day and we are rarely without it in arms reach.