father helping toddled daughter out of a boat

Written by Kelly Malloy

Six weeks ago, we packed up our camper trailer, our kids and our lives on the Gold Coast and began on a ten-month trip around Australia.  Although it’s still comparatively early days I’m happy to report, so far, so good!

Our two children are 6 and 8 years old, so Year 1 and Year 3 in Australian schooling terms.  Whilst education is important at any age, we figured in the big scheme of things, these were the ideal ages to take them out of school and give them a life education as well as trying our hand at a bit of home-schooling.

Whilst some days have been a bit more challenging than others with the school books, both my husband and I are already noticing a slight shift in how our kids are dealing with things as well as how we are reacting to things.

Travelling, especially a big trip where no two days are the same, can be somewhat overwhelming to kids who have had a very structured life of school, activities and the same house with the same backyard. This trip we are taking them on around Australia, is a trip of a lifetime for them but we also had to remind ourselves that they were leaving behind their friends, their safety net and their entire world as they knew it – and that may be hard for them to process.

However, my husband and I are witnessing firsthand how the kids are not only dealing with this process but growing from it too. We have already started to notice a change and the benefits that our trip is giving them, not just emotionally, but psychologically as well:

Resilience

Life never goes to plan and there are things that happen that we need to be able to cope with.  Traveling and living in a camper trailer offers many trials so it’s important for the kids to understand which ones deserve a big drama and which ones can simply be brushed off.  Every week we are seeing a change where a stubbed toe would have usually resulted in an ice-pack and half an hour on the couch howling, whereas now there is a little yelp, a couple of tears and then we all move on.

Ability to accept change

We are living possibly the most transient lifestyle possible with our stop-overs never more than 4 nights in one place, different people, different surroundings and different routines.  To be able to accept changes and even if at times they can’t whole-heartedly embrace them, just being able to push through is a good achievement.  Giving the kids this life tool that things can change on a dime, but it’s not the end of the world and you can go on and even get an amazing experience out of it.

Prioritising

This has been great for both the kids and us! While we are juggling running our Gold Coast marketing business and staff on the road whilst home-schooling the kids and planning our next stop, there needs to be a strict priority placed on what NEEDS to be done and what we would LIKE to be doing.  Instilling in the kids that once they knock over a few hours of school work which NEEDS to be done, then we have a whole day tomorrow of exploring and sight-seeing that we would LIKE to do.  One cannot exist without the other and that is also teaching with work, comes reward.

Communicating

We are meeting so many different people from so many walks of life that the children are being exposed to a huge variety of people that they would usually never have met in their usual social circle at home.  They are conversing with people in the caravan parks, in the tourist centres, locals in small country towns, presenters at attractions, so many different backgrounds! Even the very basic skills of talking on the phone when they skype their friends and family back home and having to hold a conversation is improving their vocabulary and social interaction.  This constant chatter is great for them to embrace communication, from talking about how they are feeling a bit homesick through to sitting around the campfire and recalling their favourite parts of the day.

Confidence

Giving your kids the life tools so they know they can stand on their own two-feet is one of the best gifts you can give as a parent.  Whilst some children are born with confidence, for most it is a trait learnt by watching behaviours of others or receiving encouragement for displaying certain attributes.  Traveling gives the children and parents many opportunities where the kids can be encouraged to ask questions, speak to new little friends they meet in the camping grounds and even have the confidence to walk away from a situation they are not comfortable with.

Now, you don’t have to pack your life up and head around the country for a year for your kids to benefit from ‘travelling.’ These little pearls of mental health can be obtained simply through a long weekend away or a day trip to a national park.  Getting kids out of their comfort zone, away from the everyday grind and experiencing diversity will set them up for an enriched outlook of life.  And it will probably do the same for Mum and Dad.  

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