When Ben and I made the decision to quit our jobs, leave Brisbane, and travel Australia indefinitely, it’s safe to say I was terrified. I’ve always been a woman committed to her work and furthering her career – I finished high school and delved straight into university and then straight into full time work as a journalist. From there, I turned to working as a political media advisor, and from there I was MEANT to continue the career climb… not ditch the lot to jump in our Landcruiser and drive around Australia with our dog… but that’s exactly what I did.
Life works in funny ways, and I’ve always been someone who believes that everything plays out the way it was meant to, and while there was a period at the beginning of our trip where I felt I’d made a huge mistake, it soon washed away like the tide and I was left with the bare foundations of who I am as a person, and left to discover who I ought to be.
Making the decision to pull away from work and routine was probably the hardest of my life thus far – but I’m here to tell you it was also the BEST decision of my life – and here’s why.
I’ve discovered the beauty and simplicity of ‘less is more’
When we were preparing to leave, we sold a lot of what we owned and donated the rest. I had a lot of trouble letting go of stuff, but it didn’t take long to get used to owning less. When you’re on the road, space and money are limited. This has taught me to utilise and enjoy the things we do have, and avoid wasting time on things we don’t. We are creatures of habit, so we quickly forgot about the things we left behind. Now, unpacking our possessions again, we’re finding so much stuff that we truly don’t need! We’re keen to keep this mindset – and the extra space!
I’m less wasteful
Following on from the first point, travelling Australia in your ute encourages you to make the most of what you have. This counts for food and drink, too. Living at home, the fridge and cupboard would quickly pile up with food and crap that either turned bad before we ate it, or sat at the back of the pantry for an eternity. Life on the road has taught us to be more creative in the kitchen because without the money or the space to waste, you’re forced to use what you have. If that means eating boring packet noodles to empty the cupboard or throwing together a huge veggie curry to use up those last veggies – so be it.
We’re also less wasteful when it comes to plastics and household waste. Experiencing Australia’s natural beauty prompts you to choose ‘greener’ options for living because it’s darn special and worth preserving! Without running water, we’re also encouraged to manage with less, which has shaped the way we use it, and because we were living out of our ute, there was really no need for carry bags to and from the supermarket, nor was there a need to use electricity. Of course, we used a LOT of diesel and unless we rode our bikes around the country, there was no avoiding that. All in all, we’re cleaner and greener and proud!
I have learnt so much about our great country
I’ve got to say my knowledge of Australian geography and history wasn’t as rich as it should’ve been, but now we’ve seen the majority of our country firsthand, my understanding and appreciation for this amazing place has skyrocketed.
From exploring ancient aboriginal sites in the Northern Territory to early settlement and Port Arthur, to the ANZAC legacy allover, we have learnt so much about our history – the good and the bad – and now have a stronger understanding of who we are as Australians. Every town or region we visited has a story to tell about its history, and we loved delving into the fascinating past of people and places right across our great southern land.
On top of history, there’s also food and plants and animals and landscapes and cities and towns – all so vast and wonderful. I could go on forever about what we’ve seen and experienced, and I am so grateful and proud of my newfound understanding of the country we call home and everyone I share it with.
I’ll take this new knowledge and understanding with me through my life and I can’t wait to share it with my kids one day. The thought of getting our children excited about learning and having the knowledge to answer them when they ask a question thrills me to no end!
I’ve learnt to prioritise what’s important to me
In the period leading up to our departure, my life was awash with clutter. I had all these people and possessions in my life that I thought I needed and I wasted countless time bothering about things that really – in the big scheme of things – didn’t serve me positively. I was less worried about my marriage and my passions and more worried about stress and gossip and materialistic bullshit.
Stepping away and focusing on me and my relationship with my life partner has done me wonders. I’ve discovered more about myself than ever before, and my relationship with my husband and my close friends and family is stronger than ever.
When you travel outside of your comfort zone and experience how others are living, it humbles you. It reminds you of how fortunate you are, and suddenly the things that used to worry or upset you, don’t matter anymore. Now, I find myself making time for the people and the things that truly matter in my life. The friends and family who stuck by us, who checked up on us, who sent us a text to say they were missing us, those who made the effort to connect when we were home. Those are the people who matter. I realise now that I’ve spent my life trying to strengthen relationships that weren’t good for me. This took me away from those who were actually important – and it took removing myself to discover that. Same goes for my passions. The road gave me time to do what I love. Write, read, photograph… I’m now writing a novel and continuing to blog. I’d never given myself time to do what I love before. I was too busy stressing and worrying and doubting. I thank travel for my fresh perspective every day.
I’m healthier on the outside
We’ve been told this a thousand times. Fresh air really does you a world of good. When you’re on the road, your life is outdoors. I’ve always been a pretty active, adventurous person and travelling Australia really played to these strengths. I find I’m more positive and happier when I’m outdoors, and this was something we loved most about our time around Australia. While the sun can be dangerous in big doses, we did love having our daily vitamin d as well as a fresh mountain to climb or waterhole to swim in, and this is something we’ll take forward into the next chapter of our lives. Less time indoors on Netflix or lazing around, more time outdoors enjoying the fresh air. Even if it’s just a barbeque or backyard campfire, we‘ve promised each other we’ll spend more time outside.
More superficially, my skin is clearer, my hair is softer, and my body feels healthier. I also ditched make-up and hair products, plus I’m moving my body daily. It can’t be a coincidence.
Most importantly – I’m healthier on the inside
If there is a single-biggest change since we left to travel Australia, it’s becoming attuned to my mental health. Like most of us, my mental health was never a priority, and it took stepping away and having the time and space to notice my thoughts before I understood how out of control things were. In fact, Ben was the one who noticed my struggles with anxiety before I did, and because we had the time and space to talk about it, I quickly became very aware that something had to be done. I had no idea how much control anxiety had over my life. With Ben’s love and support, I am now seeking professional help and while I still struggle some days, my mind is healthier than ever before. I have travelling to thank for that. Before, both Ben and I were too busy, too tired and too stressed to truly notice what was going on with ourselves and each other. Now that’s not the case. My mental health is now a priority, and so is communicating with my husband.
So that’s it! I am changed for the better! And while I will whine about Monday mornings and deadlines and mundane life chores, I know I am more focused and energised than before and my new outlook on life will only deliver magic in my life moving forward! So, moral to the story? It’s never too late to change your life for the better – and if travelling Australia is how you want you achieve that – DO IT!
A lover of the written word.
Journalist by trade, writer by hobby. Writing fuels my soul and I promised myself I’d string words together more often, so here I am.
A collection of pieces that describe the inner workings of my mind.