How To Do The Big Lap (Without Actually Doing It)

by Shelley Peers

The prospect of taking a year off work to do the Big Lap can be extremely daunting. The desire for adventure and connection with your family is there but how will you all live under one tiny roof for 365 days.

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Planning For Our Big Lap… Or So We Thought

We spent 15 months planning for our lap. As soon as we had decided on a leaving date, I handed in my leave without pay application at work. I then started filling in all the home-schooling forms for four children and read every post and blog about what to expect when you travel with your family.

We hit a few obstacles when planning our lap, the main one being COVID-19. We also had issues deciding on the right tow vehicle and van for our particular needs. We bought a wall map and marked on it all the must-see places to visit. As we started discussing it as a family, our teens became concerned about the length of time we would be away from home. This was not something we had put into our plans.


Changing Gears

We decided to travel our way, working through our map as we desired, and coming home to pick up work in between trips. There is no right or wrong way to see our awesome country and if the Big Lap doesn’t suit you at this time, it doesn’t mean you can’t start seeing some of its beauty.

Decide how you are going to travel. There is no hard and fast rules here. I have seen people riding bikes and pitching swags, booking hotel rooms and pulling their massive bus into free camps. As you start exploring, you will find what does and doesn’t work for your family. We quickly learned that booking a caravan park was expensive for big trips and that investing in a toilet and tent was a good move. This is your adventure, you choose what suits your family and your budget.

Plan, Plan, Plan

Buy yourself a map and Post-It notes for planning. Get the family involved and watch documentaries and series on travelling Australia. Follow other families who have started their adventure on social media – this is great inspiration. Get your Post-It notes out and start plotting. It’s also handy to start liking points of interest in Tripadvisor or using Google Maps – I recently found out about these two and have been using them in conjunction with accommodation apps to plan trips.

The beauty of a large map full of Post-It notes is it is not only visually appealing, but you can also see at a glance where your adventures will take you. If there are plots close to home, these can be visited on weekends and over long weekends. Shorter trips are great for making sure you have all you need for a fun weekend away. You will quickly learn what you do and don’t need when you are living in a smaller space together. One of our first trips involved eating Weetbix with a ladle, as I forgot to pack the cutlery! Then on another trip, our then 7-year-old packed her own bag and when we got to our destination, she had packed a teddy bear and a jumper and that was all!

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Budgeting Is Key

Budget is not a dirty word, it’s empowering to find out where your money goes each month and where you can cut back on expenses. Start trimming back on expenses that are not helping you reach your adventurous goals. Call your insurances, energy and telephone provider and ask for a better rate. There are companies out there that can help with comparing your bills and pointing you in the direction of a better deal. Whenever the lure of a bargain grabs you, remind yourself what you are working towards, look at your map and hang in there. Once you have your expenses sorted, work out how much you can put into a savings account for holidays, including the equipment you need to create your set up.

Read Next: How To Budget For Your Big Lap Around Australia

Long Trips Or Short Trips – You Decide

You have discussed transport and accommodation, you have a map full of places to explore, a savings account growing, now it’s time to set some dates. Use a 12-month calendar and write in all public holidays, school holidays, and mandatory shutdowns at work. Check how many holidays, days in lieu and long service leave you are entitled to. If you can afford to take time off without pay, keep that up your sleeve as well.

With your calendar and map in hand, start planning some trips. How long are you prepared to drive for a weekend away? You don’t want to spent the entire time driving, so don’t make it too far if it’s only a night away. Also consider the time it will take to set up. We would only drive an hour from home on a weekend away and it was amazing how many places we could see in that hour drive radius.

When planning larger trips you also want to consider the pack up and set up times for your chosen accommodation, as you will be moving every couple of days. To make it worth-while, we would leave our van attached on an overnight stop. Putting an overnight stop in between every big stop on the way to a destination saves money and sanity for us. We also plan our toilet breaks around points of interest. The kids can stretch their legs, go to the bathroom and we can visit smaller attractions we may have otherwise missed.

All in all, this is your adventure and you get to choose how you do it. Have fun!




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