A number of people have asked me how we came to take this time off to travel and what precipitated it. Here’s what happened…
Back in February last year I was sitting around one night randomly surfing e-Bay and looking at motorhomes – big converted buses – and dreaming of how much fun it would be to simply buy one and shoot off. I was drooling at the thought of it…
At the same time I was contemplating how safe and predictable and routine suburban life can sometimes be and it was annoying me. While I have never felt myself ‘locked down’ I was aware that the degree of spontaneity in life had decreased as we lived ‘responsibly, with kids in school, a house, a dog etc. I was also at a point where I was weary from 6 years of mission work and it was easy to see other possibilities.
That night it was as if those two thoughts spontaneously combusted and I found myself saying to Danelle quite seriously, “Look, let’s buy one of these babies and hit the road.”
“I dunno – give it a month?”
“Ok 6 weeks…”
Danelle is much more spontaneous than me when it come to the little things of life, but I tend to make bigger decisions more rapidly. This was a bit too rapid for her.
“But… what about our house?… Winston?… earning money?… Upstream?… your business?… kids schooling?…”
“We can sort it out. I mean why wouldn’t we?! I reckon life has got way too safe and we should just take off and have an adventure. Who knows where it could lead?!” I thought my argument was quite convincing… but that’s where we are different…
I was quite confident we could do it. I was seriously motivated, so nothing looked too hard. I don’t think she took me anywhere near as seriously as I took me… If she had said ‘lets do it I think I would have hit ‘buy it now’ and started packing.
However over the next week we negotiated a deal that both of us could live with. We agreed to take a year to plan, save and prepare and then do it in April 2009. I wasn’t super happy with the deal, but it wasn’t a flat ‘no’, more just a ‘steady eddy’.
So the 14 months of planning gave Danelle time to catch her breath and me time to work my butt off and earn some $$$ to pay for the trip. As with most things the ‘anticipation’ phase is half of the enjoyment.
Along the way we gave a lot of thought to the most suitable travel vehicle and after much consideration we decided on the Jayco Eagle camper van.
The big crazy motorhomes looked great, but with the cost of fuel, the higher upfront cost and the limitations on their maneuverability we decided against them. I still reckon they’d be fun… if I had a spare $200K…
The Camper cost us $15K and because it was so cheap we figured it allowed us more $$ for other things. In the end it was a toss up between an expanda van at $30K which would give worse fuel economy or the Eagle which was cheaper, but obviously less convenient.
As we travel now we still aren’t always convinced we made the right choice, as there are days when more space and less set up would be nice, but maybe a bigger van is for next time (yes – there will be a next time). The Big Thirsty Bugger (BTB – previously known as Big Red) drinks gas at 4km/l and petrol at about the same so we wouldn’t want to lower those figures at all.
When we left Barn Hill we managed to get the pack up done in about an hour without going too hard and that felt good. So I imagine as time goes on we will get smarter with it all and get better at it.
I don’t think there is a way to get BTB running at any better economy although one of the friends we made along the way tells me drives at 75-80km/hr instead of 95 and that makes all the difference. I just can’t imagine driving that slow around the city let alone in the bush!