More precisely, some of the differences we’ve noticed in the 11 weeks that we’ve been on the road, between living at home and full-time life in a motorhome.
- Although we’ve planned and saved for this trip and have money in the bank to maximise our Australian experience, we are a lot more conscious of everything we spend. That’s partly down to the fact that before we left home we had two incomes and now we don’t have any, but it’s also part of this new way of life and budgeting more carefully. At home we’d spend our money independently on whatever we needed (and some stuff we didn’t need), but while we’re on the road we shop together and make every spending decision together, whether it’s for a cup of coffee or a PLB (personal location beacon). Another spending related thing we’ve noticed is that without a permanent address we can’t buy anything online, which is also reducing unnecessary spending. We realise how frequently we pressed the Buy button on Amazon, and how easy it is to spend online without really thinking. Having to find everything you want in a shop means you have to really need it. (We’ve used the Australian Post service for a couple of items that we’ve needed for the van – we’ve had them delivered to a post office ahead and collected them when we’ve arrived.)
- Related to point 1 is the fact that on the road we don’t actually need much stuff. We have food, water, clothes, fuel, Kindles and a data package on our phones. Whether we need all the stuff we’ve left at home remains to be seen when we see how long it takes to unpack our storage container when we get back.
- One of the biggest differences we’ve noticed between being home and away is that here on the road it’s just us. In our home lives we’re both pretty sociable and enjoy spending time with family and friends. The conversations we have with others on the road tend to be very similar – where we’ve come from, where we’re going, what the local must-sees are, what our motorhome is capable of. While we love these conversations, and they’re a vital source of useful information, we miss the chats we have with those who know us best and are working hard at emailing, WhatsApping, Skyping and FaceTiming so we don’t lost contact in the time we’re away. And of course we’re happy with each other’s company, whether we’re chatting or just doing our own thing quietly. Fortunately. Ask us again in a few months!
- Linked to point 3 is that we’re learning that we can’t take wifi for granted while we’re on the road. At home we are permanently connected and don’t think anything of making video calls online, downloading music, TV shows or books. Out here it’s another matter. Yes, there’s free wifi available at big shopping centres, but we’re only ever in those when the people we want to contact at home are in bed! We occasionally find an RV park with free wifi, but it’s usually limited, if it works at all. So we’re using our 25GB phone data plan between us and keeping a careful eye on usage, which means no big downloads and short video calls to nearest and dearest only.
While we’re on the road we only buy food we’re going to eat. Sounds obvious, doesn’t it! At home we don’t waste or throw a lot of food away, but if a bag of salad doesn’t get eaten or some fruit goes mouldy in the bowl, it goes in the bin. At the moment, although we have a bigger fridge in the van than in our house, we are only buying the food we’re going to eat in the next three or four days. We might end up with some odd food combinations (but we do that at home too) but nothing gets wasted and that feels very satisfying. We’re eating out very infrequently and when we do it’s a real treat, and we’re also drinking more. Contrary to what some of our friends at home think, we rarely have a drink when we’re on our own. On the road however we’re having a drink before dinner almost every day because it’s part of the routine. We’ll have to see if this is a habit that sticks when we get home!
- Like money, food and wifi, we’re far more conscious of our water, gas and electricity consumption out on the road than we are at home, for obvious reasons. We’re currently on an unpowered site for three nights without easy access to a water tap and no dump point for the toilet cassette. That combination really makes you think about which taps and switches you turn on and for how long! We rarely get a decent TV signal even when we’re on a powered site, so it’s a treat to have it on. We’ve only seen one match of the football World Cup to date, which is a definite change from being at home! (Come on, England!)
- One definite advantage that being away has over being at home is that other than a quick sweep most days, housework takes a maximum of an hour every now and then and we do about two loads of washing about every 10 days – one load for clothes, one load for sheets and towels. No messing about with coloureds v whites, ironing or Vanish. Yay!
- At home we’re both regular gym-goers. Away, we’re getting by with on-the-go activity. Some weeks that works well and we’re out on the bikes or walking miles. At other times we’re driving every day and barely managing a 10-minute trot round the roadhouse when we’ve parked. We’re both finding that a bit frustrating and have joined in with an eight-week health and fitness challenge for travelling families on Facebook which we’re just about keeping up with, but doing sit-ups somewhere you’re literally stopping for the night and have little private space isn’t very appealing so we’re doing very little conditioning and strength work. A small price to pay for the fantastic adventure we’re having overall.
- We’ve already said we’re living on the road with minimal stuff. One area that one of us has really noticed the difference from being at home is in the toiletries department. Instead of a full bathroom shelf, the on-the-road routine involves the bare essentials and the make-up bag has been pushed to the back of the drawer. The mascara gets an outing occasionally but the under-eye concealer hasn’t seen the light of day since we left the UK!
- One thing that’s the same whether you’re at home or away … You always get what you pay for with a 99p Kindle book.