There is a Polish saying along the lines of “Travel educates” or “Travels educate”. They certainly do, as we found on our 11 day road trip to Northern NSW to visit my sister and her family, including my scrumptious newborn nephew.
Here is what I learnt:
- always get your car serviced before attempting a drive of more than 200 kilometres, especially if you hadn’t had it serviced in over a year – I didn’t and ended up with a busted radiator in the lovely town of Maclean in NSW. Two days at Motel Maclean and around $1000 in repairs, accommodation and food later, we were safely back on the road. A very hard way to learn this lesson and I am super grateful that I happened to have money in my account that covered the costs. I also want to say that the Motel we stayed in was absolutely lovely – clean, good looking and super comfortable with a great pool which kept the boys entertained. Also a shout out to Moran’s Service Centre in Maclean, for prioritising our repairs and getting it all done in super quickly and without judgement;
- summer in Northern NSW is not my cup of tea – it is not always super hot, but when we were there, it was, and combined with high humidity and no air conditioning, it was life draining. I had no energy for anything other than sitting under the ceiling fan and reading my book. My sister and her partner dragged us out to the beach, a lake and a couple of swimming holes, which made our time just bearable. My dream of moving up there is now definitely in question and would only be possible if I could live right on the beach in an air conditioned house;
- my sister and I have very different ideas of fun, or indeed leisure – she likes doing things and I like doing nothing and observing. She wants to go out and about to show us things and take us places, when all I want is an evening walk on the beach after a day of sitting by the pool with cocktails. Not that there were any cocktails (or a pool) – I must have a word to her about that.
- I hate sunscreen – it is a necessary evil for my fair skin which burns after 5 minutes of exposure, but I hate the greasy feel of it (and the good ones are all greasy) even after two showers. It really spoils the beach/lake/water hole experience for me;
- I love swimming – whether in fresh water or the ocean, I just love it (except for the pesky sunscreen);
- the vegetation gets steadily more vibrant and lush as you travel north towards and up from Sydney – these lush greens and the brighter light always make me feel like I’m on holidays, I wish I’d taken a photo of my sister’s back yard – it’s gorgeous. Similarly, as we drove back. I loved the more muted greens of southern NSW and Victoria, they were almost a balm for sore and tired eyes, mostly because they remind me of home;
- driving 18 hours in two days is bloody exhausting – it is achievable and I did it well, but we came home on Wednesday and today I am still tired;
- I am capable of driving 18 hours in two days – I was worried about the distance before we set off and planned both trips over 3 days, but when push came to shove, I conquered the massive drive in two;
- my boys are awesome at car trips – they were both totally fine with being confined in the car for long periods, as long they had their iPads, the occasional game of I Spy and a podcast marathon – shout out to Dear Hank and John for keeping us entertained for all those kilometres;
- we hate long car trips – you know how you can be good at something and still hate it? Well, that was us. Holidays involving planes, 5 star accommodation, or at least separate beds and rooms, or much shorter stints in the car are much more our cups of tea. Basically, we hate the travel part of travel;
- don’t drag your kids bikes with you on a road trip unless your kids are super keen bikers and it is not bloody hot and humid at your destination!
- my cats hate being left alone for long periods of time without company and stuck indoors – one of them left 5 stinky presents under my older son’s bed in protest and there was a heap of loud complaining and demands for cuddles when we got back. Will be seriously considering a house sitter for any further extended absences;
- my sister has an awesome guest bedroom set up. I had my own room with a queen bed, an ensuite, a fan and my very own frangipani tree outside the window. There were towels and toiletries and even incense. The boys had a room each and they also got fans;
- we love being home and are super grateful for our home and home town. While it’s been hot since we got back, it’s a dry heat and bearable, especially since we have an air conditioner in the house. I love my bed and having it to myself after three nights of bed sharing;
- the smell of a newborn baby releases a chemical in the brain with a similar effect to dopamine – I made sure I got lots of cuddles with my tiny nephew and miss him already. I feel sad that I won’t see him every day as he grows, but at least I get frequent updates from my sister;
- there are men who are perfectly capable of not only cooking on their own initiative, but doing things around the house – inside and out, without being told to. I had no idea these men existed, but my sister has found one and we both know she is very lucky;
- it is super weird to meet an identical twin of someone you’ve known for a few years. I mean they are IDENTICAL!
- having someone around to not only parent with you, but also manage the life you have together is amazing and I hope that I find such a someone for myself one day;
- my sister and her partner are doing an amazing job at parenting. They’ve taken to it like the proverbial ducks to water and so far all has gone smoothly;
- I love having another adult I trust around with whom to share random thoughts and observations;
- road trips are a great way to get in your yearly quota of beach visits;
- I am happy I took on the challenge of this road trip and that I survived everything life threw at us, but I probably won’t do it again.
What about you? What have you learnt on your travels?
Also published on Medium.