Could you travel around Australia in a caravan for 12 months with your hubby, 3-year-old twin boys AND give birth to a daughter along the way? That’s what young mum Mikaela Pyke has been doing and they’re still on the road now! This is her story (as told to Babyology).
Young hearts run free
My husband Tom is 23 and I’m 22, and we became teen parents just out of school having our twin boys Kane and Lucas when I was 18. The first two years of their lives was very difficult with the lack of sleep and not knowing what we were doing, and we were also both working hard – I studied nursing and Tom accounting. When the boys were three all our friends were travelling and then my aunty died, and we sort of realised that you only live once. Having kids and being teen parents shouldn’t stop us from travelling around Australia and so we decided to sell up the house and chase our dream.
Turning the dream into reality
It took us about two months to get organised from the moment we sold our home and started looking for a van. It was pretty overwhelming swapping our 3 bedroom house for a 24ft caravan with absolutely no idea what kind of set up we would need. Luckily the sale of the house funded most of the trip and we kept things to a real minimum – like only taking a very small amount of toys for the twins.
A bumpy surprise
On the 22nd of September, 2016 we set off on our big family adventure from Kyabram in Victoria, which is where we’re from. As a bit of a trial run we travelled around the state for the first four weeks before making our way down to Tasmania, and on the second day after arriving there we got a huge surprise – I was expecting! We’d been trying for ages and nothing had happened, but then what do you know, without thinking about it after just setting off on the trip I was pregnant!
Pregnancy on the road
For us it was never a case of ‘do we cut the trip short and go home?’, but more along the lines of ‘well, where do we want to have her?’ Fortunately I was blessed with an easy pregnancy. With the boys I had appointments every two weeks so with just having one baby things were so much easier. I visited a doctor once a month for check ups of my blood pressure, and when I was there I would pre-organise any ultrasound referrals or blood tests and then we’d just try and preempt where we’d be. It was a lot easier than I expected. I had no real morning sickness or anything, just a bit of nausea, so I was pretty lucky and the pregnancy never stopped me from experiencing all of our adventures – including 4 wheel driving on Fraser Island at 28 weeks or hiking the Red Arrow Circuit in Cairns at 40 weeks! Because we travelled up the east coast (after Tassie) we were never far away from medical help if I needed it, but if we’d gone west first I think it would have been a bit more challenging.
We decided to stop in Cairns in the lead up to the birth which was good as it gave us a bit of direction and somewhere to work towards. My first doctor’s appointment there was at 33 weeks and they were pretty cruisy about it all. I had a folder with all my prior health checks and scans to give them too, and Tom picked up a little job as soon as we arrived in Cairns which helped top up the funds. Milla was born healthy and chubby with no complications, but didn’t make her appearance until 42 weeks! We were kind of hoping she’d arrive on time so that set us back by a few weeks, but we made the most of it and went to Port Douglas and the Mossman Gorge.
On the road again
About four weeks after Milla was born, we went down to Cooktown and then started heading west through the Territory. We’re in Darwin at the moment and will continue west and then down the coast to South Australia. The boys are 4 now and start kindergarten in March next year so we’re tossing up whether we’ll be home for that or not. But that’s the best part, we don’t have a time limit or anything to be home for really, we could home school the twins if we wanted to. Who knows, we may even have another baby on the west coast!
Managing with a baby
Our caravan is 24ft so it’s not on the small side and has everything we need. Milla’s been a fantastic little sleeper so she doesn’t really disturb the boys at all which has been a godsend and she’s such an easygoing baby. I think she really picks up our relaxed vibe. With the twins I was like ‘oh my god what am I doing, why are they crying, what’s going on’ but I feel much more confident this time around. I’m also breastfeeding which makes things easier compared to heating up bottles on campsites, but managing her feeds around our activities can be a little challenging at times.
Twice the fun
The boys have also been really good. We just make sure that they’re stocked up with snacks and water and a couple of books in the car, and we do little sing-a-longs and play I Spy. The first month was the biggest challenge, ‘what are we doing’ kind of thing, but from day dot the boys have thrived. It has been hard to keep a routine for them but we’ve now got a good system going.
We try and seek out places that have fun activities or that challenge the boys and keep them learning new things, like the Darwin military museum which sparked a lot of questions. We also do a lot of free camping and they don’t ever think to grab their toys, they just play with sticks and stones and write their names in the sand and dirt. The trip has taught them so much about their surrounding environment and they love it, and the country they live in. It’s amazing how much they actually remember too and how socially confident they’ve become meeting new people everywhere we stop. We do realise it could have been very different if we’d only had one child and not twins, as our boys are travelling with their best mate and therefore can amuse themselves a lot.
Our caravan adventure has been a life changing experience for us. We’ve grown so much closer as a family and we don’t want to stop travelling. Going back to that 9 to 5 kind of thing is going to be a bit of a challenge so who knows where we’ll end up. We might get back and decide we need to get back on the road again.
My advice to other parents thinking of jumping in a van and travelling with kids is to go for it. Just make sure you get a set up that’s comfortable and suits your family’s needs, and allow time to adjust because it is tough getting used to being together 24/7 but if you can get through that stage, the opportunities are endless and the memories are well worth it.
Pyke trip by the numbers
- $35,919.20 – total money spent
- $138.57 – cost of groceries per week
- $6,833.13 – spent on fuel
- 35,970 – kilometres travelled
- 5 – states visited
- 8 – pairs of thongs gone through
- 124 – playgrounds visited
- 1 – flat tyre
- Lifetime of memories
To follow the Pyke family’s caravan adventures check out their Facebook site here. Would you go travelling in a van with your kids for over a year?