Family of five who travelled 25,000 kilometres across Australia share what life is like on the road

Husband and wife Sam and Melissa Griffiths set off in August 2019 to travel around Australia in a bus with their three young children for seven months.

The adventurous couple, 29 and 30, from New South Wales always wanted to live on the road and drive across the country to experience a different way of life.

‘We didn’t really decide on living in a bus, it more just came about as our life went on,’ Sam told FEMAIL.

‘We both told each other on one of our very first dates back in 2008 that we would love to travel Australia in a van one day and decided to make it a goal over the coming years.’

Sam, a carpenter and Melissa, a primary school teacher and yoga instructor, shad their three kids under five with them on the road, with the youngest just 12 months old.  

For seven months the family lived on the road full-time and travelled more than 25,000 kilometres across the country – visiting some of the most remarkable locations Australia has to offer. 

Sam and Melissa Griffiths travelled around Australia in a bus with their three young children between August 2019 and March 2020

Sam and Melissa Griffiths travelled around Australia in a bus with their three young children between August 2019 and March 2020

Sam (left) is a carpenter and Melissa (right) is a primary school teacher and yoga instructor, and the children are all under the age of five with the youngest only being 12 months old

Sam (left) is a carpenter and Melissa (right) is a primary school teacher and yoga instructor, and the children are all under the age of five with the youngest only being 12 months old 

While on the road, the family of five were ‘living the dream’ in a 1992 Toyota Coaster which they converted into a tiny home on wheels the year before. 

Prior to the Coaster, the couple had purchased smaller vans but as the family grew Melissa insisted they buy something bigger for more space.

In winter of 2019, they began their journey and drove from New South Wales up to Daintree in far north Queensland, then west through the outback into the Northern Territory.

In winter of 2019, the family began their journey and drove from New South Wales up to Daintree in far north Queensland, then through the outback into the Northern Territory

In winter of 2019, the family began their journey and drove from New South Wales up to Daintree in far north Queensland, then through the outback into the Northern Territory

'Favourite spots include anywhere we can collect fresh coconuts, tropical Queensland, Uluru, Tasmania's wild West coast,' Sam said

‘Favourite spots include anywhere we can collect fresh coconuts, tropical Queensland, Uluru, Tasmania’s wild West coast,’ Sam said

As the north was too hot with temperatures soaring over 40 degrees Celsius, the pair drove south along the Stuart Highway and stopped at popular ‘must-see’ Australian sights, including Uluru, the Devils Marbles in the Northern Territory and the Finke River in South Australia.

PLACES THE FAMILY HAS BEEN TO 

Uluru 

Queensland

Northern Territory 

South Australia 

Tasmania’s West Coast 

Devils Marbles in the Northern Territory

Finke River in South Australia 

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‘Favourite spots include anywhere we can collect fresh coconuts, tropical Queensland, Uluru and Tasmania’s wild West coast,’ Sam said.

But while the sights were beautiful, travelling and living in a small bus with two toddlers and an infant was proving to be difficult at times.

‘Living on the road in a mini bus was insane! We left home with a 12-week-old so mum was only just starting to feel like herself again and the other two toddlers are always a bit of hard work,’ Sam said.

But the hard work paid off as the family were able to enjoy good quality time together all the time. 

‘I remember at the beginning of our trip my oldest would often say “can we go home now” and that would break my heart – but about ten days in, the little bus was home and everyone was settling into a strange but perfect routine,’ he said.

‘The older girls really loved it! Having mum and dad there all day and sleeping just meters from each other was pretty special to them.

‘They often say since we’ve been home “dad, can we sleep in the desert tonight” or “when are we sleeping in our bus again?”,’ Sam said. 

As the north was too hot with temperatures soaring over 40 degrees Celsius, the pair drove south along the Stuart Highway and stopped at popular 'must-see' Australian sights, including Uluru (pictured)

As the north was too hot with temperatures soaring over 40 degrees Celsius, the pair drove south along the Stuart Highway and stopped at popular ‘must-see’ Australian sights, including Uluru (pictured)

'Favourite spots include anywhere we can collect fresh coconuts, tropical Queensland, Uluru and Tasmania's wild West coast,' Sam said

‘Favourite spots include anywhere we can collect fresh coconuts, tropical Queensland, Uluru and Tasmania’s wild West coast,’ Sam said

But while the sights were beautiful, travelling and living in a small bus with two toddlers and an infant was difficult at times

But while the sights were beautiful, travelling and living in a small bus with two toddlers and an infant was difficult at times

The bus named Lola had a queen bed with a television, a fully functioning kitchen on the side, working shower and toilet in the bathroom, wardrobes, fridge, single bed, seating and storage.

On the roof were solar panels to assist with power and more storage space for surfboards, bikes, tools, prams, a clothesline and other large items.

But only two weeks ago the family decided to sell the bus and purchase a 12.5 metre Hino school bus to convert into their new home on wheels.

‘Once we finish converting our new bus around Easter next year we will disappear to Western Australia for five years if all works out; the new bus will be like a home for us and home is where we park it,’ Sam said.

When asked what advice they would give to others considering bus life, the couple recommended to 'just go for it'

When asked what advice they would give to others considering bus life, the couple recommended to ‘just go for it’

Only two weeks ago the family decided to sell the bus and purchase a 12.5 metre Hino school bus to convert into their new home on wheels

Only two weeks ago the family decided to sell the bus and purchase a 12.5 metre Hino school bus to convert into their new home on wheels

When asked what advice they would give to others considering bus life, the couple recommended to ‘just go for it’.

‘It was so overwhelming looking for a bus that we just bought the first one we looked at,’ Sam said.

‘We really jumped in headfirst not knowing anything but over time that all changed and it became one of the greatest learning curves of our lives!’ 

The young family are currently living with family in New South Wales until the new bus has been fully converted into their new home on wheels.

TIPS WHEN LIVING ON THE ROAD

Consider whether a bus or caravan is better for you than a motorhome 

If you’re taking time away from work, consider how long you want to be away for and where you’d like to visit 

Budget by researching the best and most convenient caravan parks or camping sites – camp sites are usually cheaper but have less facilities 

Think about how you will have access to water and electricity 

Only take a limited supply of what you need – clothes, appliances, bedding, etc 

Enjoy meeting other people who are also on the road 

Only shop for groceries as needed – no more than two weeks worth of supplies to save space inside 

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