July 2011


One of the first blogs many hopeful travelling families come across when they start looking at family travel blogs is that of the Vogel family blogging as Family On Bikes. With twin boys aged 10, they started cycling from Alaska with the goal of reaching Argentina at the opposite end of the Americas. Two and a half years later, they achieved their goal.

If you ask the Vogels, they’ll all tell you the journey set out as, and remained, a family journey to spend time together, learn about themselves and other people from around the world.

A secondary aim of the journey was for the boys to set a Guinness World Record as the youngest persons to ride the full length of the Americas. Before starting their journey back in 2008 the family contacted Guinness World Records (GWR) and were provided with the strict list of requirements they’d need to follow and documentation they’d be required to provide to be granted the record.

Unfortunately for the Vogels, on returning home in 2011 after completing their amazing journey and submitting their application, they were informed by GWR that GWR would no longer be including the category Youngest Person to pedal the length of the Americas amongst their records.

Here’s an excerpt from GWRs reply as to why the category has been withdrawn:

Unfortunately, we at Guinness World Records, have decided to rest this record, meaning we have decided to no longer recognise the category as a record, due to the fact that the record would reach an age where a person would no longer be able to break it or attempt (i.e. a two-year old attempting to do it) and as it would become limited under these terms, we choose to to no longer recognise it as a category.

Does this inspiring journey deserve recognition?

We applaud GWR for taking a stance about protecting children from dangerous pursuits, such as those barely in their teenage years trying to set out to sail solo around the world.

However, it is different when they are in the loving company of their family. And continuing with their education, as this homeschooling family did.

Although the Vogel family is the first to say that they would have done the journey any way, they did do some things slightly differently because of the World Record attempt.  They chose a different route, they kept cycling even when the weather was unpleasant or the terrain very tough, even though they could have caught public transport over those little bits if they hadn’t been trying to achieve the record. 

Their son, Davy, has put it more passionately than we can:

For the whole three years of our trip, we planned our route according to the guidelines you sent Mom. We started in Prudhoe Bay rather than Fairbanks and we didn?t take the ferry between Belize and Honduras that we wanted to take. You said that we couldn’t take any ferries even though the current record holder took a very long one.

Thinking that I would be in the Guinness Book of World Records helped motivate me during the very tough times of our trip. It made me go even faster the last week or so of our trip. I would probably have hitched a ride when it was very hot or we were climbing a very steep hill, but I didn?t because I wanted to break the record.

Can you just imagine how excited those two boys must have been knowing that after two and a half years of working towards something they’d achieved a world record?  

So frequently we are told in the media that kids need to experience delayed gratification.  We’re told that kids grow and learn through the experience of working towards something even if it isn’t easy. Surely Daryl and Davy cycling across two continents, all the time protected and safe with their parents, have learnt through their experiences about delayed gratification and keeping focused on a goal.

This is a family who planned to set out and have this adventure. It was a secondary thought to them that the boy wanted to attempt the world record. But it’s a thought that helped them get through their journey and it’s an achievement they’ve earned.

Not convinced yet that they’re deserving of the record?

Here’s the facts

Provided by Nancye from Family on Bikes

Spring 2008 ? received guidelines from Guinness World Records outlining exactly what we needed to do

June 2008 ? we left from Prudhoe Bay. The boys were 10

March 2009 ? wrote to ask question of GWR about rules. They had since changed the rules, but stated they would abide by the guidelines they had originally given us.

March 2011 ? we reached Ushuaia, Argentina after nearly three years on the road. We cycled 17,300 miles through fifteen countries. The boys were 13.

June 2011 ? we submitted the documentation to GWR exactly as they had outlined in the guidelines from 2008

July 25 2011 ? received an email stating they had denied our claim: ?Unfortunately, we at Guinness World Records, have decided to rest this record, meaning we have decided to no longer recognise the category as a record, due to the fact that the record would reach an age where a person would no longer be able to break it or attempt (i.e. a two-year old attempting to do it) and as it would become limited under these terms, we choose to to no longer recognise it as a category.?

July 26 2011 ? received an email from records management from Guinness World Records stating: ?the primary reason for which we could not accept your effort is because our Records Management Team has taken the position, since 2009, to not monitor unsuitable records achieved or submitted by people younger than 16, unless the record is sanctioned by an internationally recognized organization or federation. This aligns such categories with the decisions taken by organizations such as the International Gymnastics Federations to only allow competitors older than 16 or the World Sailing Speed Record Council to only allow those aged 18 and older to participate in solo voyages.?

“Abide by the guidelines they had originally given us”

We don’t think anyone will argue that GWR isn’t doing the right by changing the requirements for world record attempts by people younger than 16 to help ensure the safety of all our children. Having record attemptes by people under 16 having to be sanctioned by an international body is a great thing. 

Of course unfortunately for the Vogels, there isn’t really an international body applicable to long distance cycling (although if you can think of one I’m sure they’d love the details!) 

BUT the simple facts are Davy and Daryl Vogel were promised back in March 2009 that GWR would abide by the guidelines that they had provided in 2008 to the boys. The boys were told that if they stuck to these guidelines, did everything they were asked by GWR in these guidelines and completed the journey then GWR would stick to theirs. 

This seems like a simple issue. It’s about honouring a promise.

An agreement was made. The boys upheld their end of the agreement when most boys their age would have packed up and flown home. Have GWR stuck by what they said they would?

Based on the facts that we have available, it doesn’t seem like they have, even if they’re doing it for what they believe good reason. 

We’re already turning into a society that’s turning children into social pariahs, banning them from planes, certain restaurants and cinemas. Do we really need to start breaking promises to our children as well, particularly when they’ve gone to extraordinary lengths to hold up their end of the agreement? What message does this send to our young men and women about how to act in business and as adults? 

Should we stop teaching our children that it’s not OK to change the rules midway through a game of football or monopoly? Or are we giving them a false image of the way that the world works by teaching them to stick to the agreed rules as set out at the start of the game?

How many of us grew up reading Guinness World Records and being inspired to strive for better than our best in something in the hope that maybe one day we’d see our name in there?

What would the future be like if kids stop believing in their dreams? Or stopped trying to achieve their dreams for fear of the rules being changed halfway, despite their best efforts?

It is enthralling reading Nancy’s blog about how she was so doubtful if she could do it, but never doubted the abilities of her husband and sons to do it.  It was inspiring to read how she had put aside those doubts because, as a mother, she wanted to help her boys achieve their dreams rather than stand in their way.

Regardless of whether GWR recognise the boys efforts, the two youngest Vogels are world record holders in our books.

But we’re hoping that one day soon, other boys and girls sitting in school libraries laughing over the person covered in the most amount of bees or imagining eating the worlds largest pizza, might also see a photo of these two young boys with their parents in the Guinness Book of World Records and be inspired to come up with an amazing family adventure of their own to undertake.


This article was written jointly by Amy Page from and Tracy Burns from

Penang is an island on the west coast of Malaysia, two hours from the Thailand border. Once an important shipping port in the spice trade between east and west, the Penang of today is a fascinating blend of old and new. Luxury condominiums the size of small palaces line the foreshores, while just a few streets away in the capital Georgetown historic Chinese shop houses sit jumbled together on narrow streets.

With its diverse mix of cultures, eclectic cuisine and beach-city status, Penang has a lot to recommend it as a great location for families. Penang offers great infrastructure, good education, and a range of entertainment and lifestyle options such as sporting teams, hiking, cinemas, family friendly beach-side bars. The cost of living is low while the standard of living is extremely high.

Penang isn’t quite a tropical paradise. Here’s the nicest beach … which is several kilometers walk from the nearest town. 

Most of the island is heavily populated, although there’s lots of jungle covered mountains, pockets of nature and undeveloped coastline. It has peak hour problems, although no where near as bad as most cities. The ocean isn’t exactly pristine and rapid development is spoiling some areas, but there are still a lot of small friendly suburbs with green places.

We came here for a week last year and ended up staying 5 months. At the end of that five months we decided to spend the next few years in Penang, living here half the year and travelling the rest. While there are cheaper places to live in South East Asia, for us it offered everything we wanted: a high standard of living at a low price, easy access to facilities like healthcare and entertainment, good schooling and educational facilities (great bookstores, interesting outtings), a diverse culture to learn about, a nice balance of nature/beaches and city lifestyle … and possibly most importantly for us – lots of other families hang out with. 

In case you’re considering moving to Penang, here’s a break down of our costs. These costs are based on a family of 4, with two young children.

FYI: Prices are quoted in ringgits, which is roughly RM3 = 1USD or 1AUD or RM5=1 UK pound

Just a note: since we’re holidaying here in Penang, we’re not working. So I’m not providing details on the cost of work visas, shipping, taxation rates etc. This is just a daily living guide.

Housing & Utilities

The cost of rent in Penang is all about location, location, location! The closer you are to Georgetown or the bridge to the mainland, the more expensive the rental prices.

Penang Hill View

Expats tend to be scattered all over the island. Many live out near the beaches closer to the international schools. Others live in Georgetown, near the airport or the bridge to the mainland, for work reasons. There’s no bad place to live, it just depends on the needs of your family. 

The best way to find a place to stay is to come to Penang and stay in a guesthouse or hotel while you look. Generally, places advertised online will be more expensive. A week is more than sufficient time to find an apartment, but allow a month if you are looking for a house. Try to set some time aside and search for Penang hotels online. This might not seem like a huge issue, especially if this is an endeavor you’ve been saving for, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised with how much money you can save by going this route. All it takes is a few clicks on a high-profile website like Expedia, and you’ll be able to find a great room for a low price. You can usually book a number of last minute hotels as well, so don’t feel as though it’s too late to check and see what’s available.

Penang is a relatively safe place to live, but break-ins are not unheard of. Many people choose to live in apartment complexes for this reason, but houses are perfectly safe provided you have good locks, grills and a decent fence.

It’s worth noting in Malaysia, unfurnished can mean an empty shell – no kitchens, lights or hot water. Semi-furnished usually refers to the place having a kitchen, hot water, lighting and possibly AC. Fully furnished means everything you’ll need, except perhaps an oven and installed hot water (although ask nicely and your landlord will probably provide these things if you are staying more than a few months).

Furniture and applicances are a little cheaper than back home, while other household items like plates, cutlery, curtains, linen are at least 30% cheaper than you’d pay back home if you know where to shop. 


If you’re just coming to Penang for a few months, a furnished apartment is your best choice. It is hard to find a furnished house on a short-term lease.

The cost of renting an apartment varies depending on location, size, age, furnished or unfurnished, quality of furnishing, length of rental agreement and the facilities the complex has.

For a furnished apartment in a nice complex with a pool expect to pay RM1800-5000 per month, depending on location and the length of your lease.

For an unfurnished apartment on a 12month+ lease with a pool, the price will be between RM800-3000. You can rent a lot cheaper than this but you will be in an older apartment block without facilities or security, and the apartments will often be quite small.

We rented for 4 months in Miami Green, a really nice apartment complex near the beach with several pools, squash courts, gym and security.

We paid:

  • 3 bedroom Apartment: RM2200/month for a 4-6 month lease. RM2500-2800 per month on a shorter lease.
  • Electricity: RM200/month (use of AC overnight and for a few hours during hottest part of day)
  • Gas (for stove): RM5/month
  • Water: RM8/month
  • Cable television: RM49/month for basic package plus children?s channels and western news channels.
  • Cleaning: House cleaner 2x weekly RM300/month
  • Internet: RM18/week for a USB modem with sim card


The swimming pool and playground


You can rent large, modern houses for RM1200-3000 per month unfurnished or RM3000-5000 per month furnished.

It’s almost impossible to rent a house for anything less than a 12 month lease.

Houses within gated communities are also an option, although they’re definitely at the higher end of the rental spectrum.

We’re currently renting an unfurnished 5-bedroom house with a yard on a two year lease 20km from Georgetown in a small tourist suburb. Our house is 7mins walk to the beach in a quiet street.

We pay:

  • Rent: RM1200/month
  • Electricty: RM200/month
  • Gas (for oven and stove):RM5/month
  • Water: RM8/month
  • Cable television: RM50 for basic or RM125/month for full package with HD and recording
  • House Cleaner: RM12 per hour, or 5x weekly RM500/month
  • Internet: RM100 per month for ADSL 

Gurney Hill, Penang


Buses in Penang are modern, comfortable and cheap. They have AC and some even have free WIFI. The bus network is relatively comprehensive and some people just get around using this.

Having a car definitely makes life easier though, particularly for families. Cars are expensive to buy in Malaysia, but relatively cheap to rent on a monthly basis.

To buy a car, looks for cars over 12 years old. Cars older than 12 years can’t be financed in Malaysia so they drop dramatically in price. Also, the engine capacity determines the yearly registration. A 1.6L car costs RM90 per year to register, a 2L around RM400. We were quoted RM9000 for a 4.6L 4WD … a huge difference.

For a reliable car with AC over 13 years old, expect to pay RM15000-30000.  

Motorbikes are another option, although traffic is faster here than in other Asian cities and the roads are winding. People do it but there are a lot of motorbike accidents here so think carefully.

Car rental

  • 5-year-old sedan: RM1200/month with additional excess, free services and repairs
  • Newer car: RM2000/month
  • Petrol: RM70-90/week (RM1.90 per litre)

Bus tickets

  • Less than 14km: RM2/adult
  • 14km-21km: RM2.70/adult
  • Monthly ticket (unlimited): RM75/adult, RM35/student/concession
  • Children under 6 are free, children over 6 are half price.

Food & Groceries

If you want to live cheaply in Penang, shop where the locals do. Find out where your nearest wet markets are, discover local butchers and importers for meat, cheese, yogurts and for those things you just can’t find in local stores find out where the nearest Tescos is.

Assuming you are cooking simple meals or local dishes, not eating expensive steaks every day and eating out 2-3 nights a week, then groceries for a family should be no more than RM300 per week.

Loaf of bread: RM3
1L of milk: RM7
Apple: RM1.50 for large imported apple
4 bananas: RM2
Navel Orange: RM1.50 per piece
Lettuce: RM3

4 carrots: RM2
1KG chicken breast: RM9
1KG beef mince: RM16
1KG nice steak: RM30

Nescafe instant coffee (small): RM10

250g Honey/Nutella/Jam(good quality): RM10

250 Jam (cheap): RM3

2L bottled water: RM2
Can of beer: RM6
Can of coke: RM1.50
500g pasta: RM5
1kg rice: RM2

Toothpaste: RM6
Shampoo: RM5-20 depending on brand
Diapers: RM35 for pack of 30

Eating Out

Eating out in Penang is inexpensive. If you are happy to eat where the locals do you’ll only pay a few ringget more than you would cooking at home.

Hawker Markets and small local restaurants will offer the cheapest food, whereas the tourist restaurants in Batu Ferringhi and Georgetown will blow your budget (even if they are quite cheap in comparison to what you would pay back home in the west in a good restaurant).

You’d be forgiven for thinking that eating out is the favourite passtime of locals. Most eat out at least once a day, including us. We will usually eat breakfast out a few times a week and dinner out at least 3 times per week. 

At a Hawker Market or local eatery, for a family (of 4) expect to pay:
Breakfast with tea and water: RM10-15
Dinner or lunch with local iced drink: RM15-25
Dinner with beer and juices: RM45-60

At a local restaurant
Dinner with just water or iced local drinks: RM30-40
Dinner with beer and fresh juices: RM55-80

Home delivered Pizza

Little India - Queen & Market

Daycare & Schooling

Primary and Secondary Schooling

There are a lot of great International Schools in Penang. St Christopher’s Elementary School is the cheapest and has a fantastic reputation. Dalat, Tenby and Uplands are more expensive but very good schools and your best option with high-school aged children.

Enrolment in a local school is an option, but some schools won’t accept students if your only here short term on a tourist visa and the quality of schools varies greatly. Formal schooling in Penang doesn’t start until 7 years of age. Like the rest of Asia, Malaysia is very focused on education. Discipline is strict and a lot of homework is given. In and around Georgetown there are some great locals schools though – you just need to do your research. 

For an international school, expect to pay RM12000-18000 per year including fees for primary school, while secondary school ranges from RM18000-RM40000 including fees. 

Childcare and Daycare

Daycare in Penang is commonly available for children aged 2.5yrs-7yrs. For younger children, it’s harder to find childcare outside of a local nanny.

Daycares in Malaysia generally follow a very Asian education model so it can be hard to find play-based learning for younger children if this is what you are used to. Most have children over 4 years doing mini-school work. Play-based centres do exist but you may have to pay more and drive further! Taska Lin and Cherie Hearts both have a great reputation for a more play based approach, however their prices are double the costs quoted below.

Daycares commonly offer three options ? 5 half days per week, 5 full days per week or a mix of both (for example three half days and two full days).


RM180-350 / month for 5 half days, including lunch and morning tea.
RM250-450 / month for 5 full days, including morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea.
RM200 / year once off fee for books, craft materials, uniform.

After School Tuition and Sports

After school tuition in anything from reading and maths to music and karate is widely available in Penang. Almost every suburb will have a couple of tuition centres, and at least one organisation running some type of weekend sport.

Expect to pay anything from RM20-60 per month for one hour of tuition per week, and a similar price for children’s sport.


Homeschooling is legal in Malaysia, although if your a resident you may be required to register with the government. The bookstores here have an amazing range of children’s books, from textbooks to leveled readers and novels, making it a very easy country to homeschool in. And of course with all the temples, cultural diversity, national parks and local lifestyles to explore it’s not hard to find great homeschooling excursions! 

The Dalat International School has a distance education and homeschooling department. For RM600 per year a family can access the schools library, homeschooling resources and afterschool sporting activities. Assistance with curriculum and testing is also available for an additional fee.

Kek Lok Si


Cinema: RM40 (two adults, two kids, two drinks, two popcorns)

Doctor’s consult: RM20 at a local hospital, RM50 at a private clinic

Emergency consult with xray: RM70

Parking: RM1 per three hours on weekdays, RM3 per three hours on weekends.

Gurney Plaza

Cost of living series

We’re aiming to build up a cost of living series focusing on great places around the world for families to stop for a while … be it a month or two for a rest during your travels or living long term. If there’s somewhere you’ve stopped that you’ve loved and you can give us a breakdown of the costs, we’d love to add it to the series.

This is Part 1 of a 3 Part Series by Justin Mussler of The Great Family Escape on how to finance and budget a vagabond family lifestyle. Justin and his family are preparing for their life-long adventure now and are considering every budget method possible to make their travel dreams realities.

That’s the big question right?

How do you find the money to make that dream of spending a year in Thailand or raising your kids in the south of France a reality?

Well, let’s see if we can help shed some light on the subject and get some families out vagabonding.

Start Saving!

I know. I need to tell you something you DON’T know.

But saving is the #1 way people manage to fund long-term travel. You just have to make travel the priority. We are funding out initial adventures solely through our savings. We have saved like mad for 5 years, made a ton of sacrifices, and now are set to travel for at least 2 years! Of course, we plan on being able to make some money along the way, but if not, we have our savings to fall back on.

If a travel lifestyle is at the top of your families list of priorities – DON’T WAIT! Start saving now. Today! Make some changes in your life and get going. The sooner you start the sooner you will be off globetrotting.

Foreign Currency and Coins

Once we started thinking travel, we immediately made as many cuts to our budget as possible.

  • We went down to one car and I started riding my bike to work.
  • We refinanced our home.
  • We ditched the cable TV.
  • We cut back on vacations.
  • We turned off the heat.
  • We ate less.
  • We spent a lot of time at the FREE neighbourhood park.

We did what it took to save the money.

It’s no different really than saving for anything else. If traveling the world with your family is your goal, you’ll be able to sacrifice for it. Set monthly goals. Work Together. And remember that if you stick to it you will be traveling in no time.

Here are some additional articles that show some other helpful ways in which traveling families managed to save big and get traveling.

Migrationology: 7 Strategies to Save for Money for Travel

The Great Family Escape: 20 Ways to Save $20,000 for Travel

Bacon is Magic: How to Save for Long-Term Travel

Selling Your Assets – AND YOUR JUNK!

Maybe that house, or car, or boat you were once so attached to has lost it’s sentimental value and it’s time to move on. GREAT! The road is calling! And it has never been easier to sell all that crap you own.

Most families sell the bulk of their possessions before they start traveling. The less you have to travel with the better and why pay for storage, mortgages or insurance while you are gone. Just get rid of it and more than likely it will end up funding your trip. If you do decide to store your gear make sure you read our article to save you money and your sanity.

Think about it.

  • Your House.
  • Your Car.
  • Your Bike.
  • Your Dishes.
  • Your Clothes.
  • Those DVDs you never watch.
  • Those old books.
  • That stuff your grandma gave you that you never wanted anyway.

You can sell anything on or or even at a yard sale. If you want to finance that big trip, get selling.

old truck

A great website to check out if you want to see how far selling your possessions can get you is Man vs. Debt ( Adam and Courtney Baker now make a living, traveling and blogging, and it all started with a yard sale.

I have put some other helpful links below as well. Check them out. If these guys can do it, why can’t you.

Neverending Voyage: Sell your stuff

Sell Online King: A great resource for finding the best ways to profit from your old stuff.

The Skool of Life: How to sell everything you own and leave the country in a month.

Become a Digital Nomad

20 years ago world travel was tough.  You had to be far more resourceful, flexible and patient. You had to plan ahead! But now, since WIFI is everywhere, the Location Independent Lifestyle has kind of taken over and it is what allows many travellers to live wherever they want. You don’t need the savings and you don’t need to spend your Saturday selling kids books for nickels and dimes. If you have the right skills, you can turn your skills and career into one that is location independent. There is an article here by Corbett Barr that list 64 ways to make money from anywhere in the world. Opportunities for digital nomads are everywhere if you are creative.

Assess your skills and set your self up online so you can make money while you travel. You can sit on a beach in Belize and watch you career take off. Many, many people do it. It’s not easy, it takes a lot of guts and perseverance, but it is very possible. And in the end it is probably the best way to fund long-term travel.

I myself am not location independent. I still have a 9-5 job like the bulk of the world, but I also know that travel produces opportunity and I do plan on being location independent at some point in our travels.

For now, follow these families. They have managed to just be creative and use their skills to live a nomadic lifestyle and work digitally anywhere.

Give Everyday

The Edventure Project

Discover. Share. Inspire.

Almost Fearless

Family Rocketship

Travels with a Nine Year Old

1 Dad 1 Kid

Our Travel Lifestyle

Get a Job

I don’t get why when people start traveling they forget that they can still work.

There are crazy amounts of jobs all over the world. Most provide free lodging for families, decent pay, and amazing experiences. Sure, sometimes you need a visa, but not always. Work is work. You can get a job under the table for a day if you like. I have worked on fishing ships here in America just for fun and a few bucks and I didn’t need any paperwork. A handshake was all I needed to get me out on the ocean pulling up lobsters.

Teaching English for a native speaker is another fantastic opportunity for travellers. My wife and I spent a year in China working at a private school and we had free room, food, travel expenses and a good paycheck. We taught 5 classes a week and did a lot of PR stuff, but it was awesome. The kids we taught just wanted to share and swap stories on cultural differences. It was great. And you can arrange jobs from a week to a year. Check out Dave’s ESL Cafe for more info and jobs on teaching English abroad.

Beyond teaching English, there are many organisations you can look into to find some work. Sites like, WWOOF, Go Abroad Jobs, and Transistion Abroad can all help you find a job when you need one. They may not pay much(if anything), but, as will talk about in Part 2 of this series, getting free room and board is as good as cash in hand!

So what is stopping you?

Making the decision to change your lifestyle to include extensive travel need not be an overly complicated or time consuming one. Yes, there are factors that you’ll need to take into consideration in the future, but for now if you seriously want to travel the world with your family, start sacrificing some of your luxuries and squirrel that money away and watch it grow over time. Just simply bringing your lunch from home each day will save you a bunch of money that can go towards your travel fund.

Today’s the day to start it all. Make the mental shift to start making the decisions today that will lead you in the right direction. Once you make the decision to travel, we’ll be right there with you helping you along the way.


Many years ago as a student of naturopathy I was firmly anti-vaccination.  Since then, I have gone on to become a registered pharmacist, and with the continuing education my opinions have also continued to change.

As a naturopath, we had an entire subject dedicated to the evils of vaccines.  I was convinced. No one was going to go near my children with a vaccine. Studying pharmacy, vaccines were only mentioned briefly.  My opinion when I graduated from pharmacy had not changed. I was a pharmacist against vaccines.

However, I had learnt how to read the medical literature and continued to read widely on the topic.  Somewhere in it all, my opinions changed due to what I’d learnt.  I’ll share with you some of the concerns I’ve had over the years, along with the answers as I know them today.



Vaccination 101

Vaccination is to inject a dead or modified microbe that causes a disease into a person’s muscle. The idea is that the immune system will respond to the microbe in the same way that it would to the natural disease, resulting in immunity. The goal is to control, eliminate or eradicate the disease.

Advocates for vaccination point to the suffering, death, and disability that can be caused by the diseases. Most of us at some point have been routinely vaccinated against diseases that were once linked to high rates disability or death. Measles, diptheria, tetanus to name a few.

Many argue against vaccines. As the incidence of these diseases fall, many no longer see that the benefit outweighs the risk. The suggestion of vaccines containing foreign proteins, mercury, contaminants and potentially causing other diseases scares people.

What you can be certain of is that if you choose to get the vaccine, you definately get the vaccine. At some point in the future, you may or may not come into contact with the disease.

So is it worth getting a vaccinnation for a disease you may or may not come in contact with? This is something you need to weigh up, particularly as a travelling family. Take a look at your itinery and asses:

  • How likely are you to come in contact with each of these diseases?
  • Are the risks greater than back home? Are there certain areas you can avoid during your travels to minimise your exposure or is the disease too wide spread/unpredicatable?
  • How serious is the disease? 
  • What medical treatment options are there back home and on the road? Is the treatment worse than the disease, can the disease even be treated or is it a minor illness that’s fixed with bed rest and time?
  • What other prevention options are there, if any? And how effective are they? 


What causes an infection? How are they prevented?

Vaccines only protect us against an infectious disease — this is one where a microbe (such as a virus or bacteria) is able to enter our bodies and make us sick. Vaccines have helped decrease the number of people getting sick from these infectious diseases. Improved living conditions, diet and hygeine have reduced the rate of diseases, too.

It is well known that most travel diseases these days come from eating contaminated food or drink. Mosquito bites are another leading cause of travel diseases.

A healthy body is the best defence against disease. A balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, enough to eat and drink, keeping your body the correct temperature, living in sanitary conditions, breast-feeding … these are all so important for avoiding diseases. Being careful about what you eat, and taking precautions against mosquitos will help protect against these diseases.

But travellers, we often live in cramped living conditions on the road. Our diet can be good, but depending on where we are sometimes it might not be as good as we want due to availability, accessability, and cost.

Hygeine also isn’t what it could be in all countries of the world — including developed nations like Australia, where personally I have just experienced one of the worst mice plagues that anyone can remember.

Is a healthy body 100% of the time a realistic aim for family travellers?


The Arguments For?

“Since Edward Jenner discovered vaccinations, vaccines have been one of the leading causes of reduction of child mortality and improvement of human life worldwide. So, despite the vaccine scares, I’m a big believer in vaccination, not just for my child but for the benefit of other children in the herd.

If you’re from a developed country and travelling to other developed countries, your risks travelling with unvaccinated children are probably no higher than they are in your home country, because childhood vaccination programmes have substantially eliminated the risk of the most serious diseases.

One vaccine I’d recommend all parents consider for much of Asia, Latin America and Africa is rabies: rabies is 100% fatal if contracted. If you’ve had the vaccine, post-exposure treatment is an injection. If you haven’t, it’s a month-long course of injections.

Having seen the impact of polio on polio victims in the developing world, that’s another disease I’d really rather reduce the risk of my child contracting.

I’m especially wary about arguments regarding natural immunity. People don’t have natural immunity to diseases like tetanus, which can and do kill. I know lots of parents can and do travel with unvaccinated children, but to me it’s a risk I’d rather not take.”

Theodora from Travels With A Nine Year Old

Most health organisations around the world recommended we routinely vaccinate our kids. You may have seen the vaccination schedule expected during childhood.  In most developed countries, these include diseases like measles, mumps, rubella, polio, diptheria, tetanus and whooping cough.

But when we’re talking about travel vaccinations, we’re not just talking about standard vaccines. We’re talking about throwing in a whole heap of extra vaccines. These may include rabies, yellow fever, typhoid, japanese encephalitis, and hepatitis.

These diseases are around, and the risk varies across the world. We’re talking about disease that are actually an ongoing threat in many nations, there is no herd immunity in these countries. Vaccines are recommended to protect you against the disease that is common in that region.


Herd Immunity?

We’ve all heard about herd immunity. But what exactly is meant by that?

We need about 90% of people vaccinated to try and control or eradicate these diseases. And vaccines don’t appear to work for everyone. So, to protect all people (whether unvaccinated, vaccinated, or those who are vaccinated but don’t respond) we need at least 90% of all people vaccinated to prevent the spread of disease.


I can have the vaccine, and not have it work? What?

Yes. They don’t work for everyone.

Depending on the vaccine, the percentages vary, but on average they work for about 80-90% of people. So, without a high level of vaccination, the “herd immunity” won’t exist. So, a child is vaccinated to protect not only that child, but the entire community.  How do you feel about that? For some people, it is really important. Other people consider that the decision made for just that child is the only thing that matters.

Some vaccines you can have a blood test to find out if the vaccine has worked.  This includes diseases such as hepatitis B and rubella. These tests can show if you have a sufficient level of antibodies to protect you against the disease. Some people do not respond well to vaccines, and others respond rapidly.  There are differences in everyone. There is a theory that we are still more likely to be protected than if we hadn’t had the vaccine at all, even without a measurable antibody response. That doesn’t make sense to me, but the theory is out there.


Haven’t you seen the old photos and heard the horror stories of what these diseases can do?

Yeah, we’ve all seen the turn-of-the-century polio wards. If you haven’t, take the time to google for them. We’ve heard the stories about children left permanently deaf from measles, babies deformed from the having mother rubella, or the man infertile from having mumps. These diseases few and far between in a developed city today.

Why? Many reasons. Better hygiene, diet, and living standards, to name a few. But in the developing world and in remote areas of even developed countries, some of these diseases are still prevalent.


The Arguments Against?

I have seen how an 18 month old was normal one day, went to the doctors the next day, and had his needles and has never been the same since. That family now has a 9 year old who can only half function in our school system, and has to be helped in every area of his life. Is that fair, or right, or even a cause of the side affects? Who knows!

I have since discovered a different way of living. I no longer go to the doctors, and do not believe in medicine. We are mostly vegetarian, and eat a healthy diet without any harm to our children.

I have five boys, and our youngest only got a few of his needles before we realised the danger involved with the side affects. We have not looked back since we turned our back on the medical system, and we love the information that we have from our Wholefoods Farmacist Desk Reference that we purchased from Don Tolman – we heal our family and ourselves with herbs, food,water and fasting.

I could not agree with immunisation, and if I had my time over with my five boys, they all would have been born at home without any vaccinations! Too many cancers are now linked to the medicine that we are told we need to help with health issues. The very idea of putting a disease into my boys body with a needle is not something that I would agree to now days.

Lisa from New Life On The Road

The arguements against are very persuasive. There’s a lot of support for them, both anecdotal and scientific. A lot of modern parents question the risks of even routine injections, so exposing their children to even more vaccinations is an understandably scary prospect, with many choosing to travel without vaccinations.

There are a lot of arguments against vaccination.  I’m not saying these arguments are wrong or misguided, I’m just going to discuss each one of them now from a pharmacist’s perspective. There are of course many sides to each arguement, this is just one.


I don’t want all that stuff going straight into my (child’s) blood.

Actually, vaccinations don’t go straight into your blood. Most of them go into a large muscle. Muscles are chosen because medicines are released very slowly from the muscle into the rest of the body. Many of these vaccines are cleared from the body really quickly, so if you put them straight into the blood they wouldn’t even work.

It would be dangerous to put the vaccinations into the blood. That is why it’s not done.


The immunity from vaccination is not the same as natural immunity

Well, actually … you’ve only got one immune system. It only has the one way to build those antibodies.

The antibodies are exactly the same whether you had chicken pox, rubella or any other disease from the vaccine or from a disease.


These vaccines wear-off over time. They’ll be more vulnerable as adults to these diseases.

Yes, you need boosters for many of them. In fact, there are some vaccines that require an annual booster. Many are effective for five to ten years.

This is what I consider to be the strongest argument against vaccinations. How many people in their 20s and 30s have had all of their booster shots?

So many people in their 20s and 30s are getting pertusis (whooping cough) because they haven’t had their boosters. Did you know that adults should have a booster shot not only for tetanus, but diptheria and pertussis as well? Have you had yours? Many of these diseases can affect adults worse than children, so lets hope if they get a vaccine as a child that they will get their booster shots as an adult.


I’ll vaccinate homeopathically.

I’m not even going to discuss ‘homeopathic vaccination’ as, being a naturopath, this is not part of the theory even suggested by Samuel Hahnemann who is the “Father of Homeopathics”. If the purist homeopaths don’t consider it to be a relevant alternative, then I can’t take it too seriously, either.


My child’s healthy. The best defence against disease is a healthy body.

Yes. Of course. But even healthy kids, who have a good diet, and were breast-fed for extended periods still can get sick.

Do you or your child ever get tired, cold, hungry, have a day or a week where your diet is not so good? These are all times that your body’s defences may not be at their best. Those times can happen more often on the road.

Diet is such an important factor:

  • Will you have access to clean water?
  • Are fresh fruit and vegetables going to be plentiful and affordable every where you go?
  • Will you always be able to keep up the same quality of diet that you might have been able to at home? In remote Australia, I pay much, much more for fruit and vegetables than I used to in the city so we don’t eat as many of them as we probably would have back home. What about where you will be travelling?


I breastfeed.

Breast feeding protects our kids. Definitely. There is a lot of evidence that breast feeding strengthens a child’s immune system.

After six months of age, though, the baby’s bowel no longer lets through whole proteins meaning that the antibodies can no longer cross. As the baby’s immune system has not been stimulated to make antibodies against those diseases, these wear off in time.

So yes, you can definitely strengthen your baby’s immune system. But you cannot provide them with immunity to the disease.

If you could, these diseases would have been eradicated hundreds or thousands of years ago.

It is protective, and gives them an advantage in so many ways, and I would greatly encourage you to breast feed. However, it is not the be all and end all for immunity.


There are lots of ingredients in vaccines

  • Yes. There are lots of ingredients in vaccines. There are lots of ingredients in any medicine — whether it is a tablet or injected. That tablet you are swallowing may contain colours, flavours, talc, lactose … and much more. Vaccines are the same. These are called excipients. They are all the parts of the medicine that have no action on the body, but are needed to make the medicine stable, attractive, or get into your body.
  • Yes, the microbes have to be grown. Some are grown in synthetic cultures. Others are grown in other tissues. The vaccine for Japanese Encephalitis is grown in mouse brain culture. Sounds disgusting, doesn’t it? Viruses can’t live outside of a cell. To vaccinate against diseases caused by a virus, they must be grown in a cell. That cell can be a chicken egg, or a mouse brain cell. Scientist’s use whatever is considered the safest, most effective medium. The virus is then removed from that culture to make the vaccine, but tiny little bits of that culture may remain in the vaccine.
  • They contain aluminium and other metals? Yes. These can be found in vaccines. I used to be really concerned about this. Then I found out that there is more aluminium in my diet each day than in one vaccine.

Are these harmful?

Not to the best of our knowledge. The excipients and the vaccines both have to undergo extensive testing and trials to prove that they are safe – first in a laboratory, then on animals, and then small human trials, larger human trials, and then continued monitoring and trialling once it’s on the market.

Does this mean that everything that comes to market is guaranteed to be safe? No, of course not.

Think of the times that you’ve heard or read the news that a drug has been withdrawn due to safety concerns. The longer that something has been on the market, the more likely it is to be safe. And most vaccines have been around a long time. Of course this doesn’t mean that some time in the future we won’t discover a negative effect from even a vaccine that’s been around for years, but the longer it’s been on the market the less likelihood of this there is.


The diseases aren’t as bad or scary as we’re told. Like polio.

The statistic we were told while I was studying naturopathy was this: 90% of people who get polio never even know they’ve got it. 9% have the symptoms of the common cold. One per cent have paralysis, either permanently or temporarily. This is supported by the Encyclopedia Britannia.

Seriously? I’m going to vaccinate my kid against a rare disease, when only 1% of people end up having any more than the symptoms of a common cold?

I’ll take those odds.

In the USA, in 1960, there were 2,525 cases of paralytic polio reported. In 1961, the vaccine was introduced, and by 1965 there were only 61 cases of paralytic polio. Remembering, of course, that the other 99% of those who had the virus probably never even knew they had it. Between 1980 and 1999, there were 152 confirmed cases of paralytic polio. Six of whom had caught it overseas and then come in to the country, and two whom actually seem to have caught the disease naturally. The other 144 cases? That 95% of cases had caught it directly from the vaccine. That weakened virus used in the vaccine had changed back into the live form and the person had come down with polio – at a rate of about eight cases a year.

To me, this is the strongest argument against vaccination. This is fact. It’s not a scare campaign. 99% of people who have polio never ever know that they have it. 95% of polio cases since 1980 in the USA have been as a direct result of the vaccine. And you want my kid to have that vaccine?

But … what I wasn’t told when I was studying naturopathy was that the medical profession also thought this was too high. The live oral polio vaccine that they had been using was ceased, and instead an attenuated (weakened) vaccine was brought in. The last vaccine-related polio case was in 1999.

Not one case has been reported with the vaccine that they’ve used since 2000.

Ok so your family’s risk of catching polio and having a serious side effect from the illness is still incrediably low. But the current vaccine is no longer a risk.


There are nasty long term effects from vaccines.

There are lots of rumours.  Have you heard the ones about the MMR vaccine causing autism? And the HPV virus causing cancer?

I think there was one that was supposed to cause Mad Cow Disease, too — in the 1960s, before they’d even discovered a protein-based thing called a prion that causes the disease. Anyway, back to the 21st century …

Yes, there are rumours and suggestions. There is no evidence to support them.

I guess this one comes down to what scares you more? The rumoured potential for a long term side effect, or documented evidence of potential concerns from the disease? To be fair, with a vaccine you are guaranteed to have the vaccine, with the disease you are not guaranteed to have it.

The Australian government have produced a booklet, if you are interested in reading further about the arguments and counter-arguments. Obviously, as a government publication, it is pro-vaccine and entitled “Myths About Vaccination“.


Who cannot have vaccines?

Anyone with anaphylaxis to a previous dose of the vaccine, or any of the ingredients should be considered to have a contraindication.  The rabies, yellow fever, and influenza vaccines are grown in egg protein – they are usually not be given to anyone who has an anaphylactic reaction to eggs.

There are certain vaccines that are considered ‘live’ vaccines. These are vaccines where the virus is said to be ‘attenuated’ or weakened so it cannot cause disease any more, but the body will still react to it to stimulate an immune response. These are the MMR (measles mumps rubella), chicken pox, yellow fever, rabies, BCG, and typhoid vaccines. These vaccines are contraindicated in any one with impaired immunity, whether it is from a disease or treatment. Pregnant women or those trying to conceive should not have these either. People should be careful not to conceive within four weeks of having the immunisation.

What are not considered contraindications? Having a fever below 38.5C is not a contraindication, nor is a personal history of convulsions or family history of adverse reactions to vaccines. Treatment with antibiotics, inhaled or topical steroids are not, nor is replacement corticosteroid therapy. Some of these may medically need a delay in the dosing of the vaccine, but are not contraindications.

If you are concerned about any of these, please talk to your doctor to find out information specific to your own situation.


What are the recommendations for travel?

I apologise for the uni-national flavour of this section. As an Australian pharmacist, I am only really aware of Australian recommendations. Maybe you could let us know if the recommendations from your country are different? Hepatitis A and pneumococcal, for example,are only routine vaccinations in Australia for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, rather than all children. I have still included them as usual scheduled vaccines.

There are the usual scheduled vaccines for children in Australia that may need boosters:

Measles – Those born during or since 1966 who have not received 2 doses of MMR should be vaccinated.

Varicella – offered to all those who have not had the clinical disease.

Tetanus – should receive diptheria and tetanus combined vaccination if it has been over 10 years since the last dose.  Can be pertussis, diptheria and tetanus instead if no previous dose of pertussis has been given during adulthood.

Polio – boosters are not required, unless visiting a region where wild polio virus still exists (Afghanistan, India, Nigeria or Pakistan).

Pneumococcal – Those with any medical risk factors or of over 65 should be vaccinated.  This is part of the normal schedule for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Australia.

Meningococcal – All children and teenagers would have had this included in the Australian vaccination schedule.  Recommended for all travelling to sub-Saharan Africa, and Delhi, India due to large epidemics in 1966, 1985 and 2005.  Saudi Arabian authorities mandate all pilgrims to the annual Hajj have evidence of recent vaccination.

Hepatitis B – part of the routine Australian schedule for children now.  Adults are recommended to complete a course due to risk in planned or unplanned medical procedures, or if spending a month or more in Central and South America, Africa, Asia or Oceania.

Hepatitis A – Again, part of the normal schedule for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Also recommended for those over 1 year travelling to moderate to highly endemic countries, including all developing nations.


Now for the travel specific ones (for Australians)

Typhoid – to all travellers aged two years or more, travelling to endemic regions, including Indian subcontinent, most southeast Asian countries, many south Pacific nations and Papua New Guinea.

Cholera – Rarely indicated. The risk of catching it is low, and protection offered is relatively short. Travellers at considerable risk such as those working in humanitarian disaster situations could be considered for it.  Global certification for it has been abandoned.

Rabies – Travelling to endemic regions should avoid close contact to wild and domestic animals. Vaccination simplifies the management if a bite from an infected animal does occur.

Japanese Encephalitis – recommended for those spending a month or more in rural areas of Asia or Papua New Guinea, particularly during the wet season. Also recommended for those spending a year or more in any part of Asia.

Yellow Fever – WHO no longer reports on this. Recommended for those travelling to Yellow Fever endemic countries.  Vaccine can be given to all from 9 months old if they are travelling to any country in West Africa.

Tuberculosis – Given to children under five years who will be living in developing countries for more than three months.  Limited evidence of the benefit for older children and adults, though vaccination may be considered for those over 16 spending extended periods in at-risk areas.


So do I vaccinate my family before travel?

Before you make a decision whether to vaccinate or not, take the time to look at your intinery and consider the various diseases your family might be exposed to. How serious are these diseases and the side effects? How prevalent are they? Can you avoid exposure by not going into certain areas or avoiding outbreaks, or is the disease more wide spread or harder to predict? What treatment is available in the countries that you are visiting?

Like everything else with parenting, the facts are often murkied with emotional propoganda. Both the pro and anti vaccine debate use fear — preying on our natural fears and aprehensions as parents.  Which are you more scared of? Potential side effects from the vaccine or potential complications from the disease?

By all means, you should consider the potential side effects of the vaccinations themselves and plan other ways to maximise your family’s health on the road. Just take the time to look at each disease seriously. Consider the severity and prevalence, as well as the various prevention options before ruling out vaccination.

Of course, this article does not replace getting specific medical advice from your doctor. There may be reasons why a particular vaccine that is or is not recommended for you.  Those considerations go beyond the scope of a general article such as this.

One of the big pre-travel decisions many families face when they decide to travel long term is ?what the heck do we do with all our stuff??. Sell it, store it or rent out the house with the furniture included? What to do?  

A lot of families go down the path of storing it. If you get three months into your trip and hate it, you don?t have to buy everything again. Perhaps you?re only planning on travelling for a 6-12 months and have decided the cost of storage is worth it. Or you might have a close friend or family member that is happy to store your gear for free in their yard or spare room (lucky you!).

Maybe you?re just really attached to your things you don?t have to make too many hard decisions. And lets face it, selling off an entire household of gear is hard work. Garage sales, photographing everything and putting it up on line, answering enquiries, negotiating a price, postage it?s time consuming at a time when you just want to be planning your trip.

We stored our gear months before leaving Australia in January 2010. We didn’t want to get 2 months into our trip, decide we’d made the wrong decision and have to buy everything again. We negotiated a good long-term storage deal, packed everything away, locked the door and hit the road.

When we first reopened the storage shed after twelve months overseas we learnt a lot of lessons about what not to do when you store your gear long term. After another six months of storage (so 18 months in total), we?ve shipped everything overseas to set up a house in Malaysia. With every new box we’re opening we’re learning new lessons.

Before you pack:

  1. Get your fabric couches, rugs, mattresses and pillows professionally cleaned.
    Fabric go moldy in storage. Tables and chairs are easy to wipe clean, but once the moulds below the surface of a couch, rug or mattress it?s game over. 
  2. If your mattresses or couch is worth a lot of money, wrap it in plastic before they’re stored.
  3. Acquire decent boxes
    They can cost a lot but there’s nothing worse than packing a box and having it fall apart on you when you lift it up. Your boxes are going to sit in storage, piled on top of each other baring the weight of the box on top so they’re going to need to last.
  4. Buy decent packing tape
    The really cheap stuff doesn’t stick. Your going to be taping a lot of boxes so you only want to have to tape each box once. Plus you really don’t want the bottom falling out when you pick it up.
  5. Don?t keep broken things
    When you return from overseas and have a whole new life to set up, are you really going to fix that broken chair you?ve been wanting to fix for ages? No, you?re going to be too busy setting up a new life. Get rid of it now.
  6. Cull anything big you don?t like
    If you don?t like a piece of furniture now, you can bet after a few years away you?re going to really hate it the next time you see it.

    Look at it this way ? if you get rid of all the big items you don?t really like, you can probably downsize the storage space that you need and use the money that you save on storage costs to replace them with things you actually want when you return!

    Once it?s in storage it?s really hard to sell your stuff. Everything is boxed or pulled apart. Getting that bed from the back of the storage shed and putting it together to take photos to sell it online before having to dismantle it again to get it back into storage until it sells is a pain. The storage shed isn?t going to look kindly on you having a garage sale there. 

    If you suddenly decide you want to sell everything and live nomadically forever, selling it once it?s in storage is a pain in the butt.

Declutter your life!

  1. For the duration of your travels you?re going to be learning to live with less. Start embracing it now.
  2. Every extra box you pack increases the size of the storage space you need
    The bigger the storage space the more it costs. As you pack every box, ask yourself do I really want to pay money to store this?
  3. Ditch the dust collectors
    Shelves full of old nic-nacs? Unwanted Christmas gifts? This is the perfect chance to declutter all the useless ornaments out of your life ? when you come back if anyone ever asks just say the removalist?s lost it.
  4. Cull your wardrobe
    If you don?t like it now, if it makes your butt look huge or it?s out of fashion get rid of it. Honestly, after a year or two of living out of a suitcase with just a few outfits, your going to open these boxes of clothes that you hate and throw them out anyway so do it now.
  5. I might fit into them one day!
    All those clothes that you wore in your early twenties that you?ve been keeping with the promise to yourself that ?One day I?ll fit into them again? ? ask yourself three questions. Am I really ever going to fit into this again? Will it be out of fashion then anyway? Do I honestly want to pay money to store these clothes I might never wear again? 

    You?ve already been holding onto them for 5, 10 years now you?re paying to hold onto them. Donate them and if you do come back from the trip lighter than you started (which is hard with all the great food you?re going to be eating) treat yourself with new clothes.  

  6. Kids Clothes
    Work out how long you are going to be away and donate anything that’s going to be way to small when you get back.

    And what about all those keepsake outfits? The clothes they wore home from hospital, their first birthday dress, those booties an elderly Aunt knitted. Be ruthless and just keep a couple of the nicest things. 

  7. Halve the number of shoes you own
    Your going to spend the next year wearing only one or two pairs of shoes and return to a mountain of dusty old shoes wondering what the hell you ever needed all these for. If you haven’t worn them in two years get rid of them.

    Don’t forget the kids shoes – anything they’ll have outgrown should go. 

  8. Attack your bookcases
    Do you have a shelves filled with old university textbooks, DIY Handyman guides, magazines and encyclopedias from the 80s?

    Is anyone ever going to look at these again? Can you borrow them from a library, find the information online or buy an e-book version?

  9. Old school memoriabilia
    If you come from a family of horders like me, you probably have a box filled with your old school books, trophies and certificates that your mum faithfully kept for years and now you have them.

    Why? Do you really need all of those schoolbooks or can you cull it down to just two or three books? What about those certificates and trophies? Do you need the one you got for picking up garbage when you were 7? Or for coming last in a spelling test but being a good sport about it? Only keep the ones you?re really proud of.

Cleaning Out

Lets talk about the kitchen

  1. No matter how well you clean everything, it?s going to be dusty, moldy or both when you open it again in a few years.
    I?m not saying don?t clean your kitchen items before packing them, just don?t spend hours and hours on each and every item ? no matter how well you clean it tiny microbes that you can?t remove are going to multiply over the next few years. Pick your battles and be prepared to spend the first few weeks of unpacking washing everything!
  2. Throw out your wooden spoons
    If they?ve been used, they will go moldy in storage and potentially spread mold to other items.  They’re cheap to replace so toss them out.  Same goes for any wooden bowls, placemats or coasters. If they can?t be sanded back, toss them now.
  3. Halve your Tupperware
    Most family kitchens are a breeding ground for plastic containers. Throw out anything missing a lid, broken, worn or stained. Sitting in a box for years really ages plastic containers so if they?re not perfect now ditch them. Don’t forget old drink bottles while your at it.
  4. If you don?t use the appliance dump it
    Do you really want to pay good travel money to store that donut maker or waffle iron you haven’t used in 5 years?
  5. How clean is your kettle? 
    If it’s old and the element is dirty, will you use it again after it’s been in a box for years?
  6. Same goes for the toaster!
    If you can?t get all traces of food out of it are you really going to use it again?

You have how many pillow cases?

Families tend to accumulate a lot of linen. You can end up with literally boxes and boxes of the stuff by the time you take into account sheets, towels, quilts, mattress protectors it?s all bulky and takes up room in a storage shed.

  1. If it?s stained by body sweat ditch it now
    If you can’t wash the stains out now, are you really going to want to sleep on this again after it?s been in storage?
  2. Do you really need 50 pillow cases?
    Every time you buy new sheet sets they come with pillow cases. Sheet wear out overtime, but pillow cases live on and breed pillow case colonies in your cupboards. You can probably cull your pillow cases by 2/3 and not even miss them.
  3. Throw out old pillows
    If they?re stained at all throw them out. You don?t want to know what they?re going to look like after several years sitting in a dark storage shed quietly growing their own life forms. They’re probably mutiny and strangle you in your sleep if you ever use them again. 
  4. Use compression sacks for bulky items
    Doonas and blankets take up a lot of room in a box. Compress them if you can in vacuum sealed bags or compression sacks.


OK here?s the chance you?ve been waiting for a chance for the kids toys to myseriously disappear but wait

  1. Even 2 years olds have really good memories when it comes to their precious toys. 
    You?ll be surprised how long kids remember their toys for. Especially when they?re only travelling with a limited selection of their toys and their memories of the hundreds of toys they have back home. Be careful when you throw things out, particularly favourites.
  2. Instead, concentrate on ditching broken toys and things they?ve grown out of.
  3. Board games
    If it’s missing pieces that you can?t substitute, don?t store them. They take up a lot of room.

Figurine Collection


  1. Here?s your chance to really cull.
    Is your office filled with aperwork, old tax records, filing, notes from an old job, that report you did for a summer internship ten years ago?

    It s surprising how many boxes of paperwork the average home office has. Be ruthless. Throw out any tax records you no longer need. You can always use a nifty online w-4 calculator to assist with your taxes in the future.  Scan that old report or assignment if you really can t bear to be parted with it. Will you ever use those training course notes on how to use Word 97 from last decade that have been sitting in a box you just haven t gotten around to chucking out?

  2. Obsolete techology
    Old modems, old phones, power cords for mobiles you no longer have … I bet you have heaps of this stuff laying around the office. It’s obsolete now, it’s not going to come back in fashion like your favourite jacket if you hold onto it for a few more years. Throw them out! Donate any old mobiles to a good cause or give them to a friend with teenage kids. You don’t need them. 


  1. Ask for a discount
    You?re going to be storing your stuff for a long time. Shop around until you find a place that offers a long term discount. You should be able to get 30-50% off the advertised rate.
  2. Check out their Pest Control
    The last thing you want is to come back and find rats and cockroaches have been partying in your things while you were gone. Make sure they have adequate pest control.

    If your storing at a relatives house, leave them with enough money to get the place sprayed every six months and leave out rat traps.

  3. Make sure it?s leak proof
    Make sure the building is well maintained and there are no leaks. Check out the drainage around the facilities. The last thing you want is soggy boxes.

    Even if you’re just storing in your neighbours backyard, think about what will happen if there?s a heavy downpour. Will the roof leak? That cheap old shed might look like a cheap option now but is it going to let the elements in come the first summer storm? Will water run over the concrete slab? Think about it now, not when your on a beach in Thailand unable to do anything.

  4. Don?t store on a flood plain
    OK this one might seem a little obvious, but it had been 30 years since there had been a flood in Brisbane and 7 years of drought. Flooding was the last thing on our minds. Thankfully our storage shed was high enough on a hill, but when your overseas hearing about all the rain back home it can spoil your holiday to be worrying about your gear.
  5. What if you have to change storage solutions while your overseas?
    That friend might be happy to store your things for now, but what happens if they need that shed or room? Or you decide to stay overseas travelling for a few more years? What happens if the storage shed company closes down? Or decides to put up the fees while your away and you need to find another solution? You should figure out the answers to these questions before you leave the country. 

Justice the rat 5/6/2009

Time to pack the storage shed! 

  1. Label everything and be specific
    ?Kitchen Stuff? might mean something to you now, but when you come back to unpack you?re probably not going to have a clue. You don?t have to itemize every item but it pays to be a little more specific than kitchen stuff. You?ll save yourself a lot of time and stress when unpacking if you can figure out the contents of the box first. 
  2. Organise the storage shed
    The more organized the storage shed is the more you?ll fit in. Stack boxes on boxes, put the heaviest things on the bottom, lay tables on their side and pack around them
  3. Make sure you know where all the bolts/screws are to put things back together again
  4. Think about what you?ll need first when you get back
    What things are you going to need straight away when you get back? What are you going to WANT as soon as you get back. Make sure these are accessible.
  5. Keep some toys in an accessible spot
    When you open the shed again for the first time your priority is going to be making sure everythings OK. For the kids it?s going to be getting into that box of toys they missed the most. Leave toys in an accessible spot. It?s also going to buy you a lot more time at the storage shed finding everything you want if the kids are happily occupied.  
  6. Leave a key with someone you trust
    Make sure you leave a key to your storage solution with someone back home. That way if the gear needs to be moved to another location while your overseas, someone already has the key. If someone needs to get into the shed for pest control purposes or to check for leaks, or you need something from the shed posted to you then simple – someone back home has a key.
  7. Leave important paperwork with family or in a prominant place in the storage shed.
    Wills, birth certificates, tax records … sometimes unforseen things come up and you need access to these types of documents while overseas. Leave them with a trusted family member or in a prominent place in the storage shed so they can be accessed for you. 

The storage shed

When you get back

  1. Check the gas in your fridge before you turn it on
    We learnt this one the hard way. Gas leaks out over time. If you turn your fridge on it might have enough gas for work for a day or two, but soon the gas will run out and potentially blow the circuits. Get someone out to check it!
  2. Be prepared for appliances to die in the first week
    Electrical appliances don?t like being left alone. Washing machines in particular have a tendency to not work again after a few years in storage. Expect that you might have some cost outlays you didn?t expect.
  3. Be ready to clean like you never have before
    Things in storage get dusty. Even inside boxes. Clothes, sheets, kitchenware, books, DVDs, toys everything is going to be dusty and need cleaning.. Enjoy!