Australia by Kombi
Dreams fulfilled, lessons learnt & life lived on the road with Riley Travels
Although we don’t have cubs of our own we understand the uniqueness of travelling the world with kids. It ain’t always easy, just like everything in life, but some parents sure do make it look fun! When we think of epic families doing life on the road we can’t go past Riley’s Travels, a family of three (soon to be four) living the slow, simple life in Izzie, their 1962 Kombi. Kirianna and Lachlan are the powerhouses behind Riley’s Travels blog, Riley is their son and together they chase him around Australia. So we did a little Q&A with this wandering family because we’ve loved following their journey of blue oceans, vast landscapes and the most picturesque sunsets we’ve ever seen. And if you’re anything like us, scrolling through their Instagram will have you in awe and totally inspired to show your little cubs the world too.
1: Tell us a little bit about Izzie and why you chose to live life on the road?
Izzie is a 1962 split screen kombi. She was a wedding car based in Perth. We knew of her owner through family and so the minute we heard word that she was for sale we jumped - literally! We are travellers at heart and after spending a lot of time exploring the world with our son “Riley” we decided to bring him home to show him his homeland of Australia. This was a big dream of ours especially to do in a kombi. Lachlan’s 92 year old grandfather is a storyteller, after hearing his fond memories of his trips around Australia in the 1980’s with friends and his late wife, we felt inspired to go for it. Izzie needed to be re-fitted, so we trucked and trained her from Perth to Queensland where we had the interior installed, we drafted a plan for a new kitchenette with a fridge and sink, solar panels and an annexe. In six short weeks, she was ready and we began our trip from the Gold Coast in Queensland.
2: Were there any pivotal moments that lead you to van life?
Lachlan’s grandfather had done the lap a few times. His tales had a massive impact on us, it sounded romantic! He would make his wife toast in bed each morning with her cup of tea pulled up under the trees and have homemade lunches along the beach, they made friends along the way and watched the days turn to night. I also had an aunty from New Zealand who brought a kombi in the 70’s and slowly made her way around with two children and her husband - everyone was encouraging us. After travelling abroad we realised we had not ticked off some of the most famous parts of Australia. We had met many travellers who would rave about the landscapes, beaches and vineyards of Australia, destinations we were yet to visit ourselves, these encounters gave us the nudge quickly realising it would be our next adventure.
3: Why is travel so important to you?
Ultimately, it is the experiences we thrive off. We have changed as people and we are constantly learning and falling in love with life, having an appreciation for time, and these moments together. When Riley was born we were adamant to keep going knowing the benefits our travelling would be a great gift and would later create a little traveller too. Sure, we miss family and we are living out of a suitcase but the world is educating us and Riley for the better. We are overcoming challenges together and making wonderful memories.
4: What is the most important thing you want to teach Riley?
I want him to care, have empathy be genuine and kind. I think exposing him to the world plays a massive part in this. He will openly play, and share a meal with local children in less privileged countries he has no idea of ethnicity or religion. He is just happy to make a new friend. I want him to believe in adventures, that anything is possible if you work and try hard. We set examples of it for him - by building a strong foundation with our own actions.
5: What is the biggest lesson Riley has taught you?
Patience and adaptability. We have often been mid-trip and had to change destinations that are more suitable for him or even more fun. We have to be flexible, sometimes long road trips just aren’t possible so we have to allow more time and slow it down which in turn has been a blessing, and may have missed some of the prettiest little towns if we didn’t have him. We have also learnt to live with very little it’s refreshing not worrying about materialistic items and buying too much food that would later be wasted - it has taught us to reduce and buy smarter.
6: Highlights / Low-lights of living in a Kombi:
So many highlights we all adore our time in her! She is so good to us and very reliable. (Touch wood)
It’s so strange to think a car can reward you with so much happiness. It is really special to have the freedom to pull up and make anywhere home for a moment. We consider her as part of the family and are so grateful for each adventure she takes us on.
The lows would be space, we find it hard when it rains as Riley is pretty much trapped. We try to find a good spot to pull up for him to get out and stretch or at times find a great campground with a kids area if it has really set in.
7: Can you tell us your funniest memory of van living?
We work in Tokyo, and travel home to Izzie on our breaks. We had been away for a month or so, we landed into Perth heading to pick her up and re-start our trip. Riley knew immediately where we were and as Lachlan unlocked the garage door riley began jumping up and down racing around her shouting Izzie!! These moments of his excitement and joy are our favourite. We have lost him while packing up camp before, meanwhile he has already climbed into his seat and we found him trying to buckle up his seatbelt and go.
8: What’s your best advice to anyone that has never travelled in a van before?
Be patient and realistic! While I am a believer that anything is possible, I do think people tend to over plan for so many “what if’s” try relax and take it in your stride, head somewhere comfortable at first to get the feel for packing and being on the move.
9: What do you think the world will look like when Riley is your age?
During our travels, we have met some incredible people who are trying to preserve and conserve. Its horrible to see the mistreatment of our planet. We have recently begun the conversation of “litter” with Riley, he is pretty funny when it comes to putting rubbish in the bin - one day he walked my aunty all the way back to the store to pop his ice cream stick in the trash, she was impressed. I really hope we can all preserve this beautiful planet so our future generations can enjoy it just like we have had the opportunity too.
10: Top 5 places everyone should see in Aus:
-Esperance WA, Kangaroos on the beach is such a sight!
-Whitsundays QLD, The glassiest water and softest sand
-Bay of Fires TAS, The unique sunsets falling onto the boulders as you camp on the beach edge
-Hymans Beach NSW, I mean is it even real, feels like the Maldives
-Great Ocean Road VIC, Insane rugged coastal drives and forest walks all in one
-Byron Bay NSW, our favourite place in Australia.