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Life on the road

Posted on 16 May 2013 | 20 comments

Do we get bored? Do we wonder what to do next? Have we read dozens of books yet and watched all our 300+ movies?

Nope, there is none of that in our daily life. We are getting a routine now and finally know where everything is packed in the car (although we still can’t find a few things we’re sure we packed, but that’s a different story). And we haven’t been bored for a single minute!

If you are interested in getting a little insight in our daily routine, read on. Otherwise wait until our next blog post for more adventures.

We are generally woken up by the sound of our surroundings around 7AM and don’t need to set an alarm. This can be barking dogs, monkeys screeching, people talking, motorbikes or even fisherman whacking a stick on the surface of the water to chase fish into their nets.

Jon leaves the tent first and I pack up the overnight things and prepare the tent for folding up (closing the windows, putting the pillows and duvet in their spot to make folding the tent easier and attaching the two elastic cords which help pull the tent sides in when it gets folded). We both use a shopping bag to carry our things up to the tent and back down again each morning.

We make breakfast, usually muesli with fruit, sometimes with tea, and find a shady spot to eat it. After breakfast we clean up, putting the dishes away and cleaning up the inside of the car to make sure everything is in its place and the areas we use most are swept and kept clean (are you proud of me mum?!).

Lara gets a regular wash

Lara gets a regular wash

The rest of the day is always very different, we explore a town, go for a hike in a national park, immerse ourselves into the biggest water fight in the world or drive to the next spot. We read a lot about the places we go to, but it is still always a surprise what we are going to find there.

Finding a spot to eat lunch is our next challenge, if we’re driving and have a lot of ground to cover we sometimes eat our lunch on the move, but generally we try to find a nice spot to stop. Lunch is usually bread and cheese – we save the evenings for Asian food.

lunch spot with a view

lunch spot with a view

another lunch spot, this time next to a river for a swim

another lunch spot, this time next to a river for a swim

When we arrive in a town we usually have a few things we need to do. Things like laundry (if we stay overnight), shopping for food (fruit mostly), buying batteries or find a post office. These things take time as we have to try to find out where the market is, the post office, a laundry or the supermarket.

supermarket in Thailand, no such luxury in Laos

supermarket in Thailand, no such luxury in Laos

Finding things like bread, cheese, milk, muesli or cordial is not always easy. In Thailand we had big supermarkets where you can generally find most things, but Laos for example doesn’t have any supermarkets so we try to find things in small local shops. Mostly completely at random. Who knew you buy bread in Phonsavan in the Indian restaurant…?

milk, not easy to find here!

milk, not easy to find here!

In the evening we like to find a spot to camp before it is dark, but this doesn’t always happen. We are learning what to look for in a campsite when we do make it there during daylight. Big streetlights are avoided if we can, but there isn’t always much choice. We’ve stayed in a few guesthouses, but definitely prefer to camp.

Once we have parked for the night we leave the car and get our bikes to explore and find a restaurant for dinner (if we’re in or near a town). We have rarely cooked ourselves, as the food is amazing and cheap. It’s also the best way to get to know the local cuisine.

eating out - we cycle to restaurants

eating out – we cycle to restaurants

eating out - best Laksa in the world (Penang, Malaysia)

eating out – best Laksa in the world (Penang, Malaysia)

Back at the car we organise our night bags and wash. We haven’t used our own shower yet as it is so much easier to use a bucket and a washcloth, easier as it is much more discreet. Don’t forget we have camped in police compounds, in public carparks, on empty blocks of land in the city, in a local village, besides rivers, in wats (temples) and on public beaches. None of these are very private, so we generally wait until after dark. If we’re lucky there is a toilet nearby we can use (something else we have to search or ask for when we find our camp site), otherwise we find our own spot (easier after dark too).

washing with the locals

washing the same way as the locals

random toilet, the big stone pot has the water in it to flush

random toilet, the big stone pot has the water in it to flush

toilet with a view

toilet with a view

When we go to bed, I usually get up there first to set up the fan, organise the bed and Jon locks up the car. Jon is always the one putting up the tent and taking it down as it is too high for me. Click on ‘Packing the Taj Mahal’ to see the little video (1.30 min – opens You Tube in a new window).

So far we have averaged 160km a day of driving, but the fastest we can drive on a really good road in Cambodia for example is 70km/hr, in Thailand it was 110km/hr and in Laos 60km/hr. And that is until the next cow or chicken or pig or water buffalo or duck crosses the road or we come across another potholed section. There are times we only average about 20-30km per hour (and yes, that is on the main roads!).

filling up again!

filling up again!

In every country we buy a local sim card with data, so we don’t rely on free wifi so much. This means we can post a blog nearly everywhere, although Thailand was the worst for internet with 3G only available in Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai (2 of these we didn’t go to). We try to check our emails regularly, but this is definitely not daily, generally when we drive so we don’t loose valuable exploring time when we get to our destination. In fact, most of our blog posts are written in the car too for that same reason.

Life for the co-pilot is pretty busy. Whoever is passenger has to make sure the driver has everything they need, all batteries are charged, there is cool water to drink, the gps is not talking nonsense, bananas, pineapples or watermelons are bought, opening and closing gates, asks for directions, making sure the driver stays on the correct side of the road, spots for good photo opportunities, takes photos and records movies, waves to the kids along the side of the road, read the Lonely Planet about the next town or the history of the country, write blog posts, download photos, back-up our photos, checks fuel prices at petrol stations, …

buying fruit at road stalls

buying fruit at road stalls

So far we haven’t killed each other yet 🙂 and we’re feeling more and more relaxed every day. Most of the time we don’t even know what date or day it is. We are absolutely loving it and can recommend it to all considering a midlife crisis, or if you just want to do ‘something else’ with your life!

And please keep posting comments on the blog! We love reading them and always try to respond as soon as we can.

we cycle to go shopping or drop off our laundry

we cycle to go shopping or drop off our laundry

we cycle around to explore towns

we cycle around to explore towns


  1. Hi guys. Great site – very informative. I’m about to embark on a row trip from Melbourne to Edinburgh and haven’t yet decided on a gps solution. What did you use? Any tips from your experience? Thanks again, Phil

    • Hi Phil, sorry for the late response, we have been away. We used a normal car gps (Garmin Nuvi) and then downloaded the open street maps from where it is also possible to create your own standard map with the areas you need. Can highly recommend it as it is also routable! Works fantastic. Make sure you get a garmin as they allow adding the open street maps onto the micro SD card. Let us know if you need more info! Enjoy the preparations and the trip! Cheers, Jon & Jude

  2. Hello Jon and Jude,

    We are reading your stories and it all sounds great. We are making plans ourselves and are looking for information on China. We would like to send you an email but cannot find your address anywhere. It it possible to contact you and ask you some questions? We added our email address to this message.


    • Hi Belinda, we can’t see your email address here, but feel free to send an email to jonandjude at gmail dot com. Happy to help and will try to answer any questions you might have. Happy planning!! Cheers, Jude

  3. Jon & Jude, I can tell you just how much I am enjoying your blog I think that I have read it so many times now that I can almost quote where you are and what you did yesterday. Fantastic writing really enjoyable we are traveling the trip through you both. Keep on enjoying as will we

    Chere’s Peter

    • Thanks Peter, always great to hear somebody enjoys reading our blog! Hope the trip with the 3 extra passengers was fun! Cheers, Jude

  4. Hoi Jon&Jude,wat een reis zeg die jullie maken.Vooral dat door die boompjes zweven is kicken zeg.En dan dat uitzicht bij het ontbijt,is iets ander dan bij ons achter het huis.We volgen met veel belangstelling jullie reisverslag.
    Met veel lieve groetjes voor jullie beide van ons.

    Audoe en agge mar leut et. Flip

    • Hi Flip & Ria, leuk dat jullie ook de blog volgen en om van jullie te horen! En ja, heel afwisselend alles en de zip lijnen vonden wij ook super. Dus leut hebben we wel 🙂
      Liefs, jx

  5. Hoi,Judith,Jon,we hebben een camping met wifi en we hebben jullie verhaal gelezen over de dagelijkse gang van zaken,heel leuk. Wij staan zelf in Slovenië vlakbij het meer van Bled, wel in de regen maar gelukkig vanaf morgen beter weer, xxx pa en ma

    • Veel plezier in Slovenië! Wij hadden vandaag wat buien, maar ook veel zon. Hopelijk voor jullie ook zon vanaf morgen. Bedankt voor de emails en updates, geen wifi hier helaas. Ik email snel weer, hopelijk morgen. Dikke kus, jxxxxx

  6. Thanks for your fantastic story, enjoyed it very much. Funny though, I didn’t ever think you would be reading books watching movies or being bored! Maybe if you stayed put for a month if Lara as sick. But even then…it’s not your style. Enjoy the slow moments tho, when they come! What’s the best emails to use so we can send photos of new house (with room for visitors :)) and Park out the back for Lara..

    • Hahaha, you know us well 🙂
      New house?! What, where? How awesome! Tell us all, best email address is jonandjude at gmail dot com. It seems to work fine in China (so far), but make sure to send small photos as downloading anything is very, very, very slow. It times out a lot if it is too big… Hopefully we’ll be able to check it out ourselves soon (with or without Lara)! Big hug, j&jx

  7. I’m loving the JJ & Lara blogs.
    A great read on the train to work. I almost dont go to work but to the nearest land rover dealership.
    Its great to know the day in the life of JJ & Lara – gives a great insight of what you get up to.
    Enjoy todays lunch spot


    • Great to hear you are thinking of buying a proper car 🙂
      how’s racing going? Training for XPD?! Can’t get FB updates here in China so we’re missing your updates about races. Big hug, jx

  8. It doesn’t look like fruit or batteries what Jon holds in his hand in the supermarket!?
    And I am not your mum, but I am proud too, that you keep your little moving home in tip top shape. 😉

    • 🙂 busted… He found chocolate. A whole section of it… We miss good chocolate, but found dark toblerone yesterday so we’re happy now!

  9. Thanks so much for the post about daily life on the road. We are really enjoying your post and dreaming about our own trips one day.

    • Thanks Alex, hope your dreams will become reality one day! Just remember, you just have to commit and then it will happen 🙂

  10. This write up is just so interesting for those of us hoping to one day undertake a similar trip. Thank you so much for the time and effort taken – having a blog during our eighteen month trip around Australia I know this takes real commitment. Keep travelling safely and enjoy the moment.

    • Thanks Gill, we’re both really enjoying the blog too! Writing is surprisingly easy and as we write whilst driving we don’t feel we loose any time. It’s great to read the comments as well so thanks again!

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