Life on the open road

Lifestyle Tuesday 16/February/2016 19:53 PM
By: Times News Service
Life on the open road

It’s four years since the Brisbane coast of Eastern Australia has faded out of the rear view mirror of their Land Cruiser. The 1993 model Toyota LC 75 Series diesel SUV had sped past the entire outback of Australia, the Far Eastern archipelago, the Himalayan sub-continent and is in the Middle East now.
And they came a long way, crossing the Indian Ocean to the volcanic islands of Indonesia, through the pristine beaches of Thailand, Cambodia, the landlocked Laos, the dense tropical Myanmar, along the great Himalayan valleys wading through the Indian monsoon, then to the south touching Pondicherry, up again through the western coast to Kashmir and crossing the border to Pakistan leaving behind its chilling winters on highlands, Iran, Dubai and now in Oman, the 16th country!
For Greg, his wife Magali and their daughters Natasha and Anastasia, their life is a road trip where everything is about learning and adventure. And, you know, they have completed only one-third of their voyage. Greg says it will take eight more years to complete their road trip exploring the world. When your children read textbooks to learn about the Himalayas, the Asiatic Lions or the biggest archipelago, these nomad kids experience it with their eyes and hearts.
Twelve years! That’s how long the family is expected to be on the road, through six continents and over 100 countries. The world tour is interactive; you can participate in plotting their route by providing suggestions and advice, through their blog and website.
Greg, a former teacher of info-graphics in France, is a nomad at heart and the instigator of this family adventure. He’s been travelling since he was young and now he has decided to explore every conceivable region with his family in their customised ‘car-home’.
Greg spent his childhood in Western Africa, from two-month-old to 18 years. Then his parents moved to New Caledonia and Greg to France to pursue his studies and in the nineties he moved to New Caledonia, but never settled. “In Caledonia I have a business of web design and I continue to teach online in a French University. The life was okay, but I want to move on. So we decided to move on,” says Greg.
“It took a long time to convince my wife. I used to visit Australia often. Then we travelled all around Australia for an year and later moved to New Zealand. The kids joined schools there, and then we moved back to New Caledonia. Finally we decided to hit the road in 2011 and had spent a whole year for planning, and preparation.”
Greg purchased the car, ‘Loongin’ that is how they call it, in Brisbane through e-bay. Loongin was fully equipped to meet the needs of the family. Stripped back to the bare essentials, the work took three months but Greg, with the help of a garage in Brisbane, has successfully built a real home on wheels. The vehicle is both their mode of transport and home for this long journey around the world. The car is fitted with shelves, kitchen tables two bed-room tents, fridge, water shower, and solar powered heater...
“At first we planned to go a bit faster - six continents in six years. Later we realised that we will need more time to explore and it was extended to ten years, and again we added two more years to complete the tour. We just don’t visit a country for the sake of saying that we have been there. We spend enough time there and visit maximum possible places. There is no point in saying that I have been in Oman without visiting Jebel Shams, its Wadis, beaches, and cities like Sur.”
When the journey started, younger Anastasia was in fifth grade and Natalia seventh grade. Now they are in 10th and 12th studying online. The school in France sends them all curriculum on line. “Whenever exam time comes, we go to the French embassy in that country and they will help us to take on the exams. Most probably we will be in Kenya for the next annual examination,” they say.
“We are safe from all that the parents’ worrying factors such as parties, drugs, cigarettes, drinking, and violence... They have never been to parties and discotheques,” Greg says. But his worry is different. “They cannot travel all the time. When they start their own life, how they will adapt to the modern urban society? They know how to set up a tent, make fire, fishing or small hunting... But they don’t know how to live in a city.”
The life is never monotonous for the nomad family. “Everything changes every time as we move. With the money I have, we cannot check in to hotels,” he said.
Though the life is thrilling, it is a bit tough and many could not imagine living on the road. The family is living on 500 Euros, which Greg gets as pension. They manage everything with this money, but had to ship their entire belongings two times, from Australia to Indonesia and Iran to Dubai. It is expensive, says Greg. “And from Oman also we have to ship the car either to Jordan or Ethiopia. Saudi Arabian authorities won’t allow right-hand-drive vehicles on their roads. We are looking for sponsors to help us ship our car to Africa.”
Greg calculates it will take three years to complete Africa and then cross the Mediterranean to Italy. “People won’t tolerate this kind of life style in the western part of Europe. We will visit France, Italy and Spain for some friends. Then we will cross Turkey and through all the East European countries, and Mongolia reach the eastern tip of Russia and cross to Alaska. Then will explore Canada, all through the US, Latin America and down to the Argentinean tip of Tierra del Fuego.”
“My dream is that somebody will be waiting there in Argentina to buy my car to put it in a Museum. Then we would like to buy a small sail boat and sail through the oceans and spend the rest of our life off the South-Eeast Asian islands including Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand. Sail by wind means no fuel. With our budget we will be okay. The budget is not okay in Europe,” Greg smiles.
The nomads have just turned 300,000 km in Nizwa last week. If you want to follow them, visit or