PARENTS

Mum, Dad And Two Children Live Life On The Open Road

04/12/2014 14:12 | Updated 20 May 2015

Mum, dad and two children live life on the open road

For many people, the idea of living on the open road with two young children for a whole year might sound overwhelming - to say the least.

Meet Jo Royle, who is doing just that as she goes around the country teaching people to meditate and showing her children a completely different way of life.

The aim for Jo, 40, husband James, 40, and children Annie, eight, and Oscar, four, is to cut out the stresses of modern life and spend more time together as a family.

But Jo hasn't just hopped aboard The Bus (they now live in a converted mobile library that they call The Bus) and left their old life behind at the drop of a hat - there was a whole heap of things to think about and arrange before they hit the open road.

"We asked ourselves plenty of questions before we committed to the trip," says Jo. "What is the trip about? What's important? How long will we go for?

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How are we going to travel? How are we going to earn whilst travelling?

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"How can we offset costs? Where do we want to go and who do we know? What do we need to organise for home schooling?

"For our family, the best way to start planning was to buy a UK map and put these questions on post-it notes on the map - we took them off as we worked each one out."

And you thought there was a lot to think about when you did your first family holiday!

Overall, Jo says the trip as been an 'amazing' experience, adding that the biggest joy is seeing Annie and Oscar learn first hand, rather than just hearing about what they did at school at the end of each day.

"The school was very supportive," she adds. "There have been home school packs and support along the way."

Mum, dad and two children live life on the open road

The school even has a 'where's Annie' board to keep up with her progress when she sends postcards - and the family will be popping home before Christmas.

Jo says she didn't worry that the kids would feel displaced, as, after all, 'thousands of people move house and their children move schools'.

"We asked the children what their main worries were and Annie said she didn't have any, which resulted in us all singing Hakuna Matata!" says Jo.

"Oscar said he was worried about the dark - so we put the light on! My worries were financial so we made sure we had three to four months of work in the diary, and had upcycling projects booked so James could work to offset costs.

"James' s main worries were about driving the bus - maneuvering and finding places to park. We have fitted a reverse camera and try not to drive in the dark."

And what about her relationship with James and her children?

"We both adapt pretty quickly. It's great to spend more time together as a family and to 'play out' together so much - not just on the weekend," says Jo.

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It's fab to see the kids learn and grow, which we have realised you miss so much of when they're doing that at school.

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"We've been trying to remove modern stresses from our lives for several years, and found what really helps is removing all the endless choices in life."

Jo's aim is to travel around the coast of the UK, coming from the North where she is at the moment, around the Suffolk coastline, down along the South Coast and ending up in the West country by Christmas.

Mum, dad and two children live life on the open road

Hitting the road in the coldest season in a converted mobile library may sound chilly, but The Bus has a log burning stove to help keep everyone toasty - it's actually a cosy place that wouldn't be out of place on George Clarke's Amazing Spaces.

"It cost just short of £4,000 on Ebay," Jo explains. "Inside we have tried to theme it like a beach hut, so it's really light and bright with a window at kitchen sink and in the lounge. We've got old ordnance survey maps on the walls of all of England. The bus is really high – 12ft high – we have a 5ft bed suspended over the lounge dining room which drops down on a pulley.

"There's a full kitchen area, and I get the slow cooker going.

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The kids have bunks over the seats in front. They love it and have a fireman's pole to get out of bed - and to get in because they refuse to have a ladder!

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While life on the open road took planning and presented a fair few hurdles, it's been responsible for some true family highs for Jo, James and their children.

"The best bit so far has to be spending so much time with the children, and being outdoors," says Jo.

And, after all, isn't that something we all aspire for?

Are you tempted to take time out from your normal lives?

To join Jo for a day's meditation costs £75 per person - or you can contact Jo to see what you can 'swap' for a session.

Find out more and follow the family's journey at Effortlessjo.co.uk, and on Twitter @EffortlessJo.

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