Book Review: On The Road… With Kids | John Ahern


“One Family. 30 countries. No turning back.”

You could forgive the average parent for looking askance at John and Mandy Ahern when they announced their intention to purchase a second-hand motorhome in Europe and drive around with their two small children for a year.  “You and your kids?  In a van? For a year? I can’t think of anything worse!”

Still, ‘dream stealers’ notwithstanding, this is precisely what they did.

John’s firsthand account of their intense, beautiful and infuriating time together makes for a funny and fascinating read, not in the least because every word of it actually happened.  If you’ve never given much thought to what happens to toilet waste on campervans, you will after reading this account.  As someone who has travelled solo to many of the towns visited by the adventurous Aherns I thoroughly enjoyed being to be able to see them from a different perspective, that of a family, seeking a range of entertainments and budget stays, and safety for a pair of rambunctious little ones.

The book is really a thoughtful look at the pressures of modern life and modern expectations, and what happens when these things are deliberately thrown out the window.  It’s perhaps a sad indictment of today’s values that in order to connect properly to one another a family feels they have to take themselves halfway around the world, however the message about the benefits of simpler living is loud and clear. The largest journey that the family undertakes throughout the trip is actually the one that leads them towards each other.

Peppered with humorous disasters, colourful characters and a range of fiery and, at times, touching interactions, the book entertains and enlightens rather than sermonises.  An inspiring tome populated by an inspiring family, and written by a talented Gold Coast author.

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