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How To Travel The World as a Digital Nomad Family!

April 01, 2009

digital nomad world traveling family soultravelers3

Recently we were featured on  Dell's Digital Nomad site discussing how we do our extended international travel as a family, with a focus on meeting educational  and social needs. I am going to re-post it here for our readers who did not get to see it.

For those new, you might also want to look at our most popular post on how to do extended travel as well as our interviews with Mixergy,com and Gogalvanting Notable Travelers Series. You might also want to read this article on how to travel the world for free and more on digital nomad living here.

We are a very ordinary family and we are into our third year of an open-ended world tour, living well and traveling to four continents, 29 countries and over 75,000 miles while living on $25K a year! Today, one can live and school anywhere in the world and all you need is a laptop (or three in our case). We have found that it is easier, cheaper and more rewarding than most people realize, so we want everyone to know that.

We did not set out to be trail blazers, but we seem to be doing this longer than any other family and we have learned a lot along the way that we are more than happy to share. We did not expect so much interest in our journey, but then we recently read that 70 percent of families would like to do extended world travel. Thus, we realized that we already know a lot of the keys for living that dream and want to support it for others.

We are thrilled that we have inspired others to go for their own journey and see this trend toward digital nomadic living increasing in these turbulent economic times. Families have different needs and concerns than singles or couples do when it comes to a digital nomadic life.

One of our main reasons for our world tour was to educate our child. We have found that there is no better educational opportunity for tomorrow’s global citizen of the 21st century. There are many obvious advantages of life as a field trip and the world as one’s classroom, and we have been astounded by the incredibly beautiful sights and generous, kind people that we have met.

There are also simply amazing educational opportunities online that supports our daughter’s education. Little did we know when we began, but education is going through a major shift now and in our searching for answers, we have met and collaborated with some of the best educational innovators on the planet.

My daughter was five when we began and just turned eight this fall, so she does not spend much time on the laptop yet, but as a digital native, she will be doing more and more of her work there. Even now she takes her piano lessons in Spain via live Skype webcam with a teacher in Chicago.

She loves e-libraries, does some of her home-schooling on the computer, talks to family and friends at home using her webcam, has her own blog, and is taking a course this semester with John Hopkins University’s CTY program online with kids from around the country. She has even been interviewed by school kids in Boston live via Skype webcam calls!

We also do volunteer work by taking disadvantaged school kids (from Harlem, South Bronx etc ) with us virtually through an award winning non-profit called ReachTheWorld. (Please feel free to donate to this fantastic program and tell them that Soultravelers3 from the Journey to Europe sent you!).

Our daughter was a full participant in the Powerpoint presentation when we met the kids in person at their schools and she helps with the journals and live chats as well. She helps a great deal with the planning of our trip and is a master now at maps plus a multitude of subway and bus routes from cities around the world. It is astonishing that this child who had never taken a bus before we left, is now an expert on travel by freighter ship, train, buses, sailboats, ferries, horses, bikes, hiking, camels and more!

One of the highlights for her when she rode in on a camel into the Sahara in Morocco at the age of six and played a violin concert for 60 Berber children who had never seen a violin and who live without running water.

I never imagined that a middle-aged mom like me with mobility challenges could do a camel trek deep into the Sahara with my family via independent travel, but it turned out to be a great blessing as so much of our trip has been.

If you have ever dreamed about extended travel with your family, I am here to be a witness to let you know that it can be done and extraordinary things can happen to very ordinary people. The hardest part is making that choice, the rest is easy!

Oh, and one hazard of this world digital nomad life is you some times end up with bad haircuts, so sorry we don’t look our best in the video. ;)

One learns to be ever flexible on the road and little things like colds and bad haircuts,thus they can’t stop us from getting the message out!

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Melanie

You and your family completely inspire me! I love watching your adventures and can't wait to see what is next!

Jessie Voigts

i love watching your site and videos - thank you for sharing these with us!

Mara

My husband came in while I was reading this post and I told him, "these people have it right." And you do! I don't know that I could ever persuade him to hit the road in the open-ended way you have (he's more of a homebody than I am). But traveling for those 14 months with my son has made us both very open to all the possibilities that come our way, so I know there will be some extended travel in our future. And you will serve as both inspiration and a great resource.

And really, in the grand scheme of things, what are a few bad haircuts?

Jen

What an awesome education for your daughter! I believe that traveling helps children to be understanding and appreciative of other cultures. Where will you go next?

Ximena Eduarda

You sure are evidence of new times and inspired me to write on synchronizing to cycles 'on the road'. I will let you know about it. In the meantime, may all your forces and encounters be thrice what you expect!

Peace (Australia)

Your family is so inspiring, what a great collection of extraordinary shared experiences you have.

Soultravelers3

Thanks so much @Melanie @Jessie and @Peace for your kind words! I love people who are passionate about family travel like we are!

I had to laugh at your haircut comment @mara! Thanks for your thoughts! You know the funny thing is, we are really reclusive homebodies at heart ourselves ( well Mozart is an extrovert, but not her parents).

By going so slow, being in the RV and coming back to the same place in Spain, we really get to honor that "homebody" side of us while we travel.

Thanks @Jen, the educational benefits have been so much greater than what we realized before we left! We are off to Jordan, Egypt & Jerusalem if I can get it planned before it gets too hot! Our extra effort during the Lonely Planet contest, added popularity and social media seems to slow us down.

Thank you Ximena! I do think we have become trendsetters without realizing it and more people will be doing this.It is now easier than ever! What an interesting multilingual blog! Sounds fascinating, do let me know!


Migration Mark

Awesome way to live life. I don't have a family yet, but when I do, I will follow in this valuable educational lifestyle!

Angela K. Nickerson

I taught for Stanford University's program for gifted teens and had classes of students all over the world. Computers and the internet have made literally anything possible. Truly amazing!

brian from nodebtworldtravel.com

Your daughter will truly appreciate the experience you have given her when she grows up. Or maybe she does already?

With Internet access, the ability to stay in touch is so much easier now. Also to make reservations and even make money while traveling to continue traveling.

Safe travels to everyone!

Lisa Mann

This is so inspirational! I could never talk my husband into it, but what a wonderful experience you are providing for your family.

Philly

Lisa - stop right there!

I thought I could never talk my introverted home-body husband into extended family travel, either. but it took about 30 seconds before he said "yes" - and now we have rented out our house and are about to embark on a 10-month family "gap year" journey.

I learned a very valuable lesson: you can never second-guess your spouse.

there is nothing at all special about our family - except that we are about to take the giant leap and go. if we can do it, you can too!

bring the idea up after supper some night and see what happens. maybe your husband secretly wants to pull his wheels out of the ruts, too.

good luck!

LiLing Pang (Trekaroo)

Thanks for sharing your experience of doing extended travel with your kids. It's definitely one a goal for our family to something similiar because we want our children to have the opportunity to learn about the world beyond out home town by experiencing different cultures, care for others who are dramatically different from themselves, and feel and touch what most children only read about.

It is from this passion for the value of travel as a family that we embarked on a project a year ago, where families can help each other get road-tested advice and recommendations for traveling with their children. Often word of mouth advice from another other moms and dads is enough to inspire a family to take that special trip they have been dreaming of. We just cover U.S. destinations right now, but we hope to expand beyond our borders later this year.

You guys have tons of wisdom to share and I'd be awesome for Trekaroo parents to hear from you. I'm bookmarking your blog right now!

http://www.trekaroo.com

travel inspirations

Great to find people like you doing what you are doing! Indeed, life is a journey, not a destination, and there is no better inspiration and no more enriching experience than that of travel and exposure to cultures around the world on prolonged basis. Homeschooling your kids is the answer to the ills and lows of public school education in the US in general, doing it while traveling the world enriches the child’s upbringing even more. I am certainly a proponent of worldwide travel with kids and quest for places and things you must see and do before you die lifestyle! Power to you!

charmine

This seems strange because i hardly know you,i've only just started following you on twitter and your website,but i feel drawn to your tales of travel and it's as if your an old buddy out there.
Your advice is very useful for those wanting to travel the world.
I too have had this dream for a while now and hubby is supportive so maybe...

charmine

OH,i am hoping you will visit India,any plans??

IsabellesTravel

I really like this post! It's nice to hear how you arrange these things. Because I was already wondering how you guys did this: I mean the practical stuff like your daughter's education. Made me laugh that she's following piano lessons through Skype with a teacher from the US :) Thank god for internet ;-)
Thanks for sharing! And I love that you inspire others! Keep traveling and more important: keep telling us about it :)

Rachelle Mee-Chapman

We are U.S. expats living in Denmark with two "gifted" children. We travel often, missing loads of school. Eschewing the private international schools favortied by most ex-pats, we've chosen to send our girls to a public folkskole, which has no gifted/advanced learning program. (Part of the Danish Jante Law of equality.) So between the travel and the lackluster schooling we unschool a lot.

On thing my 10yo is really into right now is creating Powerpoint slide shows on topics that interest her: global warming, our upcoming trip to Greece, her dream bedroom. :-) She does a lot of on-line research and also is learning the Adobe Photoshop Suite so she can create her own images for her slides when she can't find what she wants on line. She's also taughter herself how to download and edit the photos she takes with the digital camera.

Both girls were functionally fluent in Danish in 3 months--so I highly recommend accessing the local school system if you are living abroad!

The girls also have Facebook accounts -- with fudged d.o.b. and all the security alerts on. Sending virtual "gifts" via FB has been a fun way for them to keep in touch with family and friends.

Here's to a brave and fun new world!

Colin Hiles ~ Midlife Maverick

Very inspiring to find a family living the way you are. It opens the door to many possiblities for us the reader.

We (the family) took a year out and lived on the little Island of Fuerteventura. It was life changing for us all and set us on a new path that we had never planned for.

Lesson: If you follow your smile you'll naturally be lead to a more meaningful and fulfiling life.

Take to leap!

Rosanna Pindoria

We are traveling up from SA back to Eng. We had a car roll in Namibia. We are now in Namibia working with street children. I love it - because we are focused outside of ourselves. But frankly - I am constantly tired. And really not enjoying this anywhere near to what I thought. We've done extended fam. travel b4 - up to 6 wks. But I can't shake off the feeling of tiredness. And can't seem to get on with the task of being! There is always something which needs doing. I wonder if getting out of Africa will help ... the heat. Mmmm. A little disillusioned ... Rosanna!
ps love your blog. Thank you for your enthusiasm! x

soultravelers3

@migrationMark You will love it & be glad that you did. I think many more will do it in the future as work & school ANY where, continue to get easier & easier!

@Angela K. Nickerson Cool! It really is amazing, isn't it?

@brian Thx! I think she does already, but will even more so as she gets older!

@Lisa Thx! I agree with Philly, you never know. We have inspired many who never thought they could or would. LOTS of variation on the theme is available!

@philly I so agree! Hope you are enjoying your travels!

@LiLing Pang (Trekaroo) Cool! I look forward to doing our Skype interview soon!

@travel-inspirations Aw, thanks so much! Agreed!

@charmine Thx! Funny how that works, huh? Good luck with your travel plans & yes, India is on our list!

@IsabellesTravel Thx! The piano has worked out so well now we are doing violin via webcam with a Russian in North Carolina that we met on Twitter!

@Rachelle Mee-Chapman Sounds great! Brave new world, indeed!

Colin Hiles ~ Midlife Maverick So true! Thx & enjoy your adventure!

@Rosanna It really sounds like you need to slow down and take that time to just BE! That is important as well as taking care of yourself to make sure that it's enjoyable. No sense doing something unless it's fun! If you are tired, then it sounds like you are doing too much. Resting & rejuvenating is sooo important for bliss!

Elizabeth

I love your blog, but I wonder how you are funding your extended travel? I would love to do what you are doing but don't know how we would finance ourselves while travelling. Even though, as you say, the costs are very low, still there are some costs, aren't there?

soultravelers3

Elizabeth- Thanks for your kind words, so glad to hear you are enjoying our blog!

Part of the secret is living on little by going slow and thus far we have taken few flights which saves a bundle. We primarily use interests from our savings/investments.

There are more details under the FAQ posts that I list in that section. We've always been frugal savers and investors so that helps for sure. We also got mostly out of the dollar in 2004/2005 & pay close attention to currencies which was/is a great help to us.

There are many that work on the road through various freelance methods or internet products/ways so that is another way & we make a little this way too.Some teach English or care take homes or WWOOF. So many different possibilities. It's always good to have a nice cushion of savings and good plan before taking off. We prepared for a solid year before we left which helped tremendously.

Karen

So glad to have found your site. We sold our house 2.5yrs ago & gave most of our stuff away and have lived and traveled North America. We have our sights on Central & South America long-term. But we are unique in that we are a large family with 9 dc although the eldest doesn't currently live with us. I'd love to find info and tips on how larger families do extended world travel....but then I think I might have to be the one to experience and write it!

Taylor

I am reading your blog and twitter more as I prepare for my Nomadic Life to start.
I work hard to face the fear and realize that the life I want is just around the bend. Thanks for all of your great advice and lessons learned.

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