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6 Month European Family Road Trip '09!

June 03, 2009

Andalusia beautiful white village

"Get your motor running, head out on the highway, looking for adventure, whatever comes our way!" The words & music to "Born to be Wild" kept running through my brain as we finished packing up from our winter stay in our little village in Andalusia. It gets as exciting as any family vacation can, as we go from a fairly conventional winter lifestyle (albeit in a 15th Century Andalusian village in Spain), to the free vagabond life of traveling on a whim and following our bliss on long summer days where we have a hard time remembering what day or time it is. Every day will be a Saturday for 6 months and each new day an adventure!

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I've been thinking of it as 7 months on the road and said so on Twitter and Facebook, but have realized that it will just be a 6 month road trip this year because we got back so late last year, thus are leaving much later. Six or Seven months sounds so long for a vacation, but it goes by so fast. We find it is just the right amount of time for us and by the end of it, we are as ready for 5 or 6 months of rental home and more traditional life, as we are ready to hit the road now. It is a perfect rhythm and combination for us.

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It is my least favorite transition as we go from a 3 or 4 bedroom rental home to a small RV, so lots of sorting, packing, decisions and prep, much like a move. Even though we have MUCH less than most people, we have things that we store in Spain for the winter like warmer clothes and tons of books in English, most of it for Mozart.

We would have much less stuff without a child, but in order to give her a normal lifestyle while in Spain, we have extra clothes, English books (for her to enjoy and homeschool with) and some toys. When she has play dates and sleep overs, she wants to have the same kinds of things as the other kids, although she still has much less than she would have at home.

It is one of the compromises of this lifestyle, how to balance it all in a way that works for all of us and provides Mozart with a good upbringing. She is a material girl and would like to have much more "stuff", but that does not fit in with our lifestyle and in fact was one of the reasons we wanted to live like this. Have you seen this interesting video about "stuff"?

I did not want to raise her as a material child and saw how this travel lifestyle would support that and a life focused on valuable experiences and relationships over "stuff". Still her needs have to be met too, so we compromise some, although mostly with books and try to keep the focus on small toys like legos and polly pocket sized  kinds of things. We sold tons of books when we left, but she still has one of the biggest portable libraries around and I  wish we could take even more.

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Our great friends who live in Malaga usually store are few boxes that we leave in Spain, but they are moving to London, so we found a new place this year. Mozart wears clothes forever because despite how big she looks in the pictures, she is quite tiny. I think it is hysterical that at 8 1/2 she still wears many shorts that are in the 12-18 months size and has quite a few T-shirts in the 24 months size. We still have quite a few things that we brought with us in 2006, but she does eventually outgrow or out wear things, so we sort though the new and old and always give piles away. Funny, that even as little as we have, we have too much!

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One thing Mozart has missed is a birthday party since her birthday is in the fall, so always celebrated on the road. Thus part of our completing here was giving her a little unbirthday-going away-pool party with a few friends. She loves parties and likes the preparing, making invitations and planning as much as the party, I think. She loves her special birthdays on the road, but having her "day" with friends means a lot too and they all had a blast. ( Note she is wearing one of the dressed we brought in 2006 that is a size 4! )

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We also celebrated DaVinci's real birthday, that usually falls on Memorial Day, but ended up this past weekend our "take off" weekend. We had a nice dinner at one of our favorite restaurants in our village. It is a tiny place run by an English couple with great food and we love the Sticky Pudding which is a British dessert and very yummy. We enjoyed the little celebration and Mozart even snapped a picture of us smooching!

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We walked around our village one last time this season and said goodbye to friends we ran into along the way. We stopped at one of our favorite little stores and bought some grapes to nibble on while we watched "RV" together later in bed. We kind of feel like the European style Gornikey family and like to sing along to "That ever lasting love song" as this is one of Mozart's favorite DVD's.

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After a little last minute packing up and clean up on Sunday morning, we left our house keys on the table and jumped into our little RV, saying goodbye to our village until this fall. I took the cover shot to this post on the way out. The first is a nearby nook and the second is the view looking back from the Mediterranean Sea.

We headed towards Malaga, then Seville and then to the Algarve in Portugal, seeing our share of bulls, sunflowers, mountains, vineyards and eventually the river that separates these two countries in this part of Iberia. We have been on these roads before stayed at this same exact campsite last year at this time, but we are returning for the intimate Dolphin interaction and swim for Mozart.

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Ever since we observed a similar program at Sea World in San Diego, we have wanted Mozart to have this experience. This is the only place in Europe where they do it, but last year did not work because of her age. Thus, we are back again and so excited to actually do it this year! I've read lots of reviews from people who have done it and said it was fantastic, so we will let you know soon what we think. Have you ever swam with dolphins?

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Sandra Foyt

Yes, I've swum with the dolphins in Anguilla; however, last summer I just sent my son as we were trying to keep costs down. For him, it was a true test of courage to conquer his fear of swimming without a mask.

http://spedr.com/295pw

CouchSurfingOri

Sounds like fun. I like the concept of time on/off the road. As a traveler, I do it full time, and sometimes wish for some time at home.

For Mozart's material desire for books-- I thought perhaps a Kindle would work. The books would be black & white, but physical space would not be an issue, as the books for it are digital.... and thousands can be had for free. It also plays audio books.

marina villatoro

Very sweet post and is kind of hitting home for me too since we're about to move to a new country in 3 weeks. I wish it was a road trip:) However, I am going throw my son a farewell party at his school too (his bday was in feb, we did that already), and we're doing all that I want to do before leaving this gorgeous country behind.
Looking forward to your stories!

Karen (KayKay)

My daughters went swimming with the dolphins in the Florida Keys - it was an amazing experience for them. Hope you have a wonderful time on the road!

Nadine Touzet

Hi,
If I was living in that village in Spain, I'd never want to leave...
Good luck on your trip and congratulations for your interesting blog.

adiaha

Your life style is enviable. i get a weird itch every time I visit your blog. I am happy for Mozart, swimming with Dolphins, birthday parties, traveling. She manifested excellent parents.

Cherie Ve Ard

Wishing you all many wonderful adventures and memories to be made!

Swimming with dolphins is such a peaceful and connective thing! I've had the fortune to swim with them both in captivity and in the wild. It'll be a memory that lasts Mozart a lifetime.. along with all the other wonderful adventures she'll encounter!

Account Deleted

Best of luck on the road. It makes me excited just reading about it. I can also relate as our family is having our going away party this evening and my 3 daughters will be saying goodbye to their friends. It's just a mixture of excitement, and anticipation for what's ahead but also a little sadness about what we're leaving.

Amy @ The Q Family

That's so great that you keep a good balance between on-the-road and home-base lifestyle. You guys are amazing and give me a lot of inspiration. Can't wait to hear more of your tales from the road.

Graham

I had the opportunity to swim with Dolphins in the Bahamas when I was a child. It was amazing, an experience that will always stay with me in my mind. I'm sure it will be the same for Mozart.

Nomadic Matt

ooo i'll be in europe in august! maybe we can run into each other!

Lola

You guys truly are inspirational. Happy travels and hope to cross paths one of these days. Currently in Stockholm all summer.

Erica

Six months on the road and spending the rest of the year in a rental home sounds like a great combination. And, I must say, buying lots of things to one's kids is not what's important in the long run. I fully believe that the experiences one share are what really matter.

The last photo is adorable. I've always wanted to swim with dolphins!

b

I have linked to your blog on a blog I write aimed at retirement age travelers. I want people to know that living the expat life is not only possible for younger people but also for retirees. I have only started on the blog but much more will follow. You might enjoy visiting my daughter-in-laws blog "Maddie Minute" written in China. http://www.maddiesminute.com/ You have a lot in common. They moved to China after 4 years in Saudi Arabia and are in education.

Bridget Smith

Your travel plans sound heavenly! Enjoy your time on the road. Look forward to reading about your adventures.

Lilliy

Have a great road trip looking forward to read and see all about it here on your blog.

Jean - OurExplorer Tour Guide

"Every day will be a Saturday for 6 months and each new day an adventure!" So many people dreamed life of that but can't take it out. There won't be Saturday very day, but possible to have adventure each new day in common life. One may lose something while traveling away. Yet think more will be awarding. :)

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