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8 Reasons For a Family World Trip

September 14, 2010

8 reasons for a taking a family world trip- a hands on world

To celebrate Soultravelers3 entering our fifth year of non-stop, open ended world travel as a family and blogging. Twittering, Facebooking ,YouTubing  our travel experiences  (and book writing)  as we go, I thought I'd make one of those infamous "lists" posts about WHY we do this and LOVE it so much.

We have no plans to stop and are excitedly looking forward to adding 10 or more countries this year ( to our 32 so far),  in Asia, plus Australia, New Zealand as well as  Tahiti and Hawaii , in addition to one more continent to make it five soon. Such a big world, so much to see, so little time, even with the longest life and long term travel.  We hope to stay on our 23-dollars-a day-per-person super low budget that we have done so far, as we roam, which will be more tricky with added plane travel. We will keep you posted!

Here are our top 8 reasons to travel the world as a family. I've done single travel, couple travel, group travel, 3 generation travel, travel with friends etc. and in my humble opinion, international family travel done long term and slowly is the best by far. Why?

1) TIME TO BOND DEEPLY

In our busy world, time has become the biggest luxury and it is our greatest wealth. Mozart was just 5 when we left and just celebrated her 10th birthday in Barcelona. We have endless gratitude for the massive quantity and quality of time we have had together as we slow travel the world.  We would never have had this much time together had we not made this choice. Seeing how fast it has gone, makes us cherish this opportunity even more. I am particularly happy that she has had so much daily time with her father, something few children and few fathers get in this world.

2) BEST WAY TO EDUCATE

I've already written a lot about the advantages of travel for education and the many ways we homeschool while we travel. Experiencing the world is an amazing education in itself. Learning is everywhere, not just in the museums or tours, but in free kids clubs, discussions,  meeting others, translating between friends speaking only one of your two languages,  doing art while traveling, and even transportation can be an education. We were just in Paris and let our 9 year old lead the way as she can  find her way in any city in the world now with total confidence, using maps and mass transit like a pro.

3) HAVING FUN ADVENTURES TOGETHER

You will find yourselves doing remarkable things in exotic places that you would never have imagined before like riding camels in Morocco, swimming with dolphins in Portugal, sailing on the Turquoise Coast in Turkey, watching flamenco in Seville  and learning it at six in Andalusia, or eating reindeer meat in a kota in Sweden. These things give one a deep appreciation of the beauty of this world and it's people and builds confidence in the absolutely limitless possibilities in life. Even middle age, overweight, scaredy cats like me or just an ordinary family like us can be adventurers!

4) BECOMING A BETTER TEAM


You will need to work together like you have never done before & will soon find yourselves like a well oiled team as you take planes, cargo ships, overnight trans-county ferries, trains, buses on many continents and learn to handle mass transit in umpteen world cities. You will realize like you have never known before, just how valuable each member of your team is and how each one, even the youngest, can sometimes lead or know the answer first. 

family picnic in Paris at the Eiffel Tower celebrating during travel
Celebrating our 19th Wedding Anniversary in Paris at the Eiffel Tower in August 2010



5) SEEING & EXPERIENCING THE WORLD TOGETHER

The diverse beauty of this planet will astound you from the fjords in Norway to the fjords in Montengro, from the Sahara to Stockholm, from Cappadocia to Hallstatt, from Poland to Paris and Pompeii, from Satorini to Lake Bled or Seville. Experiencing all these new places together and the amazing people you meet there will touch you,  change you and be part of your shared memory banks forever!

6) SEEING BEAUTIFUL PLACES TOGETHER BEFORE THEY ARE GONE

Many of our most spectacular world sights will no longer be with us in the future, so see them now. Places like Venice, Taj Mahal and the Camarague will no longer exist or be available to tour. Heartbreaking predictions, so I hope all the experts are wrong about disappearing travel treasures.

7) PREPARE YOUR CHILDREN TO BE 21ST CENTURY GLOBAL CITIZENS

In our fast changing world, one of the greatest gifts that you can give to your children, is the opportunity to really experience, connect with and respect the many different cultures on this planet and how we all share the same humanity, love and goodness. In a world full of digital natives, getting smaller by the minute due to technology, we can connect in an instant, but being able to walk the land, know some of the everyday  life of other places, speak the language, experience the culture deeply through immersion can't help but expand ones horizons, creativity and global empathy. Some what by accident, people like us and the Frost family, have found family world travel amazingly advantageous for our future global citizens.

8) LIVING IN THE PRESENT MOMENT

One of my favorite quotes is:

"To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position n which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted. " Bill Bryson

I love living like that and find long term travel,  keeps us living in the "now" like nothing else that I have ever done. Sometimes it is a challenge, especially if one is going too fast, and we have had our bad moments,  but mostly it gives a real timelessness to life and I think the memories are sweeter, richer, more vivid and  succinct because of the "newness" and focus that creates. I've never felt more alive or more loved. Life often feels magical as if we have angels watching over us and I think that is because we must live most of it in the present moment.


 

What do you think are the best reasons for family world travel?

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Marilia

I´ve been following you for a while now. I´m a huge fan of your lifestyle and the way you raise your daughter. I´m really inspired by you in many ways as I raise my own 3-year old and plan a long term travel for ourselves next year.

soultravelers3

Marillia - Thanks so much for your kind words and letting me know. It's always fun to hear from people around the world & those that love travel, education and kids too.

Who knows, maybe we will meet some where along the way..in your area of Brazil or somewhere new. ;)

Happy surfing!

Brooke Drury

Congratulations on years of priceless experiences together and on countless opportunities to show the rest of us that Yes, you CAN really travel it as a family safely, sanely and affordably. Your optimism and can-do spirit is truly inspiring, infectious even.

The best part of our extended year of travel was the ability to live life more deliberately. Now back at home, it feels that life comes at us at a million mph. It takes real resolve to slow down and re-take control sometimes. I'd forgotten that and sometimes long to get back out on the road because of it.

B

soultravelers3

Aw, thanks Brooke, that is so sweet to hear! I figure if we can do it, anyone can & I am passionate about letting others know that it is easy, cheaper & more rewarding than most realize.

I think it is hard to know unless you have done it..so of course you know what I mean. ;)

Good one - "ability to live life more deliberately". True! I can only imagine how hard it would be too keep this slow life style while living the typical American life. It may be the hardest place to stay away from the consumerism as well, although as homeschoolers, these things should be easier for you I think than those in school.

I think once one experiences this travel lifestyle, it is hard not to come back for more....or like us, continue on in an endless open ended way. ;)

We will probably meet at some point! ;)

Malika Henderson

You just reminded me why I shouldn't buy a couch, or at least not a new one. Money spent on things is much less valuable than money spent on experiences, and for me that means money spent on travel.

I know you've posted on the topic of wifi and working while traveling, but I hope you include even more details in your book. When I take my daughters (now a 4-year-old and a newborn) on our long trip, I'll still need to be able to work.

Thanks for helping me keep in mind what's really important!

soultravelers3

Malika - Thanks! So true about what we spend our money on!

I just put this quote on FB - "Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for - in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it." ~ Ellen Goodman

One of the keys to travel as a family to live cheaply is slow travel. Also if one keeps expenses to a minimum, one really does not need much to live, thus...then you do not have to work as much.

We find free ( or sometimes low cost if we are desperate) wifi almost everywhere & I think that trend will just continue. I have friends in very poor areas in Asia and South America who seem to have it even better.

Also you might want to consider teaching English as it is the easiest & cheapest way to travel and earn money. I have no personal experience in this, but hear it repeatedly from younger friends.

Good luck with your planning & prep. It is hard for me to travel, homeschool, blog, do social media AND work on the book, but I plug away as I can. Hopefully, when we get settled in Asia, I can make better progress this winter.

Malika Henderson

I do graphic design, and I already work remotely-- I've only had 5 face-to-face meetings in the 4 1/2 years since my oldest daughter was born. Even with the time difference, I should be able to keep my current clients. But I do have to have RELIABLE internet access. You've said that the campsite guides list whether or not a campground has wifi, but there must also be a site with reviewers that give details (kind of like yelp, but for European camping?). And you've also mentioned that you have satellite, yes?

Camels & Chocolate

Fifth year??? That's insane!!! Congrats, you three! Truly amazing.

Theodora

I think it's the bonding, the adventure and the citizenship that resonate most deeply with me.

The education is an amazing asset but a bonus compared to all the rest you itemise. Five years, wow!

We've been gone eight months and time is flying by for us...

Theodora

I think it's the bonding, the adventure and the citizenship that resonate most deeply with me.

The education is an amazing asset but a bonus compared to all the rest you itemise. Five years, wow!

We've been gone eight months and time is flying by for us...

soulltravelers3

Malika - You will have to plan more thoroughly than we do as we sometimes go unplugged. The good news of being in an area before is you know about the free wifi, but sometimes things change. We had a bear of a time getting a good "office" in Paris this time, yet last time it was easy at McDonalds.

You can always pay for 3g if you must have it and use free wifi when it is easily available. There was not decent free wifi when I broke my arm & ended up in Melk, so we bought a monthly thing from T-mobile ( not cheap, but was necessary).

There are always ways around it but sometimes it is harder ( bad connections, further away, more expensive etc) than others & that challenge comes with the mobile life.

Things do keep getting better all the time. Paris and London were the worst for us, yet it is easy for peeps that live there. Often small towns are easier for travelers and free wifi. We had a great connection even deep in the Sahara.

Not all campsites who have wifi are listed in books & sometimes things listed do not exist or don't work well. It is always a gamble for free wifi.

BUT, there is almost always some way to get connected for free or little money, everywhere.

We tried the satellite, but it was just too much trouble and expense for our needs, so we went to free wifi after our first winter. We could give up our American mindset of preferring 24/7 connection.

Check out other digital nomads ( tons online now), technomads & location independent professionals and see what they have done as well. Lots of options. Keeping expenses low also means less pressure for work as one can do less.

There is a tiny backpack sized satellite that a friend used and worked everywhere, but I think there are cheaper options.

I'd go with free wifi as much as possible and some kind of 3g backup when that was not available or working well. But there may be other solutions that I am not aware of yet. I do know that a reliable connection seems to be the biggest frustration of world traveling digital nomads. Usually it is good, sometimes great, but sometimes when you need it, there can be frustrations.

soulltravelers3

Theodora - Those things are great and bonding may be the top one for sure, but education has been astounding for us, perhaps because that is our primary goal and we have been doing this so long. As monolinguals raising a VERY fluent trilingual/triliterate who speaks some of many languages, that alone has been a tremendous value. She also learns piano and violin via webcam as we go which has been amazing, along with her Johns Hopkins University & other online classes. She is also learning entrepreneurial skills as we roam. All of these things plus the travel ( which in itself also promotes creativity, adaptability, and self confidence besides everything else) creates a perfect education for tomorrows 21 century global citizen. She has wonderful friends all over the world, which can't hurt her future either.

Someone just sent me this from Harvard Business Review and it is typical with the research I have read about how living abroad and being truly bicultural can increase creativity, thus another reason why I think our education method works so well.

http://hbr.org/2010/09/be-a-better-manager-live-abroad/ar/1

For us, education is the primary focus ( along with bonding time) and foundational, so more than a bonus IMH0. ;)

soulltravelers3

Thanks Kristin! 5 years of travel and location independent living is kind of crazy, eh? We had no ideas we would be trend setters when we sold our home in 2005 and added this chapter of " co-creating heaven on earth" to our lives.

It's been an amazing five years and the best decision of our lives!

Melanie

I totally agree with your 8 reasons! We travel with my step daughter every opportunity we get! We can't travel long term unfortunately (I don't think her mother would like that) but we do still try to incorporate most of your reasons for travel in our time we have with her.

Cheers to you on your 19th wedding anniversary and for your 5th year of travel!

LadyLuck

Love that Goodman quote and love this article. I'm planning to go abroad next year on an open-ended trip with my boy as well and this article just confirms my reasons for doing this. Hopefully we are as successful as your family. I continually come back to your site as a reference. Thanks so much for being so transparent in explaining the logistics of your travel.

Now to show my parents this article to ease their nerves... though that may not happen even if the President himself were to tell them to relax and let their daughter and grandson go. I'll be 30 soon but I guess in parents' eyes we are always four.

palmers

Hi Again

Great post. I think I have introduced us before. We are an Australian family of 6 who took last year 'off' to travel slowly around Australia. It was wonderful , for all the reasons you mentioned.
I have another good argument for extended travel:
The alternatives are so awful!!
I really have been in a state of grief since we returned 8 months ago. I feel my family is dislocated, my husband is stressed at work, my children are less fit, less tanned, less autonomous. My own schedule is madness. We no longer catch fish or watch sunsets. We watch more TV, and meet fewer people. We certainly spend more money. We talk less, and probably bicker more. We read fewer books.

Some of these things, obviously , we could change. We could lead a more ommunity oriented, simple, outdoor life if we devoted a lot of effort and conciousness to it. It s just all so much easier on the road.

There is a a real stagnation in my feelings, imagination and outlook, that comes from living in a house and driving to the same places everyday. The homeschooling that was ever-changing, and stimulating on the road, didn't work within 4 walls, so the children are back at school, which comes with all manner of good and bad bags of baggage.

And the housework! I feel all I do is laundry and dishes. Last year we had 2 pots and a frypan, and a few changes of clothes each! Now its never-ending. Again, I could make choices and changes, but my point is, living in a house does not lend itself to these better choices. Living on the road lends it self to these life-affirming things:
music, laughter, simplicity, early bedtimes, sunsets and silence, community, connection and an ever broadening view of life God and the world.

You are very blessed, and I often log on for inspiration when I am homesick for travel.

Of course, we are planning our next adventure, and there is always the small matter of gathering finances. Its just that much harder being tied down once we have tasted something so much better.....
Do you think you will ever go 'home'?

soultravelers3

Palmers - Thank you soo much for your very insightful comment! We're in crunch time now, needing to start our RTW trip in a week, so don't have much time to address this, but will try later. Maybe even do a post about it.

I've heard your kind of comments from many who have done long term travel.

I can imagine that it is VERY hard to recreate the freedom while at home ( possibly even harder in the US).

At this moment, we can not imagine going home. We may eventually find a place to semi settle, but I don't think we will go home.

The world has become our home and now we have many homes. We will keep doing it as long as it works for us.

It would be VERY hard for us to give up this freedom and bonding now. In the beginning I thought we might want to stop when she is a teen, but now I am not so sure & think not.

We will just have to see how it unfolds. Hard to ever guess the future.

Good luck on your next adventure!!

Jeremy B

On my blog, I just wrote about The psychology of travel and one of the reasons I listed is how it bonds families together and gives people a proper perspective. Completely in agreement on your list and it's very encouraging for families to read this.

Last week, I was inspired to write about something very similar to this called "Why you can't afford to stay home." It's an idea I had about this exact same thing that I my submit to my local paper. Great stuff as usual!

Jeremy B

Here's the link if interested on The psychology of travel:

http://budgettravelintentions.com/2010/09/15/the-psychology-of-travel/

Amy

We are now in the process of getting ready for our open ended travel adventure with our two boys. I love the comment about being present. It is something I strive for in our daily lives and I look forward to the ease of it while we travel.

Vera Marie Badertscher

I envy your wonderful wandering life, and wish I had traveled internationally with my children. But most of all I am in awe of your connectivity. Now a grandmother, I finally took a laptop and tried--and failed--to keep up with Twitter, FB and photo sharing, etc. while on my recent European trip. I just was too pooped by the end of the day to cope with communication.

soultravelers3

Jeremy - Thanks! Seems we are on the same page with this!

soultravelers3

Amy - It REALLY is one of the great things...easier to do on the road! Enjoy your travels!

soultravelers3

Vera - Ha! Oh I hear you, it IS hard work to blog & connect online while traveling.

It is a LOT harder than doing it from one comfy location and traveling from time to time...as most travel bloggers/writers do. Having a child adds to the challenge.

The big key for us is we travel slowly most of the time. It is impossible to stay up to date with travels while writing because one has more stories/photos/ video than time to get them all up while doing the travel.

I did that for the first few years, but falling behind was a saving grace, because I saw I could blog ahead ( and even tweet ahead) as I travel, combining older travel stories with the new.

This buys me much more free time, so I can write as I did today on a long drive or when we are traveling slower.

Trust me, there are many days that I am too pooped at the end of the day to share...so I don't & pick up when I can and when it is fun. ;)

Cheap Vacations

Wow five years? That's great! I think it's really beneficial that you are sticking to your budget, that shows discipline.
Happy Belated Anniversary by the way :) Enjoy your travels

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