It’s official: we’ve been traveling for six months! Time to reflect on everything we have experienced and learned.
We came into this with very few expectations. How could we know what to expect when this lifestyle was so foreign to us? And that was kind of the point. We were content not knowing how long we would travel, what homeschooling would look like, or even what locations we would visit. We’ve learned a few things.
We really like our kids.
Don’t get me wrong, all parents love their kids but sometimes it seems like not all parents “like” their kids. Perhaps we appear that way sometimes too but we legitimately like the boys. They are kind. They have integrity. And they are fun to be around. You might think we would be dying for a break but the truth is we don’t really like being away from them. We thrive on watching them learn and grow and become people that other people want to be around.
We’re glad we didn’t wait until retirement to travel.
A lot of people travel when they’re young and single or old and retired. Sharing these experiences as a family is way more challenging, but way more rewarding too. So much of what we are seeing and doing is new to all of us. Because of that, we are constantly talking and making the connections to the other things we know, together. I love our chatty little family!
I am all over this minimalist lifestyle!
All we have is what fits in our backpacks. Not only does it make travel days easier but daily life is better too. We used to buy things we thought would make life better but they ended up bogging us down. Now we are light and flexible. I like wandering in shops without feeling the need to buy anything because we truly have no room for it. We spend our money on food and experiences and that feels right for us.
I can’t imagine going back to our old life.
I don’t think we will be nomads forever but I can’t imagine going back to a house full of “things”. I also wouldn’t want Matt going back to work (unless he really wanted to). We love having him around way too much. The kids are very aware that if we are careful enough with money that it could mean keeping Matt from having to go back to medicine for the foreseeable future. We will all do whatever it takes to keep him with us.
Travel is helping us teach our kids things that would have been more difficult back at home.
- Flexibility – we rarely know what to expect so it is hard to prepare ourselves for it. Being able to roll with the punches is a huge part of traveling (and life). It doesn’t mean we always handle it perfectly but at least we try to not take it out on one another!
- Budgeting – we didn’t include our kids in financial decisions when we were living in Canada. Why would we? As we travel and come across activities that seem amazing, we will often talk about them as a family and weigh out the pros and cons for it. Turns out, our kids are often more frugal than Matt and I (and that says a lot!) We are so happy that they are understanding the value of money and delayed gratification. We did our best to teach these principles at home but they seem to be picking it up faster as we travel.
- Communication – The boys have realized that language is not an insurmountable barrier when it comes to making connections. Kids all around the world just love to play. It doesn’t pay to be shy. They understand that people are genuinely happy to see a family traveling in their country. The boys will politely smile and usually say something in English or whatever language that person may speak. The response is almost always positive.
What about socialization?
One of the biggest concerns people had with our adventure was “won’t the boys be missing out on socialization?” Well, first of all we are a family of 6, so there is a ton of socializing happening in our life! Besides, in our experience, the type of socializing that happens at school isn’t necessarily ideal. Between bullying, lack of resources to address ongoing issues, and kids learning dysfunctional methods for dealing with their problems day in and day out – we were often disappointed in the socialization our boys were getting at school.
Many people think: this is life; it will build character and make them better adults. Ummm, I’m not so sure about that. I think we are seeing record highs of mental health issues, anxiety, bullying and suicide. I don’t necessarily think it is because of school but I there are contributing factors there. Now that we’re out, we can see that more clearly.
While traveling, our kids are constantly having to regulate their emotions and behaviours. You can’t spend 24/7 together and keep your feelings to yourself. . . you may explode! And we’re far from perfect. When we first started traveling, Matt and I noticed a few less-than-ideal ways that the boys would try to handle their problems with one another. They were all different based on their personalities (we had a manipulator, a victim, a denier and a tattle-er). We could clearly see how our kids were used to handling their problems when we weren’t around to watch.
For a few weeks, it was a struggle (for them, not us). They didn’t really like being called out on “their” ways. Over time, we were able to help them by modeling other ways of handling these situations (I am pretty sure that’s our job). We could not have done this at home. We weren’t around them enough to see their true personalities. Believe me, we thought we knew them pretty well but constant time together revealed their dirty little secrets.
All in all, we are so happy and proud of the family we have become over the last 6 months. We still don’t know where this road will lead us but that’s okay. No matter what, we will never regret the amount of time we have had together as a family.
Here’s to another 6 months!!
I’m envious. Sounds wonderful
Thanks, Mama, for sharing your reflections and insights! So wonderful to hear from you again! You hit on so many of the reasons we want to do this, so we are feeling validated and excited reading your post. (Will even share your post with my parents who still think we’re crazy.) Our biggest concern is not traveling with a built-in tribe which must be so nice. But definitely cheaper, easier and why we are spending months in one place so Lucas (a very outgoing kid) can make friends. (Hopefully!) Your kids have been an inspiration for him too, and he enjoyed reading all of their blogs. We feel so fortunate to have wonderful guides like you! It would be so fun to meet up on the road someday. Will have to communicate and see where the road takes us. Here’s to another amazing six months!! 🍾
Thanks Angie, Dan and Lucas! We really hope to meet up with you at some point!
I totally understand your concern since Lucas is an only child but I think you have a great travel plan in place. Slow traveling will definitely allow Lucas more opportunities to meet other children. Other parents in the same situation have said they just have to put a little more planning into it. Since you are so aware, I think you will seek out places where Lucas can socialize.
One of the things we have all noticed is that our interactions with others are more about “quality” than “quantity”. We have spent small amounts of time with people and they have left a mark on us. It is very different to the overly socialized way of life back at home. Having said that, with so many traveling families out there, play dates are often just a Facebook message away!
I also completely understand how hard it is for your parents. My parents didn’t love the idea of us taking our 4 kids away from them for any length of time let alone an undetermined amount of time. Thanks to the internet, they are able to see and hear from the kids. We stay in touch mostly through email (and Facebook). The boys will email my parents individually, allowing them to have their own conversation with them. I think it’s super important. We were also extremely fortunate to have my family fly out to be with us at Christmas. Matt’s parents are also flying out to meet us in Thailand in a couple of weeks. I think it really helps them to see what our traveling life looks like and that the boys are doing great! My mom will be the first to admit that they seem happier now.
I can’t wait for your adventure to begin!!
I think you and Matt are amazing role models for so many. I am going to share this post with both our boys and their wives. Hopefully they are inspired enough to follow in your footsteps. Take care and good luck from Laos.
Thanks Mike! That is a huge compliment coming from you as we admire you and Elaine so much!
Let’s talk about role models for a second. . . you and Elaine have an amazing relationship with each other and your kids. You live and love life together. Matt and I tend to gravitate towards people like you because our values are so similar. The fact that you guys love a good reno project makes us love you even more:)
Matt and I feel so lucky to have you both in our lives. I am glad you are enjoying your travels and we really hope to meet up with you guys one day. We miss you so much! xo Linds