Long term travel isn’t for everyone. I get that. Add kids to the mix and it becomes a less desirable option for many people. The goal of my blog isn’t to encourage you to quit your job, pull your kids out of school and travel full time. I’m here to inspire anyone who wants to travel, with their kids, whatever their budget. There’s value here for travellers without kids too. Just read my posts on how to travel smarter. My goal is to get parents with children out of the house, give them the skills and courage to travel with their kids, no matter how long that’s for.
But for those who do want to know how we travel long term with our kids, this is the post for you. Our lifestyle is wonderful. It’s not easy some of (okay, a lot of) the time, but on the whole, being on the road full time with our children has great benefits. We’re passionate about travel and we want to share it with our children.
How We Make Money
I’m not one of those people who has a problem talking about money. Up until now, I haven’t talked about how we generate our income on this blog as it’s a travel blog, not a digital nomad blog. How we make enough money online to travel the world is an important part of this post however.
Our income can vary greatly from month to month. It’s hard for me to give a dollar value on what we make each month because it varies greatly. The key to creating an online income is to have lots of small income streams feeding into a larger river. Sometimes one stream will do really well and, bam, it’ll be gone overnight. In order for us have enough to travel we have to build each of those streams and constantly think of new ways to create income.
Our income sources are:
- Advertising on Flashpacker Family and our other websites – Sometimes this is a really great source of income for me, sometimes it is incredibly quiet. A lot of this depends on the time of year, client budgets, what Google is doing, how site traffic is doing. There are many variables to how much this pulls in.
- Consultant work – Our most stable form of income, Lee works as the online marketing and web development consultant for a family business.
- Web design & development – Lee picks up web design & development work from time to time. Usually for clients at home in New Zealand. It’s sometimes hard to manage clients from abroad so he doesn’t do this often.
- House rental – Our house in New Zealand is currently rented out but the costs of mortgage, insurance, property management fees don’t leave us with much of a profit. As long as the house takes care of it’s self, I’m happy.
How We Spend Our Money
Travel makes you realise how much just living costs. We estimate that our life on the road in the USA costs about 70% of what it does for us to live at home in New Zealand.
I don’t keep detailed track of our spending but I know roughly how much we are spending. I’ve just started tracking our spending daily using an app called Trail Wallet. Stand by for budget breakdowns per trip. We try hard to balance out our spending. If we have something expensive coming up like a cruise or Hawaii, we’ll spend a few months before and after in cheaper places. The same goes on a weekly basis. If we have a very spendy day, doing an expensive activity or making a big purchase, we’ll even it out with free activities for a few days after that. I’d like to do a challenge where we spend $0 one day a week.
I go to great lengths to minimise our travel costs. I spend a lot of time and energy finding reasonably priced vacation rentals, getting amazing deals on hotels and scouring the internet for cheap flights. All my little smart travel tricks mean that our travel costs a lot less than it would for other people. For example, we found it incredibly hard to find a cheap vacation rental in Park City over the ski season so we negotiated with a condo owner to take a condo for two months but to vacate during the two holiday weekends over that period so he could generate extra income. Or if we’re in Las Vegas for a week we hotel hop between three or four hotels so that we’re getting the best rate we can. Priceline has become my best friend.
We aim to spend under $3000 USD per month on accommodation costs. Here in America this gets us nice two-bedroom apartments on Airbnb or a good deal on a four-star hotel. A lot of the time, when we’re road tripping, we’ll spend less and stay in $50 a night hotels. Sometimes we’ll splurge for a night or two and spend up to $200 a night for something really special. Want to try out Airbnb? Click here to get a $25 off coupon.
Our food costs are high. Probably too high. One of our favourite activities is eating out at restaurants. We ate through a lot of money when we were in Las Vegas for two months by spending $40-60 a day on restaurant meals in addition to $40-60 a day on groceries from Whole Foods. Now that we’re in Park City we realised just how much we were spending on eating out and have curbed that spending. We probably only eat out once a week here, preferring to cook most of the time. If we’re road tripping, we’ll fill our cooler with ham, cheese and yoghurt and do picnic lunches. On average I’d say we spend $60 a day on food. Remember that is for four of us, including one very picky four-year old with specific needs, and eating mostly organic food.
As we’re road tripping around the USA, our only transportation costs at the moment are gas and insurance. Gas is really cheap here in Utah, only $1.85/gallon, that’s about a quarter of what we paid for gas in New Zealand! Our car insurance on the other hand is wildly expensive. For the first six months we had our car here in the US we were paying $425 a month for insurance. This is due to having a foreign license. We’ve just changed insurance providers and managed to slash that by $200 a month. In New Zealand our car insurance was only $50 a month.
Interested in what other people spend on long term travel? I know everyone doesn’t have or need the same comfortable budget we have. Here are some other posts that give budgets for long term travel:
- Two Scots Abroad – This post has lots of long term travel tips and daily spend amounts for countries in South America, North America and Europe.
- Travel Junkies – Their site has detailed budget posts on what they spent per month for a two-year round the world trip with one child.
How We Plan Our Travel
We have learnt, from experience, that planning our travel more than a few steps in advance doesn’t work for us. We both have personality types that make us comfortable operating this way. We feel happier when we’re not locked into something months in advance.
Usually we know the general direction we are headed in and have some ideas about what we’re going to do but nothing is booked very far in advance. The furtherest in advance we book onwards flights and our recent cruise is about six weeks. If we’re road tripping, we like to have flexibility to go with the flow, sometimes only booking a hotel the night before or the morning we need it.
Through trial and error, we’ve worked out that about 4-6 weeks of fast travel followed by 4-6 weeks in a fixed location works best for us. After around four weeks, everyone starts to get a little scratchy. We get sick of living on top of one another in a hotel room. We miss quiet time, alone time and even get overstimulated. We also have to build time into our itinerary to allow ourselves to work. Especially if Lee’s got a big project that he’s trying to get across the line. Conversely, if we’re in one place too long, we get bored. My kids need outings at least 5-6 days a week. Sometimes Hazel is literally banging on the front door requesting to go out by 9am! If we’re in one place to long we simply run out of things to do with them.
Travel planning is 100% my role. I look to Lee for input on options I’ve selected but all the booking falls on me. It’s a big job when you’re travelling it full time. I estimate that I spend an hour a day planning onward travels.
Websites we use for travel planning:
- Google Flights is my favourite way to search for flights. I usually book direct with the airline. Here’s a tutorial on using Google Flights.
- Hotels.com is my go-to site for booking hotels mostly because I like collecting the Welcome Rewards. You get one free night for every ten booked, based on the average rate for the past ten bookings. We’ve had three free nights in the last couple of months at $175, $155 and $60.
- Priceline really helps us save a lot on our accommodation costs. We use the Express Deals often which doesn’t let you know what hotel you’re booking before you pay, and have gotten very good at working out which hotel we’ll get before we book.
- Airbnb is a huge factor in how we manage to travel full-time. We’re learnt that we can feel at home really quickly by renting an apartment. There’s only so long we can spend in hotels. A kitchen, washing machine and separate bedroom for Reuben makes a huge difference to our comfort and sanity.
- VRBO is always worth checking for vacation apartments too.
- Google Maps is essential for road trip planning.
I try to pay for all our travel with Paypal to avoid maxing out our credit cards and losing money by withdrawing funds from Paypal to our NZ bank accounts.
What We Pack
We travel with one suitcase. Yes, that’s right. Just one. It’s easier for us to manage one big suitcase than it is to have several smaller ones. When we’re in airports, we need one parent to handle luggage and one to handle children. We each have a different colour packing cube for our clothes to keep us organised. We have a mesh laundry bag for dirty clothes and use a large Ziploc bag for toiletries. We have one backpack for our laptops, other electronics like Reuben’s iPad and our Apple TV, as well as our passports. It has lots of pockets to keep things separated and organised.We’ve got a diaper bag, an Ergo baby carrier and a stroller for Hazel. The kids each have one small case full of toys and books as well as a small shared backpack. If we’re travelling via plane we limit the toys to the small backpack. Road tripping has meant we’ve accumulated a bit more stuff on the way, things like two car seats, a cooler, a bag of groceries and some big bottles of water. We have another big canvas bag stuffed with our ski gear and winter clothes. And three snowboards. Our winter gear won’t be coming with us after Park City but I’ve got no idea what I’m doing with it!
Read more: How to pack for a family with just one suitcase
What About Insurance?
We bought a year-long travel insurance policy from Travel Insurance Direct before we left New Zealand in August so we’re good through to the beginning of August this year. This is one of the only companies we found that would allow you to a) extend a policy after 12 months and b) purchase insurance from overseas. (World Nomads does too but TID has vastly better coverage. You can read a comparison post here.) Our travel insurance costs $1667 USD per year. So far we’ve only had to claim on it for a couple of minor illnesses for Hazel.
How We Parent
Travel makes us happy and I think we’re better parents when we’re on the road because of this. Our parenting style is pretty easy going. We’ve never been super strict on bedtimes, mealtimes or chores. Again, our personality types mean that we’re comfortable this way. As are our children. We do recognise that they have a limit to how long they can travel for and when they need to settle in for a little bit. Luckily they’ve both learnt to be “home” anywhere.
Meltdowns can and do occur. These are little kids we’re talking about after all! For some reason, it’s always when we’ve travelled a long way to do something special or spent a lot of money on entrance fees to an attraction. It’s just the way things are. Little kids have tantrums, they’d do it if we were at home! It’s no excuse not to travel.
How We Educate Our Kids
At the moment our kids are too young to attend traditional school. That doesn’t mean we’re not educating them already!
We are with our kids all the time which I think has great benefits in itself. We’re always talking to them all the time. Reuben is always asking us questions about what things are and how they work. Travel presents lots of opportunity to talk about different things. For example, on our road trip around the Pacific Northwest we talked at length, every day, about trees, forestry, logging trucks and skunks. If Reuben is interested in a topic, we talk about it or teach him about it. What other four-year olds are getting Photoshop lessons at their own request? It’s child interest-lead and unstructured which I guess makes it unschooling or worldschooling. While Reuben has always had at least an hour of stories every night, he’s only just now expressed an interest in learning to spell and read so we’ve bought a Leapreader, flashcards and downloaded some apps to help.
We’re not against the idea of schooling. I can see us turning to school for some of our children’s education. I just don’t see it being a traditional school back home in New Zealand.
How We Manage Family Relationships
Our extended family are very important to us. We connect with many members of our family on a daily basis via Skype, email and Facebook. The time difference between the US and New Zealand & Australia can make it hard to talk on Skype especially with early bedtimes for little children.
My sister lives in Las Vegas which is part of the reason we go there often. Lee’s parents are keen travellers and have run their family business in the UK location-independently since they moved to New Zealand in the late 90s. We just spent a month with them in Mexico and even managed to have Christmas together. My mother likes to travel and meets up with us somewhere in the world when she has holidays from work but not as often as she or we would like.
We’re lucky in that most of our family members are understanding and supportive of our choice to travel full time. We do get complaints sometimes from family at home that we’re not around for important events or that they miss the children.
I’ll gladly add and answer your questions into this post. Just leave them for me in the comments.
Thank you for all the information in your post, I am a single Mum with a 7 year old son. I have always wanted to travel long term but never have done. I don’t think I could earn anything close to the amount you generate but I am hoping this won’t stop me from taking off.
My plan is to begin to travel on a volunteering basis (like woofing for example, none of those volunteering holidays you pay thousands for), I am fixing and tidying everything in and around my house so I can soon rent it to generate some income. I am an artist, last year I earned summertime cash by doing henna tattoo and some face painting. Do you think this would be a skill I can take to the streets? Also, if you know of any Mums who travel alone with their kids, could you please put me in touch? I would love to know what works for them.
I think you are giving your kids the best education ever, well done!
Thanks for reaching out! I think your plan sounds really good. You definitely don’t need to generate as much income as we do in order to travel full time. Many single parents do this full time travel thing with great success. I’d say you could take you skills to the streets in an impromptu way but I don’t think you’d be able to get official street stall permits in countries that require those kinds of things without a proper working visa. If you’re an artist, what about finding work online doing logos or painiting to order on Etsy etc? There are a million different ways to make money online.
Where do you think you’ll start out? New Zealand is a great place for Wooofing but it’s so pricey in general I don’t think I’d recommend it. If you’re in the UK, you could start out in Eastern Europe or Turkey on a trial basis. The easiest place to travel on a budget is SE Asia and there are LOTS of full time family travellers there to connect with. If you send me an email or FB message I can chat to you about a FB group we have set up to connect and communicate with each other.
Look forward to hearing more from you!
Gosh – There’s so much info here for just travelling, full stop, let alone the kids part!
I think what really comes out of this is that as you say, anyone can do it, but it does need a degree of organization – not necessarily planning – more a keeping track of what’s working best for you so you can work out future trips to fit within your parameters, what you’re spending so your money will take you the furthest, what suitcase configurations are the most comfortable when on the move and for finding what you need when you stop –
Great post 🙂
Thanks Linda! I think that being mindful of things like your spending, income, what works for you in terms of pace, luggage etc is the key. We’ve honed in on what we really need in every way but it’s taken a lot of practice. When we took our first long term trip of five months with Reuben we had SO MUCH gear, spent way too much, ate like were on vacation & gained weight, and just did a lot of stupid things. But all of that taught us and each trip we’ve gotten better and better!
Pleas could I join the group you mentioned of as well ? X
Hi Hanna! Yes for sure. Our Facebook group for family travellers to connect is – https://www.facebook.com/groups/familieswholovetravel/
What great advice – and especially bout 0$ travel days – they definitely help when you want to spend more. Thank you!
Excellent post! I don’t have kids yet, but hope to be able to travel with them for long periods of time. Thanks for your honesty (and all the great flight search sites!)
You’re welcome Cat!
Wow, this is certainly inspiring. I’m not sure how you manage to earn enough income to cover 70% of the living costs of back at home, but well done! And even more amazing is that you have one suitcase!
And I think the idea of a month of fast travel followed by a month stopped still somewhere is great.
Thanks for joining in #wednesdaywanderlust, I hope to see you back again!
Our income is the same whether we’re travelling or at home, it’s just that being on the road costs us about 70% what it does to live at home because living in New Zealand is SO expensive. I hope that makes sense.
This was a really good post Bethaney. I have two boys, 7 and 11, and although I love traveling with them, can’t really see myself doing it all the time. I liked reading how you do it with your own and are sustaining yourselves.
Thanks Tawanna. This is just to show how we manage to pull it off but really, travel with kids can happen in so many different ways!
When you’re planning your travels being as strategic as possible with your money is just going to mean you have more of it to spend on fun stuff once you actually have your boots on the ground. I just don’t know how you manage just one suitcase! I know I can have a tendency to overpack.
Thanks Donny. Our boots are always on the ground, so to speak! I’m a big believer in minimal packing. Have a look at Travel Fashion Girl for lots of inspiration on planning a travel wardrobe. There are posts on their for guys too! The key is to make sure everything works with everything else.
We don’t travel with children or full time but there is still a heap of useful information here for anyone who wants to maximise their travel time and experiences.
That’s right Toni. I’m all about encourage any parents to travel with kids, no matter what the time frame. This is just how we manage to pull it off full-time
I think you guys are doing a great job travelling with your kids and that it’s probably gonna be something that will help them too in the future.
I’ve always loved seeing family on the road. I think the world is a great place to educate children and open their minds. My parents use to take me backpacking since I was very little but not for long term travel like you guys but I’m thankful that they did do that and showed me something new and amazing.
I wish you all the best and hope that you can keep on going for a long time!
That’s great that your parents used to take you backpacking as a child Marie-Carmen. I hope our children see the benefits from all this travel in the long term too.
I have the utmost respect and admiration for you guys. What you are doing is incredible. I must say that this story is not only for family travelers. I have learned so much reading this story. Bookmarked all the sites you use for travel. Thank you so much for inspiring us.
Thanks! My aim is to help anyone who wants to travel whatever their style. This is just how we choose to do it!
I’ve always wondered how families travelled and maintained an income at the same time. And it finally just clicked – It’s all down to bloody hard work! Much respect 🙂
Oh yeah! Hard work is right. Balancing our time between work, blogging, travel, travel planning and children is the hardest part to manage.
This gives me SO MUCH hope, excitement, and inspiration for our travel future as our family grows. Thanks for these practical tips!
Thanks Lillie! That’s what I’m here for!!!!
Wow you only spend 60 a month on food for 4? And organic? I’m one person and I can easily spend 30 and sometimes more per day, which is WAY TOO MUCH. How the heck do you do that? I did find some great tips here even for someone who does not travel with kids. I’ll be checking out Google Flights Soon.
$60 a DAY!!!!!! Lol.
I’m so happy that you have figured out what works best for you and your family. I think every situation is different and you seem to have found the right balance. Thanks for sharing and giving us insight into how to travel long-term with kids. I think your points will resonate with most travelers regardless of their specific situation.
Thanks Mary. It definitely is about what works for YOUR family. That is key! It’s taken us a few goes to figure out this full-time travel with kids thing but now we are really in a groove.
Sounds like you definitely are well into the swing of things! It’s so great you’re able to travel with the kids so successfully. I love that shot of Reuben in Valladolid – it’s incredible!
Thanks Alli! That is one of my favourite photos! It’s not easy getting a four year old to stand still for a picture though. 😉
Wow This is an amazing post! while I’m not a parent and won’t be for many years to come, I’ve always wondered about traveling as a family. My family hardly ever travels and I’m the only one in my family to travel outside the USA. I can imagine how worldly your children will be (and already are)! It’s so cool that your kids are already asking lots of questions about the world around them and are interested in learning – especially about photoshop. What a truly valuable skill that is!
Thank you for being so open about your current way of living. I’ve to admit that I’m one of the people wondering how people travel permanently with children. I think you need a lot of courage to do what you guys do, since you’re not just responsible for yourself, but you have your children with you. Thank you as well for some very convenient links, I definitely will use on my next travels. One question I still have is after reading this post, is it easy for your oldest to get into contact with other children of his age while you’re traveling? Kids who don’t travel for such a long time obviously get into contact with children of their age during their time at a day care centre, pre-school or primary school, but it is different for you. And if he makes friends, does he find it hard when he has to leave them again?
Thanks for your comment and your interest in our travel lifestyle. I’m glad I was able to give you some insight into how we travelling families do it.
To answer your question, at the moment our son is 4.5 year old which means lots of his peers are still at the playground, not in school. We don’t find it too difficult to find opportunities to play with other kids. We usually spend some time each day in a playground, indoor playground, children’s museum etc so there are always plenty of kids his age around. He is also very adept at befriending people of other age groups. He has no problem playing with and talking to younger kids, older kids and even adults.
Hope this answers your question!
Thank you for you reply. And yes, it does answer my question 🙂 I’m glad to hear your lifestyle provides plenty of opportunities for that too. Traveling can get lonely at some point. It’s great that you pay attention to that as well!
That was meant to say Bethaney obviously!
Great pot Bethaney!
I thought my travel days would be over when I have kids in a few years. Nice to read success stories and know that doesn’t have to be the case!
Wow, so much detail & same great tips (we use our rental income to cover our mortgage as well)!
We used Paypal regularly as well until an incident on this trip.
I’d always found Paypal to be a secure site, but somehow on the road, my account details were either stolen or hacked & suddenly we were finding flights being booked through our account!
Thankfully Paypal were prompt in their action so the money has been refunded, however we have encountered an issue in getting my account unfrozen.
They will only clear the block via a conversation through the phone number linked to the account.
As I do not travel the world with my phone, this is an impossibility, so we’ll be unable to use my account for over a year…
Great summary of how you do it! I’m sure you could go pretty deep into explaining each sub-topic. I think the most surprising thing to me is the one suitcase! I can’t imagine! 🙂
Everyone seems fascinated by that Tracie! I’m going to do a post with photos and videos on how we pack.
You’re giving your kids the best education! We traveled with our kids a lot when they were little, but only in school vacations, since I’m a teacher and my husband’s profession (dentist) is tied to one place as well. I’m curious about the fact that you don’t book hotels till last minute. I’ve never done that because I worry that they’ll all be booked up and I’d hate to end up homeless for a night with kids. Is that really never a problem?
Thanks for your comment Rachel! We’ve never had a problem booking at the last minute although I do look in advance to see if there are any special events going on that might make it difficult. For example, we are in Nashville this week but I booked our accommodation about a month ago because it’s fashion week here. I noticed all the hotels were really expensive or unavailable so we made the decision to stay longer and get an Airbnb. Generally, if we’re booking an Airbnb we book further in advance because it’s not instant like booking a hotel. There is usually a bit of discussion that takes place between yourself and the owner first.
I have met so many people travelling with children. It is definitely hard, I can just about organise myself but you guys make it look easy! I love a 0$ travel day 🙂
Bookmarked for when I have my own family and kids as well. This is beyond inspiring! 🙂 It’s difficult but you manage. Salute to the whole family! 🙂
so happy to have found your blog and I look forward to following your travels more! As we also have a young family (2 and 4 year old boys) it’s nice to find others in the same situation!
That’s great Lindsay! What are your plans?
I love the photo of dad reading to the kids before bedtime. Like you, bedtime is the same for us, anywhere we go. Kids learn to rely on the routine and that family is there and the rest being ‘new’ doesn’t interfere with bedtime.
Travel is educational as you said! I write educational eBooks for the kids when we travel and then I make them available on my website. Beyond the obvious practicing reading and writing, the kid really enjoy learning about the history and story behind the art. It makes the journey even MORE fun for everyone.
Thanks for all the tips!
Natalie, The Educational Tourist
$3,000 a month for lodging is pretty pricey, though it does come down to $100 a night, which all in all is cheap. Let me know if you ever want to swap your house in NZ for a house in the suburb of Boston some time 😉 That will save you some money on lodging.
Other than that, we’re different in our traveling habits in that we cook at home, not eat out, but $60 a day for food sounds quite reasonable, actually.
Good for you for traveling full time. My hubby would like us to do it, but so far I’ve been saying no. We’re a bit too rooted in our community to pull out.
I really enjoyed this post, thanks for sharing. We don’t do long-term travel but we’ve lived abroad ever since the kids were born (they were all born in a different country) so while we’re not on the road all the time, I guess we live our own kind of nomadic lifestyle. It was great to hear how you make it work and I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for the kids. Love the fact that your kids have meltdowns just when you’ve booked a big treat or travelled to somewhere that you think they’ll really love – this has happened to us so often!
I love your site and the term “flashpacker”! Now I have something to call us. Even though we often travel only with backpacks to make us more mobile, I’ve always felt a little guilty calling us “backpackers” because we are able to stay in nice casitas and sometimes will even give up on adventure for a week to sit on the beach and be pampered at an all inclusive. Flashpacking rocks! 🙂
WOW you are living the life we dream about ! We did a nice road trip with our 2 yrs old daugther from Quebec to puerto Vallarta and we miss that all the time! She is now 8 and since she attempt school we are wondering how to travel again every winter (with new baby as well!) . Our job allows us to do it!!! But I wish that she still goes to school when we get back. ( we would like to leave 1 month or 2) Do you have any info on that ? Or a website that can be helpful? Thx !!!
I would absolutely talk to your daughter’s school about pulling her out for a couple of months over the winter. If she’s 8, I’m sure they will be fine with it and you can ask what skills she needs to keep up with while you’re away. Or perhaps talk about finding a place in a local school for her abroad. I know of a couple of schools that will accept “worldschooling” students as they pass through for a few months. If your jobs are flexible, you should just go for it! Happy to chat more if you like on FB.
What an inspiring and motivating read. My husband and I did a lot of travelling before having our children and I have felt like a frustrated traveller since having our three sons ages 4, 8 and 9! However we have done a few mini adventures in Europe for the last two years and are planning to back pack with them for two weeks next Summer in Italy! Fingers crossed it’s a success. I love the idea of the long term travel but can’t see that happening until we retire! Will you continue to travel a lot when you children reach school age? ?
definitely a business model in there for you guys. Are you playing with snapchat and periscope yet?
I’m on Snapchat = FlashpackerFam. I’m also on Blab = https://blab.im/FlashpackerFam
I would love to learn more from you about how my partner and I can make this our life. I’ve been working part time to have some income, but the mere thought of going back to a full-time office job has really been depressing and bringing me into a huge rut. I have always felt that I was meant to travel the world, and was on my way to saving to do that when we got pregnant (not planned – but life is such and I wouldn’t change a thing!) I know that there’s no way I would be able to make what you guys make and travel constantly, and working abroad can be difficult with Visa requirements and whatnot, but I think once we get a good chunk of money saved and take our first extended trip we would figure it out as we go. We’ve taken her to Cuba at 6 months, and she’s really adaptable to any surroundings. She’s a very easy going child, and now that she’s 18 months I feel like we give ourselves a year to save, and then embark on our journey! I have friends in Denmark, SE Asia, AUS, NZ, San Francisco etc. I think the biggest thing for us is to find ways to make money while traveling. Finding freelance work can be hard (I have a Public Relations degree – I’m a writer and could see myself doing exactly this type of thing as a means of income if I knew how to get started). I’m past the age limit to do a working holiday in AUS (you also can’t do this with a baby).
Any suggestions as to where to start would be great! I was thinking AUS or SE Asia would be a good place to start – I’ve been to Thailand and the cost of living there is a big factor attracting me there. I feel that once we get to another part of the world, we can take it from there. We’re in Canada and eager to head to Europe, Asia, AUS or South America. We’re really laid back people, my boyfriend is an avid surfer, skier and musician. He can teach surfing, and has lots of serving experience. Hopefully by the time we plan to leave he will have a Sustainability degree completed. Any information would be great! I have read tons of things on your website and I think what you guys are doing is great – we would, however, have to do things on a much tighter budget as we don’t have a home to rent. Thanks so much for your time and you guys are really inspiring! All the best of luck with your future travels 🙂
Hi Suzanne! Thanks for getting in touch. I would be happy to chat further to you about making your travel dream a reality. SE Asia is a perfect place to start because it’s affordable, easy and great for families. You could definitely pick up work online through sites like Upwork or Elance especially if you have skills in writing. Freelance writing is a common way travel bloggers/full time travellers make ends meet while on the road. I’d probably suggest getting to SE Asia and setting up a cheap base somewhere to give yourself time to get some online work, adjust to life on the road etc. Chiang Mai is a popular place to live for digital nomads because it’s really affordable. It’ll cost you so much less than trying to save up money at home. You’re better to just take the plunge and work it out from there.
This is a great blog. I have 4 kids and often think of packing it all up for a year and taking the time out to travel with them – it is the finances that stop me though!
Thanks Taryn! You’d be surprised at how much it costs to travel the world… less than you would think!
I’m so glad that I took the time to dig into your website tonight. I’ve been following you on facebook for a while now but don’t often read a whole post. This one post answered most of the questions that I have. Okay, the one question that I have – about schooling your children. I do believe that traveling presents many great opportunities to teach kids but I always worry about not providing her with enough education to get a college degree – if that’s something that she chooses. She is almost 6 and I want to make sure that she has every opportunity available to her. My husband and I have often talked about taking life on the road. He’s currently in school for 3D animation, so the ability for him to earn an income from anywhere will definitely be there. He will finish school in December, then he’ll probably work for a bit to save a starting chunk of money. I will follow more closely and start the research process now so that in a year or so, we might actually be ready to make this a reality.
Thanks for the great info…. Your Blog will definately come in handy over the next few months. My partner and I live in NZ currently and we have a 18month old son. My partner currently works in the oil and gas industry so flies in and out of aust to nz. He works two weeks in two weeks off. I currently work in the pharmaceutical industry fulltime. We have decided in three months I will resign from my job and we will relocate at this stage to Bali. We also have another family who are doing it with us. This will be our starting point for travel. I would like to attempt to generate an income while we are there also. At this stage until we are able to generate an income to cover our travel costs my partner will continue to work FIFO. We also have a home here which we will rent out. Do you have any further advice on generating an income? Do you have any thoughts on travel at this time with the state of terrorism etc? Have you noticed any changes whilst traveling?
You are my hero! We are taking off to London for the summer and will travel as much as we can in Europe each weekend! We are contemplating staying for a week at the end of July in South France or Dubrovnik, any thoughts on either with our 3 and 5 year old? Going to add your blog as MY NEW FAVORITE!
Hi Rachael! Thanks so much for your kind comment! We really enjoyed the South of France. We spent four days in Nice and could easily have stayed more. Here’s my post on Nice with kids. Dubrovnik is beautiful too. I haven’t visited Croatia with my kids but did visit with my Mum about 10 years ago. My friend Sharon went to Croatia with her little kids last year. You can read her post here. I’ve got a couple more posts on Europe with kids which might be helpful like this one – Europe with Kids. Let me know if you need any more help!
Hi there brilliant stuff! We are embarking on a shorter version for 6 months. We live in the UK , my husband and I and 4 kids, but I am from Canada and are renting the house and hitting the road from Toronto to….where the sun keeps shinning basically! No fixed plan but want to go East to West, then down California and to Mexico. We are keen campers and I am wondering if you have any long term experience with the tent/ trailer / moter home lifestyle. Also…travel with a dog..
Hi Joanne! 6 months is a great amount of time. Before we travelled full time we used to do 6 months travelling then 6 months at home. Worked out great if we were able to rent our house out. We did a lot of road trip in America but only car + hotel/Airbnb. We have friends that RV though if you want to connect with them. They travelled with their dog also. Her name is Jen and her blog is http://silverlininglife.com/
Are you part of our Facebook group for families who love travel? If not, you should join! Just send me a Facebook message so I can approve your request. There are quite a few RV families in there. https://www.facebook.com/groups/familieswholovetravel/
Hello! Thank you for all your tips and advice. Myself, partner and my soon to be 3 year old daughter are setting off for Australia (as soon as our house sells) to travel the East coast for 6 months (maybe more). We are from the UK.
Excited is not the word! However, I am finding it hard to deal with people’s comments on the decision we have made to sell our house and quit our jobs. Ive been called selfish and that I do not have my priorities in order and that our house is a safe place for our daughter.
I know I should’nt care what people think but it does make me question my own sanity, i keep asking myself why i am doing this and is it because im not happy with the way my life is at the moment? So im just wondering if there were times you ever felt this way?
Most people we have told are really excited for us but the people closest to us are the ones with all the concerns. my parents say they are happy for us but then when they are with our daughter they keep saying they dont want her to leave and can they keep her! (apparently they are joking) They are very very close with her and live on the same street as us – we see them nearly everyday! So all of these comments just keep making me feel panicky and question everything! sorry for the rant! xx
You just have to go with your gut on this one. You are the only one that knows what is right for your family, not other people. If people haven’t travelled extensively then they often think that travel is scary or dangerous. You could spend some time educating them to show that, actually a lot of the time, it’s safer in these “third world” countries. The perception people get from the media on what is dangerous is actually quite warped. Or you could just brush it off and not listen. But, I mean, you’re going to Australia which is one of the most civilised places on earth!
I often found myself not telling people our whole story because it was difficult to explain we were going away without plans, not knowing where we’re going exactly or when, not formally educating our children etc. It was often just too much for people to wrap their heads around!
With your family, I think they are just worried about not feeling close to your kids or losing their connection with them. It’s important to Skype regularly and have the kids keep connected with them. Grandparents can do story time on Skype with no problem. You could also invite them to visit you at a certain points in your trip if you like.
The fact is, that by spending 6 months or more travelling with your kids full time you are spending 100% quality time with them. Not racing off to work or school or appointments and just “getting by”. You’re actually building strong, quality family memories. That is NOT selfish! And it’s not unsafe. What’s the quote I’m trying to think of??
“Birds born in a cage think flying is an illness.”
I think that sums it up perfectly. People who are happy and content in their lives at home will always think there is something odd about wanting to be free. You can’t help that. That is firmly THEIR issue and not yours.
Good luck with your trip! Your should join our Facebook community of family travellers so you can find people to connect with that are doing the same thing. There are a huge number of us who are just passionate about family travel and see it as a great tool for raising our kids. You could definitely pose the same question there and see what others have to say. Just send me a FB message to join – https://www.facebook.com/groups/familieswholovetravel/
I really enjoyed your post. My husband and I have done a lot of shorter-term travel with our kids over the years but are considering going much longer / indefinitely.
I am very curious about what clothing you take – particularly what’s in your ONE (!!) suitcase. Could you please share what your essentials are? I am rather daunted by the idea of what to actually take. Thank you!
I actually don’t have a full post on what we pack for long term travel. I should really do that! Here are a couple of quick tips for travelling long term with kids:
1) Picking the right bag. We have one big bag that has lots of sections. This is the exact one we have – http://amzn.to/2caNzPr As you can see if has lots of sections, pockets, zip up bits. It’s also sturdy and travels really well, never tips over etc.
2) We use packing cubes to organise our luggage. One colour per family member so it’s easy to grab someone’s clothes without digging through a bag. I also have two other packing cubes that have everyone’s PJs and swimming gear in them so when we’re ready to swim I can grab one packing cube and get everyone’s gear out in a one go.
3) We just take regular clothing. No special fancy travel clothes. When you’re travelling long term it’s more like everyday life than a trip. You really don’t need anything special. If you think about what you wear on a weekly basis, you kind of just wear the same clothes over and over again don’t you? Look at capsule wardrobes on Pinterest for ideas but basically you just choose a small amount of clothing items that all go with each other. It’s pretty easy. For the kids, it’s the same but I usually pack twice as many clothes for them because they are little and get messy and often need a change of clothes throughout the day. You only really need 7-10 days worth of clothing for any length of trip.
4) In addition to our main suitcase we have some carry on bags. We have a laptop backpack that Lee carries – http://amzn.to/2cn9VMW I have a carry on backpack that can be used for carry on only travel if we’re doing short trips from a base, e.g. on a cruise etc. This is the one I have – http://amzn.to/2cA72uY. I can actually get a week’s worth of stuff for our whole family in that bag! Reuben has a small backpack for toys and Hazel has a Trunki – http://amzn.to/2cgvAdg.
5) We also have a bunch of snowboarding gear which we leave at my sister’s house in the US. There’s no way we could drag this around!
6) When we were road tripping in the US we also had a few other bits and pieces like a cooler, a box with plastic bowls, placemats and a blender, a canvas shopping bag of food etc. It’s easier when you’re travelling in a car!
I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any questions! You can message me on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/flashpackerfamily
So happy I found you! Before I got married I was a passionate traveler things have really slowed down with two boys and a husband. I miss backpacking, and feel caged at times.This blog has breathed some life back into me and given some much needed hope. We agree with your lifestyle so much the only thing holding us back in the money. My husband is a big fan of his job here in Wasilla Alaska FedIx isn’t the most exciting job around but its a stable income.
I would love to see a picture or even youtube video of how you pack. We are considering a trip to Thailand with 6month old and a 4 year old, thats how I found you. Any Thailand advice would be great. Love to be there in november for the lights.
Yes I really need to made one of those videos! I will definitely so it next time we are packing up for a big trip. 🙂
I have some Thailand posts but I’ve been so many times that I haven’t written about it all! If you’ve got any specific questions I’m happy to answer them! How long are you thinking of going? It’s definitely a great place to begin travelling with kids because it’s so easy!
Here are all my Thailand posts – https://flashpackerfamily.com/category/thailand/
Hi Bethaney, we have just started a year of travel with our only just 2yr old and our 6 month old. We’ve travelled for up to a month with Lauren before, but she’s just that bit older now and starting to say she wants to go home etc and being very clingy. It’s breaking my heart a bit. She’s happy enough in the day, but at night at cuddle time she’s always asking about “home home” and saying she wants to go there (she’s an extremely verbal kid so she chats a lot and expresses herself very well even on fairly complex topics). Did you have this at the start and how do you deal with it? Will she get over it out be scarred for life? We are 2 weeks in to our trip and been in one place the whole time. But the last 2 months or so were quite unsettled with packing up our house etc. I’m trying to just give lots of extra hugs and cuddles and explain that we are on a long holiday but we will go back home in a year and she will see all her friends again…
Thanks so much for your posts! They’re so helpful and informative?!
Our family is considering taking an extended trip around the world and all of us are so excited about the possibility. The biggest hurdle we need to resolve before embarking on such an adventure is determining how we would keep our online based business connected via internet on almost a daily basis. The nature of our business requires that we MUST have some form of internet access daily. And it’s got to be a bit faster than “dial up” speeds. How do you and your husband stay connected & overcome potential challenges with wifi? Do you happen to have any tips, suggestions, insights or recommendations you could provide? How do you keep your information secure & safe online as you travel? We’re looking into sattelite types of internet for more remote places, but we’re not sure what we really need. Any valuable feedback you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much!
I love your blog and came across it while researching traveling with young children. My husband and I are planing a trip with my daughter, who will be 14 months when we go on our trip, and my biggest concern are the physiological effects it may have on her. We plan to backpack to at least 4 different countries within a 6 month period but I am most worried about her feeling insecure with all of the changes that this will bring to her. From the pictures it looks like you traveled with your children while they were still infants. Did you notice any concerning changes in behavior/have a difficult time keeping them on a routine?
Wow! Your travels and lessons are amazing.. I’m expecting in oct and have a two and a half year old and a one and a half year old.. and two dogs.. we are buying a Mercedes sprinter van and plan to travel the us. For at least 6 months.. then if it goes well, just keep on going! I’m a photographer and a yoga teacher so hoping to catch some gigs along the way for a little income but I’d love to talk to you more about routes and kids!! Thank you so much for sharing!
Love the site. Super informative. A few years back, my wife and I did a year long – 26 country trip before kids. We had the time of our lives (we spent the first 6 weeks in New Zealand and fell in love with the country). 3 years and 2 kids later, we have the bug to do it again, albeit less countries. At the time of wanting to leave in January, the boys will be 28 months and 3 months. How old were your kids when you left? Had you ever enrolled your kids in any kind of programs during your travels? Do you look to connect with other families while you’re gone (either locals or travellers)? Our older kid loves the programs he’s in at home (sports, swimming, gym, music, etc.). Even though he is super, super, super adaptable, a fear of mine is taking him away from those programs while we’re gone along with him not being around other children. Our plan was more along the lines of “let’s go to 4-5 countries (by the way, we plan to spend the last 6-9 months in NZ) over 18 months and try to live rather than simply visit”. The reason for this aside from less moving around is to give my son some familiarity and normalcy by finding local families, programs, etc.
What are your thoughts and experiences regarding this topic? As I mentioned, my older son is really adaptable, but also really, really mature for his age in many ways.. Am I making a bigger deal of this than I should be? Do you ever worry about your kids not being social or around other kids regularly?
I know it’s personal preference, but based on your experience, do you prefer to move around more rather than picking a city and settling there for a few months or so?
Hi! Inspiring posts and lots of good tips 🙂 I’ve traveled all my life and lived on several continents but now that we finally are getting a chance to go on a three months trip with our toddler (now 2.5) and infant (now 3 mo), I’m a bit stumped. “All” Swedes who take parental leave in a tropical climate seen to go to Thailand, which is an option, but where would you go? We are so tired after 3 years of limited sleep that I can’t wrap my brain around anything complicated but we still have always preferred less touristy experiences. We want beaches, not crazy heat, possibility to afford some babysitting and good, simple food. Thailand, Mexico (but where!?), Caribbean (what island…), NZ/AU and Hawaii have been considered. The latter feel expensive as we can’t rent our our city flat in Stockholm and will be going during peak season nov-feb. Any tips? Thank you ???
Ps did you enjoy park city? It’s our second home destination, hope to have a house there in coming years!