Advice for the Aspiring Traveling Family

There are so many amazing families out there who are living their dreams of long term travel.  I have asked a few of them to help me pool their collective wisdom to give our family, and other families who are aspiring travellers, some advice.

Here is what they had to say:

Don’t Pack Too Much!

from Life Changing Year

My number one piece of advice is not to pack too much. We’ve been on the loose for just 38 days of a full year trip and 3 weeks in we spent $50 sending items home. My 10 year old bought a small collection of Lego, a transformer, a teddy, a skipping rope etc. he had room in his pack and he can be demanding so I was fine with him bringing some distractions. After 3 weeks he hadn’t touched a single item. We’ve stayed in hostels and in Colin Burns’ house – there’s been toys, DVDs and all kinds of things to keep him amused along the way. Us girls sent home all our makeup and books we were all carting. Was the best thing we ever did. Our backpacks (and backs) are thanking us!!  My husband would like me to point out that he didn’t need to send anything home!  What a showoff!!

Just Do It 

from Family on Bikes

Want to live a life of travel? Take some advice from Nike: Just Do It

I’m totally serious – all the planning in the world won’t get you on the road. Just go. Head out for a “safe” long weekend, then up it to a week, then a month… and soon you’ll be walking ‘cross the floor!

Yes, all the preparation seems overwhelming and daunting, but you’ll soon discover it doesn’t take much more to plan for a year on the road than it does for a week. And once you’re proficient at planning that week you’ll be free to tackle the few additional tasks required. It’ll work. Just start walking toward it and the universe will reveal it all one step at a time.

That being said, you’ll have to want that life of travel more than you’ve ever wanted anything in your life or it won’t happen. There will be a million small obstacles that will easily trip you up if you aren’t 1000% committed to your dream. If you are committed, you’ll simply go up and over.

Don’t Be Afraid

from The Dropout Diaries

Let go of your fear.

Things won’t go according to plan but after a few missteps you will discover that things rarely get as bad as your fears make you imagine.

And when things do go wrong, you will discover so much – new places, new strengths, a new side of your partner or your children. You could even discover that an indefinite travel lifestyle isn’t for you. And that is OK too.

Things DO work out. You just need to stay calm and remember that wherever you are in the world, people are generally good and you will be offered help.

We had quite a bumpy start to our “dropout”. We left Singapore (and my full-time job) on a late flight to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. Our daughter threw up on the plane and she and I were both covered in sick when we arrived … only to find the airline had lost one of our bags. By the time we filled in all the lost luggage forms, it was after midnight and there were no taxis or song taews (public taxis) at the airport. We had no map, no phone (and aware we’d have no phone, I didn’t write down the phone number of the serviced apartments where we were booked to stay.)

All we could do was sit and wait for help, which eventually came in the form of a security guard who didn’t speak English. He summoned a song taew driver, who also didn’t speak – or read – English. He’d never heard of our apartment and couldn’t read the address I’d written down.

The security guard and the song taew driver used their phones to consult many of their friends until the song taew driver decided he knew where to go. And so he took us across town … to the wrong place.

But … we finally arrived at the right apartment building. It was well after 1am and the night desk guy leapt into action, showing us the local convenience store where we could buy water, the late night street stall where we could buy food AND loaning us some forks and spoons so we could eat.


Research your Destination

from Bohemian Travelers

Travel through Asia, especially Thailand, is really very easy.  We really enjoy the trains so whenever possible I would suggest taking them over buses.  When we get to a new destination I like to have at least the first night already booked.  Agoda.com is a great spot to find hotels.  I book for one night so I can scope out if it is a good fit and so that we aren’t traipsing all over the town with all our stuff.   Research is a huge component to long term travel and being prepared for that and open to learning as you go will be invaluable.  Above all stay relaxed, keep expectations reasonable, and live in the moment.  Keeping those things in perspective is often times easier said than done but will enhance the entire experience if you can do it

Words of Wisdom

From Edventure Project

1. Apply the 7 Ps: Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. This was never more true than in family travel. Take the time to do your homework, plan carefully and begin as you mean to go with your major life change. For our family this meant 2 years of checklists and preparations disconnecting from our static life to a life on the road. It seems like a long time, but our careful planning has paid off in dividends and over four years later we’re still happily living our dream! Live each day, there’s no rush.

2. Love People, Not Things. This is our family mantra. It applies to everything… preparing to leave, leaving, continuing to the next dream. It’s not the stuff that matters, let that go. Invest in what really matters… the people, the relationships, the memories. Don’t trade relationship now for some nebulous hope of a dream later. Don’t trade your dreams for stuff that won’t matter when you die anyway… like your house, 2 cars or a french manicure. Invest in what matters. Be in this moment. Live richly. Accomplish your dreams

3. Be Patient. Major life change doesn’t happen over night. Big dreams aren’t accomplished in a matter of weeks, or even months. It’s easy to get caught up in longing for what you dream of and miss the beauty of now. Your dreams are not a destination, they are a journey you’re on right now.

4. Stop at nothing, don’t give up! I can’t express how WORTH IT it is to get over the hump, out of your comfort zone and live your dreams. It seems impossibly hard sometimes when you’re pushing towards something just out of reach, but the benefits are beyond measure. Push. Go. Do. Be. Persevere. Make it happen. You’ll NEVER regret it, I promise!


from With 2 Kids in Tow

When we began researching for our year-long trip to SEA, India, Sri Lanka and the Philippines with our two pre-schoolers in tow, the topic of vaccinations quickly came up.  The advice was overwhelming.  Our local GP assured us that he was informed enough to help us yet common sense and more research pointed to specialist ‘Travel Medicine Doctors’ to really get the most thorough advice.  However, it was also beginning to be apparent that this was going to be a very expensive component of our pre-travel expenses, especially for a family of four.  Our local ‘specialist’ had an initial consulting fee of $120 AUD/USD per person, excluding the cost of the vaccinations and follow-up visits, not to mention that he was about a 45min drive away.

More research on the internet travel forums (Lonely Planet) revealed two reputable ‘Travel Medicine Clinics’ in Bangkok, Thailand.  Their respective websites also had information on pricing and consultation fees.  Although vaccinations could take 1-3 weeks to be fully effective, we felt that the cost savings was too good to ignore.

We were able to make Bangkok one of our first stops, then used it as a ‘base’ while we were on the vaccination schedule, then in between we’d travel to other parts of Thailand (not too far off the beaten track).  From what we’ve heard of other travelers’ experience getting the vaccinations ‘at home’, we saved about $1,000.  The clinic was extremely professional and we also valued the ‘first-hand’ information that we received from doctors there who were not only specialists but also who worked and lived in the region where we were actually traveling.  (At the end of the day, Travel Medicine Doctors located in ‘first-world regions’ were still informed ‘at arms length’.)  Furthermore, the clinic we used was part of a reputable University so we felt assured that our vaccines were genuine.

Our ‘solution’ certainly is not suitable for everyone and we are not doctors so this is NOT MEDICAL ADVICE.  Everyone should do their own research and reach their own conclusion which is right for their situation;  just know that there are other options out there.  This is merely our experience.

Preparing For Your New Life

from Discover, Share, Inspire

When you first embark on an adventure, whether it’s your first or your fifth, you need to prepare yourself to push through the ‘adjustment period’.

There’s new routines, habits, circumstances, and stimuli to adapt to. You’re trying to figure out how to do things in your new life.

Most likely, you’ll reach a point where you’ll question your sanity at undertaking such a venture, and wonder if you’ll be able to make it work – whether financially, emotionally or logistically.

This is the point where the weak give up, and where the rewards are the greatest for those who push through and figure out how to make it work.

Ultimately it’s like a giant puzzle – trying to mesh together the pieces of the dream you hold in your mind with reality, until the two coincide. And when you finally figure it out and make it through the ‘trial by fire’, it’s like magic.

Face Your Fears

from The Nomadic Family

Face your fears as you stand on the brink of the unknown. It is the most terrifying step I’ve ever taken- to leave it all and become the nomadic family. So, do it; and know, that the fear is natural and beautiful; but not intense enough to stop you from making your dreams come true.

Thank you my nomadic friends for your advice!

How about you?  Do you have any advice for a newbie traveling family?

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2 pings

  1. Nancy Sathre-Vogel from Family on Bikes says:

    Love this! Great advice from lots of adventurous folk out there! Thanks for including me.

    1. worldschooled says:

      Thank you Nancy!

    2. Christina @Interest-Led Learning says:

      Great advice, Nancy!

  2. monique says:

    helpful information – look forward to reading more about your adventures

  3. gabi klaf says:

    this turned out to be such a marvelous collection of remarkable advise. like nancy, i am so honored to be a part of it. thanks for including us, and for inspiring so many others.


    1. worldschooled says:

      Thank you Gabi! And thanks for contributing!

  4. Jill says:

    Hi Amy
    Some good advice here! We did the same thing with vaccinations.

    My advice is to only take pants with pockets. Seriously, pocket are very important!


    1. worldschooled says:

      Good tip, I can see how pockets would be important!

  5. Garrett | Best Travel Insurance says:

    What a great collection of experiences and stories! I have some friends who have their children keep a small journal with them while they travel, short family trips, out of state adventures, you name it is added to the journal. Their children who are now in their late and early teens, about to head off to college, can carry those journals of family memories with them – and I find that very powerful. Great job.

    1. worldschooled says:

      What a nice idea!

  6. Christina @ Interest-Led Learning says:

    We love to travel a lot, and are planning to take an extended trip in about 6 years with our kids. The advice I most connected with here is to live out each moment as part of the journey, even if you are still far away from reaching your dreams. It’s easy for me to be frustrated at how long it will take until we’re able to travel more, but then I’m missing out on all the amazing things that could be happening right now.

    1. worldschooled says:

      We have been planning our journey for seven years now! Sometimes it felt like it was so far away but now those seven years seem to have gone by in a blink! Sometimes it is hard to step back and examine where you are right now and feel joy for the journey. It is easy to get caught up in thoughts of the future. But being joyful for the now and living in the present is so important and rewarding!

  1. Travel Advice….The Journey Inward | Worldschool Adventures says:

    […] « Advice for the Aspiring Traveling Family […]

  2. Monday's News, Tomorrow's Newsprint - Is that how it goes? | Life Changing Year says:

    […] just recently I tried to be a grown-up and actually pass on some travelling advice when Worldschool Adventures asked for some ideas to help others setting out on family travel (or as I like to think of it, their […]

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