It’s been two years of travel now. Two years of us, the boys and our backpacks. Two years of adventure, fun, amazing times and disasters. Two years taking us from Australia to Asia, to Europe, to the Americas and back. If you haven’t been following along from the start, here’s our journey, the short version.
How It Came About?
Chef and I have always loved to travel, one RTW under our belts already, we dreamed of doing it again. The boys were registered homeschoolers in Australia, thriving on that style of learning and one day we just realised that:
- there was nothing stopping us and we had nothing to lose.
- travel would be an amazing and, we believed, necessary part of the boys’ education.
- stepping off the hamster wheel would give us all time together, children grow so fast and, like many, they hardly saw their hard-working dad.
I could break those reasons down further, but these 3 were at the heart of our decision. Two years later, we’ve never once regretted our choice and our life is forever changed. We are free now.
Everyone will wonder about money, we fund this through hard graft and spending little. We worked out a long time ago that a travel lifestyle costs less than paying the bills and mortgage at home and we’ve run with that concept. We have a complex patchwork income, a few freebies through the blog and a nose for a bargain. But I should make one thing very clear, you don’t have to be conventionally rich to do this. Read how we manage financially here.
We left our adopted home, Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia on June 2nd 2013. Just the boys and I, Chef stayed home to compete in an Iron Man race and tie up some odds and ends. We had a 1 way ticket to Kuala Lumpur and roughly $30,000 to spend on an adventure in education. We had no fixed plans, no return date, we made it up as we went.
I struggled without Chef. There was an environmental disaster and we were robbed. We ended up making new friends and staying with them. We flew to Bangkok, a city I already knew well and felt more comfortable with.
Chef joined us in Bangkok, on the Khao San Rd. We headed to Kanchanaburi for relaxation, history, and an ultra-cheap stay before taking the train to Laos.
We stayed 6 weeks. Our second time in Laos and we loved it even more than the first.
Back to Bangkok by sleeper train again, then bus and ferry to Ko Samui and Ko Phangan. We stayed 6 weeks, mostly because of Chef’s emergency surgery and recovery. We had a wonderful time on Haad Salad beach and we’d love to go back. Update: Now, entering year 5, we’ve returned to Thailand many times and know the country well enough to put together comprehensive Thailand travel guides.
A budget-friendly flight over the border to Kuala Lumpur to revisit our favourite hostel, then a bus south for Malacca and Legoland Malaysia before returning to KL and an ultra-cheap flight to London via Sri Lanka.
1 glorious month. My 4th visit to this stunning island. We love everything about it.
Family problems brought us to Britain, it was never in our plan. We loved staying with friends in Wales over Christmas and spending a couple of weeks on the south coast before catching our ship to New York in early February.
Cruise Ship to USA from UK
10 days on the Atlantic, we had a ball. We never thought we’d take a cruise and were totally surprised by how much we loved it.
New York City and Amish Pennsylvania. Niagara Falls wasn’t so far away so we thought “Why not?”
Niagara Falls frozen solid. What a thing to see! We only had 3 nights in Canada but instantly fell in love.
We drove south to Florida, stopping along the coast. Yet again, we hit the Disney Parks, we can never get enough, before popping round to New Orleans for Mardi Gras.
We had to get out of the US so we booked the cheapest flight out of Fort Lauderdale.
The flight was cheap so we thought we’d take a look at El Salvador. Only a week here before crossing by road to Guatemala.
We needed some down time to focus on the kids education so we spent a month in a little villa in Antigua before heading up to stunning Lake Atitlan and Flores for Tikal.
Another cheap flight back to Florida where we continued our road trip down to the tip of the Keys. I finally fulfilled a childhood dream to take an air boat ride on the Everglades, it was better than I’d hoped and I shared it with my boys, magic.
Cruise Ship to Madeira and Spain from USA
Another 11 days bobbing about on the ocean with a brief stop in Madeira. Lots of fun!
We landed in Madrid and headed north to Catalonia. We had a date with Salvadore Dali.
It’s a short drive from Catalonia, so why not?
“Home” for 9 months. Some intensive education, 2 terms in Forest School, new friends, a new way of living. But rental costs were high and Chef was putting in too many hours. I took the time to really work hard on the websites, trying to blog seriously on the road with kids is almost impossible.
1 week for the boys and I in rural Umbria as guests of Our Whole Village. More new friends, more great learning experiences and amazing food, of course.
The boys and I left the UK without Chef, 2 weeks in Istanbul, a city we loved immediately, while he paid a flying visit to Australia.
Dubai wasn’t somewhere I’d ever wanted to go, but we loved it, we had an incredible few days riding camels in the desert and discovering Dubai culture before boarding our next ship.
Cruise Ship to India, Thailand, Langkawi and Singapore from Dubai
We stopped in Mumbai, the boys’ first taste of India and beautiful Kerala for an intense learning day before the stunning beaches of Langkawi and finally meeting Chef in Phuket.
Bangkok again, it feels like home. We discovered a new base in Silom and a new favourite family hostel.
1 month in Cambodia, crossing the borders by road. So many amazing experiences. Finally taking the boys to Angkor was an emotional experience.
A few days in Silom while we prepared for our next flight. We’d missed Thai food like crazy in Cambodia.
Only a month, not enough time. I can never get enough of India despite swearing to leave and never return fairly regularly. We only visited the south as our plans to fly to Nepal then cross back to north India were cancelled by the devastating earthquake. We were stuck, with no visa left and had to make new plans on the spot.
The best and cheapest flight for us out of southern India was to Heathrow. So we ended up in London for a couple of weeks. Chef worked, the boys and I had to keep changing hotels, which was hard, but we stocked up on new “school” books and got our educational plan for the next year sorted out. I struggled with being wrenched out of India so suddenly.
We were invited, so we took a chance and fell in love. Romania is stunning, we’re still here and considering buying a house.
We’re house sitting in London over the summer. We were offered the opportunity and it was too good to turn down. Chef will work, we will focus on the boys’ education and soaking up still more of London and her attractions. We love being there.
After that we don’t know. The boys are getting older, we’re past the golden ages of travel with kids and at 11 and almost 9 my two have started needing more personal space, more things, more independence and more privacy. We’re also starting to have problems with car sickness and a general dislike of trains and planes, something that has come out of the blue with my younger one. It’s a bit of a game changer as we can’t go everywhere by tuk tuk, his preferred mode of transport ( although in India he often got his way). Despite this he is adamant that he doesn’t want to stop travelling, neither of them do, we just need to find an easier way.
Our dream of buying a little place in Romania could be the answer, a base from which we could still travel for some of the year. The boys love the idea, a simple country life has captured their imaginations as much as ours. We’re looking, we’ve seen a couple of places, but will it happen? Will we revert to plan a. and try to buy in London? Will we be forced back to our Australian house? Will we change our minds and do something completely random? Life is full of possibilities and we love that. I’ll tell you when I know.
What do you think? Are you dreaming of a similar adventure? Do you think what we’ve done is crazy or cool? Tell us, and don’t hold back with any questions. I deliberately haven’t added many images, I want you to click through the blog and discover them for yourselves, it’s been an incredible 2 years.
If you'd like to hire a car during your stay, use this car rental comparison tool to find the best deal!
We also suggest you take a look at this company to get a quote for all kinds of travel insurance.
Try Stayz / VRBO for an alternative way to find rentals on homes/apartments/condos in any country!
Thursday 27th of August 2015
Alyson, I happened upon your blog after reading up on caravan travel and following the rabbit hole of the internet to you. I have wanted to do something similar with my family of four for awhile and love having this as source of inspiration and information.
I do have a question around the kids, ours are 4.5 and 7 right now, did you find yours were too young, just right, or too old when you started?
Reading the Edventure blog is equally remarkable but she started her adventure at 11 years old. How do you think start-age shaped your children's experience on the road?
Thursday 27th of August 2015
I think whatever age your kids are is the right age. We're all parents, we know that kids can sometimes be hard work, but that's exactly the same at home or up a mountain in Nepal. I personally wouldn't do it with babies and toddlers, but from 4.5 I think you'll be fine. If you're thinking of the education your kids will get out of it, the older the better really, little ones don't take so much in. I think the first time we took Boo to Thailand he was 4, he remembers and the next time we went back, at 6, we had "Oh THIS place, I love this place." Just do it. Get it organised and leave, don't wait for a magic age to arrive. This is the best thing we ever did and we want to make it happen for more people, see ya in Romania maybe!
Tuesday 25th of August 2015
I think you have done an amazing thing and most importantly you have done it together.
IMO I think that you are also doing the right thing in considering a base for your family. Although people who haven't done it idolise the freedom of going from place to place, the long-term reality especially for children, can be hard. Everyones family is different and everyones balance varies but, your balance is exactly what you need to find.
Let us not forget the power of reflection. One thing about continuously travelling, is the inability to truly stand back and reflect. IMO being at home for some time or having a base makes you appreciate the travel you do more. It gives you time to relax as travelling can be stressful - we know. We love the stress, the figuring things out, the budgeting, etc but it is stressful for the whole family.
Being at home also allows you to take all the things you have gained from travel and instill them in your everyday life, something else hard to do on the road. You can grow veges, install a renewable power source, participate in humanitarian social groups, educate, etc.
Who says being at home cannot also be an adventure. If you are living the life you always dreamed of, rather than the life you were programmed to live. Life itself IS the adventure...
Thursday 27th of August 2015
Being at "home" here in Romania is certainly an adventure! Planning future trips is a lot more fun now the pressure is off too. This base is a means to more freedom, not less, we hope.
Karen Schindel Johnson
Tuesday 25th of August 2015
Absolutely, Life is an Adventure. So figuring out what that looks like for each of us is key...living our own dream rather than somebody else's (society's) dream FOR us.
We've been enjoying the slower travel much more than the faster one. Less travel under our belt perhaps, but it certainly is less stressful for the family. Besides, what's the rush? Reality is we'll NEVER see it all no matter how fast the whirl-wind would travel.
Tuesday 18th of August 2015
I always enjoy reading other traveler's experiences, the ups and downs, and where the journey has taken them. It sounds like you've had an interesting ride and your children will enjoy the memories for years to come! The house-sitting opportunity in London sounds fantastic, mostly because I love that city.
Reading more blogs like this are great to see what opportunities I might be able to unveil. I've finally decided to quit my job and start on a new career and have an internship in Chicago this fall. After that, I have no immediate plans and don't have answers for people when they ask. I don't think it's a bad thing. I just want to be open to the world and find all the great things it has to offer!
Jaklien van Melick
Tuesday 11th of August 2015
So jealous that you have been to all those countries. Sounds amazing.
Tuesday 28th of July 2015
Amazing story and I think it's awesome you are traveling as a family. Congrats on the 2 years of traveling.