2 Years of Travel, Where Have We Been and What Now?

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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.

2 amazing years of family travel. But what next?

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.

Australia

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.

Malaysia

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.

Thailand

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.

Laos

We stayed 6 weeks. Our second time in Laos and we loved it even more than the first.

Thailand

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.

Malaysia

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.

Sri Lanka

1 glorious month. My 4th visit to this stunning island. We love everything about it.

UK

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.

USA

New York City and Amish Pennsylvania. Niagara Falls wasn’t so far away so we thought “Why not?”

Canada

Niagara Falls frozen solid. What a thing to see! We only had 3 nights in Canada but instantly fell in love.

USA

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.

El Salvador

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.

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.

USA

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!

Spain

We landed in Madrid and headed north to Catalonia. We had a date with Salvadore Dali.

France

It’s a short drive from Catalonia, so why not?

UK

“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.

Italy

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.

Turkey

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

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.

Thailand

Bangkok again, it feels like home. We discovered a new base in Silom and a new favourite family hostel.

Cambodia

1 month in Cambodia, crossing the borders by road. So many amazing experiences. Finally taking the boys to Angkor was an emotional experience.

Thailand

A few days in Silom while we prepared for our next flight. We’d missed Thai food like crazy in Cambodia.

India

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.

UK

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.

Romania

We were invited, so we took a chance and fell in love. Romania is stunning, we’re still here and considering buying a house.

What Next?

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.

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About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

42 thoughts on “2 Years of Travel, Where Have We Been and What Now?”

  1. 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?

    Many thanks!

    Nathan

    Reply
    • 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!

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  2. 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…

    Reply
    • 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.

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    • 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.

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  3. 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!

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  4. Amazing story and I think it’s awesome you are traveling as a family. Congrats on the 2 years of traveling.

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  5. I chance upon your blog this morning, so timely as I was considering backpacking with my boys 2. It is an amazing exposure and quality family life you had given to them. Kuddos to you both, parents!

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  6. Wow, I’ve been reading your blog a year ago as we were preparing to go to Thailand. Only a year later, I find you deciding whether to settle down in my home country, Romania. We now live in the US, but please let me know if there is anything you want or need to know about Romania from an extremely objective perspective and I’ll be happy to help.

    Noroc,
    Sonia!

    Reply
    • Noroc to you too! We’re not settling down, we’re building ourselves somewhere to keep the Lego, Sonia! We need a base and it has to be mortgage and bill free, which this place will be, fingers crossed. We’re still going to travel. We’re just trying to figure out how we can have a cat, some chickens and a lamb and still spend months on end in Asia, I think we’ll be house swapping and getting sitters and volunteers in. The house is bought, we just have to build it now! Come visit, I’m sure you know how beautiful it is up in Maramures. Multumesc!

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  7. Congrats on the 2 year mark. Sounds a bit like a whirlwind, but neat to see how you are adjusting to the needs of your kiddos. Its always good for us to not be so entrenched on our idea of what it should look like, but make changes accordingly to needs and what opportunities arise.
    We are approaching our 1,000th day of homeless-by-choice traveling with our youngest 7, and we’ve been on the road most of the time since 2007. But so far we’ve only made USA and Mexico (we’re from Canada). We’re such slow pokes, I know!

    Reply
    • No, we’ve travelled slow, really slow! So slow it’s been pretty dull sometimes, a month here, 6 weeks there, 10 months in London. But we do prefer traditional backpacking, moving every few days and I think we’ll be doing that more in future, now that we have Romania as a base.

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  8. First of all, congratulations! 2 years of travel is amazing — it sounds like you’ve been EVERYWHERE! (well, almost! ๐Ÿ™‚ ) The Romania house sounds amazing, and then you could still travel on a part-time basis. ๐Ÿ™‚ I will be sure to continue reading to see where you end up next!

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  9. This is something we dream of but the #1 issue is health care. I don’t worry about money or crime, or anything but what if we get sick. What do you guys do? My children are still very young, but this is when they can get those languages in so we want to give it a try.

    Reply
    • Most countries have great health care Tara. And we have travel insurance. If I were to pick a place to get sick it would be Thailand, the hospitals and dental care are sensational. Bangkok is an easy journey from anywhere in SE Asia if you’re really stuck out in the wilds. My husband had surgery there once, it was great. Cambodia can be tricky, you’d just fly back to BKK for anything major. We’ve seen doctors now in Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, the US, UK, Australia and Guatemala, they’ve all been good, Laos was tricky, that’s the only place there was a language problem. All the others have spoken perfect English. We very rarely need to use the local language, with the exception of Central America and China.

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  10. Wow that much traveling in two years I’d love to do that…I’m just 18 years old and i’m still studying but it has always been a dream of mine to travel the world and explore I really didn’t think it was possible with expenses and all. Got any tips or advices for me??

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  11. I have just discovered your site and I am so excited to read about your adventures! What an amazing two years! I stumbled on your site while looking for resources for home schooling and travelling because we are setting off to travel through Southern Africa and hopefully some of Europe with our two young boys in October. Our boys are 5 and 8 and we thought it was a prime time to take them to see the world so we are setting off for 12 months and then who knows ๐Ÿ™‚ I can see already that I will spend many hours scrolling through your blog for tips!

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  12. Great post and the flexibility to attend to all the family needs and desires is what makes this life so important. Of course the more of you there are, the harder. We just left Dubai three months ago after living there for two years. Back in Florida and a lovely house but my feet are already itchy again. I really miss S.E. Asia which is silly as the beaches here are much nicer:) But those itchy feet are hard to get rid of. My older boys all unschooled and are doing wonderfully. The moving and the travel seems to have served them well. The younger two (9 and 11) are still juggling it. They would prefer not being on the road but love the time together. What to do…..

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  13. There’s no question in my mind that your journey has been AMAZING. I love how you keep living life on your own terms ๐Ÿ™‚

    It’s also interesting to hear how things are changing as your kids get older. Even more incentive for us to keep doing as much as we can while they are young and we don’t have those sort of problems – although we swap them for issues like getting enough sleep into them, Mr 3 not wanting to walk far, random tantrums etc! I’m guessing family travel is always a compromise regardless of their ages.

    I hear your son on being sick of trains etc. I found our last spurt of travel very hard going and just too tiring. Hopefully, its just a matter for me finding the right work/travel balance though and not a long term thing!

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  14. Hip hip hurray for all of you !
    I love your sense of concision – how did you manage to squeeze two years in one post?

    One thing I donot agree with (only one!!) is your definition of “golden ages of travel”.
    I must admit traveling with teenagers is different, and it can be quite daunting to get them enthusiast and interested when they are in an oppositional phase – but it’s so rewarding to travel with teenagers! Their look on society and scenery can be a real eye-opener for us, parents … Our “golden age” of travel was when our kids were anything between 12 and 18 ! (we started when they were three months old, so we have done the whole lot!) Keep enjoying it while it lasts!

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  15. Congratulations on the amazing two years of travel – looks like you and your kids saw lots of wonderful places and I bet they learned a lot along away.

    Best of luck in making a decision – sometimes having lots of choices can have debilitating effect on the decision making. I suspect I would find moving around every few weeks too stressful and would prefer to spend longer time periods (few months to a year) in one place. I’m sure you’ll know what is right for you and none of the decisions you make now have to be final.

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  16. Of course you will need to do what you want to do, but I would be very excited if you bought a place in Romania and wrote stories from there. That sounds exciting to me. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  17. So interesting what a remarkable list to have been able to make. I’ve been following your blog with interest for the last year , first as research as my family and I were preparing to pack up our house in the UK to travel full-time and the last 10 months as we’ve been on the road. Our boys were 3 & 6 as we left now 4 & 7 so a little younger. We chose to buy an RV in the US and have travelled most of the coast and even down into Mexico then flying onto parts of Central America. We have tons of toys, art & craft projects and sporting equipment aboard. Our plan was to continue this lifestyle for as many years as we could….however….homeschooling our eldest has been disastrous! My husband and I simple don’t possess the teaching skills gene and the patience required. so Plan B, a wardorf school in Mexico and a little community by the beach. Our eldest boy is craving friends, we figured we’d meet a ton of kids in US RV parks…not so, they are mostly retirees.
    So I resonate with your changing plans and slightly relieved that you’re experiencing having to make changes for your kids too. We’ll get a home, put the boys in school and continue to explore in the holidays. Who knows how it will turn out and I love that. I love being able to dream any dream and know we could do anything we wanted (within reason & budget) Maybe we can do a house swap at some point! http://www.thedanbycircus.com

    Reply
    • Well, funnily enough, part of our thinking was future house swapping, there is such a network of travelling families out there. Gabi of The Nomadic Family in Israel, Heidi of Wagoners Abroad in Spain…I see great things happening.

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    • Can you share a link or info about the Waldorf school please. In Tulum? And on house swapping — YES. Add St. Petersburg, Florida to the list:)

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  18. Theres a saying that the prayers of a traveller are always accepted thats because its so tiring and stressful . However I love what u have done and would jump at the chance myself. We travel alot with our children and have spent long periods away from home but not as exciting as yours. Don’t settle just yet, keep on travelling maybe just stay in a certain place for longer!

    Reply
    • You know Sarah, I find it way less stressful that staying put. But maybe I’m weird, I certainly get bored easily and dislike housework and home maintenance issues intensely. So why are we thinking of buying…more crazyness. Happy travels!

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  19. I LOVED this post and reading briefly about your travels all the way through! What you are doing sounds crazy and fun at the same time. I don’t think we could ever do it, but would love to travel around the US in a motorhome one day. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  20. Alyson, that’s an amazing 2 years! We’re hoping to emulate, us and our two kids 5&3 are renting our house, packing our bags and leaving london for an unknown period of time come September. (Any tips welcome)
    Keep up the posts, you’re giving us courage and inspiration!!!

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  21. Our worldly travels have been on hold since our daughter was born two years ago, but we are starting to think about it again, and have even considered living away for a year. We love the idea of her (& us!) having the experience of living somewhere else for a year, but with one set of her grandparents deceased and the other dealing with elderly medical issues, we’re torn and feeling like we should stay put for a while and maximize the time we have with them, so that our daughter (& we) can soak up as many memories as possible. I guess that’s just another challenge of not having a child until we’re in our forties…

    So until we can hit the road once again, I look forward to continuing to travel along with you all and read whatever adventures are yet to come!

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  22. I think its amazing, I’m so envious and enjoy reading your updates.

    My 2, I feel are too young (2&4) and we’re waiting to save up and for them to grow up. I’ve been day dreaming about quiting my job in 3 years time, renting the house out and traveling until we have had enough.

    I have however requested 6 weeks off work next year so we can go to thialand:)……. So I maybe picking your brains on where to go!

    Reply
    • Thanks Jane and happy to help. ( If you use our Agoda links to book hotels we’d be very happy, we make a dollar here and there on them). I’d agree with you about their ages.

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  23. I have just started following your blog and all I can say is WOW! Good on you for taking the risk and living your dream. We are a family of travellers and have travelled together to over 45 countries… but the longest continuous trip we have ever done is 100 days. Oh how I long to be gypsy and just roam with no fixed address but we started our kids in a conventional school and could never see a way of transitioning to home schooling. They are now 16, 12 & 9 and all love their school. We discuss it everyday but the fear of the unknown always holds us back.. If we pull them out from school will we ruin their lives?? Will they hate us for taking them away from family and friends? Will we get sick of living out of a suitcase? Our 100 day trip certainly raised a few doubts that you also mentioned in your blog.. no personal space, privacy and the energy to pack up and move on to the next destination. I’ve always wondered if there’s anybody out there who has actually lived this life as a child that is now an adult??? Have you ever had any doubts along the way?

    Reply
    • I worry, of course I do. But then something will happen and I’ll get my confidence back. We recently met a family who took a similar path, their 3 kids passed their exams in 1 year of study at home and chose to go to college in the UK, where they are now. They don’t hate their parents for taking them out of school and have slotted back into “normal”. My boys have zero desire to attend any educational institution, one has been and hated it, one never went and hates the idea. We never had much family involvement, they weren’t nearby nor very interested, and friends come and go, so that doesn’t bother us one bit. If we’d had more ties then maybe this would never have happened, but we didn’t so it was easy. We’ve lost friends and family along the way but somebody said to me recently, ” Remember it was you that went away.” They dislike us for that, for rejecting their lifestyle and them. Not true of course, but that’s how they see it. No, no regrets at all, I’d most certainly do 98% of it all again. There were a few hiccups and stuff-ups that I’d know how to deal with better now. The fear of the unknown is holding us back from buying this house, but maybe, like you, we should just shut our eyes and jump.

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  24. I think what you have done is amazing but i miss you all. love from Granny xxxx

    Reply

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