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It may look like we’ve spent most of 2015 not travelling, sitting here in our little house in Romania, but we’ve been to 16 countries this year. I know! I couldn’t believe it either. They haven’t all been short trips, a month here, a month there, a few flying visits and long stays in London and Romania, a patchwork of travel, rest and adventures. It’s been fun and the best part is looking back at the memories we made as a family. Chef has been away from us for around 5 months of this year, he’s been working and he took a solo trip to Australia, but still, that leaves 7 months of solid family time. The time we spend apart is hard sometimes, but I think ultimately very good for me and the boys, growth. Strength and independence comes through being without him.
2015 on the Blogs
In January, World Travel Family had around 50,000 Google Page Views per month. A couple of months ago we hit 100,000. So traffic is good despite a massive setback mid-year when I switched hosting companies. We went from Host Gator to Blue Host. Under Blue Host everything went pear-shaped, I lost all traffic for a few days and it barely returned over the following 2 weeks. There was an issue with them, they apologised and promised a full refund, I received most of it, not all. I would strongly suggest avoiding them as hosts. We then switched to Site Ground, they seem to be working out OK, but my load speeds are slower than under Host Gator. One day I’ll find the time to fix that, until then…meh. I’m not a very dedicated blogger.
We launched Simple Life Romania in the summer, to track our build project, promote tourism in Romania and record village life here in Maramures. That site is doing well but it’s early days. ( Update – all Romania content has now been moved to this website )
I continue to neglect the other 4 sites. I’m a mum and a traveller, not an entrepreneur, the kids come first. I decided to work really hard at becoming location independent mid year, but then came the hosting crisis and since then we’ve been too busy to focus on the blogs.
But one day I’ll get around to them.
We make a decent amount of money through Adsense, Agoda, Amazon and Cooperatize . I’m not complaining, but it’s not quite enough to support a family of four on the road just yet.
Worldschooling in 2015
It’s been another amazing year of diverse learning opportunities for the boys. This was D’s last year of junior school, he’s doing great and I’m really proud of him and how far he’s come. I’ll have to write a post about the educational highlights of this year, as I did with our first. Of everything we’ve done, these last few months of living alongside the villagers in Romania, has been of most benefit to them.
We spent Christmas and New Year in London before packing up our adorable little flat in Richmond, saying goodbye to new friends and taking the bus to Gatwick as the first fat snowflakes of winter fell. Chef stayed on in London a few weeks more before heading to Australia.
The boys and I had a blast in Istanbul, we were there a long time 2-3 weeks. Istanbul has so much beauty, culture and history packed into a relatively small space and the food, sea air, snow and warm people made this trip unforgettable.
Just a few days here but the kids declared our camel riding in the desert safari “the most fun ever”. We also found culture and glimpsed old Dubai on a short lunch tour. We checked out the mall and amazing fountains at the Burj Kalifa. We’ll be back in Dubai in a few weeks, this time with Chef,
From Dubai we took a cruise ship south. Our first two stops were Mumbai and Kerala, where the boys got their first taste of my life-long favourite country, India. They were impressed, they both wanted more.
Well, sadly, we were in Sri Lankan waters but never actually left the ship. That’s the problem with cruising. It was painful to be so close yet so far from another of our family favourites. Had we left the boat, it was a long walk through the dockyards to, what? More industrial areas? We just didn’t think it was worth getting off. Most of the passengers left on shore excursions, we watched them board their air-con buses, it wasn’t for us. We’ll be back in Sri Lanka soon.
Phuket. Another cruise ship stop. This was where Chef rejoined us so we braved the tender boat and dockyards to get a tuk tuk into Phuket town for lunch. Our first tom kha gai of the year was magic, but with only a few hours on shore, that was it.
Langkawi. Approaching and mooring in Langkawi was pretty spectacular, it’s a beautiful part of the world. We walked from the docks and found a picture perfect beach before heading back to the ship.
This is where we left the ship. We only had a few hours in Singapore but we were really impressed by how nice the people were and by how easy getting around was.
Arriving in Bangkok feels like coming home now. The South East Asian transport hub is familiar territory and we have a favourite hostel that we use every time. We spent a few days eating, taking river taxis and just hanging out.
We had a whole month in Cambodia and I finally got to take my kids to Angkor Wat. That was a big bucket list tick for me, very special. We tried to see more of the country too, we got out to Battambang and Kampot before crossing by land back to Bangkok.
Same same. Eating and exploring, stocking up on a few medical supplies and toiletries, before catching our flight to…
We had big plans that didn’t work out. We flew into Chennai before heading south to Mamalapuram. From there we crossed the country to Hampi, then on to Goa, Kochin and the Kerala beaches. The boys said they wanted more India, so that’s what they got and it was brilliant to be back.
Our plan came unstuck on the day before Chef’s 1 month visa ran out. Our booked flight to Nepal was the day after the devastating earthquake. From Nepal we had planned to return to the north of India for another month, but that wasn’t to be, we had to move fast and our best, cheapest, simplest option was a flight back to the UK.
We’ll be in Nepal in early 2016.
We were in London, maybe 2 or 3 weeks, I was sick and absolutely devastated to be torn out of Asia so abruptly. I think I was grieving for Nepal too, so those few weeks weren’t great. Chef picked up work straight away, the boys and I caught up with friends and moved around various cheap hotels and apartments. London is fabulous, but this time it just wasn’t right.
We’d been invited to Romania to help with some promotion, so, with our plans in shreds, we decided to take up the offer. It was one of those chance happenings that changes the course of everything. As you probably know, we loved the far north, Maramures County, so much that we bought a house. It’s still not fully ours, the paperwork is taking an eternity to complete, but any time now it will be and we can start building, renovating and creating a lifestyle of still more freedom.
We had a ten week house sit in London. What a perfect opportunity to enjoy friends, museums, history, art and everything our favourite city offers. This time without pain.
Back to find us a place to live. This didn’t go as smoothly as we’d hoped, it seemed that nobody in the village really wanted to rent us a house, they just don’t need the money, but after a couple of days of pulling our hair out we struck a deal. We found a traditional wooden home with mud insulated walls and wood burning stoves in its own garden and orchard. It quickly became a much loved home and the locals adopted us.
Back again! A little friend had a birthday so we flew back. It only costs us around $60 to fly from Cluj Napoca to Luton and it’s an easy trip. On this visit we picked up the 5th member of the family, Sexy, our 13 year old battered Mitsubishi, TARDIS-blue, 4 wheel drive. She goes great, when she feels like it. She did us proud on the long drive back from London to Romania.
France, Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania.
A trans-European road trip of car relocation. It was great to have waffles in Brussels, lunch on the Rhine, goulash in Hungary, cake in Prague and be home in Romania in time to go to the village pub with new friends.
I think we took about 9 days all up, with a long stay in Prague.
We lost Chef again in Germany, he flew back to London to work. Building a house will cost a lot more than my websites bring in. He’s back with us in a few days, in time for Christmas and to hit the ski slopes. One of the reasons we do this is to have him with us at Christmas, Chefs don’t have holidays off.
So that’s it, another busy year.
I can’t tell you what we spent, as we did with our first year, we just don’t keep those kind of records any more. We can tell you that we still do everything as cheaply as possible. If something doesn’t matter to us, we save our money, but if we want something, we’ll happily spend more. I always say don’t scrimp, spend what you need to enjoy your travels, your way.
2016 is looking promising with much to look forward to. We picked Romania partly for its great transport links. A flight to Dubai is under $100, from there Asia is open to us. We can drive to any neighbouring European country and a shopping trip to London by plane is entirely possible. We also get to enjoy this incredible village, it feels like where we belong.
So Happy Christmas to you , from us. We hope to have you with us into next year and beyond and we hope to keep inspiring you to live your dreams and be free in this fascinating world.