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This is the post that has to be written, how we get to travel full-time or even permanently, as a family. We’re not unique, there are plenty of other globe-trotting, full-time travelling families on the world circuit, but to the vast majority of people what we do sounds far from possible. But we do it, and we’ve been doing it for over 5 years.
It’s time to explain how we went from family gap year travellers to nomadic. But is this nomadic travel lifestyle really so great? What are the pros and cons and is it as much fun as it looks?
What’s hard, what’s easy, and of course the big one. How do we pay for it?
How We Became a Full-Time Travel Family
We never set out to be full-time family travellers.
We headed off on a family gap year (or 2) and decided it was too good to stop so we made it happen through hard work and determination.
If you’re interested in planning and executing your own Family Gap Year, we’ve got your back. See our Family Gap Year instructions, destinations, tips and ideas here. If you think there’s any information we should add to that, let me know.
We are from the UK and Australia, we have also been based in Romania and Vietnam, you’ll find that it’s very common for families that travel full-time or for extended periods to be of mixed nationalities.
There is so much to explain about our globetrotting lifestyle, I’ll keep it brief, links in this post will take you to more in-depth information to maybe help you on your way to travelling the world with your family.
How to Afford Full-Time Travel?
A short family round the world (RTW) trip can be funded on savings.
This is how we got started and year 1 cost us $30,000 back in 2013. $ US and $Au were pretty much equivalent back then.
In 2019 I honestly don’t think it would cost much more as prices seem to have dropped as travel slumps.
Of course, if you’re packing a deflated currency like the UK pound, it would be much harder for you now.
You need to cut all expenses back home, you can’t continue to pay a mortgage or big bills while you’re on the road full-time or permanently. We rented our house out, others sell if homeownership looks like too great a financial burden.
How did we raise that $30,000 If you click through here we’ll tell you. Alternatively, in the next link we give you a break down on spending for our first year on the road
After that one year lump sum ran out we had to start earning. We started our first travel blog in 2012, that was bringing in a useful amount of money within 6 months. Today our blogs fund our lifestyle.
On our website we don’t just cover travel, we have information on how to start a blog that generates an income too. We don’t sell courses, it’s all free, we don’t think you should have to pay for know-how. Take a look at these posts maybe, or you can find our blogging section in the top menu. 1. How to start a blog easily 2. How to earn with affiliate sales. 3. Tools to help grow your blog
We are also lucky in that we have 2 passports, my husband has been able to work in London from time to time to get us through financially. London is possibly our favourite city in the world and our closest thing to “home”. Spending months on end in London with kids has been great for them in every way.
The Kids’ Education & Extended Travel
Homeschooling is very popular and growing around the world. Partly this is because of dissatisfaction with an outdated school system, partly because homeschooled kids have such great outcomes and partly because more and more parents are working remotely and staying home to be with their kids.
Of course, the internet is better than any classroom, anyone can learn anything online.
When homeschooled kids travel, the buzz word is worldschooling, learning from the world and what is around them. It’s so much better to take your kids to the learning that have them learn from books.
If that word “worldschooling” is new to you we can tell you all about that too. This post on Homeschool and travel explains more and gives you some great resources. The next one, What is Worldschooling? explains what worldschooling is by definition. This one talks about destinations to include, Ultimate Worldschooling Guide and resources. Finally this one. The global crisis saw a sharp change of tack. Why we Eventually Put Our Kids in School
Practicalities of Finding Accommodation For Full-Time Travel Families
Some families “slow travel” they go from town to town renting apartments for extended periods.
That’s not how we do it because we’ve found it’s not what we enjoy.
Other full time family travellers prefer to house sit their way around the world, looking after other people’s pets and gardens and living in their homes. Again, we very rarely do this.
We are more traditional backpackers, travellers or holidaymakers, we move fairly fast when we’re actively travelling, staying in guest houses and hotels.
We also have a base in London and in Romania that we return to for “down time” to catch up with work and school work. After the first couple of years, we needed somewhere to stash the Lego collection and we ski in Romania, our ski gear is there. We rented a beautiful old farmhouse with zero mod-cons in a picture-perfect village there.
Because we own such large travel blog, we sometimes have free hotel stays in exchange for promotion, so our luxury stays don’t need to be self-funded always.
Resources we use include AirBnb (join through us for a discount), always Agoda for Asia, Booking.com and Hotels Combined for Europe and Australia. In the USA we swear by Priceline. Sometimes we book in advance, sometimes we wing it. We have a post here on finding accommodation for families. We also recommend various accommodations, hostels, hotels, and guest houses we’ve used and loved around the world. If you find a destination-specific post on our site, accommodation recommendations will be there. Or just ask in the comments. To book tours, transfers, and activities we use GetYourGuide and we explain why in our GetYourGuide review. I should probably also mention this post on why housesitting doesn’t work for our family. We really don’t like housesitting.
Health and Sickness on the Road
There are doctors and dentists everywhere in the world, it’s really never been an issue.
We’ve tested out hospital care in Thailand, my husband had emergency surgery and service was fantastic.
Obviously you need good travel insurance to cover any big emergencies like this but mostly health care is very affordable outside the US.
Look into travel vaccinations but don’t feel you need every one the travel clinics offer you. They’re out to make money, do your research well.
It’s often a lot cheaper to get your vaccinations in Asia, we got some in Kaula Lumpur, but Bangkok is supposedly superb for this. Finally, we got our rabies shots in London for a very remote destination. As the years went on and the kids grew we visited more and more extreme and challenging destinations.
We’ve visited dentists in London, Australia, Romania and Guatemala, doctors in UK, Australia, Guatemala, Malaysia, Thailand and Laos. It’s never been a problem and we get sick rarely.
This is useful for you. What Travel Insurance do We Use? It turned out that for long term, extended, random travel there was only one company we could use and this one was it. We also talk about our ongoing travel vaccination issues, there are 3 posts, start with this one. The Travel Vaccination Drama.
Living Without Possessions
Everything we own fits into 2 large backpacks (mum and dad) and 4 carry-on sized backpacks (one each).
We have enough “stuff” for multi climate travel, anywhere in the world. We carry toys, school books, laptops, kindles, phones and specialist travel gear.
When we need something we buy it, so for our treks in Nepal we stocked up in Kathmandu, for our cruise ship Atlantic crossings, we hit the sales in London.
The trick is to “let it go” if something has been used for it’s purpose, leave it behind. There’s no point carrying stuff you don’t need.
If you’re wondering about what gear we carry with us or what you need to buy to travel comfortably, we have endless posts on that! Family and Kids Travel Gear is here. Why we Don’t Travel Light is an interesting one. When we were on the road full time for years, it was impossible but then as we made bases where we could ditch stuff we started Flying Carry-On Only. We do that a lot now and we’re good at it. I can easily pack for a month in my carry on. The amount of tech gear we have to carry for work is a problem though. Gear for Nepal and Trekking is a separate post because that’s specialist stuff. Please don’t slavishly follow marketers packing lists, read our post first and save yourself some money. Travel Essentials is another post people like. Also power pack recommendations, people love power packs!
Our major possessions from our home in Australia, we sold. A few things we stashed in the attic, but I can honestly say we’ve never missed any of the “stuff” and living a more minimalistic lifestyle is cheaper, lighter, and less stress.
By way of update, we did eventually have to go back home for various reasons and at the time I was very glad we kept some things, cross with myself for keeping some others. We hit the road again as soon as we could. My advice to anyone would be to sell up, get rid of everything. Houses are a millstone and a money pit. I’ve changed this opinion over the years, through experience.
Missing Friends and Family While Travelling Permanently
We honestly don’t miss people much.
We have a few friends around the world that we make a point of visiting from time to time and others that we bump into on the road intermittently.
We find that old friends and family can’t adjust to a life shift like this and fall by the wayside, you make new ones with more similar outlooks.
These days, with Skype or Zoom, it’s super easy to stay in touch and talk face to face if you want to.
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We hope this goes some way towards explaining how we do and did what we do. If you have any questions on this full time family travel lifestyle, please put them in the comments below. We have a free Facebook support and advice group for families aspiring to change their lives or to travel as we have. You will receive an invitation when you sign up to follow our website below.
What posts do I want you to read? What are my favourites? Well I love destinations that are steeped in culture, so read about Bhutan. D and I went solo on that one. Another one I love is our Manta Ray Snorkelling one, because my son wrote it when he was maybe 13. And of course, Everest Base Camp. That was a 3 week trek and the kids got there at, I think 11 and 13. Want to know where we used to live in Australia, Port Douglas, take a look. You’ll be mystified as to why we left. Of course you must see our village in Romania too, it’s called Breb and it’s pure magic.
There are many more family travellers out there, long term, full time, extended and permanent and we all travel, work, parent, and educate in different ways, this is our way and we hope you find yours. We have hundreds of blog posts on this website that will tell you everything you need to know. Scroll back up and take a look at the links in the blue boxes or use the search box on our website, it’s up top. Thanks for reading.