The idea of taking off on a long term journey is a dream for many families. The idea of several months to a year, or more, in the world, making memories and having adventures with their children feels like the crowning experience of an epic childhood. But, as every parent knows, it’s not that easy to pick up and go once you have children. Even seasoned travelers who were once footloose and fancy free think twice about packing up the little people and hitting the road.
Travel as a family is more expensive than it was in your twenties, with just boots and a backpack to adventure with. Couch surfing is replaced with family sized hotel rooms and when you start to add it all up, the dollar signs seem daunting.
Then there’s the educational component. By the time a child is old enough to travel well and remember the journey, there is schooling to consider. Can you just take a year off of school and learn in the world? There are questions surrounding reintegration into school, how to make sure they keep up with their peers while you’re traveling and what, exactly, this “world schooling” trend you’ve been hearing about is and how it works.
Add to that worries about healthcare and insurance, what happens to your job and career while you are away, what to do with your house and all of your stuff while you are away, and, well, these are the roadblocks that keep most families at home, in neighborhoods, where life feels safe and predictable.
And then there’s the not insignificant concern of how to actually travel with kids of various ages:
- What about babies and toddlers and flying?
- What about picky eaters and allergies?
- How do you deal with a kid who is reluctant to leave hearth and home?
- What about the moody teen who is sulky about the prospect of being dragged away from friends for a year?
- Are there strategies to help get these kids on board with the concept of a big journey?
- Are there ways to draw them into the planning process and build excitement as a family?
Or should you just give up, wait for them to graduate and travel when you’ve retired?
You CAN Travel With Kids
But what about those who are still dreaming? Those to whom the world calls? Those who just know that they have give their children the journey of a lifetime while there is still time?
The good news is that it is possible. There are thousands of families out there taking big trips, some of them lasting years, with children growing up in the world with continents for their classrooms. What’s more, it’s not only possible, it’s not actually that complicated. It’s just a matter of making the decision to go, and then working your way through the details
It’s just a matter of making the decision to go, and then working your way through the details.
Many parents find it possible to work remotely for an extended period of time without giving up their jobs. Others redesign their careers around entrepreneurship or freelance work in order to become location independent, and find that they can fund open ended journeys and long, slow, delight driven travel becomes their new normal as a family.
What About Education?
Every year the educational opportunities grow. It’s not unusual for school districts to be supportive of a year “off” and to provide resources for families who want to spend a year learning in the world. On the other hand, there are online schools, hundreds of resources for homeschoolers, and the ever present option of enrolling your child for an entire school year somewhere else in the world. Where better to learn French than spending fourth grade in a Parisian school?
Health care abroad, many families are surprised to find, is excellent. Insurance exists for folks who travel for long periods of time, and the rise of websites like AirBnB, VRBO, and several for house sitters makes it easier than ever before to opt out of your mortgage for a year or more and call another continent home.
Family travel can be very safe. There are strategies for choosing destinations and for preparing kids for the realities of everyday life on the road that you can begin using at home. Then, there are the tools for managing emergencies and helping young people get ready for the many what-ifs that even the most careful parent can’t plan for.
If you’re considering taking a big trip as a family the Families ebook is a great place to start. Families who have done it will walk you through the big questions around:
- Can You Travel With Kids?
- Getting Kids On Board With The Idea of a Big Trip
- Flying With Kids
- Insurance & Healthcare
- The Realities of Family Travel
Ready to take the plunge? Get out there in the world with your kids!