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How Full-Time Travel Has Changed Me

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Last Updated on June 5, 2024 by Leslie Stroud

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Are you a fan of change? Do you crave something new? Do you like to switch things up?

How about furniture? Do you rearrange your furniture?

Guess what? I hate change. I never want to rearrange the furniture. It makes me nervous when Chris gets antsy and wants to change things up. Chris LOVES change. In this case, opposites did attract for sure.

You’d think since I’m traveling the world with five kids, having sold and packed up everything except what’s in our luggage, I’d love change, right?! Changing where we live every 2-6 weeks, changing the bed I sleep in all the time, changing the kitchen I’m cooking in, the store I’m shopping in. How could I go from barely being able to rearrange my bedroom furniture without an argument to this?

To be honest, it’s been a long journey.

How would you change if you took your life on the road? Your WHOLE life?

I‘ll hash out some of the ways full-time travel has changed me, for better or worse.

A mini girl’s trip to Moab right before we left our life behind.
  1. The best thing: I’m less uptight. I’m a stressor, a planner, and an A-type personality. If you’ve ever heard of Gretchin Rubin’s Four Tendencies (and I encourage you to if you haven’t), I’m an upholder. I get things done! If I commit to something, I do it. Bottom line. New Year’s resolutions are a waste of my time because I’m always doing them anyway. It seem redundant to do them again when I already have goals completed and in process. This also means I’m pretty uptight about getting my goals done. I can make those things too important (like more important than spending time with my husband or kiddos). Travel has taught me that my plans will, very likely, be thrown out the window! Planes are delayed, I don’t anticipate the traffic in a new city AT ALL, the kids are sick on a day I wanted to go out and see a new place, and homeschooling takes eight hours instead of the three that I hoped. Full-time travel is an unpredictable beast, and I’ve had to embrace it over time. Each month, each place, I get a little better at just knowing things will work out! Even if I get thrown up on in the car (twice in the last two weeks), even if we sleep on the floor somewhere, even if we have to search for a pharmacy and someone there who can speak even some English, things will work out.
  2. I’m learning to be more present. As a world-class planner, I tend to BE planning when I’m IN the thing I planned to do. Anyone else relate to this? I’m so stressed to get somewhere that I’m slightly angry by the time we do and then I spend the whole time we are there planning the next agenda item. I’ve had a few key moments on this world adventure where life takes over and hits me. I’m rafting on the Na Pali coast with my mom and two oldest kids, watching a pod of dolphins. I’m sitting in a cultural dance in the middle of Bali, watching something I would have never seen otherwise. I’m going on a date with Chris to just sit at a beach in Hawaii and look at the stars. These moments take over and make me emotional. I’m incredibly grateful and realize what a blessing life is. My current goal (I suppose you could say my New Year’s goal) is to have more of these moments. To turn off my brain and just be in the moment. Snuggling on the couch while watching a movie, playing in the pool, seeing wonders of this world. I want to enjoy them while I am there.
  3. I’ve learned how much I miss relationships. I have all of my most important relationships with me. The ones that bring the most joy and satisfaction. However, I didn’t and couldn’t appreciate how much I valued my other relationships. With my mom friends mostly, but also with neighbors, with fellow school mom and teachers, with a community I can call mine. These voids are deep and painful and sometimes bring me to tears. Not having them has changed me. I’m a little less vibrant at times than I want to be. I’m lonely and can be a little depressed.
  4. I’ve learned how to live with my family 24/7. That may sound silly- don’t we all live with our family all the time? However, think for a moment at all the moments you have a spouse at work or you are at work, the time your kids spend at school or after-school activities, the time you kids go to play at a friend’s house or go to a family member’s house. It’s a lot. I miss my quiet mornings to myself to do laundry and only have a toddler or two that would just follow me around the house. I really miss it. I miss some quiet. It’s never quiet and I’m NEVER alone. Without an active planning on my part, I can go months without being alone. In order to cope, I’ve had to figure out how to recharge. I’m needing less and less to recharge as we go on (I think we all are), but I still have to have some moments. Zoning out with my phone at the end of the day, keeping myself spiritually fed, working out, or sometimes going somewhere alone. I don’t even go to the grocery store alone! Oh how I miss Target and going there alone… . 🙂
  5. I’m more patient. This goes without saying, but really, it is a huge part of this journey and it’s hard everyday. Every day I wonder why we are doing this with five kids. Why are we making our lives so much harder in so many ways?? And everyday I am grateful that we are. Kids are generally annoying and misbehaving. I’ve learned to just start expecting this to some degree and then I’m not surprised when they are! I’m also learning to love my children more, to understand them more, to be more to them.
  6. I’ve become more to the kids than just their mom. I have to be much more of their friend, especially with Lucy. Honestly, this doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m a boss mom at planning, schedules, executing plans, being prepared. I’m not good at getting on the floor and playing. At just being available to them- in fact, I still have a long ways to go on this. However, I’m trying and I have endless opportunities to be their friend as well. I’ll try to grab one or two and go get a foot massage, or go to the store, or let Lucy get on our social media and make some comments. I’ll hop in the pool and be the tickle monster (only an option if Grace, aka my barnacle, is occupied or napping). I’ve also had to become their teacher! This is a big responsibility and one that weighs on me. I know they are gaining SO much through this travel that is priceless and wonderful. I still feel the weight of their education and I have to turn on “teacher mom”, which they don’t love.
  7. I’ve had to let a lot of my “must-have” or “must-do” items go. When we first started this travel, we were checking out and trying on places to live. I had a short list of my “must-haves”, kind of like what you’d tell a realtor. Must have a gym and the kind I want close by. Must have the stores I want. Must have families of our faith with kids of a similar age. Must have sidewalks and greenbelts to walk and run. Must have a certain amount of bedrooms, a play room, a yard. Etc, etc. Pretty much all of these things went out the window when we went to Hawaii. It was rough- I was unsure I would enjoy it at all for the first few days. It was more remote than I’ve ever experienced and, of course, I learned that those things are not actually necessities. In fact, I had a wonderful experience and fell in love with Kauai. I could absolutely make a life there. It would be much different than my old life, and that’s ok. Perhaps much better.
  8. I’ve learned that I want to absorb every culture I can. Honestly, I had NO desire to come to Asia. I was unsure I wanted to go international at all. Why not just travel international after we settled in a new place? Now that we are in Bali, I learned I not only want to see how they live, but I want to take a piece of it and put it in the new me. I want to be changed by their culture. I want to see what they love and what they don’t. I want to understand what is different and why. I heard today that the most stubborn, unbending, aggressive, least-tolerant people are usually those that have been exposed to the least. Interesting to think about. It makes sense. The more you see the different ways people live, the more tolerant you are of being different in general.
  9. I’ve learned more gratitude. Anyone reading this blog is so blessed. To be able to read, to be able to access the internet, to be able to have enough free time to do this. We are BLESSED. There are millions who do not do the same. I am so blessed to be a mother to five healthy, rambunctious children. To have children who have never gone a day hungry, who have a bed to sleep in every night (well, with a few airport floors thrown in), who grow and learn everyday. Who don’t have to bring in income for their families. I’m so grateful for a husband that works hard, that is proactive in trying to be better. These basics of my life are incredible.
  10. I’ve let go of control. This is similar to the first item, but a bit different. Before we left, I had to KNOW where we would be living while we traveled. I needed to see the pictures, plan who would be in each bedroom, pre-plan in my mind how we would live there. We were six months booked out when we left and we kept that up even until now. I panicked in Oahu when we realized our VRBO house wasn’t going to work and we had no where else to go. I’m talking full-on mean mom, I’m stressed out of my mind panic. How silly to look back at myself now! We can always find a place to rest our heads. Most travel families I’m meeting, either in person or digitally, maybe don’t even know where they will be in a week or month or a day. Does that seem insane to you? It still does, a little bit, to me. But I also can see how they do it. I’ve glimpsed the light and I’m moving forward towards being different. In some ways, it’s a beautiful way to live. So much freedom, so much opportunity.

What do you think would change you if you were to leave it all behind and travel? What would be hard and what would be liberating?

Right before Grace threw up all over me in the car. We both spent the rest of that day a little stinky.
Wearing our “ugly sweaters” to Crossfit on Christmas Eve. We used to go to this gym daily! I loved how it felt like seeing family going there.
It’s so beautiful to realize that no matter where you are, life is so much the same in so many ways. Babies are born and loved. People grow old. Family is most important.
Sometimes you feel like your kids never give you a break!
My boys love to “help” cook! It’s one of my favorite things to do with them.

Plan your next international trip and get some budget-friendly tickets from Booking.com, Skyscanner, Kiwi.com, or Expedia

Find a family-friendly hotel wherever you are from Booking.com, Expedia, or Vrbo, (we also love Tripadvisor and Hotels.com)

Discover more of the world through exciting activities from GetYourGuide, Airbnb Experiences, or Viator

Need to rent a car? Visit Rentalcars.com.

Get insured while traveling with World Nomads.

Want to have a photo shoot while traveling? Check out flytographer!

Capture your best travel memories as we do with a GoPro, Sony camera, or our favorite drones: DJI FPV, Air, and Mini

Check out your travel necessities from a comprehensive list of all the 7Wayfinders Travel Must-Haves. Click Here!

Additional Reading

Last Minute Preparation for Full-Time Travel with Kids

My Hopes For Our Full-Time Travel Journey with Kids

The Decision is Final! We are Going to Travel the World with kids

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