Full Time Travel Parenting

Introducing Our Kids to Full-Time Travel

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Thinking of traveling the world full-time? Got kids? Are you crazy? Well, so are we 🙂

If you are thinking about doing something like this, or if you are just curious about our lifestyle, you may wonder about the process before leaving. There are many, many steps that can take months or years. I’m working on a step-by-step list, but I wanted to touch on something fun first. How we broke the news to people. Especially those most affected by such an announcement: our kids!

What do you think your kids would say to such an announcement?

This is highly dependent on their age, first and foremost. One of the biggest reasons we decided it was time to go NOW versus LATER, when Grace would be older (who signs up to take a 1-year-old on flights every month?!) was because of age. Lucy, our oldest, was just turning 10 when we solidified our plans to do this. We knew that give it just a year or two longer and she wouldn’t want to go.

As we announced in public, I actually got many mixed reactions. More on that shortly, but one of the reactions that affected me the most was a couple of women who came to me privately and told me that their family did something similar- maybe a work relocation abroad- in their teenage years and they hated it. One woman even told me she thought it kind of ruined her brother’s life. What?!

I’d be lying to say this didn’t give me pause.

The more reactions I got, the more I saw the trend. Teenagers don’t want to leave their friends. Even to see the world.

Thankfully for us, Lucy has always been a free, adventurous spirit. She breaks the norms all the time. When she was nine she came and asked if she could play on a tackle football team in the fall. My response: Sure!

I’m all about following your passions. I warned her she would likely be the only girl, which she was, and that may be hard, which it was at times. I told her if she really wanted to do it just own it every time she showed up. So she did.

She will likely never play football again, despite our daydreams in the beginning about her going into the Women’s NFL (yep, there is such a thing). Turns out she didn’t want to actually be that aggressive and physical after all.

What I’m trying to say is Lucy is the perfect oldest child for this life. She doesn’t mind being different. She didn’t have any bosom-buddy kind of girlfriends, although she had some close guy-friends that were hard to leave. (Let’s say Chris wasn’t that sad to pull that relationship apart).

So what was the reaction when we told them?

Well, just a bit of background.

As a couple, we were planning this for many years to some degree. It was always a daydream. It got real for us when we became pregnant with our fifth, and what would be our last, child. I had said I wouldn’t leave until our last baby was one-year-old. So the timer began.

We started booking places pretty soon after she was born, so some of our first deposits on Airbnbs were made more than a year out.

Suddenly, the trip was real for US, but only us. We had skin in the game. All well before we told anyone else.

We had to really sit on this decision, talk about it A LOT (hello, nearly every free minute). I’m the kind of person that wants to anticipate as much of the possibilities as I can and how I will feel and handle those. I did lots of reading, blog searching, soul-searching.

In the meantime, we knew we could lose our deposit money and no one would be the wiser, so we were about 90% in.

I remember, very distinctly. around Christmas time we knew we had to get all in. We had to 100% commit our hearts and minds to this or back out. Certain pieces had to start moving to make it happen by May. It would be monumental to accomplish and incredibly hard. It was both of those things.

We decided to tell the kids on New Year’s Day.

We took the day to do three things:

  1. We planned out, roughly, the first year of our travels. Up to that point, we had booked only in the US. We would end in Hawaii and do about 6 months. This was easy, in our minds, and comfortable. We took this day to decide we would actually go international by adding Bali to our list. Then we would head through Asia.
  2. We gathered the kids. We sat them down and broke the news. “Guess what guys? When school ends in May, we are actually going to move. We are going to put our stuff in storage and we are going to travel together.” They were, basically, speechless. They had no idea what this would even mean. So, we hopped on YouTube on the TV and took some time to show them travel videos of where we would go: Hawaii, Bali, Japan, China. They already knew Disneyland and probably were willing to leave for that month alone. At the start of the trip, we got asked a lot, “How long until Disneyland?”
  3. We packed our first boxes. We had many moving boxes that we had saved from our move and we decided to start with the toys. It gets pretty real when you have to put your things away in a box, not quite sure when you might see them again. This made it real for the kids too. “What do you mean I can’t play with this anymore? When will I see it again?” There were a few tears, but also excitement.

Really, this kind of news takes days, even weeks and months, to settle into. We told my parents right away, since they are planners and were already making plans for the next holiday and maybe to even move to Utah to join us! The separation was already at two years and, to them, it looked like we might stay there after leaving Colorado.

Hold your horses, mom! Not only are we not living here, we aren’t living anywhere.

As days would pass and the kids would see us packing up more things, reality set in. They would start to ask things like, “What about school? Well, we will homeschool!” and “What about my favorite things? Well, you’ll see them again someday!”. As they realized the friend separation was real, we got some sadness. As we moved, we got sadness. As we sold things and gave away the pets, we got a lot of tears.

Moving boxes piled up in our living room as we packed up our family home

Were the kids really excited at all? (That is to say, the ones that understood what was happening). Not really. It got harder and harder for them as the difficulty of moving, school ending, and final goodbyes combined.

As we pulled out, with a full car, that last time, we were exhilarated and exhausted. The kids? Mostly sad.

For our first weekend, which was Memorial Day Weekend, we went to our favorite Glenwood Hot Springs Pool. We wanted the kids to ourselves for a little bit. We wanted to tenderly take them in our arms and reconnect. The process of leaving and moving and emotional hardship was hard on all of us. For the first time in months, we gave them 100% of us. We had SO much fun and it was the perfect transition before moving to a month at grandma’s house in Denver. We intentionally tried to ease into this lifestyle by making things fun and familiar. I am grateful for that now, both for them and myself.

Or family in front of the "Welcome to Colorful Colorado" sign
My daughter Lucy and I in matching dresses in front of a sunny mountain view

This lifestyle is hard, especially at the beginning. It’s kind of like bringing home a new baby. You have to figure out your dynamics all over again. Pretty much all your familiar things have been removed. Your attachment to “things” has to leave REAL fast. You are now spending more time in a day with your family than maybe you did in a week. You have to learn how to BE and LIVE together. It’s strange!

While the excitement of full-time travel is intoxicating and addictive, it is also quite fatiguing. Burn out is a serious side-effect that must be constantly evaluated.

Thankfully, we’ve all grown and adapted. Spending 24/7 with each other is no longer foreign or challenging. Sure, we all need some alone time, but it’s very little compared to how much time we actually want to be together. We’ve learned to crave and love to be all together, which was something I wasn’t sure was possible in those first few weeks 🙂

We’ve been talking regularly to the kids, one-on-one, about continuing the travel. So far, we get a resounding YES when we ask if they want to keep going.

So how did other people react?

I’d say the reactions could be lumped into a few categories:

  • Shock and surprise. For some, this is SO different and SO out of what is comfortable, it isn’t even remotely appealing.
  • Doubt. Some people sort of nodded and laughed. I don’t know if they actually doubted that we would do it, but there was such a lack of reaction overall this is my best guess.
  • Excitement. They pepper you with all the logistical questions and are so excited for you! FYI: This would be me if you told me a similar announcement. 🙂
  • Apathy. That’s nice. Let’s move onto another subject.
  • The advice giver. Suddenly, you are connecting with their old friend’s sister who might live in a place you might visit. I love connecting with people, so I always try to follow through on these, but many don’t pan out. Or you are hearing all these names of places and things rattled off in quick succession and you have NO idea what they are even talking about. It’s overwhelming. (Side note: This would probably be me now also when you announced to me)

We got all of these reactions and more. Be prepared to have a resolve of steel before you announce because it will test you.

I don’t need to tell you that though. If you are crazy enough to start or contemplate a journey like this, you already know.

In all seriousness, if you see yourself wanting or planning to do something like this, let me know! Let me be the first to encourage you to keep the course. One of the things that we told ourselves, over and over again, was “we will never regret doing this, but we sure will regret it if we don’t.” #truth

Love,

Leslie

My family at the edge of an infinity pool at the top of a building in Singapore
Setting off lanterns into the sky

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*