How long should you travel as a family?

I find this topic an interesting one for several reasons. I’m not here to dictate the amount of traveling a family should do. I’m no where near an expert at traveling, but I think this is a good question to debate. How long is too long on the road?

I think in order to answer that you must first know what you want to accomplish during your travel.

Does your family want to travel domestically only or a combination of domestic and international travel? You also may want to ask yourselves as a family how important is it to see museums, beaches, mountains, historical landscapes, etc. This all plays a major factor if in and when you will see the places you want to see and how long you will spend time in each place.

Do you still own your home?

Next, in order to determine the appropriate amount of time to be on the road it would heavily depend on if your family sold your home or if it is being rented out. If you are completely home free, then you would be free to roam and wander for as long as you need without having to get back to your home. If your family went the route of renting your home like us, it would depend on how long the lease is of course. Choosing the right lease agreement can be very tricky. Renters usually stay anywhere from 1-2 years. We rented our home to another family for 12 months and as of now we aren’t interested in going any longer than that, but things can change.

Do you want to travel for more than a year?

We plan to travel for as long as possible. We love seeing new places, learning new cultures, and meeting new people. Even after we return to our home we still will find a way to travel the world. Traveling is our passion and it gives us time to connect as a family and make everlasting memories. Can you see yourself living in a tiny space with your partner and children if you have any? It can be challenging and get rough at times. Ask your self if it is something you just want to do on the weekends rather than going through the process of selling your house and personal possessions. Traveling long term may not work for every family.

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Six steps on how to recover from being homesick when traveling full time.

Traveling isn’t always glamorous and can get a little redundant just like normal life in a house.

Traveling isn’t also a quick fix to the issues you experience internally (for ex. anxiety or depression). There is an adjustment period when traveling that most people don’t discuss, but sometimes the feeling of being homesick creeps in and you want to go back to a familiar place. 

Beginning stage: Prepare for your journey by researching the culture.

Ensure you are ready for your journey and new environment because it will take some getting used to. You can never fully be ready for the unknown but leave some room mentally that things may not look or feel the way you imagined it in your head.

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Initial happiness: In the beginning, you will feel pure bliss from traveling and seeing new places.

Just know the blissful feeling will wear off. Once it wears off you need to remind yourself why you are living the lifestyle and try to do some new things to mix it up. You may even need to touch ground in your home base to reconnect with some family and friends and that is ok. (using Skype or a digital means to talk to a familiar face is also a useful tool)

Frustration: If and when the blissful feeling wears off you will get annoyed by your new living arrangement.

Everything is different and unfamiliar, so you will need to check in with yourself or a close friend to stay connected to the reason you are traveling. There may be some stores that aren’t easily available such as Walmart or Chipotle. You may not be able to run to the store to get a hair product like you would at home and feel that you just want to be done with the new place you are visiting. These feelings are completely normal and please hang in there it will get better.

Adjustment: You get used to the new customs and culture of your new home.

You find it less of a challenge to adjust to the new environment around you and start to settle in. At this point, you may want to find a part time job or a community event to meet the locals. Find a comfortable routine that works with your schedule. After some time you should begin to feel like you are adjusting well with the new culture.

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Adaptation: Troubles don’t last always.

Once you begin feeling comfortable with the culture, you will start to feel a sense of biculturalism, where you identify and even like the new culture you are experiencing. Everything that was once foreign and odd to you now feels comfortable and normal. You may even meet a few friends to include in your site seeing. A suggestion would be  to learn the native language or try some different foods in your area.

Re-entry: Going home.

When you leave this foreign culture to return home, you may find that you go through these stages all over again. It is no place like home. Having a homestead or home base is a essential part of traveling and takes the ease off of feeling homesick. It also gives the opportunity to reconnect with family and friends. This is normal and healthy way to enjoy life on the road.

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Leaving one life to live another.

Managing a life on the road can be tricky especially if you’re a newbie. It’s leaving one life to live another if you travel full time. There is an adjustment period that happens that most people don’t talk about. It’s the fight or struggle of trying to do things the way you did in a stick and brick house versus in an RV or movable home. Everything changes really fast and if you aren’t careful you won’t realize that you’re in tug of war with yourself to do things the old way because that is the space that is most comfortable. This lifestyle requires a ton of self management and flexibility. Plans don’t always work out which means you have to be willing to go with the flow.

I set my own schedule each day and that took some time getting used to. I’ve learned that I’m a person that craves structure. It minimizes my anxiety and keeps me focused when I set out a plan for the day.  It was always my dream to set my own schedule and travel the world. Schedules are opt to change and that is where flexibility comes in to the picture. Keeping an open mind when things don’t go right is a skill and unfortunately I’m still learning to master it.

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What you can do to maintain a life of full time travel? You can first explore how you can pay down your debt. You don’t want to get on the road with a lot of expenses. Next, you can find a remote job or see how you can make money online. There is also free lance work available for those who are experts in a specific skill. There are also many teaching English jobs online that make decent money. That is how I started out when I first got on the road. Create an expense sheet and see what’s the smallest debt you can payoff first to keep the momentum going. Then slowly work your way up to the highest debt.

It took us a year and a half to prepare before we officially took the jump and we still have a lot of work to do. Although, it still wasn’t perfect when we took the leap we learned that there will always be adjustments to make. You never reach a final point of completion or perfection, it’s more like a steady climb. The best part is that it is the best decision I’ve made in my life besides get married and starting a family. What I know for sure now being on this journey is that my soul is happy. The dollar amount that I make isn’t as nearly as important as it was because I don’t have as many things to maintain.There are still hard times and hurdles to overcome, but I’m choosing this life which makes it all worth it. This is something I really wanted to do, I pursued it, and it is working, I call that pretty freaking successful.  Cheers!

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Living for the weekend.

Many folks think it is impossible to retire and travel the world with children on a fixed income.

I also thought so too. When we decided to retire and travel we happily delivered the news to several of our friends, family, and co-workers. Some not all responded with what are we going to do? The answer to that was to slow down and live rather than exist. I’m sure some found it hard to believe and responded that we would be back due to boredom or cut traveling short due to wanting stability.  Society has us brainwashed to think that there is really only one way to live as a family and that the only way to live appropriately to gain societal acceptance as a family is in a big house, working nine to five, and inserting their children in daycare or school to be raised as good normal working people of society. These are all legitimate ways to live, but have you ever taken the time to stop and think if living the nine to five life, working until your sixty seven, living in the same house, and deciding to retire and travel at nearly seventy once the kids are all grown up is the life you want or the life you think everyone wants for you?

I can only speak from my experience when I say we never really fit in the societal acceptance standard of living. I found it to be quite boring, monotonous, unsatisfactory, and non-adventourus.  We worked really hard in the corporate world. We went to work everyday after dropping our children off at daycare or school and convinced ourselves one day we would be rich from working for someone else. My husband was a network engineer and I a project manager.  We lived on and for the weekends and holiday’s to take short trips as a family to experience life and take time off from our busy lives, but it never felt like enough time off before we were tossed back in to the work grind. We would pray that neither child got sick because one of us would have to take off work and that was usually an issue, because we had to work from home while keeping the sick child quiet and providing care to get them back to health so we can presume with taking them to daycare; respecting the 24 hour grace period. Our mornings started off at 5 am and ended at 6 pm.

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This is what we believed success looked like, so we didn’t complain but worked harder.

As time went on I became less and less happy with our lifestyle. I felt like I wasn’t able to spend as much time with the children as I wanted to and felt a bit lost. All the things and money just wasn’t adding up to the experience of our day to day and right before I decided to jump off the corporate ladder and suburb train I was miserable. On the outside you look great on paper to other folks, but deep inside I knew I desperately needed to make a positive change to impact my life in a way that I was happy, having organic experiences, making an income, and enjoying my family simultaneously. That works for me it doesn’t work for everyone, but to keep my sanity I needed to do it. Living small has been the most rewarding and freeing feeling for us. We spend more time outdoors and less time inside watching our gigantic seventy two inch television. My anxiety has lessen and I feel more relaxed.

We are a month into traveling and I’m convinced I don’t want to go back to the life I just described. Maybe I’ll change my mind, but one thing I didn’t realize is how unhappy I was living the monotonous routine of going to work and coming home. I believe if you are unhappy with your life you have the right to make a change. You don’t have to put on the face for the outsiders, but stick to what makes you and your family happy. Traveling full time isn’t for everyone, but find something that you can do that will allow you to live more versus existing in the day to day whirlwind of work and living for the weekends.

 

Much needed alone time.

You may be wondering with this adventurous lifestyle how do we get away from each other a bit?

It’s great spending time together and getting to know each other, but as humans we naturally need space. Getting space from each other allows us to clear our thoughts and refuel to be our full and best selves. My purpose is to share a few tips with how to accomplish gaining alone time while traveling as a family on the road. Don’t give up folks it is possible to have a healthy relationship while traveling as a family with members of your family and with yourself.

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First to gain some alone time you must be really organized.

Schedule your time to make sure you get in your main essentials for the day and allot some space for time with yourself. Create a schedule for what you want your day to look like and in your schedule add the time in for yourself. You need to understand what you want your time alone to look like. Does your time alone consist of visiting a coffee shop, going on a walk, exercising, riding a bike, etc.? Then add the activity to. your schedule for whichever day(s).

Consider the frequency and time length in which you need to take time for yourself.  

I’m not an expert in how much time you need for yourself that would be up to each person individually. For myself I need at least two days a week to allot twenty to thirty minutes for myself. In the bigger scheme of things that really isn’t much time alone, but it is what I need to refuel and reenergize to be my best self. If I don’t take time alone, I get crabby or irritable which not only can be damaging for myself, but create a negative experience for my family and that is something I want to avoid.

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It is a necessity.

Spending time alone may sound silly or be impossible, but it should be a necessity especially when traveling as a family. If you ever get irritated quickly or feel frustrated that may be an indicator that it is time to do an activity alone that will unload some stress. Spending time alone should be for any person in your family that needs it. When traveling hopefully the goal is to create the best memories and experiences for you and your family as possible. Just spending a few minutes alone several times a week can make a world of difference. So invest time in yourself as well as your family to create a beautiful and pleasant traveling experience.

 

Saying Goodbye.

When we left our subdivision we waved goodbye to our neighbors into a world of  the unknown and it felt sad. I even shedded a few tears not because I was sad, but because I knew I was leaving memories behind and that life wouldn’t be the same going forward. We built relationships with our surrounding neighbors and it was a bit hard to say goodbye. I also realized  that I wouldn’t be able to see my family that lived locally when I wanted to. In my heart I justified my reasons for leaving with the fact that I needed to do this. My soul is leading me to a life of wander and adventure and I wouldn’t be happy if I didn’t take a leap and see what was next. It is very scary to do something you’re not familiar with, but it is also scary to do the same thing over and over without any change. I want to be somewhere in the middle in the sweet spot of adventure and balance.

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After we left our home we traveled to visit my husband’s parents in Florida. I was a little nervous because that is the longest we’ve stayed with anyone as a family and I didn’t want to be a mooch on anyone. I made the effort to make sure we cleaned and cooked to pay our share of staying in their home. While we were there we explored the local libraries, parks, beaches, etc. We soaked up the local area with curiosity and passion. We genuinely had the best time being in Florida. It was the best time we’ve ever had while staying with my husband’s parents. We didn’t have to worry about going to work the next Monday or stressing about anything. We were free to wander around and take our time which we never get to do. At the end of the visit I got choked up because I knew I would miss my mother-in-law badly. She is naturally a nurturing and caring person and being around that for sometime can become addicting. They welcomed us with open arms and we didn’t in any way feel like a bother to them.

We changed the way we live to live the way we want.

I would’ve never in a million years stay with anyone that long, but I realized while living this lifestyle sometimes you have to lean on others and that is ok. You’re not a lazy person or a mooch if you ask to stay or borrow something from someone. It is good to need other people from time to time. It actually is healthy in my opinion. In this society we no longer borrow things from one another, but we go out and buy it as a since of pride or independence. We are afraid to ask others for help because of our pride, but until we learn that serving others is our mission we will never be successful.

When we arrived back in Atlanta to wrap up a few things we needed a place to stay overnight. I asked my dad if we could stay with him and he welcomed us with open arms. Again, I needed to lean on someone close and things worked out. I haven’t stayed the night at my fathers house in over seven years. It was refreshing to see what his house looked like and what he used in his home. We had to say goodbye again to my dad too and it wasn’t as hurtful. I knew I would be back and I have the love and support of my friends and family. I know they will be here when I get back and that is a great feeling.

A lesson in team work.

Canoeing, a family that rows together stays together.

Canoeing allows you to get out in the sun on water and see nature all around you. If you’re canoeing in a river you get to ride up on a sandbank and rest while listening to some jams with your family. The interesting fact you may not consider canoeing is that it requires a great deal of teamwork and patience. You also have the possibility of tumbling over unexpectedly, and your pretty view is now wet and upside down.

Canoeing requires for two people to work together to create a rhythm that is effective in keeping the canoe moving forward through shallow or deep water, dodging logs or trees, rocky water, etc. If both partners aren’t working together it can create friction leaving your family upside down, in the river and watching all of your belongings float down stream. I will admit my husband and I aren’t the best communicators sometimes and this experience tested our communication skills a great deal.

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My family was getting down the river perfectly after my husband’s and I communication hiccup.  We couldn’t seem to agree which part of the boat him or I would paddle on. As soon as we somewhat found our rhythm in still shallow water unexpectedly we started to tilt to the left. We tilt again to the left this time with a little more force shifting the canoe over completely on it’s side in the river. Over we went along with our belongings and paddles. My husband pulled up the children from the water as they were underneath the boat fully submerged in the water. He tossed them to me while he went to chase our belongings along with the canoe. My children strapped on to me frantically while crying and screaming. While dragging them to the nearest sandbank to catch our breath I ensured them everything would be just fine. My husband slowly treaded through the water down stream to fetch our belongings.

The lesson in our experience was that sometimes it won’t be perfect, but you keep going and don’t let a overturn stop you.

I explained this to my children after we got back in the canoe and things calmed down a bit. Sometimes it won’t be pretty, you may get dirty, and lose some things, but it doesn’t mean you stop moving forward. It is challenges like these that we can learn from and use as an opportunity to grow rather that one to quit. Once we got back in the canoe and settled back in my husband and I worked perfect together to the finish line.

Miracles happen everyday.

Miracles happen everyday sometimes we see them and sometimes we don’t. Today was an exciting day partially because we were able to go to the beach, see the ocean and that I was able to spend time with my family. More especially I felt as though I experienced a miracle because I believe an angel was looking over us today and part of it I just can’t explain.

I couldn’t get in my husband’s car as I came out of the bank today to handle some business while we were in Florida with the children site seeing. I decided to come out of the bank with the children because they were a little restless from sitting  and waiting for us to finish up. I had a very large amount of money in a briefcase along with my wallet that I sat on top of the bed cover of the truck as I waited for my husband to unlock the car. Once he unlocked the truck I picked up the children to put them in their car seats and I also walked our dog that was in the car with the windows partially open. We all then got back in the truck and drove off without a worry in the world.

“Everything in the Universe is interconnected. Within each it is reflected.”

-Anonymous

We drove thirty minutes to an area called Gulf Breeze to visit Fort Pickens. We started our wonderful trip as we went over a beautiful bridge overseeing the water. We drove on the highway for what seemed to be an extended amount of time before we got to the other side of town. We were feeling hungry so we decided to stop by a sandwich shop to get a bite to eat as a last minute decision. I then decided I needed to login into the banking app on my phone to look at a few things while I was waiting for my husband to get back to the truck. Suddenly an overwhelming rush of fear overcame my body. It was at that moment I noticed I didn’t have my wallet and then I remembered the cash was sitting on top of the covered bed of the truck as well. In a panic I reluctantly got out of the truck in fear of the fact that I possibly just cost my family money we could not afford to lose. I then walked to the back of the truck as my heart fell into my stomach.

Miraculously, as if it were the will of God the cash was still there leaving me with a glimmer of hope. No lie, I couldn’t believe it! I grabbed the fairly small briefcase and held it close to my chest thinking that it wasn’t real. I then quickly hopped back in the truck as my husband was still inside getting our food. Oh crap, the thought that my wallet which I placed on top of the briefcase was gone entered my mind and I realized my drivers license, my credit cards, and military ID was in my wallet. I quickly came to the realization in that moment that I would never see my wallet again. Ten minutes after that horrible realization my cell phone rang with a number based out of New Jersey of all places. There was a woman on the other end stating that her friend in Florida found my wallet in a parking lot and I needed to call her. I frantically called the number the woman I just talked to gave me.

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There was a woman that helped me, she was my angel. She took her time to tell me what she found in the wallet and that she wasn’t too far away to bring it to me. She ensured that I received it and said she would have wanted someone to do the same for her if she was in the situation. In this short time of traveling I realized that there are still good people in this world. At times we get so caught up in the bad things we hear and see people do to others, but I genuinely believe there are still people with genuinely good spirits out there. This woman didn’t have to help me and she could’ve just as easily kept going after she saw the contents all over the parking lot from my wallet. Of course, the twenty dollars I had in my wallet was gone when the woman found it, but everything else was still there. I’m beyond grateful for the good deed of this person and I will pay it forward by doing something in return for a random stranger because that is what living a good life is about.

As I continue on this journey I will continue to keep my heart open to this and other experiences. I also want to learn and see the world I’m yearning for. I want to believe that there are still people out there who will do a good deed for someone else without expecting something in return. With this experience I hope to help someone else and inspire hope in others. I’m forever grateful for the miracles I can and can’t see.

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