Long Term Family Travel – How’s it going?

About half way through the South East Asia part of our travels I thought it was time for an update on how things are going.  Is it as perfect as it looks on Facebook? How are the kids?

6 weeks in, here is what we know…

We have too much stuff!

We’ve definitely picked up a few bits and pieces on the way – possibly the painted elephants weren’t the best idea – but to be honest I think we started with too much.  Every now and then something comes in really useful and earns it’s place.  We’ve also discarded and lost some stuff too.  I now know that it is very expensive to have your son’s Kindle Fedexed to the UK from Kuala Lumpur.

It is true that when travelling it is easy to buy stuff when you are there, but when we aren’t earning and had perfectly good things at home that seemed wasteful.  Paul and I have packed a few warmer clothes to wear when we get to the UK, so we don’t have to go shopping straight away, but right now they are taking up space.

We also packed plenty of card games etc. for the kids and we just haven’t had that much time to use them. Maybe in Europe when we are camping.

Luggae on tuk tuk
Us and all our stuff on a motorbike in Thailand. Where is Mum going to sit?

We have managed all the stuff so far, but it is starting to bug me and half way through I think if we haven’t used it yet we can risk discarding it.  I also hate throwing away perfectly good things so I’m waiting for an opportunity to discard them responsibly.

What we should have packed?  A bottle opener, since most of the beer over here isn’t twist top Paul has been using also sorts of things including his toenail clippers?!

Seriously my phone has probably been one of the most useful items we’ve had with us, Camera, GPS, tourist guide, fact finder, currency exchange, calculator, hotel booking apps, keeping in touch, mobile banking… Look out for a future post on useful apps and technology for travel.

 

New Zealand is EXPENSIVE

We all know the cost of living in our beautiful country has become unsustainable for many people.  How can we afford to take a year out to travel?  That’s a whole post in itself, but one part of the answer is many of the places we travel are MUCH cheaper than New Zealand.

We can sit down for a healthy local meal for under $10 NZD for the whole family.  An example might be chicken, rice and greens, stirfry, pad thai, fried rice etc. Sometimes we spend more, sometimes even less, but only in Singapore have we paid anything close to NZ prices.

Our budget for accommodation in Asia is under $100NZD per night, almost always including breakfast, it could be done for a lot less than this, but we aren’t staying in hostels, more like family hotels, and except for Penang we don’t do shared bathrooms.  We also need family rooms which are a bit harder to find.  We could easily half that budget if it was two of us.  We’ve paid from $50 to $180 a night, but our average over the trip is $90 so we are on track so far.  We try to book hotels with pools as much as possible, then we can bribe the kids with swims for good behaviour!

Azalea Village Pool
Pool at Azalea Village, Thailand

We don’t miss anything except people

I guess it is still early days, but at this stage we can honestly say there is nothing about our old life that we miss, other than our family and friends and our cat, Luca.

I wondered if I would regret selling our beautiful house, but it doesn’t cross my mind.  We sure don’t miss the stress of our old life, the work dramas, the commute time, the bills and the housework.  The only chore we have to do now is washing and sometimes it can be quite a pain finding a laundry!  We’ve given up altogether on ironing.

We had a chat with a monk recently, he asked why we decided to go traveling.  I told him we had lots of stuff but it wasn’t making us happy, so we decided to sell it and see the world instead. He totally got it.

We still have a bit too much stuff – see above!

It’s been great for our family and our relationship

We are closer in lots of ways, we’ve always been a good team, but now even more so.  We all have our roles, I take care of money and maps, booking and planning, Paul does the heavy lifting and a lot of the supervision of school work.  He’s more patient than me and he likes that he is now much more involved in their learning.  He does the day to day stuff, whereas I plan the educational trips and outings.  I’m in charge of supervision when he’s at the gym!  We’re making memories together.  We travel differently with an educational focus, we seek out activities that we wouldn’t usually do on holiday – like art classes.

Despite the fact we have almost no income we don’t fight about money – although we didn’t really do that before.  We no longer have to argue about who will stay home from work when the kids are sick.  Our kids no longer think our work is more important than spending time with them.

Father Son Moment at the beach.jpg

There will be tough days

Days when it is too hot and we put the wrong address into the Grab (like Uber) app, and we have to go out to find dinner even though we don’t really want to go out again.  And the hotel is a bit crappy.

The day when Mum said a bad word to the person at the car hire desk…  because in 2018 you still have to print your booking voucher?

The island hopping days when the speedboat was an hour late every time, there were too many passengers and bags and not enough seats, it was sooo hot and S had a tummy bug.

But then…

We met a man who gave up his seat and stood for an hour so S could lie down on 2 seats.  A Canadian woman gave up her much needed fan to help cool her down.  People smile at us and are kind, and no one asks ‘What are you thinking bringing your kids here?’

Yesterday a lovely German couple stopped us as we were leaving a restaurant to tell us how well-behaved our kids are.  Every one has been really supportive of what we are doing, they ask questions, but we’ve had no judgement or criticism.

You learn from the difficult days.  We don’t make good decisions when we are tired and hungry, but it doesn’t matter.  This isn’t a one week holiday we’ve waited all year for, every day doesn’t have to be perfect.  We have tomorrow and the next day…

The good and the bad are all part of the experience and the learning.  It’s not all cocktails and sunsets, but it is going really well.

How are the kids?

The kids are happy, they’ve settled in to the rhythm of travel.  L doesn’t get nearly as anxious as he used to, although he still finds crowded places intimidating.  They’re realising we’re not on holiday and have stopped asking for souvenirs and treats all the time.  They are more concerned than we are about running out of money!  They get hyper on travel days, excited about going to a new place, they always end up in trouble on travel days.  School work is best done in the morning or early afternoon, L is more settled and able to work independently, he enjoys his school work.  S can whinge all the way through if she isn’t in the mood, or it can be the best part of her day.

So that’s it for now, there are ups and downs but absolutely No Regrets!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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