Family, biological or intentional, are a mighty important part of life – whether you are focused on staying connected to them, or sometimes trying to stay as far from them as possible. And we often hear that placing a focus on family is a reason that people don’t travel as much as they would otherwise like.
We personally think that family connections are hugely important, so we’d like to offer up some alternative ways to think about incorporating travel in with family.
Travel with them!
“I can’t travel like I want until the kids are grown.” This is probably one of the most common reasons we hear for why people aren’t doing the travel they want to do. Chris and I aren’t the best resources for inspiration on this particular topic, as we’re intentionally childfree by choice. However, we both grew up with a good deal of travel in our lives as kids, and we turned out just fine! Granted, we didn’t travel full time as kids, but we both greatly appreciate and honor the travel experiences we had growing up. Some of my fondest and most pivotal experiences as a kid where not from sitting in a classroom, but from the many travel experiences I had with my family and or on my own. And Chris actually spent four years living as an expat in Indonesia with his family while growing up!
There seems to be a common assumption in our American culture that kids need a stable place to be in order to get a good education and grow up right. However, after meeting many nomadic kids, I can say with certainty that that’s not always true. Some kids actually thrive on the variability of experiences.
Think about it… Who can really judge what is a better education? Sitting in a classroom learning about places, or traveling around learning about places first hand? The kids I’ve met who have a lot of travel in their life are well rounded with great perspectives on life and people. And they often grow up to do amazing things in their own education and careers.
I have a dear friend who had her daughter while she was living full time on a small boat, sailing up and down the east coast of America. She raised her daughter onboard for the first 7 years of her life. And Chris has a close friends who’s family took a roadtrip in a camper van from Australia to London (taking well over a year) while she was a growing up. I envy those kids!
And there are plenty of other families living and growing on the road together and blogging about it, check out a few of them:
- Tumblewagon – A mother and father web design team raising their son on the road as they travel about.
- SoulTraveler3 – A mother, father and daughter who gave up their home in California and travel all over the world.
- RV Gypsies – A family who were on the road full time until recently.
There are resources for families on the road, such as the Familes on the Road website, which offers up great inspiration and virtual community for families considering hitting the road, including information on “Roadschooling” (homeschooling while traveling) and profiles of dozens of other families on the road.
This isn’t to say that every family is suited for traveling together full time, or that there aren’t other situations which would make this but a pipe dream – but do think outside the box and realize that there are more ways than one to raise a family.
Use Travel to Connect with Family
There’s another angle to family consider, and that’s the increased quality time you can spend with your own extended family. Being nomadic opens up the flexibility to visit for prolonged periods of time with family spread out across the globe. For Chris and I, we’re actually more able to visit with our family and spend quality time with them than we were before going fully mobile.
For instance in the past, Chris might have been able to travel to St. Louis to visit his parents for a long weekend over the holidays. The time would be rushed because it was scarce and chaotic because it was the holidays. Now, we’re able to pull up into St. Louis and enjoy the more relaxed pace of a several week visit if we like. And because we bring our own house with us, we don’t necessarily have to stay in the guest room and give up our own privacy and autonomy.
We’re also able to rendezvous with family as they travel about, such as this week we’re meeting up with my folks in San Antonio where they’re attending a veterans reunion. We are also spending time with Cherie’s brother in Austin. This adds greatly to our quality time, and has in our opinion, strengthened our family bonds.
And we’re also better able to respond to family crisis and pull in to help out longer term when it’s warranted. It’s really been an eye opening thing to have built in the flexibility and mobility to really be there.
And for those that wish for distance from family, being on the go is a great excuse for getting away from the family you don’t get along with! Maybe a little distance is just the thing that will let you come back together and eventually connect.