My Wife and I are Quitting Everything to Take Our Kids Around the World

Photo by Airstream Inc. on Unsplash

The promise of the Great American Road Trip is what inspired us to leave it all behind. The clean countryside air, warm smiles, and good food.

2020, and its subsequent economic funny business caused us to shut down our photography studio for most of the year, and we still haven’t recovered fully. So back in August, we sat down to have a talk about what our next steps would be now that the world is finally starting to open back up.

We moved to California on a whim just over six years ago. Our little Chevy Cruze was overstuffed with what was left over from downsizing our two-bedroom apartment. My partner drove our car, and I followed on my motorcycle as we made our way west. It was the dead of winter.

With as much torture as I felt back then (a story for another time), I don’t think I’d change a thing. The timing was perfect for us to make a smooth transition to California. However, there are some takeaways I’d love to share with those of you looking to explore the unknown.

Photo by Lukas Robertson on Unsplash

Pack Light

Both in life, and in your physical possession, having only what’s essential gives you the keys to the world.

I like to think of the term, “Mom Brain.” I had my own thoughts on what this meant, but my partner had to educate me. Especially, it means to omit anything from the the brain that isn’t necessary. Rather than being forgetful, only the things that truly mattered to her actually stuck.

Life tends to work best when you keep this in mind in all that you do. There’s a YouTuber that runs the channel “Nomad Capitalist,” and he has the most amazing phase that he delivers at the beginning of each video.

“Go where you’re treated best.”

Go to the “Cheap” Place for the Experience

Foolishly, I’d taken the belief that best equaled exspensive into my adulthood. The best pizza I’ve ever had in California was from a place with an unkept vagrant camping at the window out front. Our accommodations in Hong Kong cost $60 a night, and wasn’t in the city center, but we had parks near by for our oldest, and an abundance of family friendly restaurants. The pubs just outside of our AirBnB called to our single side, the street food was priced for the locals since we weren’t in a heavily touristed area. Sometimes it’s worth taking the risk. Or looking at the Yelp Review.

Travel Like a Child and You’ll Never Forget Your Trip

A children live completely in the moment. On our family night walks I’m reminded of this fact. If a butterfly finds its way across their eye line, what ever conversation we’d been having til that point is immediately sidelined.

The world view of my four year old has spilled over into my own. I take longer to compose a photograph. My conversations with my wife are more spontainious. Yellow just looks more… magical these days.

When I go somewhere new, or somewhere I’ve been before, my goal now is just to look around more. To talk to more people. To smile and say hello.

Know the Weather Before You Go

We all know this is wise for a short trip, but I beg you to consider this even on a permanent move. We took ourselves across the country in the winter. Through snow covered roads, the winds of Texas, and nothing being open past 7:00pm once you got out of the urban areas.

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

Take a Good Book With You. Pick Up Another On Your Way Back

Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanb is one that I’ll have with me at every journey. I learned about slow travel a few years ago after I had already moved to San Francisco. I was searching for a way to deepen my travel experiences, and found out that I just needed to move through them slower. This short book helped me get grounded in the idea that I didn’t need to carry a list with me when I went some place new.

When I found myself on a short trip over the bridge our neighboring town, Oakland, I picked up John Carter by Edgar Rice Burrough. Ok, I still haven’t read this one, but it’s lead me to more conversations about Oakland and our many adventures there than anything other image of object in our home.

For me, every time I look at this book, and when I eventually come to read it, I’ll think of my time visiting one of my favorite towns in the United States.

Find a Bench, and Journal What You See

When I was studying in San Francisco, my teacher gave me what I thought to be a strange assignment. We had to go out into the city and write what’s called a Flaneur Journal. In short, we wrote what it was that we saw as if we were taking a photograph. We didn’t try to obscure our biases.

I found this exercise so helpful that I brought it into my professional life and use it to write my blogs for my photographs.

Plan for What You Must, But Move Like a Bird

There’s a pessimistic saying I learned while serving in the Army. “Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.” This was drilled in my head leading up to my first deployment as a way for the leaders of my unit to ensure we all went into a dangerous situation with our best foot forward.

As I go out into the towns we were in, however, I learned that that people were more forgiving that a rigid plan. The environment was constantly changing. Weather reports were wrong.

Eventually, I started to just take each moment as it came, and changed with those changes. My plan was in simply getting out of bed that morning.

When I made this change, my deployment got better, and my mood on life got better. It was freeing.

Photo by 五玄土 ORIENTO on Unsplash

Tea Over Coffee

Ok, I understand that this one can come from my bias of tea over coffee, but it comes from a moment in time for me that I needed close friendship. Hopping back to my deployment, I was out on a patrol with the unit I was attached to providing backup to their communication specialist. All this really meant was that I got to sight see with the interpreter in between conversation with the local people and my commander.

When we reach the town we’d been traveling to, I hopped out with the interpreter and we were ushered into this small hut just behind the house our mission was supposed to take place. The owner of the home brought us some bread he’d just made from what looked to me to be a clay pizza oven, and a cup of tea.

This cup was no bigger than a shot glass. The cup itself seemed to be made of hand blown glass and had a golden trim around the edge. We saw in this hut atop pillow cushions and talked for a little over 30 minutes. I didn’t get a chance to finish my tea before getting called back to the truck for roll out.

Since then, in my many travels around the world, I’ve been asked into people’s home our places of business over a cup of tea and had the best conversations of my life.

Go on the Long Walk

I’m going to go on the record in saying that you haven’t truly lived in or visited a place if you haven’t walked 30% of it. Personally, I like to say I have an ongoing adventure with New York City, my hometown of Greensboro, and one of the coolest places on the planet, Sedona, Arizona.

Something about getting there on foot changes the way we experience a place. We’re able to take in the smells. Listen to the way the locals talk to one another. Discover places that we might have overlooked on Yelp. Walking, and making it a long one, is the best way to travel.

These are my top insights that I’ve picked up while slow traveling the western coast of the United States. I’m not going to fool myself into believing we’re done with traveling the west, but my family is ready for a change. The current position the world is in has lead my partner and I to really think about where we wanted to go next, and the topic of home kept coming up.

While I miss my family, and would love to be back around them in a more permanent sense, there’s something about Asia that’s been calling my soul. So we’re heading “east” for our next adventure, and I can’t wait to share our insights from this trip.




Californian based partly in Seoul, Korea. I write on travels, photography, and the enjoyment of life.

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Torian Allen

Torian Allen

Californian based partly in Seoul, Korea. I write on travels, photography, and the enjoyment of life.

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