“If I didn’t have kids…” A phrase we use too often to avoid doing what scares us.
Or, Tips for traveling the world with kids.
Take a second to think back to your time in elementary school and write down 5 things you learned then that you use today. Besides basic arithmetic not much would probably come to mind. In my case I remember the capital of Honduras, which is Tegucigalpa and how to divide fractions; which if you think about it, it becomes a very expensive investment to my parents. This is one of the many reasons we decided to take our kids out of the rigid education system and travel the world with them. We figured the time and economic investment was not giving us the “return” — learning skills they will need for life, we believe children deserve.
Of course we were afraid, but we knew we had to try. Many people ask us if it is hard to travel with children, and the answer is always the same:
“No, it isn’t. Not any harder than any school-night at home with 2 working parents and 3 growing kids.”
Being on the same page has been key in making this crazy lifestyle work. Meaning, Iñaki, my mom Julia, and I agree on a few basic principles that need to happen for this adventure, with kids, to be successful:
We must be flexile.
We have set out to this journey with so many unknowns, from where we would live one month to how we will pay for the tickets to go to the next destination. With so many variables, we are constantly redesigning our plan. It helps to use words like “what if?” or “Maybe we could” rather than stating what will happen for sure. The kids are learning quickly to be adaptable and to go with the flow, a skill they will be able to use for the rest of their lives. For us, the adults, this practice can be a lot harder, but life has a way of always letting us know we are not in control. This is one tool that helps us stay flexible and explore options.
We need to find inexpensive ways of traveling and logging
So there are a few of the tricks we do in order to accomplish saving while living a wonderful life.
We regularly monitor traveling sites and mainly via Google Flights (we have become a bit obsessive about this one.) We have discovered that when you have flexibility traveling multi city is the best way to go. You won’t believe your eyes once you search for multiple destinations and the price of the flights come out to be less than $1K per flight. This is an example.
Also, since we use our miles to travel, we don’t mind spending a little more on AirbnbEng especially now that they have partnered with Delta. We have set up a budget we can afford per night so we negotiate with hosts to meet us close to our number. For shorter stays we use HotelTonight or cheaphotels.com which also gives us rewards. Lastly, you might already know this, but flying on Wednesdays can reduce the cost in half.
We choose to live in the present, and model mindfulness.
My mom Julia has been meditating since before I was born — that is 39 years! This has allowed her to live life from a place of abundance and gratitude we are now exposed to on a daily basis. While practicing mindfulness and self-awareness isn’t easy, we try to make this a part of who we are and essential to deal with all the unknowns of this journey. All we know is where we are now and how we can impact the way we perceive the things that happen to us. Meditation is part of the kids’ homeschool routine, and slowly Iñaki and I are adopting this practice with the help of Headspace. Hopefully by the end of this adventure we will have mastered it.
A good question to ask your kids (constantly) to help bring mindfulness to their lives: What do you see/hear/feel? Sounds simple right? Try it and let us know how it goes.
Practice reflection regularly to understand and uncover insights about ourselves and learn how different things impact us in certain ways.
We should respect and understand everyone’s needs.
Each of us if completely different, while we all have agree good wifi is key, (even the children) we expect and have unique desires. We have agreed to make an effort to respect things that for some seem silly but for others means the world. For example I need to thread my eyebrows, I feel not well-kept when I don’t and everyone knows that will be something I need to look for when we arrive to a new place. Iñaki wants to visit every single museum there is and Alani wants to go to every possible trampoline park. Julia needs a jar to filter water (with alkaline please.) Helping each other obtain these moments of joy, has become part of our DNA. Also, we agree staying connected is a must so we get local chips for our phones.
We shall enjoy what’s dealt to us, or at least make the best out of it.
We love the phrase “when life gives you lemons make lemonade.” Many times, plans don’t go as expected, and shit happens. A great learning from our research when we met Fernando Farah the principal of Villa Perse a school in Lima, Peru was to help kids switch the questions in their heads from “why is this happening to me?” to “what is this happening to me for?.”
We reconsider our belongings often, and dispose of what we don’t use.
When you are moving around so much, weight and ‘stuff’ really become an issue. We have a rule that every time we leave a place (one we have been for at least 2 weeks) we donate the things we didnt use of foresee using anymore. For clothes, recycling services like ThredUp are great. Even though we don’t have weight restriction when flying with any airline in SkyTeam, we want to make sure we don’t over pack. We have found the best way to avoid overweight is to have more carry-on sized bags (21 inch) and less large suitcases. This way you can never exceed the weight limit and you use it as self-restriction for unnecessary things. We love samsonite, but really any hard case suitcase will do… Please note it MUST be a 4-wheeler. Those who travel, 4-wheel!
We want to meet new people, and most importantly stay in touch with our friends and family.
WhatsApp, MeetUps, Facebook, Hashtags, and hosting dinner parties.
We should try to make every opportunity a learning experience.
We post daily on our instagram account about this. Once we were exposed to this mindset we realized we can’t let it go. This has helped us build stronger relationships with the kids by getting to know them so much better. Rather than superficially having dialogue with them, or cutting interactions short because we hold the answers; we dedicate time and energy to helping them learn as they explore new or mundane things. Even the kids are adopting this behavior with each other and with us. Try it if you can, even in small bits, it is super rewarding and contagious. It isn’t simple, but it’s doable. Every time they ask you for help, let them figure things out or figure them out with them, not for them. More on this in a previous post.
We are intentional with our finances.
This one is “simple” because it was the hardest to crack:
- Food isn’t an expense, it’s an investment.
- Especially trying new things in different place. We prefer cooking at home than eating out.
- We go by this rule “we only buy what we need, not what we want.” Of course there are exceptions to the rule. Like when we visit the US unexpectedly and we go nuts because we have access to Amazon.
- We use digit to save $. An A.I. service that saves money regularly based on your spending patterns.
- We only use our credit cards to get tickets and upfront airbnb rentals. They give us miles which in turn means more travel.
If you speak Spanish, listen to our episode in La Asignatura Pendiente Podcast.
- We know the amount of projects we need to do per month in order to sustain this journey. Also, we are getting smarter at identifying which projects we take on, and most importantly which ones we pass.
Follow our adventure:
Video diaries on youtube (edited by our 11 year old,) daily tips for parents on instagram, live videos about learning moments on Facebook, and if you want to know where we are in the world we are on Swarm, Google Maps and on our website . We are funding this journey ourselves so if you believe in what we are doing and would like to pitch in, you can donate to our campaign here.