Long Term Family Travel : Expectations vs. Reality

long term family travelWe’re on day 118 of 148 and that means we’re 30 days away from being home in Toronto! I think we’ve been away long enough to reflect on the realities of long-term family travel. I’ve been very good at showing our behind the scene struggles and every day challenges through my Instagram stories but I also know that not all of you follow those videos, and you may have missed a few since they disappear after 24 hours. I have been receiving the following question more and more frequently, from you guys and from some of our close friends.

 

“How is it going? Is everything as lovely as it looks through the photos you share?”

 

Friends, this trip has been absolutely magical. Back in April, we took a deep breath and dove in. We knew we’d have an amazing time exploring new places and living the “holiday life”, but we also knew that we’d be hit with some major challenges. Travelling with two kids under the age of 6 is no easy feat. Would I do it again? YES! Not for a while though. You see, I’m SO looking forward to heading back home to Toronto. Travelling full time is so rewarding, but at times, it’s an emotional rollercoaster that makes our life at home seem tranquil by comparison. We’ve already told you how much we miss our friends and our comfy couch.

 

 

Prior to leaving we had some pre-conceived notions about this trip, as did all of you, so shall we take a look at our expectations versus the realities of long term family travel?

 

Long Term Family Travel

 

 

“Your kids are going to learn so much, they won’t miss school at all!”

Reality : Yes, they’re definitely learning and seeing new things and no one can deny that their questions are increasing in quantity and quality. However, they’re also lacking the discipline and structure that comes with schooling. They also miss their friends and Little Monkey even asked to Skype with a friend when we were in San Sebastian.

 

“You guys will not want to come back to Toronto”

Reality : We miss the comforts of our home! Waking up in a new city every couple days isn’t easy. You have to navigate the city to figure out details like where to grab a morning coffee, buy affordable groceries, and pick up diapers. It’s a constant struggle and I’m looking forward to the comfort of knowing where things are and being able to roam without the need of researching every LITTLE thing and looking at Google Maps every two minutes (okay, so I’m directionally challenged and will still have to do that!).

 

“I’ll get so much work done!”

Reality : Working has been the biggest challenge. At home, not only did I have a corporate job that saw me clocking 40 hours a week, I also had a consulting gig and still managed to write 5 times a week. On this trip, I’m lucky if I can get one post a week done. It’s always a struggle planning our trip on the go while exploring new cities. Writing is often the last thing on my list.

 

“You’ll be in vacation mode all the time!”

Reality : Yes, I wake up whenever I want and the kids usually get to do as they please, but there’s also a lot of stress around not knowing what’s happening, especially for someone who likes things to have a loose agenda. Lack of routine is something that isn’t new to us but it’s getting worse. Long term travel means that there’s no set agenda and everything is decided on the spur of the moment (not very helpful when it comes to budgeting for flights and trains!). Any waking moment I have is spent researching what to do, where to go and of course, what to eat. I’m exhausted from all the research.

 

“You’ll be meeting so many people you won’t even miss us”

Reality : We’ve been lucky to connect with some online friends during our travels but they’ve been very short encounters. We haven’t been in one place long enough to make strong connections and in most cities, it has just been the 4 of us. Yes, we love each other and enjoy hanging out together, but I’d love a wine and cheese night with the gals and I know the hubs is missing his game nights. We miss chilling on the couch late into the wee hours surrounded by our closest friends drinking one too many bottles of wine and beer. Parenting is parenting no matter where we are…my kids will be melt-your-heart-out cute one hour and absolute jerks the next. Not having family nearby means that the hubs and I have to deal with them 24-7. We have no backup to call and run away towards a kid free weekend.

 

“When you’re back you won’t care about all the things you left behind”

Reality : We’ve become minimalists in a small way. We’ve been travelling with two suitcases and while I miss my photo albums, the picture frames adorning our walls and my high heels, I know that we will most likely throw away half the things we put into storage. We purged half our items already but I think we’ll be moving forward with a quarter of what we had.

 

“It’ll be so cheap to travel around once you’re there”

Reality : We’ve actually been so last minute that we haven’t been able to jump on seat sales as much as we thought we would. Travel takes a fair bit of planning if you’re trying to budget for a trip and that holds true for long term travel as well. One of the challenges with long term travel is that you need to be flexible and in our case, the flexibility and lack of an agenda has meant that we’ve made on the spot decisions to head towards some amazing places – but they haven’t always been economical choices. I mean we’re boarding a $1,000 flight towards Croatia tomorrow and that’s only a one way fare!! EEKS!

 

“Your kids will be more cultured and will learn a foreign language”

Reality : Yes, they’re always up for visiting a new place and get so excited at the chance of meeting new friends who speak English but they haven’t been very flexible when it comes to making friends with non-English speaking kids. It’s something we’ve been pushing them to do but the most we’ve managed is having Little Monkey and Baby Boy learn to say “thank you” in Spanish, French and German, and  we had to bribe them with candy to get that far – you see, Europeans have been lovely for the most part and always offer them treats…only if they say “thank you” though!

 

We’re growing as individuals and we’re growing together but I think we’re all ready to head back towards the known and familiar. There’s something to be said about putting down roots and the comfort that comes with that. We’re going to make the most of our last month and we’re already planning trips into the fall and winter but we’re also counting down to Toronto.

Long term family travel

  • Rachel
    July 30, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    I have a theory that the last 25% of any trip is when you feel ready to go home, whether that trip is 3 weeks, 3 months (like we did earlier this year) of 6 months. After 75% of the trip is when you start dreaming of the comforts of home.

    • Yashy
      July 31, 2017 at 6:59 am

      You’re absolutely right! We’ve found that 10 days is the perfect amount of travel for us before we embarked on this trip and I think that holds true for us now too. Creature comforts are SO important.

  • Erin
    July 31, 2017 at 6:58 am

    I can imagine not having to research everything would be nice for a change. Have you found anywhere you’d return to for a longer stretch? I’m sure that’s the last thing on your mind right now though.

    I felt the same way after we immigrated, there are times I just don’t want to do the Google Translate-search-expat forums-Google Maps dance ever ever again. Those days we stay at home and watch Netflix! I’ve read a few other families that have been travelling for long periods that there are just write-off days. I remember E said, a week or so after we first arrived, ‘I just don’t want any more New things.’

    • Yashy
      July 31, 2017 at 7:01 am

      awww. ” I don’t want any more New things” – bless!! Yes… we could see ourselves living in Berin, Amsterdam and Barcelona for sure…. of course it would all depend on the type of apartment we’d be able to afford! lol. We’re in Zagreb and this week is a total write-off… literally. We’ll be writing all week!!

  • karen
    July 31, 2017 at 7:24 am

    I loved this. It was so amazing to see how you’ve been able to travel so much with kids as that is my husband’s greatest fear: that we become those boring people that stop doing everything we love because of kids. I hope that we’re the same in some years. 🙂

    • Yashy
      July 31, 2017 at 9:03 am

      Thank you! It was SO lovely hanging out with you both during our visit and when the time comes I KNOW you guys will continue to travel and explore the world with your little ones!!

  • Dawn
    July 31, 2017 at 10:26 am

    Great post Yashy! We struggle with finding a balance between travel, living overseas and community at home in Canada so this post resonated with me. We just had a big dose of home life and it was so lovely but I had also left me so confused about what I want going forward.

    • Yashy
      July 31, 2017 at 3:22 pm

      I have heard that home life can be equally as challenging on the return from a long trip. I will be watching and supporting you guys to see what’s next for you! I’m thinking a 3 month annual summer stint might be what works best for us – but have to try that next summer and see!

  • Jenna D
    July 31, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    We miss you all too. Lots of pros and cons of long term travel no doubt. Proud that you’ll be able to say you’ve done it and you’re all happy and healthy.

    We’ll see you when you get home. Super soon!

  • Dianne Sivulka
    July 31, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    Great piece! I love the way you shared what you often hear with the reality of long term travel. What a wonderful experience for your family!

    • Yashy
      July 31, 2017 at 4:10 pm

      Thank you Dianne. As with everything in life there’s the good and the bad, right?

  • Ariana
    August 1, 2017 at 8:30 am

    This is a great post!!! We’ve travelled a lot and sometimes it is not all that it is cracked up to be, so its nice to sometimes also read some honest stuff, that is not 100% positive.

    • Yashy
      August 1, 2017 at 8:53 am

      Yes… as amazing as travel is, there’s also the downsides and that’s true whether we have kids along, or not. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Lisa - FlipFlopGlobetrotters.com
    August 2, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    It’s always great to read an honest piece about family travel! It’s definitely not all sunshine and rainbows, that’s for sure 🙂 We did a 10-month trip with our 17-month old 1,5 years ago and it was awesome, but challenging as well. We also traveled without any planning and I do recognise the stress of spending hours and hours researching your next destination and not being able to get any work done. Next time we’ll definitely try slow travel! Both of us didn’t have any desire to go back home again however (we had to because my mother in law is quite ill) and long to travel full time again with our son. Hopefully someday…. Enjoy the last month of your trip! Happy & safe travels!

    • Yashy
      August 3, 2017 at 5:05 am

      Sorry to hear about your MIL. I am curious to see how we adjust to life back home.. I think a 3 month annual travel stint with quick monthly trips in between may be the right balance for us. Let’s see!

      • Lisa - FlipFlopGlobetrotters.com
        August 4, 2017 at 10:26 am

        Three months of travel annually with some monthly trips in between sounds awesome! I hope you’ll find your balance soon!

  • Tanvi Rastogi
    August 4, 2017 at 8:44 am

    Enjoyed reading your honest views and experiences of long term travel so far. I do not think I am made for it, but sounds like it could also be interested.

    ❥ tanvii.com

  • [email protected]
    August 4, 2017 at 11:12 am

    Wow what a trip of a life time! Thank you for being so honest and sharing your journey

  • Lia
    August 6, 2017 at 1:29 pm

    We are just coming off of a year-long trip WITHOUT kids and so much of this rang true for us! No matter how old you are, stability & routine are REALLY helpful, and something we sorely missed during our travels. We also missed having a comfy couch SO MUCH! That’s our 1st major purchase now that we’ve settled back into the real world 🙂

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