After visiting 4 countries, 10 provinces and travelling over 12,500kms we are just about to reach the six month mark of our adventures. So is being a full-time travelling family everything we dreamt it would be?
There is no doubt that we love our new lifestyle and do not regret taking the leap all those months ago, but it does not mean that there have not been challenges along the way. The odd fleeting moment of thinking, “maybe, just maybe, we should have stayed home and continued with the status quo”; working a nine to five job, paying off the mortgage and the kids having a school-based education.
We always knew travelling in Southeast Asia to start our adventure would be the most challenging region for the boys, and don’t get me wrong we absolutely love Asia, but the countries here are so different to the Western city they have grown up in. There is the daily language difficulties, the local customs and even more so, the temperature and humidity which definitely takes it out of you as soon as you step foot outside of an air-conditioned room. This has been the main cause of some grumpy children when out exploring towns or hiking through jungles. I would love to say that they jump up and down with excitement when we say we are heading out exploring for the day, but although there is not as much complaining as there once was, we are not quite there yet.
Schooling for the boys can also be a bit of a struggle on occasion and after some bad days early on with Lincoln we quickly learnt for the need to have structured lessons. This is where IXL has been a real win and guides us through exactly what the boys should be learning. Often when we come to a new topic for Lincoln we do a quick search on YouTube and generally in a simple 10 minute video, that is aimed directly at his level, he is able to learn and pick up the basic concept before practicing the new skills on IXL. Lincoln is now able to do a school session by himself, especially Maths, with little to no help. This means, with Braxton only recently turning five, we can spend a bit more time one-on-one with him and we learnt that frequent breaks are also required; even if he is on a roll, it is always better to take a good five-minute break between education modules. We also mix up his lessons with drawing, playing and arts and crafts and things that all five year olds do in school classrooms. Schooling is definitely something that has improved during the past six months, not just for the kids but the parents alike, with both Paula and I getting into a more of a routine and understanding the kids needs better and what pace they learn at. If you follow our Facebook page you would also know that we often mix up school lessons with field trips and trick the kids into learning when they think they are just playing and having fun!
Like most kids of their generation, our boys absolutely love iPads and any electronic devices and if able to, they would spend all day on them. So as a family we agreed on two rules for our daily routine:
- No electronics every day between 9am and 3pm (unless it is education related)
- Every night before the boy’s bed time it is family game time with no electronics; it can be a card game, a made up game or whatever anyone chooses.
One of the other things we have learnt over the first six months is that we brought far too much with us. We have about 40kgs of belongings with us, which isn’t a lot for a family of four, however after a few weeks of travelling it started to dawn on us that things like windbreakers, long pants and light jumpers were just going to remain in our bags unused for the next year until we reached cooler climates. As a result we have ended up donating a lot of clothes along our way. We also brought a fair amount of books with us, and as we all know books weigh a lot, especially text books for the kids schooling, so these have been donated to Big Brother Mouse in Luang Prabang to help local Lao people who are learning English.
One of the other things we struggled with is homesickness, especially with Lincoln. Being eight years old he had made some very close friends, some of which he met as a one year old at daycare and were still in the same class at primary school with him. The first three months were quite hard on him and he asked a couple of times with tears in his eyes if we could go back to New Zealand and our old home. He would tell us that when he gets older he is never going to travel and is going to stay at home forever; Braxton on the other hand already wants to travel the world forever! He gets super excited whenever we leave one place for another, especially when entering a new country. We always thought that we would meet lots of families with children while travelling, whether they live where we were staying or were on a holiday; and although we have, there haven’t been any boys around Lincoln’s age so he hasn’t been able to have that social interaction we were hoping he would. Luckily in Bangkok he was able to spend a little over a week with his cousin Zac, who is about to turn seven, so was able to do what boys do and cause havoc with their younger siblings.
So what do the boys think after six months on the road??
Lincoln – “It’s been cool but I miss my friends sometimes. I liked going to Legoland, anything with animals like the zoo, the bird park or when we see water monitors and going to the zipline place (Escape in Penang).” 😎
All in all, our trials and tribulations to date have been pretty minor with no major shocks and we still find ourselves pinching ourselves wondering if we are actually doing this. Just maybe this has all been a dream, especially given what we have already seen and done over the past six months on our awesome world adventure. Thankfully though it is not, and despite the challenges we have faced, we would not change one thing.