As our time as a full-time travelling family hits two years we thought it was a good time to review and reflect on Our Awesome World Adventure so far.
Here we are at about 9.00pm on Saturday the 6th of May 2017, getting ready to depart New Zealand …. excited, apprehensive, exhausted, happy and sad all rolled into one. We had no idea what to expect or how we would function as a family during this adventure, but we were willing to give it a go.
What have we learnt??
We like slow travel. Being on the go, day in and day out doesn’t work for our family, especially in the high temperatures of Asia and the very low temperatures of a North American winter. Slow travel is also good for the budget as moving around often increases costs. For example, we only spent two weeks in China and visited four cities so our travel expenses between those cities wasn’t spread out over many days and really increased our average daily spend for China.
Sometimes plans don’t quite work out, or the weather doesn’t play it’s part, but that’s ok and we just have to go with the flow. Other times you might not plan much for the day and it turns into one of the best days spent together.
Travel insurance is an absolute must. Before leaving New Zealand we took out a 17 month policy with Travel Insurance New Zealand. The maximum we could have taken out with them was 18 months but we were thinking that by our 18th month we would be in America and adding America to this policy increased our premium dramatically. This policy cost us a total of $2361.75 NZD and covered all the countries we visited in our first 17 months. When we decided to visit countries that weren’t on the original policy we would just email the company to have them added and none of them increased our premium. We had to deal with this company for three claims and each time we were happy with the service and speedy reimbursement.
- Claim one – Paula forgot the iPhone was in her pocket as she went for a swim in Thailand.
- Claim two – Braxton’s mystery rash in Japan that needed a Sunday visit to the hospital and some antibiotics.
- Claim three – Extra days in Japan after Typhoon Jebi hit the day we were due to depart.
Total amount claimed = $7,246.75 NZD
After this policy ended we moved companies and we now use World Nomads. This was mostly because World Nomads was one of the few companies we could find that will cover you when you are already overseas, and including America didn’t skyrocket the premium. We could take out a policy for a maximum of 12 months and we have paid $1,814 NZD for this current policy which covers Canada, America, the United Kingdom and Europe. So far we have had just one claim as Paula got a mystery rash (different to Braxton’s one) and needed to see a doctor and get some prescritpions in the U.S – total cost $214.20 USD/$322.51 NZD. So these are prime examples as to why you take out travel insurance.
How has our health been??
Besides the odd mysterious rash, we continue to be in pretty good health. There are plenty of pharmacies on the streets of Asia and the pharmacists we have encountered have all been very knowledgeable and helpful. Once we hit the cooler temperatures in North America we have had a few more coughs and sniffles, but nothing too serious that we couldn’t manage with over the counter medicine.
How is our budget going??
Logan did huge amounts of research and budgeting before we left to ensure we could make the most of our time exploring the world. Things like exchange rates have changed since this research, unfortunately not always for the better, but keeping a close eye on the budget means we can adjust things along the way.
We were also originally planning to spend about 15 months in Southeast Asia and only about three months in America. But due to hearing about other countries along the way and adding them to our itinerary, we spent longer in East Asia and also North America, hence our average daily spend increased compared to our original budget. However, the huge savings we made in Southeast Asia and picking up some house/pet sitting assignments through the TrustedHousesitters website has meant that overall the budget is still in good shape and our plan to continue to travel until at least the end of 2020 is still viable. 😅
We calculate our average daily spend using costs from our general day-to-day living expenses and while it includes overland travel and petrol costs through North America, it doesn’t include the few international flights we have taken as we budget for them in one off costs.
South & Southeast AsiaAverage daily spend = $124.92 NZD
Average daily spend = $207.97 NZD
Average daily spend = $202.99 NZD
Our North American average daily spend doesn’t currently include the purchase of the car, insurance and maintenance. Once we sell it in a few weeks we’ll take those costs into consideration so the average will increase slightly as we spread those costs over the 240 or so days we have been here.We have also learnt that small packets of tissues, wet wipes and hand sanitiser are a traveller’s best friend 😉
Schooling on the Road (or Plane, Train or Beach)
We get asked by a lot of friends back home (especially those with children) how schooling the boys is going. When we were in Southeast Asia and spending longer in one place we had an easier time slotting in school work, usually in the mornings before doing afternoon and/or evening activities. Moving around East Asia and North America more often has brought it’s own challenges but we just fit in school work when we can. Usually during travel days as we have been in the car for quite a few hours at a time, so we mix it in with other activities to pass the miles between destinations.
We continue to use the online program of IXL.com as we can follow the New Zealand curriculum for English and Maths. The boys enjoy this format and it’s reward system and we can ensure they are working through the requirements for their particuar grade level in these two core subjects.We also do a lot of ‘interest based’ and ‘location based’ learning. If the boys show interest in a particular subject we delve into this further. For example, when Braxton became really interested in The Titanic after seeing part of the movie, we found lots of information on the subject. We’ve been to the Halifax Nautical Museum in Nova Scotia as this port was the biggest port closest to the sinking and we also have it noted down to visit the Titanic Museum in Belfast where the ship was built. Trying to carry only a few hard copy books with us to reduce weight means we buy and sell books through used book stores and Lincoln has found a series he really enjoys so we have just picked up books 4 and 5 to keep him going. At one pet sit we spent the afternoon trying different science experiments with standard household ingredients and with all the different counties we have visited, they have their own histories and cultures to learn about and the boy’s geography and knowledge of exchange rates is much better than ours was at their ages.
And what are some of our favourite memories??
Overall this is why we decided to quit our jobs, sell everything and spend time together as a family exploring the world – to create memories together. It is hard to narrow down the best activity or day or place or country. We often look through our photos and jog our memories as there have been so many incredible times (and so much delicious food)!!For anyone thinking about taking a family gap year or even longer term travel, we would highly recommend it. While there are a few downsides, like missing family and friends back home, we definitely do not regret taking this leap and travelling the world together. We have met some amazing people on this wild ride and it’s been very special to sometimes be able to share time and experiences with family and friends when we met up with them around the globe.And lastly, thank you to everyone following along with our adventures, it’s great to have you (virtually) with us, along for the ride on our travels.
If you have any other comments or questions for us about our full time travels, leave a comment below on this blog post or send us a message by clicking here 😄
– The Ewers Family