It’s been an interesting experience telling people about our trip plans. We’ve had a few ‘wow you’re “brave” (but I actually mean ‘are you nuts?!’) type responses, as well as the majority being of the ‘good on you/what an amazing thing to do ‘ type. Here’s some of the more common questions we’ve been asked:

1.Q: Are you nuts?

A: Yes, a little bit! You kind of have to be to leave your jobs, pack up your life and haul your kids off to the other side of the world via some developing countries. But our attitude to life is that you only live once and you never know what is around the corner. I think Mike and I must both have gypsy heritage in us somewhere, because our great passion is travelling and experiencing other cultures. So to us it’s only natural that the kids would come along for the ride and we’d introduce them to travel at a young age.

2. Q: Have you won Lotto / robbed a bank / got a trust fund?

A: I wish!! People are very curious as to how we can afford to do this. Well the answer is a combination of using some savings as we’ve both worked pretty hard out the last few years, plus getting very lucky with the real estate market. We bought our current house nearly 2 years ago for a lot less than what we had budgeted, and we’ve spent some money on making it liveable, but put off doing the major renovations we had planned to it for the time being, to put the money towards this trip. We figure we’re going to be in this house for a while, so there’s plenty of time to make it into our dream home further down the track. We’re renting it out while we’re away which will cover the cost of the mortgage etc.

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3. Q: How much is it costing to do this?

A: Good question! Probably less than you would think. If we manage to stick to our budget, our living expenses for the 9 months we’re away will be slightly cheaper – even with all the travel we’re doing – than what it would cost us to live at home. Good old New Zealand is now one of the most expensive places in the world to live.

Every time I go to the supermarket I wince at how much food in our plentiful nation costs, and housing, petrol, utility bills are right up there with other major cities in the world. A big chunk of our trip is going to be in SE Asia where it is MUCH cheaper to live, eat and get around. We’ve got to be sensible about it, as we know we can’t slum it in $5 a night backpacker accommodation and eat in dodgy places when we’ve got little ones along for the ride. But in some places we’re staying in really lovely accommodation for much less than what we pay in mortgage, rates, utility bills per day at home.

Our Bali accommodation is NZ$65 a night because we’ve negotiated a long-stay rate. We’ve got very reasonably priced apartments with cooking facilities so we can self-cater in Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok for a lot less than what a hotel would cost. And in France we’ve negotiated another good long-stay rate on the house we are renting by staying put in one place for nearly 3 months and doing all our own cleaning, rather than pay for a weekly clean of our gîte.

Booking things well in advance also means we can take advantage of early-bird discounts. We’ve bought all of our flights to get around Asia on sale which has saved a bundle, we’ve saved nearly 45% on our campground stay in France by booking in advance, and scored 16 free days our lease car in Europe from a combo of early booking and return customer discounts.

4. Q: What will you do about school for the kids?

A: Deep breath…we’re going to homeschool. We only have one child in school at the moment, which is partly why we’re doing this trip now and not when they’re a bit older. We’re busy cramming the NZ Year 1/2 school curriculum at the moment and feel ok (famous last words!) that we can do the required reading, writing and maths while we’re away to keep her up to speed with what she’d learn in mainstream school.

We’ll do the getting ready for school ABC’s, numbers, learning to write and music with our son to cover off what he would have at kindergarten. There are some amazing apps out there that will complement our paper based learning. Both the school and kindy principal and teachers have been really supportive of our plans and we’ll stay in touch with them and her class via online learning (for school) and this blog while we’re away. And the rest of it we hope will be on the ground learning – worldschooling is the trendy term – social studies (experiencing different cultures), history, science, maths (via shopping at the market), languages, PE (swimming most days).

Maths and shopping at the market
Maths and shopping at the market

We’re also looking into some part-time schooling options when we get to France, also as socialisation opportunities for the kids. The Bi-lingual Education Exchange is an afternoon a week school near to where we’re staying, that caters for native English speaking children. There are also performing arts and music classes that we’ll look into.

5. Q: Are you still going to France given the recent terrorist attacks? (we’ve been asked this one a bit)

A: Yes. What happened in France a few weeks ago was extremely sad and shocking, as were the Bangkok bombing/Sydney siege and Bali and London bombs a few years ago. But when you actually look at the odds of being caught up in an event like that, apparently you have a 1 in 20 million chance of it happening.Compare this to 1 in 19,000 chance of losing your life in a car accident or 1 in 800,000 of drowning in a bathtub, or 1 in 1,500,000 of being struck by lightning, or 1 in 3.8 million of winning Lotto (I’m not making this up).

We drive our cars every day and don’t think twice about it, so we’re trying not to to dwell on the extremely remote chance that we’d get caught up in a terrorist event. We will be registering our movements with NZ Foreign Affairs and what we WON’T do, is go to any country that the NZ government advises us not to. ‘Cos that would be dumb and our travel insurance would be invalid in any case if we did that.

6. Q: How are you getting around?

A: Literally planes, trains and automobiles, with the odd ferry, bus, tuk-tuk and bike thrown in for good measure. We’re doing 15 flights while we’re away and in Asia will be using flights, buses and local transport to get around. In Europe we’re doing a Peugeot Eurolease, which means we pick up a brand new Peugeot 208 in Paris and drop it off in Germany nearly 4 months later. Because it’s a long-term lease it costs a lot less than a standard rental car – dropping down to $NZ30 a day after 21 days – and insurance, registration etc are all taken care of.

7. Q: How do you think it will go all being together 24/7?

A: Funnily enough, that’s partly why we’re doing this 😉 Like most people with young kids and busy jobs, our lives are pretty full-on. It sometimes feels like a constant treadmill of a life and when you’re working you only see the kids for a couple of hours a day. The weekends come and they are jammed packed with catching up with people, chores and DIY, kid’s activities and getting ready for the next week ahead to step back on.We are grateful that we’ve got this amazing opportunity to step off the treadmill for a little while. We’re finding that old cliche “kids grow up so fast” is so true, and we just want to slow down and take some time out with them before it’s too late. I’m sure however we will need reminding of this after a few months of being together 24/7!

In a lot of places we are all going to be sleeping in the same room which will probably wear thin. But we’re talking now before we go about what to do when one or more of us need ‘time out’ and ways that we can make sure we all get the space we need. Like Mum/Dad only days, mother/daughter and father/son days and vice-versa, plus a few strategic stops on the way that have a kids club and kids only activities on offer.

Mum and Dad being the teacher won’t always be easy for both parties. Kids will be kids no matter where you are in the world. We expect some pretty spectacular meltdowns in some spectacular locations, probably from all of us, along with carsickness, gastro bugs and the sniffles in foreign places. But armed with a good first-aid kit and remembering to take a deep breath, we’re up for the challenge 🙂

We’ve had a couple of long-haul trips already with the kids to Thailand when S was 16 months old, and last year to France and Italy with them both which is about as far as you can go on an aeroplane! Although it’s not the same as long-term travel, we were amazed at how well the kids coped with and enjoyed it, and they still talk about our European trip over a year later. They were both fascinated by things that we thought they were too young to know or care about, like the architecture, history, religion, language and culture.

8. Q: If you do this now, where will your kids go travelling when they’re older? 

A: Well the kids will be able to visit the other 180 countries we aren’t going to! Given their ages, of course the kids won’t remember everything we do, but we’re hoping they retain the fun memories of all of us travelling together. I am SO excited about how much the next year will teach them about the world, and how amazing it will be to see the world through their eyes. The experience of travelling with kids is so different as well, it opens many doors and conversations with people that you wouldn’t otherwise have.

9.  Q: What are the kids going to eat?

In terms of food, luckily they are both reasonably good eaters – they love Asian food – noodles, dumplings, spring rolls and rice, and in general the stinkier the cheese the better. Olives + hummus + feta literally cause a stampede in our household. The best thing of all is that they will generally always try something and you can’t ask for more than that.

Antipasti in Italy
Antipasti in Italy complete with stinking cheese, gherkins and salami

They are both keen on trying a tarantula donut in Cambodia, hmm we’ll see if they follow through with that one! We got as far as ordering escargot last time we were in France, but when push came to shove they weren’t so keen on downing a plate of snails….

10. Q: How do you pack for 9 months away?

A: Sparingly. We’re aiming to take 2 backpacks for all our clothes, a daypack each for the adults and the kids each have a small backpack. We have to stick to this as we’ve only booked 2 x 20kg bags on airlines throughout Asia and a ‘compact car’ in Europe. I’ll let you know how we’re going with that closer to our departure!

Have you got any other questions for us? Let us know!

 

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  1. Such a wonderful family! I’m excited for your adventure 🙂

    This is inspiring me to introduce my future children to travelling at a young age as well – when that day comes.

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