So we haven’t done a personal post in a long time, but at last it’s time for us to spill the beans on what’s next for the Our Overseas Adventure family.
If you don’t know our story, in 2016 we packed up our lives, quit our jobs and went travelling for eight months through South East Asia, Europe and the Middle East with our then 3 and 5-year-old kids. We had the time of our lives and absolutely loved our life of freedom, adventure and quality time together.
But all good things have to come to an end (i.e the money ran out!), so we returned home, settled back into New Zealand life, and the parents went back to work and the kids went back to school.
Shortly after we got back we sold our home and bought another one that was lower maintenance and closer to the city, and suited our busy lifestyle better (a decision that was made while we were away travelling).
We’ve still been able to do some fabulous trips to Japan, Malaysia, India, back to Europe and we’ve managed to get around and see some wonderful parts of our home country New Zealand which has been amazing.
The big but is that life has got really, really busy and stressful again, and we are really, REALLY missing life on the road.
We also miss the quality time spent together where we get to engage properly with our kids, instead of snatched minutes here and there fitted in amongst everything else going on. Before we know it they will be teens and potentially not wanting to hang out all the time with their Mum and Dad!
Time is marching on – Sophie turns nine next year, and we will shortly need to start getting serious in terms of high school education, where we can’t just take off and do extended travel when it takes our fancy so much.
The window is beginning to close for us in terms of being able to do this.
Additionally, it is SO expensive to travel from New Zealand – being at the bottom of the world means a big chunk of our travel budget gets eaten up straight away on flights. There’s no such thing as hopping somewhere for the weekend from here (save Australia and the Pacific which are both expensive destinations).
So after much deliberation, soul-searching, saving money and working through the logistics, we’ve made the decision to pack up our lives for the second time and go travelling again!
Making the decision to hit the road again
It’s been quite a stressful time in making this decision, and if anything much harder than the first time around.
Even though we’ve done this before, the same old anxieties and doubts begin to creep in.
The kids are now older and it’s a big thing for them to leave their friends and school that they love and are doing so well at.
Us adults are a few years older than last time around too, and we’ve had to question if it’s the right thing to walk away from our careers for a second time.
But at the end of the day, we’ve decided that life is short, and it’s important to follow your heart and do what makes you truly happy. It’s time for another change and to back ourselves in our abilities to make this work.
A favourite phrase of ours ‘think not of what you are giving up, but what you will gain’ rings true.
We had finally made the decision to go, then unexpectedly, another spanner was thrown in the works.
We had a close family member diagnosed with an aggressive form of melanoma skin cancer. It has been a roller coaster couple of months for us all going through surgery, many tests and waiting to hear the long-term prognosis.
All our plans went on hold while we focussed on this, but thankfully the treatment has been successful and things are now looking good.
What’s the plan?
So we’re leaving home in mid-January to head to some of our old favourite but mostly new spots in Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand. We’re also visiting a new country – Taiwan which we’re all excited about as we’ve heard nothing but good things about it.
As part of the Malaysia leg we’re going over to the island of Borneo for a bit of adventure travel – some jungle and national park hiking, orangutan spotting and cultural immersion.
We’re then hopping back to New Zealand briefly to sort out the paperwork and have an interview at the French embassy in Wellington to obtain a long-stay visa for France – that if all goes well – will allow us to stay in France for a year.
Once we have our visa we’re then heading to one of our favourite places in the world – the village of Issigeac in France where we spent nearly 3 months last time around.
We’re going to rent the same gorgeous house that we stayed in 3 years ago, and will spend a week doing all the necessary paperwork and admin to settle there.
We’re also looking forward to catching up with friends we made last time around, and friends of friends who have kids similar ages to ours and have kindly offered to meetup for coffee and drinks for newbie advice on living in the area and playdates.
Then we head off to Turkey for a month or so – a country that we absolutely love and last visited in 2004 – we can’t wait to introduce the kids. We’ve got another month somewhere in Europe TBD before we head back to France in time for réentrée – the traditional start of the school year in France in September.
There’s not really a plan after that – we’re wanting to slow down and spend time in the Dordogne region of France that we love so much.
We’re looking forward to experiencing it across the different seasons and learning more about the local traditions and events that happen. A big goal is to also experience a White (ish) Christmas!
What about school?
The kids will do homeschool again while we’re travelling in the first half of the year, and we’ve found a great Australian-based curriculum to follow that will help keep us structured and on track.
Once we settle in France we plan to send the kids to the local school, and they’re looking forward to the challenge of learning in a new language!
This has been a big consideration for us and we thought long and hard about whether to send them to a local school or one that is more English speaking and ex-pat focused.
After chatting to many lovely people in the area whos English speaking children have gone in boots and all to a French school, they’ve convinced us that it’s the right way to go, even though there may be some challenging times at the start.
Anecdotally we’ve been told that within 6 – 12 months the kids will be able to understand and hold a reasonable conversation in French, because young brains pick up languages so quickly.
In the bigger scheme of things we think it’s a valuable skill for them to have and being bilingual is something they can utilise for the rest of their lives.
They’re already on the way, attending French classes at Alliance Française here in Auckland and are progressing well.
We plan to also keep up the kids’ English reading and writing by attending school once a week at English literacy classes specifically tailored to expat kids.
They attended these classes when we were there 3 years ago and absolutely loved it, so we’re looking forward to re-aquainting ourselves with that lovely community who made us feel so welcome.
There are also additional classes in art and drama which they can attend as this isn’t focussed on as much in French schools as it is here in New Zealand.
So the next couple of months will be a frenzy of once again packing, planning, organising, booking and saying goodbyes again (always hard!)
Keep in touch!
You can continue to keep up with our adventures here on this website, but we’ll also be posting more of our day-to-day activities and experiences on social media which you can follow along with on Facebook and Instagram.
We’re trying to get over our camera shyness and will start doing some more video too!
We’ve also set up a new Facebook group for Family Travel Gap Year, with tips and tricks on long-term travel with kids, so if you’re even remotely thinking of doing some extended family travel with your tribe come in and join the friendly conversation!
Our family is super passionate about sharing our learnings, tips and advice on world travel with kids, and we want to inspire more families to take the plunge and also try the experience of a lifetime. So watch this space!