Getting away on vacation can be tough enough when you have kids. It’s hard to find the time and money, as well as make sure that everyone gets to have a good time. So the idea of traveling long-term once you’ve had kids usually goes out the window. You can spend a year or more traveling when you have your children to think of, right? Yet many families do manage to make it work, traveling the world or perhaps relocating to different countries every few years. Some do it out of necessity, such as some military families, but for others, it’s entirely out of choice.
Having a family doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t see the world, even for months or perhaps years at a time. If you think that traveling with your kids will give them opportunities to enrich themselves that they won’t get at home, perhaps you’re wondering about how you could do it. There are some pretty important things to think about if you want to make sure your children are happy and their needs are provided for. It’s possible to travel long-term as a family, but it takes some careful planning.
Settle In or Stay on the Move?
One important thing to think about is just how you’re going to see the world. Many families travel by moving every few years, while others stay on the move to see as much of the world as possible. Staying put is usually the result of going where the work is. Traveling isn’t necessarily the goal, but it allows the family to experience a new culture for however long they are in each place. It gives a more stable environment, even if it’s only for a few years, and the kids could come away with a new language.
On the other side of the coin, some families hop into an RV or get on a plane and don’t stop moving until they want to settle down. Families that do this often take the opportunity to do it while their children are young, rather than when they’re teenagers and having somewhere to settle down is perhaps more important. You could consider traveling for six months to a year, or perhaps even longer if you think it’s possible to keep going. Of course, both of these options have pros and cons to consider.
Pros of Relocating:
- A chance to settle in and become part of a community
- More stable environment for your children
- Opportunities for everyone to make friends
- Time to learn the local language and customs
Cons of Relocating:
- It’s necessary to find stable work – there could be visa issues
- The move is more permanent – you could end up staying indefinitely (also a potential positive)
- It’s harder to leave once you’ve put down roots
- Being accepted into the local community isn’t always easy
- You might have to pay for expensive international schools
Pros of Constant Travel:
- See more of the world in a shorter amount of time
- Offer more experiences and unique opportunities to your kids
- Stay closer as a family unit – you rely on each other more
- Foster a sense of adventure in your kids
Cons of Constant Travel:
- Formally educating your kids can be more difficult
- It’s hard to make any permanent friends when you’re always on the move
- Only relying on each other can be tough
- The expense of constant travel can be a lot
Both of these options are important to consider carefully before you decide if traveling as a family is right for you.
Funding Your Travels
Obviously, one issue you need to contend with if you want to travel as a family is how you can fund your travels. Whether you choose to keep moving or settle down somewhere for a while, funding your lifestyle is going to be a struggle. If you decide you want to relocate for a few years, finding work wherever you want to go is the best option you’ll have. To do this, you’re going to need a good idea of where to find jobs in your industry and the rules surrounding work visas.
There are likely to be a few destinations where your skills are needed, and there’s a focus on attracting people from outside the country. For example, if you work in healthcare, you can find nurse jobs in Australia, the UK and New Zealand. Other countries might be looking for IT professionals, teachers, construction workers, and other skilled employees they need to fill gaps in their job markets. Depending on your skills and experience, you could face different levels of difficulty finding work where you want it. Of course, if you’re traveling as a couple, usually only one of you needs a job to make yourselves at home in a new country.
If you’re not choosing to relocate somewhere for a while, traveling around is a whole other beast. You can’t really work a permanent job while you’re on the move, so you have to think of other things. One option is simply to use your savings and go home when the money runs out. This might involve the risk of quitting your job and hoping you can find work when you get back. Some people, however, are lucky enough to be able to take a sabbatical and return to their old job. Another option is to have some way to fund your travels as you go, which could be a huge number of things. You might have some form of passive income, for example from a business or investments. Or perhaps you will be able to work as you travel, maybe teaching English or offering other useful skills.
Educating Your Children
For many parents, there’s one glaring issue that they can’t ignore: what about school? The answer to this could be more simple if you’re choosing to relocate to one location for a year or two. You can look into both local schools and private international schools to continue your children’s formal education. Or, if the local laws allow it, perhaps you’ll choose to homeschool.
For families who are going to travel more, the question of education is slightly harder to answer. Some parents might choose to travel mostly during the summer for a few months so that their children won’t miss any of their schoolings (or, at least, not much of it). Others could simply choose not to provide any formal education for their children, especially if they’re young, allowing their travels to enhance their minds instead. Teaching your kids yourself is also an option and can help you ensure they keep up their studies while on the road.
What About Friends?
Another worry for many parents is giving their kids the chance to interact with other children their own age. Plus, parents themselves want the opportunity to socialize with others. There are worries you might have whether you’re planning to move somewhere for a longer period or stay on the road. If you settle in and your kids make friends, they’ll have to leave them when you eventually move again. But if you’re constantly traveling, they may not have the chance to form lasting friendships.
One thing to keep in mind is that kids often change friends a lot while they’re younger. While they do form long-term friendships, they can also be just as happy meeting and play with different kids all the time. Leaving friends behind can be sad for them too, but they can quickly form new friendships in their new home, especially if they’ve already done it once before. You might also be surprised by how easily kids, especially younger ones, play with children who speak a different language. If you give your kids opportunities to socialize with children their own age, it will help to keep their social skills up.
Of course, you should make sure you socialize with other people too. You might spend time with other travelers, get to know locals, or become involved in an expat community.
The health of your family is an important thing to think about too. If you’re going to make a semi-permanent move, getting any medical insurance you might need and register with a local doctor are fairly simple. But if you’re going to be traveling around, managing everyone’s health is a little more complicated. The first thing you need to do is make sure you have adequate insurance to take care of any potential medical costs. Wherever you go, you should make sure you have information about where to go if you need a doctor and how to contact the emergency services.
Taking the right precautions to keep everyone healthy is important too. Make sure everyone has the recommended vaccinations for the places you visit. It’s a good idea to always have a first aid kit with essential medical supplies, from painkillers to indigestion tablets. There are plenty of minor ailments you can take care of yourself.
Having a family can make traveling long-term tough, but it can also make it a more exciting and enriching experience. It requires careful planning, though, so don’t rush into it.