Wondering how we can afford to travel the world? Here’s the answer to that, and other questions…
Where are you starting?
Poland – because it’s cheap and not too exotic! We want to ease ourselves in, especially the boys, and Europe seems like a good place to start. Plus we can fly direct from Bristol (just a 10 min drive from our house).
Where are you going?
Poland / Hungary / Serbia / Montenegro / Bosnia-Herzegovina / Turkey / South Africa / Bali / Java / Japan / Vietnam / Hong Kong / Sri Lanka / New Zealand / Hawaii / USA / Mexico / Cuba
Are you staying in hotels?
No! Nearly all of our accommodation will be AirBnB because it’s affordable and reliable (save £20 on your first booking and save me £20 by using this code). I hope that, by not staying in hotels, we live with local people and learn as much as we can. At Christmas time, I’ve booked to stay in Galle with a Sri Lankan family who embrace their guests by hanging out and cooking for us. It’s a wonderful chance to socialise, ask questions, learn lots and be positive representatives of the UK. We have a contact in New Zealand who’s happy for us to house-sit, a friend in Los Angeles we can stay with for a week and I’m still looking for a WWOOF match in the US that could save us some accommodation costs.
What are you most looking forward to?
Warmth! I love sunshine – it’s a huge motivator for me. I get going, I’m more positive, I feel more creative. It puts me in an all-round better mood. Whilst there’s nothing more intoxicating than a British summer’s day, it’s frustrating they’re so few and far between.
How can you afford to travel the world?
The rental income from our house will cover a large chunk of expenses. We have some savings and investment income to call on. We’re selling a car and putting personal possessions in the attic to avoid storage fees. We won’t be paying our normal bills: no council tax, water, gas, electricity, broadband, cable, TV license, car insurance, road tax, house alarm monitoring, gym membership, boys’ music lessons etc etc.
Will you be home educating your children?
Yes! We informed the local education authority that the children would be leaving school for the year. Fraser will be Mr Maths and I’ll be Mrs English. I’m keen for the boys to write travel blogs using their own words and photos, partly because I want them to develop their written language skills (as a countermeasure to the over-emphasis on literacy they’ve been getting at school) and partly because I want them to appreciate that they can actively contribute to the internet rather than just passively consume it. We’ll also be using two online learning hubs – Mathletics and Spellodrome.
Will your children go back to school when you return?
Yes! We’ve been visiting secondary schools early so that we can apply for a place for Thomas whilst we’re away, ready for him to attend in September 2017. There’s a high probability that Robert will get a place in his current primary school on our return.
How are the children feeling about it?
They’re eager to speak with their friends on Skype as we travel, but they’ve no other concerns. They’re chuffed at being off school; boredom has set in there (‘boring maths, boring literacy’, they say, ‘hours and hours of it’, they moan). They’ve hung out with the two young boys who’ll be living here and aren’t fussing about the things they’ll leave behind. As long as they’ve got a teddie (or two, or even three) and some books, they’re fine. They don’t really understand what it’ll be like being away for a year, but neither do I. There will be days when we’ll ache for home.
What will you miss?
Daffodils. Sitting on the back door step in the early mornings, looking out to the garden, with a cup of tea and bowl of porridge. The school run (mundane, I know, but it’s a welcome punctuation to my day). My bed. Making home-cooked meals based on ‘using things up’. Cook’s Wood and Ashton Court – where I frequently run, bike and walk.
What have you done to prepare?
- Renewed our passports
- Found the kids’ birth certificates (essential for entry to South Africa)
- Unlocked our phones to use international sim and data cards
- Got international drivers’ licences
- Applied to our mortgage lender to allow us to rent out the house
- Found landlords insurance and rental income insurance
- Decided how to edit, share and store photographs
- Researched educational apps
- Visited potential secondary schools
- Got travel jabs
- Found international travel insurance
- Gave notice on household services providers
- Declared SORN on the garage-parked car
- Found a gardener
- Informed the local education authority and school of our absence
- Gave notice to Fraser’s employer
- Completed tax returns at home in advance of next year’s deadline
- Mountain and hybrid bike maintenance service
- Eye tests and dental check ups for the whole family before departure
- Instructed estate agents and found tenants
- Secured preemptive antibiotics for Fraser’s allergic reaction to mosquito bites
- Researched and applied for VISAs
- Got extra passport photos for on-the-spot passport/identification requirements
- Found new travel-friendly credit card
- Bought lots of different currency, especially for eastern Europe!
- Boarded out the loft
- Some house maintenance
- Deep cleaned the house
- Re-housed the chickens
- Sold a car
- Sorted the garage
- Rationalised all our belongings
What are you taking with you?
We are travelling light, each with our own rucksack. I have a waterproof Crumpler day bag and an Alpine Lowe 30L bag that’s great as cabin baggage and good for use on long walks. Fraser has an excellent 55L travel rucksack by Osprey that features a detachable day bag. Thomas has a roomy red rucksack, Robert has a small blue rucksack. The boys always look so cute with their rucksacks on their backs! The boys each have three changes of clothes and underwear, plus one sweater, UnderArmour (for colder climes), trainers, sandals, a waterproof jacket, swimming shorts and goggles, one (probably two, possibly three) teddies and a max of three books. Fraser and I are also taking three changes of clothes each, plus extras such as an additional warm layer each. I’m taking my FlipBelt (for keeping my phone safe when I’m running), loads of contact lenses and a head scarf for respecting cultural rules. Our travel clothes are all sweat-wicking, easy-wash, quick-dry, no-crease nylon/polyester pieces (and double up as running clothes for me) but they can, bizarrely, make you feel like a tourist. So even though denim jeans and a cotton tee-shirt are highly impracticable, Fraser’s keen for us to take them and I must admit to looking forward to feeling ‘at home’ in jeans and a T once in a while. Add first aid, medical stuff, hats, sun cream, toiletries, travel documents, pen knives, sporks, gaffer tape, head torches, mosquito repellant, silk sleeping slip, two travel towels, spare spectacles and that’s pretty much it. (I might just stuff in some of my favourite mint tea bags and a few packets of porridge.)
What tech are you taking?
How do you think you’ll get on together?
We’re not a particularly busy family and don’t spend a great deal of time socialising, plus Fraser and I work from home so we already hang out a lot together. I’m hoping this will stand us in good stead. I learnt from our recent US trip that Fraser and I must refrain from pandering to the kids. It’s often easier to do something yourself – it’s quicker, less hassle, more likely to get done. But the boys need to start looking after themselves a lot more, for their own development and our sanity!
What are you nervous about?
The kids’ use of the iPad and laptop is an issue. Two years ago we went to Costa Rica and made the mistake of taking the iPad. Even though we were in a rainforest or on a beach, the boys would frequently whinge for it. I’d brought them all this way, paid all this money, just for them to look at a screen! It drove me wild. So before going to the US last month we enforced a 6-week iPad ban to ‘free their minds’ and left it behind. Consequently, screen time was restricted to watching TV in the apartment which provided much needed down time for all of us. How will we balance using the screen for studies, entertainment and downtime?
When are you coming back?
July 2017. In time to reacclimatise during the summer school holidays.
Might you not come back?
I expect us each to be inextricably drawn to different places. But we will come home. And perhaps go again.
Over the last two weekends we’ve each had random zonk-outs in reaction to triple vaccination jabs (with more to come) and now that the house has been let to a young family relocating from Derby, we can begin to pack up our belongings. But I’m feeling lethargic – I want to enjoy my undisturbed home before the leaving signs begin to show.