Our Big Family Adventure: part one - the why

Hey there - this is the first in a new series about our big family adventure! We left New Zealand in June 2018 for a two-year trip exploring the world. At the time I write this, we're 18 months into our journey - I can't believe it's taken me this long to get started - but I hope you enjoy reading about our travels!

The Why

Our girls just before we left NZ

I can’t remember a time that I wasn’t dreaming about exploring the world. Before even our eldest was born, we talked about a family trip that would realise this dream. Fast forward to me as a mum of 3 pre-schoolers and I couldn’t fathom that one day we’d be out, exploring the world together, but I still held on to the dream, even though I couldn’t see a way it could actually happen!

The main reason we wanted to go on this big adventure was to see the world, but as time went by, the WHY has shifted. As our girls are sprouting right before our eyes, we knew that we wanted to spend some real quality time together – not just the edges of our days when we were all tired from school and work.

The other huge motivation was to take time out of our everyday life to really shake things up a bit – to really assess the life we were living and see if these were choices we were making because they made sense for our family, or if they were because it’s just what the next logical step was.

Eventually all the stars aligned, my husband came home from work late one night after our girls had gone to sleep and told me that he’d resigned from his job and our dream of travelling the world was really going to happen! It would be another nine months before we left New Zealand and embarked on our adventure, but here we are now: 18 months into a two year adventure – and it’s all that we dreamed of and more!

what would our BIG ADVENTURE actually look like

To be honest with you, we weren’t quite sure what the entirety of our trip would look like. In fact, we’re 18 months in, it’s late November and we have no firm plans beyond the new year!

I realise that the prospect of travelling the world, while responsible for three small people would be terrifying for some people, but one of my personal goals for our trip was to not try to control everything so tightly and to be open to opportunities as they arose. So when we left NZ, we had one-way flights booked through to London with a 10 day stopover in Los Angeles, and accommodation organised right next door to our family in Kent for our first two months in England.

Me and the Mr. in Disneyland

Over the years I’d done a lot of research and read a lot about other families who had taken trips similar to what we had in mind. One of my favourite books on family travel is At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenreider, who went on a 10-month family trip.

One of the things that had come up quite a lot was families who spent only a few days to a week in each spot they visited before moving on to a new destination. A lot of these families ended up feeling fairly burned out, and I knew that pace of travel probably wouldn’t suit our family. So, I knew that we’d probably want to spent at least a few weeks to a month in each spot we visited. Of course, over our travels we’ve stayed in some places for just a couple of nights, and then a few spots we’ve set up base for a couple of months! Slow travel suits us, but some places – especially the more expensive ones, we try to visit for a short, intensive time and then move on.

We really left NZ thinking that our two years abroad would take us to at least four continents, but around four months into our trip, we had a big talk and realised that there was so much of Europe we wanted to see, so we would stay in Europe for 90% of the adventure.

our travels so far

We left our home in Auckland, New Zealand on the 12th of June, 2018, and so far we’ve visited 15 countries:

  • USA

Our girls in Disneyland
  • England

  • France

  • Germany

  • Belgium

  • Ireland

  • Netherlands

  • Slovenia

  • Croatia

  • Azerbaijan

  • Greece

  • Italy

  • Wales

  • Iceland

  • Scotland

We’ve made so many amazing memories over this time, and there are so many spots that have captured our hearts and imaginations. I’ll be going into the highlights of each spot we’ve visited more in future blog posts, so stay tuned if you’re after specific information!

things to consider before leaving

  • education for the kids we knew that we’d be home-schooling while on our trip. As our girls had been in school back in New Zealand, this means that we had to investigate home-schooling approaches and curriculum.

Exploring Los Angeles
  • travel insurance finding comprehensive travel insurance when you don’t have a return date can be a little overwhelming, we ended up using a company called World Nomads

  • what to do with our house while we’re away lucky for us my brother and sister-in-law agreed to move in with their family and look after our home while we were away.

  • be prepared for lots of questions you might (probably won’t) have the answer for as soon as word got out that we were leaving town for a while ;-) the barrage of questions and opinions began. ‘but how are you going to teach the kids? Aren’t you afraid that they’ll get behind in school?’ ‘where will you live? don’t you have a proper plan?’ ‘what are you going to do for money?’ ‘what are you going to do with your house?’ ‘where are you going to go? aren’t you worried that’s a bit dangerous to take kids there?’ Most of our family and friends were lovely and encouraging, but of course there were others that had some ‘stronger’ views, and we had to learn quite quickly the ‘smile and nod’ approach to getting through those encounters.

people thought we were crazy

I’m willing to bet that most people who knew the plans for our big adventure thought we were absolutely crazy. I think that on some level, we weren’t quite sure if we were making the right decision. But we promised each other that if things didn’t turn out like we expected that there was no shame in making the decision to come home early.

The thing is though, making the decision to leave on this big adventure made us feel empowered, like we were actively participating in the course of our lives. Leaving the security of a good paying job and plans for retirement is absolutely scary, and we are in such a privileged position that we get to make decisions like that. We left New Zealand full of hope: not knowing how this adventure would shape our lives, but believing that the good would outweigh the bad. Of course, we’re still in the midst of our adventure, but if you were to ask me if I would make the decision to embark on an epic family adventure like this again, I would say yes every time. Not only have we made some of the most amazing memories that I know we’ll all treasure forever, but I know we’ve all grown in immeasurable ways from this experience.

If you enjoyed reading about the reasons why we went on our family adventure, be sure to check the blog next Monday for our next post in the series - "the next six months". Follow us on Facebook or Instagram to be notified of new posts!

Stay Curious!

Hana xo