Our Big Family Adventure: part two - the first six months

Our Big Family Adventure part 2

we're on holiday, right?!

It's a holiday right?!?
It's a holiday right?!?

Thinking back on the first six months of our around the world family trip feels like thinking back to a different lifetime.

I know that life with children always feels like it is hurtling forwards at a million miles an hour while simultaneously taking a thousand years for a single hour to pass – add travel to that weird paradox and it’s absolutely bonkers!

Before we left home, Barry liked to joke that we were going on a two-year holiday, and I would always counter and say, ‘you can’t go on a holiday for two years!’... but honestly the first couple of months really did feel like a holiday.

We started our trip with a real ten-day ‘holiday’ in Los Angeles. The lead-up to leaving was pretty stressful – getting our home ready for other people to move into, Barry was tying up a bunch of loose ends at work, and I was trying to get my head around home-schooling the girls. Add to that, saying goodbye to all our family and friends, and I think we hopped on the plane excited, full of anticipation, and ready for a good break.

touch down in Los Angeles

Leaving a wet and cold Auckland city, we touched down in Los Angeles – a city where it barely ever rains to temperatures in the early 20’s (Celsius!) and were delighted! Of course, we entered holiday mode immediately!

We were all pretty excited about Los Angeles. We had the holiday bookended with a day at Universal Studios to drink butterbeer in Hogsmede, and the last four days at Disneyland, becoming total theme park addicts!

next stop: England

Our Ramsgate family

The game plan was to head to England first. Barry’s sister and her family lived in a town on the coast of Kent called Ramsgate, and we wanted to spend some quality time with them.

We were so lucky that their neighbours had just bought a new home and were willing to rent out their house to us for a few months so we lived right next door to each other for a few months and Kent was a great base for us to explore much of Southern England.

the first six months: a basic itinerary

Mont St Michel, France
Mont St Michel, France
  • Los Angeles, USA 12 - 22 Jun, 2018

  • Ramsgate, England 22 Jun - 30 Sep, 2018 (including lots of side trips to London, Brighton, Cambridge, Dover, Hastings, Bath, and Cornwall)

  • London, England 30 Sep - 16 Oct, 2018

  • Vannes, France 16 Oct - 18 Nov, 2018 (including trips to the Loire Valley, Saint Malo, Mont Saint Michel, and Carnac)

  • whirlwind caravan buying odyssey through Germany and Belgium! 18 - 22 Nov, 2018

  • Dijon, France 22 - 25 Nov, 2018

Richborough Roman ruins, Kent, England
Richborough Roman ruins, Kent, England
  • Dordogne, France 25 Nov - 12 Dec, 2018

  • Vannes, France 12 - 14 Dec, 2018

  • overnight Ferry, Cherbourg, France to Dublin, Ireland 14 Dec, 2018

  • whirlwind tour of Ireland 15 - 23 Dec, 2018 (Dublin, Carrick a Rede, Portnoo, Adare, Dingle, and Mooncoin)

  • Broadstairs, England 23 Dec - 2 Jan, 2019

  • Lille, France 2 Jan, 2019 (picking up our caravan Alfie!!)

  • Renesse, Netherlands 3 - 8 Jan, 2019

nope, this is NOT a holiday!

Attacking the invaders at Battle, England
Attacking the invaders at the site of the Battle of Hastings, Battle, England

Can I be honest with you? The first few months were an ADJUSTMENT! We’d gone from being five fairly independent people – the girls were in school each day, Barry was at work, and then we went to spending each and every minute of the day together. As someone who needs a certain amount of downtime to function as a reasonable human it was A LOT! We had to find new ways to give each other space within the context of spending every waking moment together ;-) – and really, that’s something we’re still working on, although it’s much easier now than at the beginning.

As a friend pointed out not long into the trip, we were on this big adventure together, but that didn’t put on hold any of the day-to-day stuff of adulting - children (and adults) still needed to be fed, clothes needed washing, dishes needed doing – so BIG adventures still have some basis in reality, much to my surprise!!

lessons learned so far

The girls exploring Cornwall, England
The girls exploring Cornwall, England

You know, whenever we meet someone new and they learn of what we’re doing, one of the first things they say is, ‘your girls are so lucky, they must be learning so much about the world on this trip!’ ... and that’s super true, but I’m always quick to counter that the girls are not the only ones being treated to the education of a lifetime – we are too – and that goes beyond the amazing history and geography we’re being exposed to. A trip like this teaches us so much about ourselves. What are some of the lessons we learned in those first six months?

  • you can’t see it all - very quickly we realised that we couldn’t travel slowly like we wanted to, and cross four continents in two years. In the end it wasn’t a tough decision to base ourselves in Europe for this two-year trip and make plans for other destinations during future trips.

  • just because you’re not a ‘typical’ adventurer doesn’t mean that your adventure isn’t valid as a general rule, I err on the side of hermit. I live with four wild adventurers that love saying yes to new experiences. They are a good influence on me, but they don’t change my natural inclinations. For some reason, I thought embarking on an epic adventure would make me want to run with the sand beneath my feet and climb mountains and ride horses. It turns out packing up your bags and getting on a plane doesn’t change a person’s natural inclinations. I had to accept that I wasn’t going to become a completely different person overnight, that being brave might look different for me than it did for someone else, and that was OK.

  • go with the flow. One of the best ways to loosen up your desire to be in control all the time is to get on a plane with your family and move halfway across the world with no firm plans ;-) this trip has been a lovely lesson in letting go, learning to breathe, learning to relax and enjoy, and going with the flow!

A 'school day' at the Museum of Natural History, London
A 'school day' at the Museum of Natural History, London

Before we left home, our friends and families all asked if we’d be keeping a blog so they could stay up to date with what we were doing, and although it’s taken until three-quarters through this trip to get my act together, it really is so fun to reflect on our time away. I’ll be continuing this series soon with a post covering the reasons we decided to buy a caravan to continue our adventures, and if you haven’t checked out the first post in the series, you can read about the why behind our big adventure here.

Stay Curious!

Hana xo