Plenty of young people dream of spending their life on the road, hopping from one place to the next and living as freely as they can. However, dreams like these take a back seat very fast when you get kids. Kids need stability, right? And they need a normal roof over their heads and school and everything else. But is it really impossible to give them that when you go wheels up? Difficult – yes, but impossible – certainly not. And if you want to revive your dream and take your whole family on the road for however long, here’s what you need to know.
Be on the same page
No matter how big or small the family or the age of its members, everyone needs to agree on the life on the road and be on the same page about goals and conditions. Depending on your child’s age, they might not want to go – it means saying goodbye to all of their friends, school and everything they know. So if you think this might be an issue, you need to find a way to show them how good the life on the road can be – perhaps through some shorter adventures to warm them up to the idea. And if there are multiple adults, you need to be on the same page about parenting, how you want to approach schooling, the living situation and everything else. All of these things need to be determined and prepared well beforehand, so you don’t have a bumpy first few months.
Your home is about to get really small and possibly ever-changing, so you need to stay perfectly organized. This is a good time to start considering a minimalist lifestyle, where each person’s belongings can fit into one backpack or a small suitcase and you are practicing self-control with not taking every commodity on the road. It’s important that your kid also knows how to be organized, because you can’t keep looking after their stuff with everything else that goes on. Not to mention, if you have a child that is too young to have their own stuff and organize it, you will need double the skills and a very clear mind to be able to handle everything.
Make sure your child socializes
Our younger years are vital to the development of our social skills and we need to interact with our peers to learn them. But if you’re living the nomad life, you will probably not have all that many children around you and your child might suffer for it. However, if you are staying for a bit longer in a place, you should always try and find a place where your child can interact with peers. To overcome the language barrier that can often be in place if you’re traveling across the world, you can enroll them in a local Monkey Tree English learning center where that won’t be an issue.
Keep school in the picture
If your child is at the age when they should be in school, you will need to put them in school. Whether that’s a homeschooling program or a special curriculum they can follow when you get home, make sure you ask around and be aware of any issues that taking a child out of school might pose in your country. But if you live an exciting life on the road, your child might struggle with focusing on the seemingly “boring” school stuff they have to deal with. This is why it’s important to encourage them to love education and to use every teaching possibility around you. It’s easy to learn about geography while you’re out, but you can also learn history, botany, sociology, languages and so much more. Make sure they realize that the things they are learning in school can be very useful in their everyday life.
Just because you’re on the road doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t have a routine. Routines are important for children because they make sure they are well-rested, eat at the right times and generally have some structure and balance in life. It shouldn’t feel like they are on a never-ending vacation, it should feel like everyday life – because it is. Just like you would have rules and chores around the house, you need to have them when living a nomad life because sharing responsibilities and taking care of each other is the most important part of life on the go. Also make time for family rituals like movie nights and game nights, where you can all bond together as a family.
If you are living the life on the road, you have to be aware that it’s a whole lot different than the life most people are experiencing, and certainly different to what your kids have experienced in the past. This might, especially in the beginning, put a lot of strain on all of you, and you have to be more understanding and patient than ever – even more so if this was your personal dream that they are coming along on.
This is important for any nomad travelers – but you need to be even more careful if you have kids along. You never want to be in a situation where you risk being left in an unknown place with no money and four mouths to feed. So, you have to know in advance what your strategy is: how will you make an income while on the road? Will you rent out your house or have a digital job you can do while on the road? How much money do you allocate per week, or even daily? Do you have an emergency fund or change to splurge on small luxuries along the way? Your kids will sometimes want things – like all kids do, and you should be able to afford them similar luxuries as you could when you were living in a house. You might think you are giving them the entire world, which is much more valuable, but from their perspective, sometimes they will just want a new toy.
Even if you were a completely free-range parent at home and your kids could do whatever they wanted, life becomes more dangerous on the road and you have to be aware of the potential risks. If your child gets lost in an unknown city, there will be panic, so you want to make sure that doesn’t happen. Set rules like always wearing a GPS bracelet when they are out, sticking together in crowds, no wandering alone where they can get lost and always telling you where they are going and with whom. Set these rules from the start – and enforce them. You are not taking away their freedom, you are not being too strict or overprotective – you’re just looking out for them and that should be a top priority for any parent.
And most importantly, don’t be stubborn – if you see that the situation isn’t working out the way you planned, there’s no shame in going back home and maybe trying again in a few years. But if you’re ready to go see the world together – get your worldwide travel insurance and hit the road.