First thing’s first. I’ve been toying with writing this for a while but, in the current circumstances, I feel a bit of a fraud. As it stands, we leave with our two children on a round the world trip in 36 days. For those of you who don’t know, this trip happening relies on our house selling before we go. And it’s not selling. We’re told there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just taking time and that it WILL happen. This and all the other reassuring stuff I’m not sure is just stock estate agent talk or the genuine truth. Either way, it’s making for a rather tense, uncertain and potentially massively disappointing build-up to our trip of a lifetime.
HOWEVER – we have to carry on as if everything is going to be fine, right? Because everything IS going to be fine, right? Right??? Here’s our announcement video if you want to have a look. NOTE: Please subscribe to our YouTube channel if you like what you see. For two reasons: We’re going to be making videos as we travel and you might like them. And we need 100 followers so I can change the link so it matches the channel name. I like everything to match. (GEEK KLAXON).
I’m not going to pretend I’m some kind of round the world travel with children expert. After all, we’ve not even left yet. However, I’ve collected together some of the most popular questions my readers and Instagram followers have asked about taking our children on a round the world trip and I’m going to have a go at answering them.
This is a big and very broad question. The answer very much depends on a number of factors. Budget, type of travel, preferred sleeping arrangements, how long you have, the list goes on. But, roughly speaking my top tips for planning round the world travel with children are as follows:
Our children will be almost 4 and almost 2 when we set off. This is still VERY young. They get tired easily, too many busy days in a row lead to tantrums. (Hence my #tantrumsontour Instagram hashtag – tag your own photos and I’ll share my favourites).
One piece of advice someone gave me was not to move bases too often and to build in slow days. Our first couple of months is quite full on in terms of changing accommodation every 4 days to a week. BUT I’m making sure I’m planning for plenty of rest time. When travelling the world with children you can’t be on the go all day every day like you might be able to as a couple or on a shorter trip. That’s a surefire way to induce a serious case of travel burnout. So, we’ll be having plenty of days where naps at our accommodation, a supermarket trip and a swim or a short stroll are the only plans.
When we’re travelling, we want to make sure we’ve got some solid plans in place – key dates to hit certain places, somewhere to sleep booked far enough in advance etc. Things that mean we’re not going to be sitting in a cafe in Costa Rica at 6pm on a Thursday evening with tired kids and nowhere to stay. That said, flexibility is key too. At the moment, we’ve planned around 2 months of our trip in detail. So if someone says “you HAVE to go to X” or we decide we love somewhere any want to stay longer, we can juggle things and make it happen.
I’ve been told that when a full day of travel with kids is in order, starting as early in the day as possible is the best bet. With this in mind, I’ve booked our first flight (London to Boston) at around 9 in the morning. In theory, this means the children will be fairly happy when we board, our youngest will nap during the flight (HAHAHAHAHAHAHA) and they’ll also get two meals on board which should kill an hour or so of flight time. I’ll let you know how it goes.
On the flip side, arriving by car late at night is apparently a good bet as the children will sleep for the whole journey. I’m not sure I like this idea because my kids don’t generally sleep for longer than 30 mins in the car, and also I like going to bed early. Our children are pretty good, patient car passengers so I think we’ll probably stick to daytime driving – but I’m interested to hear other people’s experiences of night driving if you want to drop them in the comments below.
Simple (for us at least). Apartments, pretty much all the way. We had decided this would be the case long before we went to stay with friends last weekend and all slept in the same room for the night. But last weekend confirmed we’ve made the right choice. It wasn’t pretty.
To be fair, both children were asleep by 7:30pm, so that wasn’t too bad. Oh and and A went to bed with a slight temperature, which usually puts her off her sleeping game a bit.
Anyway, all was well when we crept into bed at about 11. However, at 4, A woke up DEMANDING (and I mean loud whispering “I WANT TO GO DOWNSTAIRS” for FIFTEEN MINUTES with me very loud whispering back “NO! GET BACK IN BED OR I WILL GO AND GET SEAN (our friend) TO COME AND TELL YOU OFF”. This obviously eventually woke W, who, after A went back to sleep at about 4:45, lay in bed singing “B-I-N-G-O” until 5:45, when he nodded back off. I then felt the urge to have a huge coughing fit, which I then fought for AN HOUR to suppress. So yeah, not fun, and cemented in my mind that hotels would only happen in VERY specific circumstances.
It’s no secret that we’re vegan and whilst we find it simple, in fact no, second nature, to seek out and enjoy a huge range of vegan food here in the UK, we’re under no illusion it’s going to be easy everywhere.
This is one of the reasons we’ve decided to go for apartments/self-catering is that cooking for ourselves is going to be easier, not to mention cheaper and less stressful than finding places to eat out all the time. If all else fails, we’ll be able to get ingredients for simple curries, salads, pasta dishes and the like, as well as lots of fresh fruit of course. In fact, we’ll probably be forced into eating a little more healthily than we do at the moment, without so many processed vegan junk food and dessert options.
That doesn’t mean we won’t be trying to find the top vegan food spots everywhere we go though – I have done some serious research and have made sure there’s at least one cafe or restaurant near each place we’re staying so we can go and sample the local delights. Keep an eye on the instagram grid for regular food updates as we go.
We don’t. We absolutely don’t.
Even though I am 100% certain it will all be worth it, the build up to this trip is currently killing me. My brain is so full I forget things I’ve been told 3 seconds ago. If it’s not written down, it’s getting forgotten. The worry about the house sale, the pressures of “normal” day-to-day-life with young children, meticulous planning, packing lists, shopping, cooking, making sure we see everyone we want to see before we go. You name it, it’s in my mind. All day, all night. DROWNING IN TO-DOS.
So to answer the “how WILL you stay sane?” question, my answer is that if I can deal with the period of actual, real-life insanity, the trip itself will be a breeze. At least for the first couple of months anyway.
We’re absolutely not nervous about them not going to preschool or nursery for a year. Their nursery/preschool is brilliant, don’t get me wrong, and it’s got a cool new garden that I’m a bit gutted they won’t get more time to play in. BUT, A was born in September, meaning we’ve got a whole extra year with her before she joins the formal education system. W will be nearly 3 when we return so he won’t miss out on any preschool time either.
This is the last chance they (and we, as a family of 4) will get to have proper, unencumbered freedom, fun and exploration for a prolonged period (ie not just school holidays) until they’re at least 16, so there’s plenty of time for a classroom in the coming years.
So instead of spending this year at their current preschool/nursery, what better way to teach them about diversity, adaptability, tolerance, culture, geography, history, language, everything, than showing them the world?
The honest answer is I’m not exactly sure yet. After doing some research our current budget (for everything – transport, food, accommodation, entertainment) is £5,000 per month. But we start our trip in the US and Canada in the height of summer so the first few months is looking a bit higher than that. But I’m a stubborn one so I’ll be trying to find ways to claw back the deficit later in the trip. I’ll let you know how I get on.