Tell Us About Your Family!
Mom and dad are originally from Chicago, but we have been living in Bozeman Montana for almost 20 years and consider that home. Hartley is 4 and Colson turned 3 April 5th. We sold almost everything including our construction company and use those funds to travel as well as collaborations to offset some of the costs. We also have a commercial rental that helps put a little money in our pocket. We have been traveling most our lives but have only started making the change into full time travel and sharing that a little over 2 years ago. We really wanted to inspire parents to get out and do things with their kids like we do. We have been full time for a year now but not sure what is going to happen after this Covid crisis. Our plans have all been cancelled and we are returning to Michigan in a month so we can regroup and make some decisions. Our favorite hobbies are SCUBA, sailing, skiing, climbing, hiking, biking and yoga. We also love shell and rock/ gem hunting. Sometimes we even gold pan in rivers, mainly just for fun, but it is fun to find earths treasures. We all have photography as a passion and travel gives us great ever changing landscapes to capture. We also have a @hartandcolphotography page that show more of our travel photos less family based.
What led you to the decision to become a traveling family?
We started and have run a masonry construction company for the last 10 years, but never felt fulfilled with this line of work. We always worked so we could travel. We also knew that we had so many things we didn’t need, and our lives were being held back by stuff. Now we have sold most of our things and our company to set out on an adventure to keep our family dream of exploration alive. We then realized spending time with our children was most important to us. Our boys are learning fast and we want to share everything we can with them. That’s why travel is so important for our family. We would rather have less stuff and more us time.
What are some of the highs and/or lows of being a traveling family?
The high is defiantly experiencing new food, cultures, activities and climates as a family. When we were in Bali Hartley was 3 years old and he has always been delayed in speaking but could always communicate. He walked up to another boy playing on the beach and it didn’t matter that they didn’t speak the same language or from the same background they bonded. Kids just see the world differently than adults. They remind us how to be accepting and open to trying new things, because everything to them is new. They show us how to adapt to new things, kids are great at that.
We love seeing them willing to try new things like rock climbing, or canoeing. This ability to try new things creates a lot of trust in each other, and trust is such an important part to any relationship. We trust our kids and they trust us. They know we are going to keep them safe even new places.
Travel days can be the hardest part. Normally our kids do well until they get tired. The stress as a parent to keep them happy and quiet is immense. Travel days consist of more screen time then it should, at least 1 crying episode (sometimes by the parents), treats and/or bribery. Sometimes you ask yourselves “is it all worth it” and for us it always is.
Our Longest travel days have been flying back and forth from Montana to Bali. We learned so much on how to travel successfully with kids. Our travel there was a little over 40 hours. We flew to Salt Lake, 12-hour layover (got a hotel) then to Seattle and off the S. Korea. That 12-hour flight went ok. We were the only family on board and Delta did nothing to give us any extra space (which is fine, but we find most other airlines do). I was so stressed out about keeping them well behaved I developed a migraine and was useless for at least 3 hours (poor Chris). It all went fine until I (mom) went to the bathroom and when I came back my 2 boys had huge chocolate covered ice cream bars. The flight attendants did not ask us they just handed the ice cream to the kids. I didn’t dare try to take it away, so I let them eat the dessert. About 20 minutes after that Colson who was 1.5 started to cry. I took him to the back of the plane, I tried everything to get him to calm down. I spent 30 minutes in the airplane lavatory and finally had to switch with Chris because Hartley needed me. Chris was in there for about 10 more minutes and Colson explodes. He pukes up all the ice creams. I always pack 2 extra outfit per person on a carry on, so they get changed and Colson promptly fell asleep. All of the flight attendants where in back giving us the worst looks and none of them really wanted to help us. Now that I look back on it a 40-minute ice cream induced meltdown wasn’t so bad for 40 hours of travel.
I have learned now that kids are still going to be kids even out in public or on airplanes. As long as they are generally well behaved and use their manners its fine. I don’t care (anymore) if the cry on the plane, bus or car (there is a reason they make noise cancelling headphones) As long as you are doing what you can to take care of them. I am very strict with whining and tantrums so when my kids cry there is normally a reason.
Full time traveling is not a 24/7 vacation. There is still life to be done. We homeschool on the road and consider adventures some of our most important tools for learning. We enjoy educating ourselves about the culture around us. There are long travel days, Jet lag, airplane food (blah). We experience stressful situations of being in unfamiliar places with different languages and cultures.
What are some places you think every traveling family should visit? Are there any places you wouldn’t recommend?
Top of our list is New Zealand and Hawaii.
Some of our favorite places are US National Parks: Yellowstone, Yosemite, Zion.
I wouldn’t necessarily say don’t go somewhere but be careful and educate yourselves be for you go to a place in question. We really enjoyed Cartagena Columbia, even though every person we told we were traveling there couldn’t believe we would take our kids there and assumed it was very dangerous.
What advice would you give to other families looking to take the leap into long term travel?
Start to lead a minimal life style. Put your time, money and energy into making memories. Become flexible, before this lifestyle change, I could not imagine going on a trip what wasn’t planned out and fully booked. Now I have gotten use to the spontaneity of travel and comfortable with the unknown. This new mindset has really taken the stress out of traveling. Also, fast travel can be exciting but for most isn’t sustainable for long term travel. You may not see as much but it will be far more livable to slow down.
Have a little extra money that is your escape fund that you don’t touch unless emergencies.
How do you afford to travel long term?
We sold a large majority of our things and put money into savings and tried to pay off any debt we had. We also shut down our company to free our time and funds up. We have a building that we rent that provides some extra income. It is also what we will sell to afford a house when we want to settle down again. We have not made money via traveling with social media, but we do use it as a tool to help further the budget with collaborations. We put a lot of time and effort in to our Instagram and website.