Being Together 24/7 is TOUGH

Leading up to our trip we went on and on about how amazing it will be to be together all the time and we truly believed it. But the truth is, we had no idea how tough being together all day, every day would be. We got into stupid arguments, the kids drove us insane and we had moments where we just wanted to book the first flight back home.

That being said, we feel EXTREMELY fortunate that we had that time together as a family. We learned more about ourselves in those 6 months than we had in the past 6 years and Andy and I were able to experience all the “firsts” together, instead of me calling him at work saying guess what Rowan/Murphy did!

Budget Conservatively

Budget, budget and budget some more! It’s very easy to fall into the blackhole that is YouTube and Pinterest and emerge thinking you know exactly what it will cost to spend a month in Thailand, Vietnam or Greece. And while you should absolutely use these resources to help plan your budget, just know, there will be A LOT of unplanned expenses to deplete your bank account.

Some Unplanned Expenses We Ran Into

  • Hospital Visit/Medical Bills (read about that experience here)
  • Visas – Every country has different requirements.
  • Transportation – Some countries are dirt cheap, some are not.
  • The Occasional Splurge – Whether that be a nice hotel with a western style shower (something we will never take for granted again) or a restaurant that serves literally anything other than rice and noodles.
  • Tourist Attractions – Thanks to Instagram, a lot of these places have a small fee, but it can add up!

Our advice would be to do a lot of research, plan a budget off of that and add 15% to cover these extra expenses.

Not Everyone is Going to Welcome You

So this one we somewhat knew before leaving. We know there are people around the world that don’t necessarily like Americans, but because we are so privileged, we had no idea how it would actually feel to have someone think negatively about our family based on what we look like.

We had one experience that will forever be burned into my mind. We were waiting to board a flight and our kids were quite possibly on the best behavior of their lives, so of course, I was a proud mom thinking everyone would fall in love with them. Well, I was so wrong. I watched this local woman ahead of us, look our tiny little humans up and down then proceed to whisper something to her husband. Immediately, I said to Andy, THEY HATE US.

This continued onto the flight. The whole 60 minutes (thank goodness it wasn’t longer) they stared at us with disgust. I had never in my life experienced what that feels like and it still gives me goosebumps when I think back to it.

Now this may all sound super privileged, and that’s because it is. We are so lucky that in our whole 30+ years on earth, we have had ONE experience where we felt extremely uncomfortable just based on the way we look or the country we happened to be born into. We understand there are people who go through this every single day of their lives and we cannot imagine how awful that must feel.

So our take away from this experience: be kind to everyone, no matter their skin tone, religion, where they come from or who they love. We are all the same.

Be Careful When Exchanging Currencies

This is something we did not think twice about and it bit us in the butt. Before you head into Bali from Thailand for example, make sure you are exchanging the right way. There are plenty of articles that will help you understand the correct way to do this but unfortunately, we were oblivious. We ended up exchanging our baht to rupiah, instead of doing baht to USD to rupiah, and we lost $200 in the process. So do your research first!

Ditch the Carseats

This was something we really struggled with while we were planning for the trip. I posted on forums, Facebook groups, basically anything that I hoped would give me a definitive answer, but nothing helped. I had people comment that we should leave them behind but also had people assume we were terrible parents for ever thinking of putting our kids in a car without their seats.

Well, after countless hours stressing about it, we decided to leave them behind and thank goodness we did! It would have been absolutely miserable carrying those things around. It took some getting used to but we used public transportation and held the kids on our lap, and when we took long trips, we hired a car that provided carseats.

Take Some Time to Learn the Language

This can be super beneficial! We had been to Thailand several times before our big trip so we knew a tiny bit of Thai, and it can go a long way, especially with the locals. But we didn’t take any time to learn any other language and immediately regretted it.

We would advise learning the basics (hello, goodbye, thank you, please, etc.).

Kids are Extremely Adaptable

We were so worried about how our kids would handle different cultures, environments and foods, but quickly realized we had no reason to worry. It didn’t take long before our kids were devouring spicy foods, making friends with kids who barely spoke their language and trying things that they were too scared to do back home!

I cannot even begin to explain how proud we felt when we watched our five year ride a horse off into the sunset on a beach in Malaysia, when she wouldn’t even touch a pony at a petting zoo back home. In that moment, we knew we were doing something right.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Picture this, you’ve just plopped down on your towel, on the most beautiful beach in Thailand, only to have your daughter say she needs to now go to the bathroom. Ok, not the end of the world, but then you walk and walk and walk, trying to find a western style toilet because she refuses to use anything but. I can’t even tell you how many of these experiences we’ve had and sometimes it can be enough to drive you crazy!

My advice would be this, instead of thinking about what you may be missing out on, take the time to soak in every single second you have. Breath in the polluted air, surround yourself in the chaos, take a dump in the squatter. These things that annoy us most during our travels, make for the best stories, so enjoy it!

Embrace the Unknown

I am pretty much a self-proclaimed travel agent. I research like crazy, read all the blogs, watch hours of YouTube videos and after all of that, I can usually plan the perfect trip. This has always been something I pride myself on BUT I have come to appreciate the unknown.

During our trip, I didn’t have the time or energy to research every aspect of every location and it was actually very liberating. Entering a new country with no idea what to expect, what restaurants to dine at and what sights we would be visiting each day once stressed me the heck out but I grew to love it. It was absolutely amazing to see places for the first time, in person, without seeing any pictures on TripAdvisior.

It will be One of the Greatest Experiences of Your Life

Seriously, this sounds idealistic but it truly was. Getting to see the world through your children’s eyes is unreal. Everything is so new and exciting to them which in turn, made us appreciate all the little things. We woke up every morning ready to go on the next adventure, eager to explore a new part of town, curious about what foods we were going to try and excited about the people we were going to meet. And that my friends, is how you live your best life.

About Author

We are your typical American family who decided life is too short to live in one place.

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1 Comment

  1. Loved reading this and hearing REAL experiences! Like trying to find a western toilet! Would have never thought of that and can perfectly picture our family on the hunt because of confused kids! Also great tip about money exchange. I would have never thought to exchange to USD first.

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