This week we caught up with Jesse and Joyce from Our Every J Life. Together with their two boys, Jonah and Jaxon, they have been traveling the world for two whole years! They are one of the first families that we ever followed on Instagram and we have loved watching them grow over the years! Keeping reading to see what they have to say about full-time travel.

Tell Us About Your Family!

Hi! We’re Joyce, Jesse, Jonah, and Jaxon (otherwise known as “The Js” and as “OurEveryJLife” on our socials). We are a full-time travelling family of four who sold everything to see everything. We’ve been travelling non-stop, visiting over 60 destinations in almost 2 years. By way of background, before starting our travels Jesse was a children’s rights lawyer for a legal clinic in Toronto, Canada and I was a public school teacher and a professional classical violinist. Jesse is originally from Barbados and spent his entire childhood and young adult life there and met me in my hometown, Toronto, where I was born and raised. 

What led you to the decision to become a traveling family?

When we bought our first home in March 2016, we had no idea that in just two short years we would be able to sell that home for enough profit to start travelling the world full time with our two small children. 

Around the beginning of 2018, we started discussing ideas for how Jesse and I could spend more quality time at home with the kids and away from our jobs. Our respective jobs as a social justice lawyer and school teacher gave us overwhelmingly robust schedules that took every ounce of our time and energy that we felt were being robbed from our own boys. We had just returned from a 3-week vacation in Barbados to visit Jesse’s family. While in Barbados, we both had a number of truly special moments with Jonah and Jaxon, and unbeknownst to us at the time, the seeds had been planted for a future of full-time family travel.

What are some of the highs and/or lows of being a traveling family?

We’ve had our fair share of really high highs and really low lows. Where do I even begin? We’ve been robbed, we’ve lost (and found) our luggage twice, we’ve lost (and even more miraculously found) our phones in taxis on two different occasions, I got my first stitches ever while island hopping in Thailand, and the list goes on. But we’ve also had some of the most life-changing experiences through some of the partnerships we’ve made with organizations like GAdventure’s non-profit partner Planeterra. We’ve seen how travel done responsibly can change the world for good and seen firsthand how much positivity can come from being an agent for change. Above all, we’ve gained valuable perspective on the most important things in life and have sincere gratitude for all that we have been blessed with. Our boys eat all types of cuisines well, sleep well, and they’ve hardly gotten sick while travelling. We couldn’t ask for better little travel companions. Don’t get me wrong, by no means am I saying that it’s easy to travel with kids, but despite the tantrums and other colourful moments, we are grateful we can experience it all together. 

With regards to some of our lows, I think something that is very important to note is that many people don’t really understand how truly challenging full time travelling with children can be. Often, FT travel is glamorized on social media. When you see us being put up in The Four Seasons or hosted in the Maldives, most people don’t realize all the hard work and sleepless nights that go into making those kinds of partnerships and collaborations happen. So with that said, we’ve been so blessed to have had incredible experiences thanks to our presence on social media, but burn out is also a real factor to consider. We have to remind ourselves time and time again why we chose to leave everything: which is to see everything TOGETHER; to be together and not live it second hand through the lens of a camera. It’s important to remember that Instagram is just a highlight reel- not a highlight real. 

What are some places you think every traveling family should visit? Are there any places you wouldn’t recommend?

We always use our discretion when it comes to travelling to places that may have previously had a history of travel advisories or places that may be unsafe to travel given certain circumstances, but we also choose not to live in fear because that can also be paralyzing. For example, when one thinks of Medellín, Colombia they may think of drugs and violence from the time of Pablo Escobar but we kept hearing from other tourists how beautiful and wonderful it is travelling to Medellín, so we gave it a chance and it turned out to be one of our favourite cities in all of South America. As well, we had a full trip booked to Sri Lanka last year and then three days before our flight there was a major bombing that rattled the entire country for months. Even though we decided to divert our travels (we ended up in Malaysia instead), we are still planning to travel to Sri Lanka one day. The truth is there is danger and violence everywhere and you’re not truly safe from it anywhere, so you can choose to let that be the leading voice in the narrative of your journey, or decide to take chances and live without regrets. One thing Jesse and I always say is that we don’t want to live our lives thinking “shoulda woulda coulda”. 

What advice would you give to other families looking to take the leap into long term travel?

Long term travel is not for the faint of heart. Before you take the leap, take time to really think about why you want to do it. Do you want to spend more meaningful time with your family and see the world while you’re doing it? Do you want to blog everything and try to monetize your journey? Do you want to have an epic sabbatical to see what the world outside of yours looks like and then return to the status quo? Whatever your reason is (and they’re all good!), be sure to remind yourself again and again…and again why you’re doing it. There are so many bunny trails you will be presented with on your journey, especially if you’re planning to share it on social media, and it can be easy to forget why you did it in the first place. Stay true to yourself and you won’t end up regretting any of it – good or bad. 

How do you afford to travel long term? 

We get this question a lot, so let’s dive right in. We began our travels having sold our home in Toronto. We budgeted realistically for a year of travel and then at the end of our first year of travel we realized we weren’t ready to give up our current way of life, so we overhauled our budget and crafted it so that our monthly expenses are now less than $400 per month per person. You might be wondering how that’s even possible. Our top two expenses were flights and accommodations. We combat the latter by doing housesits. We signed up for just before we began our second year of full time travels which allows us to have free accommodations all over the world and many of the home owners have even given us access to their vehicles. We’ve had offers to housesit in North America but also really interesting places we’d likely choose to travel to like South Africa, Australia, South East Asia, and the Caribbean. The other main way we keep our costs down is by using Google flights’ flexible dates option to access the cheapest flights, and because our schedule is so flexible, we’re able to travel cheap. With those two expenses in check, we just about break even, so let’s talk income. Currently, we have two streams of income. The first is remote legal work that Jesse does, and the second is a videography production company that Jesse started up under our brand’s name Our EveryJ Productions. With the two streams of income, almost free accommodations (the annual cost of membership on TrustedHousesitters is roughly the cost of 1 night’s stay at a hotel), cheaper flight costs, and minimal expenses on everything else (which includes our entertainment budget), we live within our means and are happy living that way. Who knows where we’ll be in the next few years, but what we are certain of is that we are committed to living a life with more intentionality, presence, and gratitude for what we have. 

You can follow all of Our Every J Life’s amazing adventures on their website, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

About Author

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

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