TOURING FAMILY TALES: A FAMILY TRAVELING AROUND THE GLOBE
Have you ever dreamed of selling your home, quitting your demanding job, paying your debts and taking a gap to travel fulltime the world with your family? One year ago Louisa Trivett and her beautiful family decided that they needed a change and now they share their love for traveling and all their adventures on her blog Touring Family Tales.
Everyone has a story and Louisa’s story is truly unique! It has been such a great pleasure to chat with Louisa! I think you are going to love her honest answers about taking brave decisions, homeschooling, their new family life and all the amazing places and countries that they have visited together. She also has the best tip for traveling with children.
WK: Tell us a little about yourself and family and why you decided to leave London and travel through the world while homeschooling your children…
LT: We are the Trivett family; Louisa (46), Paul (51), William (11) and Isabel (9)
We were living in a lovely part of London and had a great house in a lovely road. We liked our neighbors and the children were very happy at their school and had some lovely friends. But, we had a large mortgage on our house and both working full-time. I was the Managing Director of a company who produced audio tours for museums and Paul managed facilities and student accommodation for a university in Richmond On Thames.
We were facing some decisions as our children approached secondary school; the most important decision being whether to stay in London or not. The local state schools were okay but we were concerned that the children would grow up too quickly in a London school, and private schooling wasn’t affordable for us. I also really wanted to leave my job and stop commuting every day into central London. Like most families with two working parents, we were seriously short on time and felt our lives were ruled by “to do” lists. Every morning was a rush to get everyone to school and work, then every evening it was a rush in reverse. Then at weekends we were all so tired and had to get chores done as well a try to have some fun. But with a big mortgage, neither of us could stop work.
So, we decided to sell our house. But, with very bad timing, we put it on the market the day after the UK Brexit vote. House prices dropped and we had to wait seven months before we sold it.
We had talked about doing a family gap year but it had never seemed possible. With the house sitting on the market we decided to just go for it. It seemed the perfect time for taking the children away with them aged 9 and 10. We were nervous about homeschooling but knew the children were doing well and we felt confident that they would learn a huge amount by just being out in the world.
So, in June 2017 we completed our house sale, bought a new (cheaper) house near Cambridge, quit our jobs and the children finished school. We had about four weeks to do some basic decoration to the new house to get it ready for renters and get some things in place for traveling.
Do you feel you have all become closer during these months of full-time travel?
Absolutely! We really had so little time together with our lives in London and I felt that we’d been missing out on their childhood from the minute I went back to work after maternity leave. And the time that we did have together often wasn’t really “quality time”. In contrast, we have spent the last nine months living in very close quarters with each other. Most of the time we have been sharing one hotel room/tent with each other. We have done some amazing things together and, in some ways, our relationships have changed from parent/child to something more equal and more like friends. Of course, we still have arguments and there are times when we are living too close to each other, but we have all got more tolerant and better at dealing with conflict. The children (who wouldn’t have wanted each other in their bedrooms before) have often had to share beds and have had each other as their prime friend for all this time. This year has been a huge bond between us and we will remember it happily forever.
Why did you decide to homeschool your children?
Our decision to homeschool came hand-in-hand with the decision to travel. We were a little nervous how people would react to this decision, would they think we were being totally irresponsible? But when we told the children’s headteacher what we were doing, he was very supportive and said he wished he had done it with his family. We decided to do formal Maths lessons every day, encourage reading and writing and everything else would just come to them country by country. Because we plan to return them to school we want them to slot back in. Having said that, if returning to school didn’t work out for them, I wouldn’t have any problem homeschooling them again, there are some great advantages. As it is, our children have missed school and are keen to return.
Do you like to plan your travels or you prefer to improvise your itinerary?
I am quite an organized person and so some things were important to me to plan. I did a budget which broke our trip down into four key areas; North America, South America, Oceania and South East Asia. The budgets covered accommodation/internal travel/days out/food& drink/contingency. I wanted to be able to track our spending so that we’d have enough to do everything we wanted. We booked our flights in advance but the dates were all changeable and then we booked the first few nights of accommodation in Toronto (where we started). Apart from that, we planned as we went along with a rough idea of the route but rarely planning more than a couple of weeks ahead so that we could be flexible to stay longer if we liked a place and shorter if we didn’t like a place. This worked out well for us. It was only more difficult if we were trying to find accommodation in peak seasons. A couple of time in Canada and Australia we had to pay more than we wanted for somewhere to stay because we hadn’t booked.
How do you prepare your kids for a trip? Are they involved in what to see and what to do in each destination?
When we first started planning a trip the kids were a bit unsure about the idea, mainly because they’d be leaving their friends. So we wanted to make them feel involved as much as possible. We sat with a world map and made a ‘wish list’ of things we’d like to do and places we’d like to see. There were also some vetos like my daughter who said she didn’t want to go to Africa (not quite sure why maybe worried about lions!) We made it clear that we couldn’t do everything but we managed to put together an itinerary that suited everyone.
Once actually traveling we discuss where we are going next and what our options are. Most of the time the kids are happy to just go along with our plans and they have more input into the daily activities such as wanting to go to every Natural History Museum we find! There are times when one of them has wanted to do something and the other hasn’t. If we can, we then split up and make it work. We also discuss the budget with the kids so that they understand that, if we save money on treats, we can keep traveling for longer.
With all your experience in traveling the world with kids, could you please share some tips for traveling with children?
Our kids are 9 and 11 so it’s not the same as traveling with toddlers, I think it’s much easier.
My top tip is to allow your relationship to develop with your kids. It is a very different environment than at home and they can contribute really positively in a more grown-up way. It might be that they are better at languages or remembering details for us. They have also become incredibly resilient and more able to deal with boredom. Yesterday we were on a 13-hour bus journey from Cambodia to Bangkok and neither of the kids complained at all. They also carry their own bags and make their own decisions about packing.
They don’t have personal iPads but we have e-readers and a tablet that we share. We let them keep in touch with their friends on WhatsApp and Skype which is really important to them.
So, we treat as proper human beings rather than just our kids (which we probably did at home) and they have both grown in confidence as a result.
You have visited so many countries. Do you have a favorite place in the world? Why?
That is the hardest question! There are places that we could see ourselves living such as the lakes area in Ontario Canada and Argentina and then there are places that we loved to explore. Peru was a big highlight for us, it was really beautiful, the people were fantastic and I loved all the brightly colored textiles. It made us want to explore South America much more in the future.
What is your next travel destination?
We are in Bangkok for a few days and then we are going home to the UK for three weeks. We want to see friends and family, buy a new car, find our tent and do some administration. Then we are heading on a driving/camping trip around Europe for two months. That’s about as far as our plan goes but we are thinking about Greece, Italy, the Balkan States and back through Germany, France and anywhere else that takes our fancy.
All photos are courtesy of Touring Family Tales.