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How can I get started as a travelling family?

Suewan Kemp The BIG travel questions Leave a Comment

There are some steps that every family will need to take in order to start their family adventure. It can seem like there’s an overwhelming mountain of stuff to do and sort out before you can set off. We’ve spoken to 3 travelling families to get their tips on how to get started.

The Prince Family

Princes off the Grid family travel adventure nomadic

Tell us a little about your family

We are a family of 6, mum and dad are aged 41 and the kids are aged 12 down to 7. We are an expat family, Clair and I lived in Singapore for 15 years as my career was built there in the financial sector.

After coming to the realisation that we wanted something else from life, I quit my job, we took the kids out of school, sold almost everything we owned and started travelling long term. It was the book The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss that opened my (Dan’s) eyes to the fact that life could be different for us, and that I could spend my time with my family rather than at a place of work.

Where did you start your travels and why did you choose that place?

We started in Koh Samui, Thailand because we had invested in a property there 12 years ago. We stayed for 2 months whilst we decompressed, came to terms with our decision and started figuring out a travel plan. We had listed the property on a home swap site called and it was whilst we were in Koh Samui that we started getting some responses and interest from people happy to swap with us.

How do you choose where to go next?

It just kind of started happening naturally. We knew we wanted to visit Australia and New Zealand whilst we were in touching distance, so we started arranging swaps in those countries. Then we wanted to spend time in the US, Canada and Europe. After firing up the website we would approach members to see if they would swap with us.

If we were ever approached ourselves we would generally take the opportunity as it meant we had a roof over our heads and a randomly picked location to visit, which always seems to work out the best! We have found when you visit a place with low to no expectations or knowledge of where you are heading, they are always the best trips!

During our 2.5 years of constant travel, we home swapped 90% of the time, saving huge amounts on accommodation. Now we have sat still in France for almost 2 years, but still use home swapping to arrange all our travels, it has changed the way we view travelling forever!

If anybody is interested in learning more about how we travelled, world schooled, home swapped and leveraged the sharing economy you can find huge amounts of information in the book I wrote called Choose Life (can be found on most country Amazon stores).

Our blog can be found, where you can meet the family and learn more about us!

Thanks and happy travels to all.

The Hendriks Family

Hendriks family travel adventure long term

Introduce your family

Hendriks family travel adventureWe’re a family of 5, made up of myself (Caroline), husband (Mark) and our 3 energetic boys, George, Otto and Rocky (10,8,5). We live in Brighton, UK.

I’m a visiting lecturer at the local university as well as a swimming teacher and running coach. My husband works for a local authority in north London as a senior commissioner and all of our boys go to our lovely local primary school in Brighton.

For years we toyed with the idea of travelling abroad before our oldest son goes to secondary school, and as the time drew closer (he is due to start in September 2018), the pressure was on to make a decision.

We made our final decision to take the leap in September of last year and set ourselves a target to leave early January 2018, at the very latest. By early October we had booked flights to leave England on 10th January to fly to Bangkok.

We will return at the end of August 2018 from Bali (wish it could be longer!).

How did you get started? What were the highs and lows of getting ready to leave?

We hadn’t left ourselves very long to plan and prepare for the trip. Most of our efforts had to be focused on ensuring the house was rentable whilst we were away as this would pay for the majority of our living expenses whilst abroad. We just about decided which part of the world we’d tackle over the 7.5 months we now have abroad.

Our initial idea was South America but we were worried we wouldn’t be able to afford it, so we opted for SE Asia where we knew we could live pretty cheaply as a family.

Hendriks Family travel adventure get started travel long term

In terms of the highs and the lows of getting ready, at times we felt completely overwhelmed by the amount we had to do to prepare.

Days, evenings and weekends were spent painting and decorating, DIY and clearing the masses of unnecessary clutter we seem to have acquired over the last 15 years.

Our financial planning and saving weren’t helped when we were landed with two massive bills for necessary building works to our house and having to purchase a new boiler and cooker, just a couple of months before we left.

Our boys are quite a handful and their busy schedule of activities and playdates continued to the day before we left and so we struggled to get to where we needed to be in our planning.

They were also experiencing mixed emotions about leaving their friends and the security of home life to step into the unknown. On occasion we were worried we were doing the wrong thing and forcing our decision on them to leave. Eventually, they accepted the idea and started to become more involved in planning the trip and learning about where we were heading.

Another low point was telling my mum we were definitely going, hoping for her blessing, but she burst into tears (don’t worry, she has got over it and now plans to join us at some point for an adventure).

I was delighted at the prospect of homeschooling and excited that this would take the form of worldschooling. Every night we planned, sorted, researched and as the date grew closer, everything seemed to go into fast-forward mode, time seemed to run out and then it was the night before we were leaving.

We sat surrounded by clothes, toiletries and equipment which needed to fit into our rucksacks. We almost halved what we thought we’d take, and closed the rucksacks ready to go.

The whirlwind and stress leading up to our departure was quickly taken away when the taxi picked us up to go to the coach station and this was definitely a high point in our planning. The realisation that for the next nearly 8 months we’d be together again as a unit, having adventures together that before we had only been able to imagine.

What is the best advice you could give to a family who is thinking about making the leap?

The best advice I would give to a family contemplating whether they could do such a trip or not is just do it. Make the decision, say yes, and then the details can be worked out which will make it a reality.

So many friends we have spoken to have said how envious they are and how they’d love to do something like this, how they’ve thought about doing a similar thing for years but haven’t, as there are too many factors stopping them like jobs, the wider family, school etc.

Well, we had all of these factors worrying us and we knew we were taking risks in saying ‘yes’ (we’ve lost our primary school places, my regular work shifts and Mark was prepared to leave his job, but they’ve agreed it as unpaid leave/ sabbatical). But arguably there were risks in not doing it around family cohesion and building memories which would stay with us for a lifetime .

That’s what made us take the plunge. The children are only young once. Do it while you can and create those memories. That would be my advice to you. And if you can plan it a little earlier than we did, all the better. If not, don’t worry as there’s time for this when you’re on the road. Happy travelling.

You can follow their travels at:

Facebook: runawayfamilyhendriks

Instagram: runaway_family_hendriks

The Heartswell Family

Heartswell Family how to get started as a travelling family

Who are you?

We are the Heartswells from Orlando, Florida. My name is Sharon and I am a stay-at-home mom. My husband, Damon, is an architect, specializing in theme parks. We have two boys, Colby, 3, and Alex, 7 months. Together, we have visited 15 states in six months. We started in a Coachman Catalina and recently moved into a Thor Challenger.

How did you get started? What were the highs and lows of getting ready to leave?

About a year ago, Damon was let go from his job in Orlando. In a serendipitous turn of events, we realized that we had enough savings and investments for him to stay home for a while. One day I mentioned an article regarding the ‘Ultimate US Roadtrip’ and it inspired Damon. A few weeks later, we were planning our own trip.

Going from a 1,200 sqft house to a 33′ travel trailer requires a lot of downsizing. Some things were easy to get rid of and it felt amazing to unload so much stuff. It’s hard getting rid of things you think you’ll need. Like all my baking stuff or a lot of the kids’ toys. We are brought up to believe there is a value to things, so it was really hard to part with items I believed I wasn’t supposed to be without—that my kids/family would suffer without them.

What is the best advice you could give to a family who is thinking about making the leap?

Ask yourself – what do you want your story to be when you look back 40 years from now? Will you be happy that you spent all that time working overtime? I look back on my childhood and my fondest memories are of the few trips we took. Unfortunately, most of my childhood was spent at home, alone. Something I don’t want for my children.

The hardest part is getting past your own doubts – what will people think? Am I doing the right thing? But once you’re on the road, all of those worries fall away and you start having amazing adventures every day.

Follow the Heartswells travels on their website: or their Facebook page.

Are you thinking of travelling with your family but don’t know where to start? Let us know and we’ll cheer you on! Or if you have a question, feel free to post it below.

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