Why do you travel long term as a family? Travelling families worldschoolers long term rtw

Why do you travel long term with your family?

Suewan Kemp The BIG travel questions Leave a Comment

Why on earth are you doing this? It’s a good question. We have our own reasons for travelling long term and we often get asked about them. We’ve met a lot of travelling families since we’ve been on the road and everyone has their own reasons and motivations.

In this post, we talk about our reasons and also interview four other travelling families and asked them why they are travelling.

For the freedom

The Kemp family

Photo of Kemp family

Why are we travelling?

For a while, before we travelled we had been talking about what it meant to really ‘live’. Sorry that sounds so cheesy. We were content in a big, beautiful house in Bristol, England. We had a great community of friends who have supported us and loved us through thick and thin.

Both of us had good jobs and Roobs was at a very good school. She had always been a great student and we only received glowing reports about her work and her attitude. So no reason to leave, right? We were already “living” a good life, weren’t we?

However, something always felt a little out of place. We came to realise that maybe we were too content. That may seem really odd to some people but the truth is that we never really bought into the life we were leading. Having a big house, a car and more and more stuff wasn’t making us happy.

And yet we had accumulated those things and had somehow bought into that lifestyle. (Please don’t take this to mean that there’s anything wrong with other people having those things. They just aren’t things we wanted.) Daily life didn’t feel like “living”, it felt like plodding.

We would do the 9-5 and then take Roobs to an after-school club or a party and by the time we all got home we were exhausted and would barely get to see each other. At weekends we would try to carve out time to see friends, visit family, go to kids’ birthday parties, go to church etc. We realised that even at the age of 7 our daughter was growing up leading a busy, non-stop life.

But we wanted to know her. To spend time with her. To cherish this part of her childhood.

There was also other stuff going on which added to our desire to travel. Both of us had for a long time felt that we weren’t able to relate to church anymore. Our faith had been shaken, in a good way, by various different and difficult experiences. Leaving us in a place where we found it hard to relate to our church community and even some of our friends.

I won’t go into huge detail about the losses that we experienced but we lost a good friend very suddenly. When he died we realised how short life is. I also got burnt out from volunteering in a community where maybe I didn’t have enough support. My mental health took a knock and it was a while before I felt able to engage with life. And then we had other issues going on in our life which drained us and took away our ability to be positive.

Was there a trigger that made you make the decision?

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Don MillerI read a book about 18 months before we set off on our travels. It’s called “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years“. Essentially the book talks about how your life is your chance to live a good story – living the way you have dreamed about and not just living the way you do because it is prescribed to you.

We both felt really inspired by the book and started dreaming about the story we’d like to live. For us, that means that we want to live more simply – with less stuff. Less noise. Less distraction.

How is life now compared to before?

Travelling has enabled us to spend time together as a family. To explore our faith more freely. To meet with wonderful people all over the world, and to be grateful for what we have. 


To show our daughter the world

The Fox family

The Fox family in New Zealand

Why are you travelling?

More than just to see all the tourist sites, we’re traveling to experience what it’s like to live in other countries. Usually, we stay for a month or longer in each of the places we visit, so we can really get a feel for what it’s like to live there.

Was there a trigger that made you make the decision?

For 20+ years my wife and I both had full-time jobs as well as a farm with lots of animals and projects that took up almost all of our free time. So we never got to travel anywhere off of the island where we lived together as a family. At least one of us always had to stay home to take care of the farm and/or to go to work at a job.

When we sold the farm in 2016 we were suddenly homeless and free to go any place we liked and do anything we wanted, so we decided to travel. Also, living on a remote farm in the country was fine for me and my wife, as we had both traveled a lot when we were younger, but our daughter was starting to grow up and we wanted her to see a little more of the world, and we wanted to be able to spend time with her and not just work all the time.

How is life now compared to when you weren’t travelling?

Our life as full-time travelers is very different from our old life living on a farm and working at jobs. In our old life, pretty much my wife and I were working all the time, either at our jobs or on the farm.

Once in a while, we would take a half day and go to the beach or out for dinner and a movie, but it was never possible for all of us to go away from our farm at the same time for more than a day because we always had lots of animals to care for.

As travelers, we have basically no responsibilities. Each day, we get up and do whatever we like. We go for walks, visit museums, go on tours, go to the beach, go to the zoo, sit in coffee shops sipping cappuccinos and reading books, go hiking, sleep in as late as we like, go to movies…

After a year of full-time travel, our new life still seems surreal!



A better quality of life

The Taylor family

The Taylor family in Malaysia

Our reasons are a combination of a failing South African economy and rise in crime and future opportunities for our son. We wanted to find a better quality of life and future for him and for us.

The second reason is that we did not want to live this life separate from each other, we wanted to share in our adventures, education and experiences together.

Thirdly we wanted a better quality of life on less with less stuff.

Was there a trigger that made you make the decision?

Yes, although we had been planning, researching and getting a location independent business going for 3 years it still seemed a long way off, as our day to day living was stealing all our time and energy in a weak economy.

Then the house we lived in sold. It was a family-owned house of mine. We looked around and dreaded locking ourselves into a year-long contract at a price we could easily live off for much longer in South East Asia.

So we sold everything and lived off our savings in South East Asia while we now had the time to give all our energy to our online businesses.

How is life now compared to when you weren’t travelling?

Our life is better now, we are all less stressed. We are excited for every day to see and explore something new. Even mundane everyday stuff like doing laundry in a new country is exciting.

Our quality of life is much better, we can eat out, travel, and have new experiences which we neither had time nor money for back in SA.

Our marriage is much stronger without the South African stress, safety concerns and instability on us. We feel much much safer wherever in Southeast Asia we have been. We live on a third of what we would have needed living a suburban life back in SA.

God is good ❤ 


Different cultures are to be celebrated, not feared

The Hayes-Saunders family

A photo of the Hayes Saunders family

Why are you travelling?

Sometimes I wonder, haha!

Mainly to seize life and introduce our children to the world so that they understand better that the world is full of normal people, and that different cultures and food are something to be celebrated not feared.

Was there a trigger that made you make the decision?

Mainly selling our second property and suddenly having a significant amount of cash in or bank account.

We planned to buy a bigger house but when the money actually hit the account we thought,”wow, we are never going to have this much cash at our disposal ever again! Let’s live life and go travelling”.

We had already decided to move away from our hometown so it seemed perfect to pack up for a year on the way to our next home.

How is life now compared to when you weren’t travelling?

In terms of family life, it is very much “same shit, different place”. The kids still won’t eat healthy dinners, the laundry still needs doing (endlessly), we need to buy groceries etc.

But we have no routine to guide us so we tend to flit around. Sometimes doing activities and sometimes just bumming around. We have learned that as a family our ideal time spent in a place is 3-4 weeks minimum as we all find the transition of travel difficult.

That said we are having incredible experiences and learning so much – I mean, we swam in the sea on Christmas day in New Zealand- something you would only do in the UK if you were nuts!!

Making good memories but travelling with a family is not the same as travelling before kids and it has had as many challenges as delights.

There are no regrets about being away, but the journey has been in ourselves as much as in the outside world. 


We love exploring new places

The Conn family

The Conn family from www.thefamilyvoyage.com

Why are you travelling?

My husband and I have always loved traveling and seeking out new experiences, but we didn’t really ramp up our travels until we started having kids, ironically. We love exploring new places and having great quality time as a family without the distractions of life ‘on the home front’.

Was there a trigger that made you make the decision?

We had talked somewhat jokingly and longingly about doing a major trip like our current gap year for a while – but we expected to do it as a couple, once we had shipped both kids off to college. And then we each found ourselves at a professional crossroads at the same time that our older child was about to transition from preschool to elementary.

The timing just felt right to spend this amazing time together before settling down into the next chapter.

How is life now compared to when you weren’t travelling?

It’s more fun, for sure. We wake up every day and think of something amazing to do as a family, like climb a mountain in Patagonia. And despite the ever-changing logistics, it’s a simpler life in many ways.

We rarely have commitments beyond scheduled activities like boat rides or hanging out with penguins (yes, really), so we don’t have to think about the constant juggle of work, childcare and volunteer responsibilities.

The minimalist living also makes things easier – there’s only ever a few days’ worth of clothing to fold or a small pile of toys to put away. Since we’re basically together all the time and generally have ample time to cook at home, we do a better job of meal planning and waste very little food.

That said, obviously, we’re constantly on the move and having to feel out a new situation every day – whether it’s the multitude of sleeping arrangements for the kids or how well-stocked the kitchen is in our Guest to Guest exchange home or Airbnb rental.

Find out more about where the Conns are at thefamilyvoyage.com


We all have such different reasons for wanting to travel. What are yours? Post a comment or question below.

We all have such different reasons for wanting to travel. What are yours?

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