traveling is broadly associated with folks in their 20’s, people that are somewhere in or just out of their education, young people, free people, folks that are not having a family yet. But in fact, there is (almost) no reason for excluding longterm travels or journeys on rather unbeaten paths from your globetrotting possibilities once you’ve started a family.
In my series Traveling Families I am interviewing families that did not drop their traveling plans and neither ground down their wanderlust but decided to continue their journey together with their kids.
Dawn and her family are probably one of the most traveled people I have met so far. Not alone have they been in more than 50 countries, they are even experienced expats AND they lived on a sailing boat! I am very excited that they are part of my traveling families interview series and are sharing their truly inspiring stories.
“Dawn Nicholson loves traveling and blogging about her adventures traveling and living overseas with her three kids at 5 Lost Together. She has visited over 50 countries and believes strongly in traveling now with kids by any and every means possible – backpacking, sailing or living as expats overseas. You can follow her adventures and musing at: Facebook and Instagram”
Name: We are the Nicholson family, a family of 5 from Canada. Our kids are 5, 7, and 9 years old we frequently find ourselves lost together around the world. Our family travel blog is www.5losttogether.com
Home Base: I think it’s interesting to know where people are from, even though it can be a tricky question to answer if you are travelling or moving around a lot. Name what ever location you call home 🙂 We are a Canadian family, but currently living in Melbourne, Australia. This is our second time living overseas as expats. The first time was in Malaysia, where my youngest son was born.
Tell us about your family: First and foremost, we are a family that loves to travel and loves to be together. We are a pretty regular family, tight-knit and . My husband lost his parents at a young age and that combined with my natural wanderlust, keeps us focused on living in the present and doing the things we want to do now, rather than waiting. We evaluate all of our decisions with this in mind and always ask, “Will we regret this later or wish we had done this?” Our goal is to have as little regrets as possible when we are older.
What’s your preferred travelling style? We believe that there is no one right way to travel with your kids and we will seek out any opportunity that allows us to travel as a family. We have done short trips, longer extended career breaks, lived on a sailboat and lived overseas as expats twice. Although I dream about travelling indefinitely and being digital nomads, we aren’t ready to cut our ties to our life in Canada completely. We find creative ways to stretch our holidays and value vacation time over pay.
How are your kids schooled? For the most part our kids have attended public schools in Canada and Australia. When we lived in Malaysia, they did attend an international school and there have been periods of time when we travelled that they have been home schooled. My background is in education and I firmly believe that traveling is the best type of education out there. I know many parents worry about their kids missing school, but generally teachers are very enthusiastic about kids having these amazing travel opportunities. I was home schooled for two years in high school when I was a kid because my parents took us on a two-year sailing trip and it certainly didn’t negatively affect me. When I did home school them, we used more of the unschooling philosophy and did not focus that much on structured learning. There are lots of good websites out there that focus on world schooling and I would encourage parents to consider these unorthodox ways of learning when traveling for extended periods of time.
Tell us about your dearest family travel memory. We have been so fortunate to travel to so many places with our kids and it is so hard to pick just one memory. The memory that stands out the most was when we lived on a sailboat in the Bahamas for five months. Of course there were beautiful beaches and amazing islands to explore, but it was the slower and simpler way of life that makes it the most memorable for me. When living on a boat, you have to be self-sufficient. You have to ration water and electricity, you have limited access to supplies and food and you are far removed from our commercialized society we live in. Life was slower and simpler. We didn’t have access to internet every day, we didn’t have lots of toys on board and we didn’t have distractions. Most nights after dinner, we would play card games together as a family and we were 100% focused on each other and the present. When we returned from that trip, we tried to maintain these things, but it is difficult in this whirlwind pace of life we live in.
Which countries/regions did you explore with your kids so far? The kids have been to Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand, Nicaragua, parts of Europe, the Caribbean and Canada and the US.
Thinking back to your past travels, which on was the best and why? I really like exploring by RV with kids, especially when they are younger. We rented a RV and spent 3 weeks driving around the South Island of New Zealand and I have so many great memories of that trip. With an RV, you have a home base, but you’re still moving around exploring different places each day. There is no moving in and out of hotel rooms, worrying about transportation or eating out at restaurants. Our kids were 6 months and 2.5 on that trip and we could stop when we needed, pull over and make lunch and didn’t have to worry about unpacking and settling in at every new stop. The kids thought the RV was a pretty fun playhouse to explore. We did a second RV trip in the Rocky Mountains of Canada once we were a family of 5 and that trip was equally as good.
Do you have any advice for traveling with kids? I think it is important to travel slower when you are traveling with kids. They need some down time build into the schedule and time to play. For example, when planning our month-long trip to Central America, we thought about visiting a few countries. Instead we opted to spend the whole month in Nicaragua to really immerse ourselves in the country and slow down. As your kids get older, it is important to involve them in the trip planning. They will be much more excited about the places you will visit if they had a hand in designing the trip. After a month in India, we knew we wanted to decompress for a week in Southeast Asia and we let our 9-year- old daughter research Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok and choose where we would go. She picked Bangkok and felt very proud of her research and choice.
What do you think is the best benefit for your children from your journeys? I truly believe traveling is the most educational thing you can do with your kids. People worry about taking their kids out of school to travel, but thing of what they are missing out on, if you don’t. Traveling leads to organic interest in topics and places and our kids ask the most amazing questions when traveling. We discuss politics, the environment, social issues, history and so much more because they are truly interested because they are living and breathing the country they are visiting. I also think it is important for kids to be global citizens of the world and to be aware of different cultures and practices. Traveling allows our kids to see what a privileged life they have growing in the West and to value experiences, over things. My kids still love things, but they are more aware that you don’t need things to make you happy.
Thank you so much, Dawn and safe travels!
Want to know more about traveling families and get inspired? Check out my traveling families interview series and see how other parents are following their travel dreams.