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.
On the blog you’ll read about our adventures on and off the beaten path, with detailed information about the logistics of the location and the costs. There’s also tons of tips for traveling with kids, and a handful of packing lists (my favourite!). Where is the World is meant to be a resource, as well as inspiration, for your own family travels.
Name: We’re the Hunter Family, online we’re known as Where is the World.
Home Base: Our home base is a small town in Northern Canada. It’s cold in the winter, but the summer days are long and we have a great community there. We’re currently traveling long-term, but will return home sometime next summer (2018).
Tell us about your family: We are a family of 4, with two cute and engaging little girls named Calais (Kal-lay) who’s 7 and Kacela ( Kuh-say-luh) who’s 5. We love to travel off the beaten path, and get excited by the prospect of experiencing something few others have. Of course, we still like some more “normal” destinations as well. It’s easier traveling where more folks tend to go, although it can get a bit crowded! We think that lesser known destinations provide the opportunity to better experience local life, which in turn will help us raise compassionate, empathetic, globally minded human beings. So far I think we’re doing pretty good (but I’m completely biased)!
To fund our travels, I’m an optometrist (eye doctor) and Randy has a financial consulting company. We both own our companies, which gives us the flexibility to travel a fair amount. This didn’t just happen overnight, it’s taken a number of years to work towards this. I can’t bring my job on the road, but with some advanced planning I’m able to take off for long’ish stretches at a time. I also have two amazing business partners, which makes this possible.
What’s your preferred travelling style? Our travel style is a mixed bag of just about everything, although I’m not a big fan of full-on camping (the girls love it though)! We’re fortunate enough to take a healthy amount of vacation, and are currently on a year long family sabbatical with plans to continue traveling a LOT after our year’s over. We like to stay in guest-houses and apartments as much as possible, but don’t mind occasionally relaxing at a resort. One thing we haven’t done yet is a cruise. I have a bad attitude towards cruising, but I’m sure once I experience it I’ll begrudgingly love it. I think I need to view it as a vacation, which is very different from traveling, and then I think I’d be okay!
We’re happiest taking local transportation, eating at small neighbourhood restaurants, and communicating with a lot of hand-waving and actions. This can be stressful at times, and it’s definitely more work, but it’s always the most rewarding.
How are your kids schooled? Normally, our kids attend a French immersion school in our home town. This year we’re attempting a world-schooling, or unschooling approach. They’re learning so much as we travel, and we’re trying to talk about history, culture and the environment along the way. We’ve brought along a few math games, some books and a journal each, and that’s about it. Luckily, they’re still little (currently in Kindergarten and 2nd grade), so I think it’s more than enough for now.
Which countries/regions did you explore with your kids so far? So far we’ve traveled with our kids to; Europe (Iceland, France, Germany), Africa (Morocco, Togo, Benin & Burkina Faso), The Americas (USA and Honduras), and Asia (Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and China). We have plans for about 20 more countries this year throughout Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Central & South America!
The most difficult was definitely Benin & Burkina Faso, and we joke that after having traveled through these countries we can likely travel anywhere. The most surprising was Morocco. It was much easier than we anticipated, and such a fantastic mix of European, African and Middle Eastern culture. My favourite country so far has been Vietnam, mainly because the food is delicious and the people are incredibly friendly. My least-favourite city was Phnom Penh. Nothing against it, just a series of unfortunate events that led to our time there being flustered and not enjoyable.
What do you think you could discover thanks to travelling with your kids that you would have not done/seen without them? The best discovery traveling with our kids, is the connection with people. Traveling with kids opens the door to interact with people in a way that just doesn’t happen when traveling as an adult alone. Kids tend to have less inhibitions, and people of many cultures are drawn to kids (especially cute little blonde girls in our case!). Many people will stop us on the street to say hi to our children, giving us the opportunity to start a conversation. Or our kids will play with other kids in a park, and we’ll strike up a conversation with their parents. The kids have been the gateway to many meaningful conversations while traveling, and we’ve learned things we otherwise wouldn’t have.
Do you have any advice for traveling with kids? Traveling with kids can be hard, but it’s so rewarding. My best piece of advice is to adjust the way you think about travel, then pack extra patience and just know that things aren’t going to go as planned. It always takes longer to get places, someone’s destined to have a melt-down at the worst possible times, and everyone’s bound to get dirty. Kids are still kids whether they’re at home or traveling, and parenting is still required even though it’s supposed to be a „vacation“. We’ve completely removed the word vacation from our vocabulary (unless we’re traveling without our kids, then it truly is a vacation!). If you call it a vacation, it sets you up for disappointment. If you refer to it as „travel“ or „an adventure“, then you’re setting yourself up for success. If you have realistic expectations, there are some amazing experiences to be found traveling with your kids. When all else fails, wine is great for keeping calm! The kids get ice cream as a treat at the end of a long day, and mom gets wine!
Thank you, Kyla! 🙂
Get inspiration from other traveling families and check out our previous interviews!