My life for me isn’t just traveling. And it isn’t just an easy way to make my way in the world. As you probably already know by now, this lifestyle is very meaningful to me. And in fact almost every step I take, and almost every choice I make, happens only after a lot of consideration and no little desire to do the utmost for me, but mostly for my children.
I try my hardest to take the points that make our unique routine, and make the most of them. To think, to be creative and use everything that our lifestyle allows, all to give my children morals, confidence and experience.
This post is born of questions that a number of families asked me while planning their trips or already traveling. I found out in in the short, practical answers I give to everyone, hides a lot more than just “how to pack for your trip”
So here are four things that seem small, but in reality are huge.
1. Their own bags
When going on a long trip, your suitcase or big bag and everything in it become a very big part of your life. Therefore, it’s important to put some thought into how to best distribute the equipment between everyone.
Give your children their own bags, let them decide what they take (with your well-meaning guiding), and make sure all their things fit into their own bag. That includes shoes, personal toiletries, and a towel if possible. That bag will be their private, intimate place, where their things are, and they’re responsible for it.
Give them the feeling that you trust them to know how to take care of their things, to remember packing them whenever you’re going to a new place, and make sure they can carry their bag themselves. Respect their privacy about the things in the bag, and give them that good feeling involved in being responsible over its contents.
2. Financial freedom
Southeast Asia presents a wonderful opportunity to let the kids handle money on an everyday basic from a very young age. Involve the kids with everything money, on the everyday level. But everything. They should know how much the room costs at the guesthouse, look at the prices in menus, and be aware of the daily budget you’re keeping to. Calculate exchange rates.
And beyond that- make sure they always have money in their pocket. To experience regular shopping, every day, according to need, but also desire. Slowly slowly they’ll learn not to buy ice-cream with that money, but to save it for when they’re really thirsty and just want a bottle of water. Or to pay for the laundry you asked them to collect. Or the bus ride. I’ve been giving my older children (14 and 17 years old) free access to the family wallet and money and they manage their money very responsibly.
3. social awareness
During your time abroad you’ll have to deal with a lot of things you might not think about beforehand. For example, friends’ and family’s birthdays and other events you won’t be able to participate in. to mark the important dates and feel that you share your loves ones’ happiness, despite the distance, set aside a small amount of money (that you would’ve spent anyway on the event) and go out with the kids to give that money to those that really need it. Make the kids a part of everything, ask them their opinions, and give them the chance to be involved. Buy fruits for the street urchins, clothe for poor families in your area, or donate a few books or toys to a local orphanage. To this day there’s a Tibetan woman in Pokhara that hugs me every time I pass her by, because of the warm socks and shirts I bought for her children for the birthday of a close friend of mine, in his name. Actually, it was my daughter that asked her what she needed and went with her to the store to get what she needed.
4. Full and active cooperation
Let the kids have a say about every decision, considerations, inquiries. Send them on info-gathering missions- starting from the currency exchange rates in whichever country you’re going to, and all the way to finding a place to sleep. My children, according to their ages, manage the trip completely alongside me. They search for plane tickets, find out all the info we need about the places we want to go to (visas, currency, diseases, etc..) and very often they’re also responsible for booking hotel rooms for the first few nights in a new destination. I don’t chase after them to do it, I trust them fully and give them all due credit. How to get from place to place, how much does it cost, which company to go with, how long does it take, where should we stop and rest. And many other fine-print details that amount to quite a list that we share amongst us.
The K-12 education program, experience public school at home.