It’s been the dream for many years – living a nomadic lifestyle with kids and having location independence. You’ve finally got your online business, or online income, to the stage where you feel comfortable to dive in to the life completely defined by you.
Except you now have kids, and you’re not exactly sure how you can fit them into this free flowing digital lifestyle.
Take it from me – it ain’t easy, but neither is a white-picket-fence life with kids. Each comes with their own set of issues, you just have to work out which lifestyle will give you the greatest buzz in the up moments.
We traveled around Australia for 18 months in a tiny travel trailer and made it work. We also did an (almost) 11 month RV trip around the USA, and we’ve also balanced work, with kids, as full time parents and homeschoolers with a home base. As a travel blog is our main source of income, every time we travel, we’re balancing work with kids.
We’ve been traveling blogging with our kids for 12 years now (as of July 2022). Since the end of our RV trip in 2019 (right before COVID shut us all down), we’ve lived a more settled life in our soul home of Raleigh and recently bought a home.
We are so thankful we are no longer full time traveling with our kids while running a business. We’ve done our time, it was fantastic, but we love the more settled life, as do our kids. No more homeschooling for any of us, as they no go to school!
But, that doesn’t mean we can’t help you as we have loads of experience. We’ve had a lot of victories and made a lot of mistakes and know how to best prepare you. We also have 29+ of our best family travel tips to help!
1. How will your children learn?
If you’ve got school aged children, you’ve just invited a few extra hours of work into your life – the teaching kind. How are you going to cater to your child’s education while you are living a nomadic lifestyle?
Based upon my experiences as a former teacher, your children will learn far more traveling than they will in a classroom. But, the law says you’ve got to be accountable for their education.
WE did distance education while traveling Australia. I’ve written a detailed post here of my opinion and experiences.
Distance education will save you time having to create lessons and units of work yourself, but there is a fair amount of work your child will have to do. You as the supervisor will also have to find that time.
For us in Australia, home-schooling is only an option if you have a fixed address. Because we are on the move we had to do distance education.
For those with a bit more flexibility and time freedom, homeschooling could be a better option. You’ll be in charge of creating, implementing, assessing and evaluating all lessons that adhere to the formal curriculum. This is what we did in the USA.
Then there is worldschooling or unschooling, where you just let the kids engage with life and learn that way. We did this mostly at the end of our USA RV trip. It was great.
Our daughters are now in school and are thriving. They are way above grade level and have fantastic grades. Their teachers can’t believe they had never been in school before.
No matter what style you choose, your child will learn more from travel, so go embrace those experiences. You can find a style that best suits your circumstances and it can evolve as you evolve.
We share our experiences and expert advice in this podcast on homeschooling while traveling.
2. How slow will you travel?
Contiki style trips – you know 6 countries in 6 weeks through Europe work well when you’re 21. (Actually, I’d like to say they’re never a good idea).
When you have kids, and an online business, it’s an adventure into hell. Choose a few places that grab your heart and stay awhile. Give yourself a chance to settle in and enjoy a little foreign living.
We try to have a minimum 3 night stay in a location, but we’re on a road trip so could be more mobile than you. Embrace living in a destination for a minimum 6 months and you’ll be so glad you said yes to being a digital nomad.
As our podcast on whether our US RV trip was worth it and this one on the pros of cons of RV Travel will show, traveling too fast can kill the joy. It’s one reason we regret choosing to travel the US with an RV.
It was way too difficult to manage our business. In comparison to Australia, it was a much slower pace, as there is far less to see, and we weren’t racing around to navigate weather.
3. What is your style of travel?
We’ve just switched from hostels, apartments and camping to a camper trailer. It’s making a huge difference to our happiness levels. Our girls needed a little more stability and security and they’re loving their home on wheels.
Carefully choose your style of travel. If you choose wrong it can be an exhausting experience that turns the fun arse end up.
What’s the point in choosing a nomadic lifestyle if it ends up being as challenging as the one you are trying to leave?
As our top family travel tips say, you must consider the ages of your kids and their personalities as well.
We considered backpacking Southeast Asia when our youngest was 17 months. We soon learned that her personality and age was not a good match for Southeast Asia. It would have been a nightmare managing her on top of all the stress that running a business can bring when you travel full time WITH kids. We soon changed to the Australian road trip instead.
I think road trips are far more manageable, especially with younger kids.
4. How will you earn an income?
Becoming location independent can mean a significant drop in your expenses, if you plan it well. But, if you want to make this a permanent thing, you need an income.
What’s your income plan?
How many hours do you need to work in a day/week/month? Can you hire a VA, or outsource work? What are your priorities? (do that social media cull – you only have time now for those activities that bring in the cash.)
We find it incredibly difficult to manage the work load with the 1-3 hours of daily work time we get. We’ve embraced outsourcing (a total game and life changer) and we have a very strict list of priorities, which means we say no a lot more than yes.
We’ve also created an income where we get paid around our lifestyle of travel – a total multi-tasking win. Step outside the box and see if there’s any way you can do the same?
5. How can you get connected?
The first question I ask now upon deciding whether to stay in a new destination or not is, “Do you get internet service here?”
I hate that I’m a slave to the World Wide Web. But, it’s how I make an income and since my work time is short, I can’t stay at a place for 2-3 days and not be connected.
You’ve got to consider not only connection ability, but price. Our monthly data bills are ludicrous! Australia is well-known for being an expensive place to get online. If our road trip wasn’t a core part of our business, we’d be donning the backpacks for South East Asia where we’d get unlimited data for $20 a month.
We were surprised at how often we did not have internet connection when traveling the USA. As most of our travel was in the WEST through remote areas and lots of national parks, internet connection was hard to find, and it severely impacted our business.
You also have to factor in the cost. It can be expensive with all the data you may consume and finding free WIFI has its limitations with speed, strong connections and limits on data.
Will internet connection be important for your nomadic lifestyle?
6 How will you manage balance and flexibility?
Time to sign up for juggling school.
A nomadic lifestyle with kids is tough because you’re on for 24/7. There’s no child care or grandparents to give you a break.
You’re in control of managing every aspect of the day: healthy eating, exercise, play, education, income creation, parenting routines, and much needed time out for everyone.
How will you manage this without going insane? What’s your back up one for when it all goes pear-shaped? Odds are it will!
Have the flexibility to adapt as you grow and learn what works and what doesn’t.
We’ve changed our schedule and travel style multiple times on this journey to save everyone’s sanity. We ensure that we incorporate activities that cater to everyone’s desires, including scheduling down time for everyone.
Don’t forget arranging for meet ups with your family and friends. We’ve loved having Nan and Pop come to visit and getting a much needed Zen break!
What are your tips for going location independent with kids? What else do you worry about?