We are a family of 5 from Canada and this blog is a place for us to share our travelling adventures. We have always loved travelling and understand that life is short and believe that you can continue to travel even after having kids. Our philosophy is to do it now with our children, rather then wait for retirement. Our tagline, “On a boat, On a plane, It’s Really All the Same” is our travel philosophy – as long as we are traveling we are happy. We have lived as expats overseas twice, taken extended career breaks and cruised on a sailboat. We also have long patches of regular every-day living as we try to figure out how gypsy and vagabond we want to be. Read on for a more detailed background of how our travelling has evolved.
I had a fairly typical childhood in Canada until I was 14 and with my family, we sailed down to the Bahamas for two years. This planted that wanderlust seed, that creates a restlessness within me today. It is one that I am constantly trying to find a balance between – the need to travel and the need for community and stability.
Paul meanwhile emigrated to Canada from England when he was 8. Paul enjoyed summers back in England growing up and lots of local travel in Canada. Paul lost his parents at a young age and that certainly has contributed to both of our perspectives about not waiting until later to do what you truly want to do. While I was living in France, Paul was doing a university co-op placement in Arizona and flew to meet me. We got engaged in Paris and got married the following year.
After getting married, we took trips on our time off from work to Europe and Australia and then one day decided that we didn’t like only being able to go away for a couple of weeks. Within a couple of months, we were off on our first extended trip. In 2006 we spent 3 months exploring Africa and 3 months in Southeast Asia.
When we returned, we got down to the business of having kids (3 in less than 4 years). We were never deterred from traveling with kids and managed to do some great traveling (Europe, Turkey, New Zealand, Bahamas) while they were babies.
In 2010, an opportunity came up for Paul to transfer to his company’s Malaysian office. We had always wanted to work overseas so we jumped at this opportunity. While Paul was in Malaysia signing the contract, we found out we were pregnant with our youngest, which was certainly a new development. However, we opted to go ahead with the move and Miles was born in Malaysia in 2011.
We had visited Malaysia before, but living in Malaysia gave us the opportunity to fully immerse ourselves in the country. We also had the benefit of living the expat lifestyle. We thoroughly loved our time there: the food, the travel it allowed, the great friends from around the world we made, and exposing our kids to new cultures. However, with 3 young kids including a new baby, we also really missed our lives back in Canada, especially all our friends and family.
We were home in Canada for 2.5 years enjoying being close to family and friends and enjoying being home in our house. We took some more traditional trips like travelling around Alberta in an RV, driving to Florida and doing Disneyworld, time in the Bahamas on my parent’s boat, and some parents only trips to California and Las Vegas. However, that itchy feeling returned pretty quickly.
After exploring various ideas, staying motivated by reading endless travel blogs, my parents gave us the amazing opportunity of using their sailboat in the Bahamas in 2015.
We took 6 months off from our jobs, pulled the kids out of school and boarded the boat in just a few weeks. We had a lot to learn; I grew up spending my summers sailing in Canada and spent two years living aboard when I was a teenager. Paul was new to sailing, but became quite a good co-captain and it helps that he can fix anything. We spent 5 glorious months exploring the Bahamian islands. We then flew to Nicaragua and spent a month backpacking around.
We had barely landed back in Canada before the planning for the next trip began.
The new adventure started Fall of 2016 as we embarked on our second expat overseas placement in Melbourne, Australia for a work opportunity for Paul. In typical Nicholson fashion, we squeezed 6 weeks of travel en route. We enjoyed exploring Amsterdam, re-visiting some of our backpacker haunts in Bangkok and a month in southern India, our introduction to this amazing country.
While in Australia, we are determined to explore as much as we can and often spend weekends camping in the surrounding area. It hasn’t been an easy adjustment and in the Expat Life section I blog honestly about the challenges, joys and experiences of living overseas.