RTW travel with kids

Round-the-World Travel With Kids

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One of the things I love the most about travel blogging is meeting other people that are equally as passionate about travel as I am.  Even better when they are travelling families who understand the nuisances, joys and challenges of travelling with kids.

Through my interviews for our Travel More Case Study series, I have gotten to know some incredible families that have made travel a priority and have found creative ways to make their travel dreams happen.  This week we talked to Nicky from Go Live Young about their family’s 9-month RTW (round-the-world) trip that they took in 2016-2017.

Back in Case Study #5 we talked to Melissa who is currently on a family gap year and she shared lots of great tips for planning a one-year trip.  I loved talking to Nicky about their trip with their three boys and it was interesting to hear her perspective and reflections since they have returned to the UK.  She shares lots of great tips and inspiration on RTW travel with kids that will have you planning your trip before you even finish the article!

RTW Travel with Kids: Meet Nicky from Go Live Young

1. Tell us a little bit about your family and your history with travel.

My name is Nicky, and me and my family recently did a nine month round the world trip visiting 15 different countries. We are a family of five, me and my husband, Dave, and our three boys, Dylan (14), Logan (12) and Flynn (10). It was the second round the world trip for Dave and I, as we’d previously spent a year travelling the world after university. We’ve always loved travel and been lucky enough to live all around the world and travel extensively.

Taking a slow boat up the Mekong in Laos

Taking a slow boat up the Mekong in Laos

2. When and how did the idea of a RTW trip come about?

We’d always talked about doing a world trip as a family but it wasn’t until Easter 2016 and a trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands that we really started to seriously consider the idea. The boys coped so well with this adventurous style of holiday, learning so much along the way, that we decided the time was right. We planned and organised our trip in just three months, leaving the UK at the start of August 2016!

RTW trip with kids

Departing the UK

3. What did you want to achieve with your trip?

Our trip was all about family time and a chance to explore the world together, building life long memories. We were conscious that our children were growing up fast and we wanted to do a big family trip before the boys hit their exam years.

4. How did you prepare? How did you decide where to go?

We spent just three months planning our trip and organising our lives in the UK. I was the chief planner during this time, booking flights, organising visas and finding accommodation. We wanted to take the boys to places we’d loved and experienced before, but also new places where none of us had been. China, Myanmar, Bhutan, Laos, Cambodia and South Africa were new destinations to us all. I managed to get some amazing value round the world airline tickets and spent a few weeks determining exactly where we would go and for how long. It was an exciting jigsaw puzzle fitting it all in.Cycling Yangshuo in China

We had the first five months of travel organised before we left home. We also had a rough plan for the second half of our trip, but waited to make those arrangements until we were on the road.

During this period we also had to sell our cars, put our careers on hold and take the boys out of school. This was an immensely exciting time, planning our trip.

5. Take us on your trip. What were the highlights?  What did the kids like the best?

Nine months around the world. We started off in China, a baptism of fire for us all, a very different culture, no English anywhere and so many people! From here we travelled much of SE Asia, including Thailand, Myanmar, Singapore, Bhutan, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia. Australia and New Zealand were next. Then some beach time on Fiji, before heading to South Africa. Our last stop before coming home was Mauritius.

We’ve seen so many amazing places and have so many highlights! Here’s one from each of us…

Nicky – the week we spent in Bhutan, a fascinating country in the Himalayas.

Spinning prayer wheels in Bhutan

Spinning prayer wheels in Bhutan

Dave – our first visit to the vast country of China.

Dylan – swimming with sharks in South Africa, his request before we set off on our world trip.

Logan – trekking with Komodo Dragons on Komodo, in Indonesia.

Flynn – road tripping through New Zealand in a campervan.

Hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in New Zealand

Hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in New Zealand

6. What were the biggest challenges of your RTW trip? How did the kids adapt?

We were able to spend huge amounts of quality time together as a family which was a huge positive, but at the same time, it was hard being together all the time. There were times when being together constantly became too much. Being together 24/7 was a big adjustment for us all.

Our three boys are a little gang and have each other to play with but they did miss the company of other friends. For almost five months we met few other children as we were travelling out of season through SE Asia. Once we hit Australia during holiday time they all gravitated towards other kids that we met along the way.

Our boys adapted brilliantly to travelling for an extended period. One thing that I’ve learnt is that kids are so adaptable and really embrace new opportunities and experiences. They also live in the moment and are generally happy as long as they know what they are doing that day.

The top of Table Mountain in Cape Town

The top of Table Mountain in Cape Town

7. The questions every one wants to know, is how did you afford to do this?

Good question. We’ve worked hard for twenty years and saved. Travel has always been important to us, so we’ve always invested in it. We spent savings in order to be able to travel for nine months but it was so worthwhile as we’ve had that time together and done so much as a family.

Meeting Komodo Dragons in Indonesia

Meeting Komodo dragons in Indonesia

8. What about your jobs? Your house?

We kept our house and simply locked it up! We were lucky as we had family nearby who kept an eye on it throughout our travels. We were always coming back and wanted somewhere to come back too. Our cars were sold.

Jobwise, Dave left a job he’d had for twenty years. It was time for a new challenge. We were lucky in that he had something lined up for our return.

9. What did you do about schooling? How have the kids adapted back into their schools since your return?

I’m a teacher and loved being able to teach the boys, targeting lessons to their needs and interests. Lessons would average two hours per day, concentrating on maths and literacy, five days a week. This gave us plenty of time to get out and see the world. Geography, science, RS and history were all covered through what we were doing, from the places we visited and experienced. Travelling the world brings so much more though, it’s an education in itself –  the boys have learnt so much from this experience.

Road schooling

Home schooling in New Zealand

Back at home, the boys adjusted well to going back to school. As I’ve already said, kids live in the moment, and ours were happy travelling and experiencing the world, but are equally happy back at school. They are all doing really well and easily kept up with their peers. We seem to have done a good job with our home schooling!

10. What type of budget do you have to have to do a family RTW?

The general consensus is that it costs between $20,000 to $30,000 per person to travel around the world for a year. This is a mid-range figure as it can obviously be more or less depending on how you travel.

Costs very much depend on where you go, where you stay and how you travel. For us, the first part of our trip was much cheaper than the second half. SE Asia is relatively cheap to travel in, whereas Australia and New Zealand are much more expensive (comparable to the UK). We averaged $200 per day, for our family of five, during our time in SE Asia. In Australia and New Zealand, more like $400 a day.

Primarily, we stayed in 2 or 3 star hotels and guesthouses, keeping costs down as much as possible. Apartments can also work out cheaper for a family of five. Where possible we all stayed in one room, often possible for a family of five in SE Asia.

Our flights were great value. Our round the world flights cost $13,000 for our family of five. Twelve international flights for each of us. We supplemented these with budget airline flights, train, boat and bus travel and occasionally renting a car.

Camping on Fraser Island in Australia

Camping on Fraser Island in Australia

11. Do you have any tips for those wanting to do a family RTW trip?

  • Enjoy every moment – it will pass all too quickly.
  • Don’t try to do too much. We had a “chill” day every four days or so, to relax, catch up on schoolwork, do some washing, and just hang out. You would end up exhausted if you tried to do things every minute of every day!
  • Plan carefully so that time spent sightseeing is mixed with beach or play time.
  • Don’t take too much stuff. We each carried a ruck-sack, the boys weighing about 10kg. It’s easy and cheap to wash stuff along the way, and things can be bought if needed.
    Swimming with sharks in Africa

    Swimming with sharks in Africa

12. How has the adjustment been to being home?

Different for each of us. I found it the most difficult. I really missed the travel, new experiences, excitement and planning that comes with long term travel. Dave started a new job and has been crazy busy with that, enjoying the challenge of something new. The boys simply slotted back into their “old” lives, with school, friends and activities. Children are super adaptable.

Connect with Go Live Young

I love Nicky’s enthusiasm for family travel and the value travel provides for kids.  Thankfully RTW travel with kids is becoming much more common and there are loads of families out there travelling for extended periods of time.  I hope her experience has got you thinking and provided you with some tools to plan your own RTW with kids.  Nicky has lots of great content on her blog, Go Live Young, to inspire you and help plan your trip.  You can also follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

TRAVEL MORE Case Studies

Don’t forget to read the other case studies in this series:

Travel dreaming: If you were taking your family on a RTW trip, where would you go? Leave me a message in the comments and tell me about your dream trip.  

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RTW Travel with Kids

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