Is it possible to leave everything behind for a whole year? The house, the job, the schooling, the bills. The dog. Is that possible? Leave everything behind and go and travel the world. Take two teenagers, a shed load of hormones, four rucksacks, a laptop and a fistful of savings. These are the questions have been plaguing me for the past few months.This post contains affiliate links. They cost you nothing but we make a small commission.
Like a mozzie bite that won’t go away, even when you put bite cream onto it.
We emigrated to New Zealand 8 years ago. It’s been eight years of bliss. Admittedly, there have been challenges, of course, there has, but mostly it’s been fantastic. But. Brian works hard. Very hard. And the kids hardly ever get to see him. Two days a week, which, in the last year has been reduced to one day – taking into account that on Saturday and Sunday my kids don’t emerge from their beds until midday. So one day and a few hours. And that’s it.
What family doesn’t love spending time together? I know we do. That’s why we initially moved to New Zealand – to be able to take more time as a family, but it just hasn’t worked out that way. Not for Brian anyway. He’s our breadwinner and our hero, but the kids miss him terribly.
We have always loved to travel. Both as a couple before the kids were on the scene and as a family. Travelling is exciting, travelling makes you work things out together. Travelling brings you closer, creates amazing memories and gives you lots to talk about when you have a power cut.
We have been on some jaw-dropping holidays over the past few years, but they have been just that. Holidays. Staying in fancy hotels and going out for dinner. Disneyland, Vegas. Three weeks max. Wonderful, and exciting and yes, I know how privileged we have been to be able to take the kids to those places, but it didn’t cut the mustard if you know what I mean.
The kind of travelling I’m talking about is the one where you just leave everything behind and go on an adventure. Backpacking. Dirty. Cheap. Budget. All those sorts of fun things that my two teenagers squirm at, that most people would give a wide berth to but the kind of travelling that excites me the most.
What Brought This On?
We were camping at Blue Lake in Rotorua on the North Island of New Zealand. I had been reading my new book that Brian had bought me for Christmas. The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss. If you are looking for a change in lifestyle and you haven’t read this book I encourage you to buy it and get ready for your life to take a different turn. It’s amazing. I’ve read it three times now and still get something different out of it. I warn you though- you’ll change in some way.
Back to the campsite. We had just been to some amazing free hot pools and had met a bunch of backpackers. They were all buzzing with the places they had been to and what adventures were next, they were so energetic and carefree. It was infectious. That night, over a bottle of very delicious Pinot Noir we got talking about the Tim Ferriss book and began to talk about how much money we would need to take a whole year off and travel the world with the kids. It was one of those nights where the wine and ideas never ceased to stop flowing. I wished I could have bottled that night and kept it. Saved it for those days that are hard to us. The ones that make you feel as though nothing is ever going to be possible. Those sort of days.
I was expecting to get up the next morning and the little itch be gone. I would have put our giddy conversation down to the warm, balmy evening. The wine, the hot pools, the fact that Brian had been with us for a whole two weeks. After all, when you’re a team, everything seems possible. But the itch didn’t go away. Every night of that holiday, we talked about the possibility of taking a year out and travelling the world. Whether or not it was feasible. Realistic. Fair even.
Over the months that followed, we played devil’s advocate. Tried to talk ourselves out of it loads of times. But no. It was there. That question; ‘Could we leave everything behind for a whole year and travel the world with the kids?’ Could we go and have a big fat adventure as a family?
And Talking About the Kids…
And then there are the kids. That’s another factor. Ever since they were babies, we would talk about how we would love to take them all over the world. Show them different things, see the world through their eyes. Experience the travelling bond that you only ever experience when you’re stuck at an airport as a family together, and you’ve missed the last flight.
The years have just melted into one big beautiful blur of emigrating, homeschooling and hormones and here we stand, Sonny is 16 and Tessa 13. We reckon it won’t be long before our boy is off on his own, and he certainly won’t want his mum and dad tagging along – not even if I do tie myself to his trouser leg. And it wouldn’t be the same – travelling with just one of them; I wouldn’t want to do that. Sorry, Tess. Another deciding factor that it was either now or never.
We kept umming and ahhing, two-ing and frow-ing, shall we? Shan’t we? And then, a month ago we decided. We. Are. Going. We. Are. Doing. It. Leaving everything behind and embracing change. Brian is in the throws of pulling away from his business, and me? Well, I’m trying to get the house, my children, my website, our finances and the washing sorted. Oh, and I have to walk the dog.
How Can A 16-Year-Old Drop Out of School?
I‘m not sure. But my teenager won’t be dropping out of anything. Think of it as stepping up into a different kind of learning. A worldschooling learning experience.
Sonny currently learns at home through a correspondence school. In case you’re not familiar with that term it’s an online school. He is assigned tutors for each subject that he takes. Those tutors are there to speak with him or email him. They set his work for him to pass exams. He does internal examinations throughout the year and then a load of External exams which he sits at a designated local high school.
Because he’s the person he is (motivated) and I am the mother that I am (a worrying, neurotic freak) he started his exams a year early. In New Zealand, these are called NCEA. In the Uk, I think they are called GCSEs. I’m not sure what they are in the States. You get the picture though, exams that apparently say whether you have achieved enough to get into a University or get a decent job. I’ll tell you my real opinion on this another time, but for now, you might want to read this.
Should he want to, he will be able to continue working online as he travels, but in reality, if he passes all of his exams by the end of November this year, he will be a year ahead and so won’t need to bother. I’m hoping this is the case that way we can just learn as we go without being restricted to assignment deadlines and skype calls and such. Same goes for Tess. She’s going to learn everything there is to learn about the world first hand. We pay for a couple of online Maths and science courses that she may well continue with, but along with her brother, she will be world schooling. The maths course she does is amazing and worth every penny. It follows the Uk curriculum and is thorough and concise. It won’t let her move on until she gets the green light after a test. If you’re interested either for maths tuition on the road or are just in need of some extra maths homework, I thoroughly recommend it. You can find it here. Conquer Maths. (Just don’t tell your kids it was me who gave it to you, ok?!)
How Much Money Does it Cost to Travel the World?
The big question that everyone wants to know. Including myself. I suppose it will come down to what we want to do. If we plan on going diving with the reef sharks in Malaysia or experience fine Japanese dining, it’s going to cost us an arm and a leg. But, that’s not on our agenda, (sorry kids). I’m thinking more along the lines of roughing it on peoples couch for a few weeks or staying in a hostel so that we can afford to go and do a few unique things with the kids. We want to be able to order a bottle of wine, eat some delicious authentic street food, and get a taxi or a boat ride if we need to. And I’m also saving my money for an Indian desert safari on a camel. It’s an obsession of mine. The thought of my two teenagers, no phone signal, atop a camel in the middle of the desert is enough to make me want to sell my teeth to pay for it.
Again, I’m new to this too. I’ve done loads of research on various travel sites that I follow regularly, but at the moment we are making a rough estimate. We are budgeting on about $90,000 NZD for the year. Might be less (hopefully) might be more (please God, no). That will be tight, I know, but hopefully, we will manage it. If not, we will have to come home and move on to plan B. I just haven’t thought of plan B yet. It had better not involve selling my teeth. I already did that for the camel.
How Can You Afford to Leave Everything Behind and Travel the World?
I‘ll have to keep you updated on this one. It’s a combination of Brian’s business sale and a few other contributing factors. We have rented our house out. That will cover the cost of the mortgage, plus, a few little extras like the rates and insurance, so all of those bills are being taken care of. We have been selling as much of our stuff as possible. All the crap that we never use but can’t bear to part with? It’s going. Steadily and surely. We’ve been selling things privately and also on Trademe ( the NZ equivalent of eBay) So far, its all equated to the cost of our first four flights out of NZ so not too bad!
And then there are our savings. We have been living quite frugally for the past eight years. This being mainly down to the fact that we started to homeschool the kids which meant that I couldn’t go out and earn money. In case you’re wondering, home educators get paid a measly sum of about $600 per year per child. It’s not enough to travel the world! I worked full time at a theatre company that I started last year, but again, I did it for love, not the money. I seem to have a knack of choosing professions that don’t pay that well.
Where Will You Go?
Haha! This is the exciting part! We plan on going over to America to spend some time with Brian’s family. From there, SE Asia. India, Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, China and Japan. Over to Greece.Through Europe. Over to the UK to see both our families. And then, (if we haven’t run out of money) Africa and back to NZ. (with a pair of false teeth). It’s all very up in the air at the moment, and that’s how we like it. We are not ones to plan right down to the minute. Far from it. It drives people mad, I know, especially my daughter who, like any teenager, wants to know what time dinner will be on the table, whether or not it will have mushrooms in it and what film she will be watching afterwards. I don’t know. That’s just the way we are. We like to go by the seat of our pants and plan as we go. It’s always worked for us that way, so we aren’t about to change it now.
But You’re Leaving Everything Behind! Are You Nervous/Excited/ Both?
The answer is all three.
Some days I sit there and think, what the hell are we doing? Brians work van has just blown a cylinder head gasket, putting it off the road. The bill to get it fixed is going to run into the thousands. We didn’t need that, but, it’s not stopping us. I just need to remind myself that worrying about things, especially money, does you no good whatsoever. I worried when we had $600 a week coming in and I still worried when we had $1700 a week. It’s pointless. You have what you have. Everything you have is all that you need. Remember that Liz. Ok? Thank you. I will.
Every night we all sit and watch travel documentaries on youtube together after dinner. Because we are BIG foodies are favourite one at the moment is Mark Weins from Food Migration. He’s amazing, so positive. I’m not joking that man could eat a cockroach and make it sound delicious. Watch his channel or read his blog, if you love food and travel you’ll become hooked.
This is the best feeling ever. Knowing there is a change coming and rising to it. Of course, it’s not going to be a bed of roses, there’s money to think about, always, but I’m sure we will be fine. I know we will be more than fine. We are adventurers.
So, to date, that’s us. We reached a point in our lives, a very comfortable point might I add, where we sat in a campsite (once again) and thought ‘what is it all for?’ We have both worked hard all of our lives. We have travelled, set many businesses up, we have emigrated, we have homeschooled, and now we are going to throw it all up in the air once more and travel the world with two teenagers. One of which could probably eat $85,000 worth of food in two weeks.
When you have an itch, a feeling, desire, call it whatever you like, I think you have to scratch that itch, pursue that dream. Otherwise, that’s all it will ever be – a dream. Make it happen. Why not leave everything behind? At least give it a go. Whats the worse thing that can happen? You have to start again. So what?
We are not wealthy, we are not poor, we are just an average hard working family who wants to go on an adventure together, and in November we will be turning that dream into a reality. I hope you will follow us on what is bound to be a year filled with real-life adventures, truths, challenges, laughter, tears and of course…drama.
Have you ever felt as though you wanted to leave everything behind and do something different? Drop me a comment below and chat. Did you do it? Are you planning on doing it? Was it fabulous? Horrific? Did you sell your teeth? I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Until then, happy adventures!