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  • Writer's pictureSarah S.

Nomadic Family Lifestyle

Originally posted 7/24/2018

Life has been good. I can even claim to have traveled outside the good old U.S. of A. Back in the day, my first trip without “grown-ups” was Cabo San Lucas; and yes, it counts. Next up, Puerto Vallarta, an all-inclusive, and I loved every minute of it! Eventually, I got married and cruised to St. John and Nova Scotia, Canada for my honeymoon. We headed over to Aruba for a family wedding, with our firstborn, who was 3-years-old at the time. Our most recent venture was a 3-day cruise to Ensenada, Mexico back in 2015 with our two kids. So our travel has been very limited and far and few in between. Definitely not the nomadic family lifestyle we are seeking.

But what I have wanted more than anything in my heart of hearts, was to really travel and see the world.

Why Travel

The travel bug bit me when I was about 16-years-old. I thought about studying abroad, I loved languages and was studying Spanish and French at the time. However, due to lack of funds, know-how, or maybe just the fear of overseas travel, I laid that desire to rest. Then I had the idea of becoming a flight attendant, hey, getting paid to travel, yay! But due to an LTR and not wanting to stamp on others’ expectations of me, I buried that plan, too. At that time, I was, also, an aspiring singer. My dad told me I should become a singer on a cruise ship. Travel and singing, right on! Again, perhaps fear of failure, scarcity of self-reliance, or lack of confidence knocked the wind out of my sails. Man, I’ve got issues. That’s history.

How We Plan To Live The Nomadic Lifestyle

So here we are now May 1, 2018. My sweet baby, Vallen, is turning five this month and my little man, Vincent, is becoming a teenager this summer on his thirteenth birthday. While I have been busy with kids, and managing to do some traveling around the states, my international travel itinerary of yesteryear is not as monumental as I would like it to be at this point in my life.

My goal is to travel as a family and live in other countries for perhaps a few months at a time. To become immersed in the languages, traditions, and live like the locals. I mentioned the idea to Vincent last night and asked if he would be interested in being schooled on the road in order to travel. He said, “are we really going to do that? Yes, I want to!”

Can We Live This Lifestyle

I’ve heard of plenty of singles doing it. And it was only recently that I was reminded of the 4 Hour Workweek. I read it not long after it was published. Vincent was a toddler at the time. I thought it was a great concept if you were single, but I have a child now. I enjoyed the book. It struck a chord with me. Then it fell off my radar.

At this point in my life, I am officially smitten with the whole idea of being location independent. Who knew there was a whole community of families out there who are crushing conventional thinking! They have done away with most of their possessions and spend all their time traveling. You don’t have to get married, buy a house, work 40-80 hours a week at a job you despise, retire at 65 and then maybe if you are lucky and still healthy and energetic, get to finally travel the world.

How To Make Money As Digital Nomads

There is, though, that burning question of how are we going to make an income to support this lifestyle? This is where my passion for writing and love for taking photos comes into play. My hope is this blog, among other options, will get us on the right track to make this dream a reality.

Becoming Debt Free

Currently, the drawback is that we have debt. Actually, recurring debt, because we were once debt-free. Eight years ago, we followed Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover and paid off $75,000 in 1 ½ years. This was accomplished by living within our means. It meant driving an old powder blue, 1998 Ford Explorer that we paid $3,000 for in cash. In Cranford, NJ we rented a 600 sq. ft. duplex for $1,300 per month including utilities. We lived frugally and saved our money.

Not to fear, we have a plan to sell as much of our stuff as we can, including the house and car. I foresee no problem throwing that money to kick debt out for good!

Letting Go Of The American Dream

As of today, we are living the “American Dream.” We bought a house in Southern California, have a car payment, a large health insurance payment, and are now charging groceries in order to keep up with the taxes on my husband’s business that never seem to stop coming. Since moving to our current location, my husband’s freelance jobs seem to come far and few in between. I am mostly a stay-at-home mom, and work on-call as a substitute in our local school district, a licensed hairstylist as needed, and a content and copywriter. The bottom line, it’s imperative that we get rid of the debt if we are to make this happen.

Our Family Travel Goal

Here’s the plan (more or less):

  • 12 months from now (Summer of 2019), to become location independent.

  • Get the blog and other online businesses up and running.

  • Sell most of the possessions in the house, lots of garage sales, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace.

  • Sell the house, the car, and pay off the debt.

  • Hit the road.

How Did We Catch The Location Independent Bug

What drew me to this whole concept of location independence, was an article I came across in Google News titled, “Some Said They’d Flee Trump’s America, These People Actually Did.” The main idea of the article was about families who were leaving the U.S. because they were unhappy with Trump’s presidency. I heard of people saying they would do such a thing, but I thought it was hyperbole for their anti-trump feelings. After finishing the article I was hooked on the idea of this lifestyle that families were leading.

Nomads At Heart

My husband and I moved to a lot of different cities in our 19 years together. We even moved back and forth between California and New Jersey. Within our communities, we were considered radical. The joke in the family was that we were the “professional movers.” People couldn’t understand why we would move so much if weren’t military or doing it for a job relocation. I guess we just always had a little bit of that nomad inside of us. Some of it was just plain wanting to see what the world had to offer.

What Motivated Me To Want To Live The Nomadic Lifestyle

I began researching the blogs listed in the article I mentioned about nomadic family lifestyles. I really love the Nomad Together website and podcast. Paul and Becky Kortman are extremely inspirational. They have four kids, sold everything: the house, the cars, their surplus of belongings (they did keep the kids), just to allow for a location-independent lifestyle. They have an amazing podcast and story, that has gotten me motivated to make this happen.

There are families out there traveling, either by plane, RV, or just a camper on a truck. Other great blogs that caught my eye were The Blog Abroad – Chronicles of An Adventure Junkie, the Family Adventure Blog, Unsettle Down, and Terra Trekkers (also, in the Google article).

Why Travel With Kids

That is the train I want to board. You don’t have to do things according to social norms- what! There are alternatives. Countless times, I’ve mentioned to family, friends, or acquaintances in the past that I want to travel and I could just take the kids with me. I would get the same tired responses:

  • “I’ve been to (fill in the blank) on vacation, you don’t want to go with kids, it is too difficult, wait until they are older.”

  • “It’s too expensive, you will have to wait until you have enough money saved.”

  • Or my personal favorite, “a vacation with the kids is like no vacation at all.”

Let’s address these statements for a minute. First off, I love my family and spending time with them. They are my favorite people. It gives me great joy to teach my kids, and if I could have that opportunity to do that and spend every minute with them I would. There is such satisfaction in knowing that I have done my very best to raise healthy, happy, vibrant, and smart boys.

Second, how long do I wait to travel? My kids are seven years apart, I’m going to be ready for retirement by the time they’re grown (wink wink). Don’t get me wrong, I don’t plan on sitting at home at an older age. But there is no better time than the present to work out all the kinks in being location independent than right now!

Finally, every time I’ve done a little getaway without the kids, I wind up repeating how they would have liked this, or they would have enjoyed that. Everyone needs their own space, but I am happy when we are a unit, and I miss the chaos when we are apart.

It’s Okay To Live A Location Independent Lifestyle

Something in my research, in these people I have come across, spoke to my soul. Maybe it was permission to step away from cultural pressures. School schedules, work schedules, activities, and tangible things don’t have to dictate your destiny. We don’t have to let life just happen, scouring vacation magazines, dreaming that “one day we too will go to Italy, Sweden, or Ireland. In the meantime, we continue to work long hours to pay for a house, stuff to fill the house, and cars. We muddle through our lives working to accumulate and miss out on amazing opportunities to culturally enrich our lives and make connections as a family.

Making the Leap to Nomadic Travel

I am currently in the research and planning process. At this point, I can honestly say my husband is not completely on board with it, but he is not opposed to it either. There is a lot of wincing at various details of my plans. Or a raised eyebrow at what some family nomads are doing. We will need to test it out and try living elsewhere for a period of time. My husband is a freelance motion designer and may be able to secure a freelance gig for a one to two-month period here in the U.S. in a different state. That could be a comfortable testing ground for my apprehensive hubby.

Aspire To Be An Untethered Family

The reason I am pouring my heart out to you is so I can make this dream happen. We can all make it happen. One of my favorite quotes is, “feel the fear and do it anyway,” by Susan Jeffers. Venture with me, and let’s see how we can untether this family. We’ve all got a story and this one is mine.

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