We have been blessed to connect with many amazing families online, all of whom have adapted a travel lifestyle in one form or another. We wanted to take the opportunity to introduce you to them here and highlight the positive aspects travel has had on their families. Welcome our interview series called Families on the Move. Miro & I are honored to a part of this global community we consider our extended family.
Meet the Amazing Family Behind SparklingAdventures.com
We’re David and Lauren, and we have five children, conveniently born in alphabetical order. Aisha is our eldest — she’s 7 and interested in technological toys. Then there’s 5 yo Brioni, a creative soul; 4 yo Calista who loves to dance to any kind of music; and 2 yo Delaney is developing her personality. Our son Elijah was born late last year while we were camping in a remote bush location as part of a Rainbow Gathering. He’s four months old and a real sucker for his mum!
Where are you now, where have you been and how long have you been traveling?
We’re travelling around the North Island of New Zealand right now, which is only a couple hours from the Auckland Airport. We suggest that anyone arriving from a long flight, stay in Auckland for a break before continuing their expedition. We started travelling in October 2010 on a whim. Another family was heading out west in Queensland to see one of Australia’s best national parks (Carnavon Gorge), and they invited us to come along.The other family only lasted four days on the road before they turned around and headed home, but we kept going, and going, and going! We first visited New Zealand as a family in February 2011, intending to stay for only three months. After six-and-a-half months, we had to return to Australia in order to give birth. But we kept travelling back in Australia, even while fully pregnant and with a newborn.
Why do you travel as a family?
Growing together as a family is only possible through shared experiences, and we seek to make our lives as interesting as possible — both for us and for our children. Travelling means that we can visit the beach one day, the city the next, camp in a remote location and also spend time with friends. When we’re not having fun, we can move on to the next spot. We try to alternate between spending time with people and regrouping together as a family unit. Travel also means that we’re giving our children a variety of experiences from which they can choose their futures.
What are some of the benefits your family has experienced as a result your travels?
We’ve grown in family harmony since we started travelling. David and I used to live separate lives with only small overlaps around the children. Previously when we would go away on holidays, we would take two vehicles because we couldn’t agree on where to go and what to do — it was inevitable that we would split up and drive in different directions! Now we have no option but to work through our differences and keep the family together. It’s a great example for our children in handling differences in opinions and persevering in pursuing a loving relationship.
We’ve also met so many fascinating and inspiring people on our travels. Everywhere we go, people are warm and friendly, and we get invited into their homes and their lives — it may be someone in a city block with an iPad for every family member or a rural farmer who lives by himself and talks to his dogs. The relationships that we’ve formed are inspiring and encouraging.
What inspired you and your family to incorporate travel into your lifestyle?
Five years ago, we looked at expanding our home business. We worked alongside a family that wanted to sell their business to us. It was a lucrative affair, but at the end of a month, we realised that the parents didn’t know their children. This was a turning point for us. We decided that we didn’t want to sacrifice our relationships with our children, even if we made a heap of money in the process. I quit my fulltime work and we started winding down our business so David could retire and be at home. And then we started travelling when we were invited along by the other family mentioned above. Travel was a good fit for us, and we enjoy the excitement of new places and people.
How do you address education while you are traveling?
After extensive research and consultations, we’re comfortable with completely homeschooling our children without any set curriculum, schedules, testing or structure. In unschooling our children. they are exposed to a variety of learning experiences daily. We engage with our children whenever and however they want, sharing our knowledge and seeking out more wisdom alongside them. Practically, we visit libraries, play games, tour museums and wildlife centres, make things, read books, access the internet and talk to people. It’s a great way for us all to learn.
How do you and your family experience being global citizens?
I grew up in West Africa, speaking French, and I attended American boarding schools, so I’m already comfortable with a variety of cultures and conditions. David and I travelled throughout West Africa, the U.K and New Zealand before we had children, so we know what to expect. We would love our children to spend a good chunk of time in a country that doesn’t speak English — we’re just not sure where that is yet. At the moment, we’re comfortable exploring Australia and New Zealand where we introduce our children to a variety of cultures through home-stays, cultural festivals, ethnic suburbs and cuisine.
Can you share one of your families most memorable experiences?
We were newly on the road in New Zealand, travelling in our small, modified horse truck, and it had started raining. I navigated us to a local attraction — a kiwi house — only to discover that the premises had shut down a year ago. David and I started arguing about what we were doing, bringing our four children on the road in this tiny truck, travelling in the rain when they clearly needed space to run. Aimlessly, we drove down a country road and stopped on a whim outside a hall. A man was outside the building, locking it up. After greeting us, he invited us in. Our children ran freely in the old wooden hall while David and I listened to Ian’s incredible stories about the local area and browsed through his secondhand stores. It turned out that the hall was the location for a “fairy festival” the next day, coinciding nicely with our third daughter’s third birthday. So we stayed parked outside the hall overnight and attended the festival in the morning. That day, we received addresses and invitations from five separate families and spent months visiting them (and their friends) in one small region of New Zealand. Now we’ve returned to New Zealand to catch up with our dear friends and it all started on one dismal, aimless, rainy day!
Can you share one story from your travel experiences when you and your family had an “aha moment”.
Our girls like to play with matches, and when we brought out an old-fashioned kerosene lantern, our 6yo and 5yo were eager to learn how to light it. As they struck match after match, David and I started to fret. They were lighting matches, lighting the lantern, blowing it out and then starting all over again! The “aha” moment came when David and I articulated our unease at what appeared to be a frivolous waste of matches. In discussing it, we realised that the small cost of a box of matches was more than a bargain for the lessons the girls were receiving — lessons in handling fire responsibly, in lighting the lantern, in taking turns, and our own lesson in letting go of the little things that we previously sought to control!
We would like to travel to more international destinations. David’s brother is in Beijing and my sister lives in Hong Kong, so they’re both on our list of desirable destinations. I have many good friends in North America, so perhaps we’ll make it there in 2014 or 2015. We also would like to spend a good chunk of a year in a non-English-speaking nation so our children are immersed in another language and culture, but we haven’t decided where yet.