Families on the Move – Meet the Traveling Family Who Lives Against the Flow

Families on the Move – Meet the Traveling Family Who Lives Against the Flow
August 15, 2012 Lainie Liberti

Families on the Move

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 LiveAgainstTheFlow.Wordpress.com

I’m Heather – I’ll be 40 in November.  I’m an artist, activist, musician and storyteller.  I met my husband when we played in the same band.  I was a vocalist and played keys – he was the bass guitarist.  We were platonic friends for many years – but it was only after doing some extensive travelling together that things kinda changed and we fell in love (having someone as a long-term travel companion teaches you a LOT about that person!).

Nick is my hubby.  He’s 4 years younger than me… and he’s Greek.  He is – if I may say so myself – an EXTREMELY talented filmmaker (cinematographer and editor).  It’s also thanks to his various shoots that we have seen a lot of the world.
Our daughter is Morgan.  She’ll be 7 in November.  She’s a confident, strong-willed, funny, gifted… beautiful little creature with big, brown eyes – just like her Dad.  She loves chocolate (so do I)… and she loves to draw and make things.  She’s very outspoken about what she likes… and what she doesn’t like.
Joah is our son – he’ll be 5 in March.  He’s a very affectionate, loving child – a storyteller – who LOVES to talk (and talk some more) and tell stories of dragons and monsters and rockets and dinosaurs to anyone who will listen.

We are born & bred South Africans.

Where are you now, where have you been and how long have you been traveling?

We are currently in Johannesburg.  For years, we have travelled from this base – and have been on many adventures all over the world.  We’ve been on a few long-term adventures before we were married (1 year…. 6 months…. 4 months).  Recently, however, these trips have mostly been short-term trips…. either for business – or for recreation.  We’ve seldom been away for over a month at a time.

After re-evaluating a lot of things, we’ve decided that we want a different kind of life.  So…. we’re putting the final touches to some home renovations, we’re selling the house… and then we’ll be embarking upon a new adventure of long-term, indefinite travel.
Why do you travel as a family?

Travel brought Nick and I together in the first place.  It not only taught us so much about the world (outside of what we “knew”) – but it also taught us SO SO much about ourselves.  It broadened our horizons.  It widened our perspective.

I can’t imagine a better way to raise our kids… travelling the world… seeing for themselves how much BIGGER life is.  We LOVE diversity.  We LOVE that people are different to us…. they look different, they dress differently to us, they believe differently, they eat different food, they come from different backgrounds, etc.  We love this!  How boring the world would be if we were all the same!  I want my children to embrace the diversity and the beauty of the people of the world – and learn from them too!

What are some of the benefits your family has experienced as a result your travels?

Travel has certainly broadened our horizons and changed us in very deep, personal ways.  But it’s more than that….  whenever we’ve travelled, we’ve grown and bonded as a family. But what we love the MOST about travelling is the people we’ve met along the way.  We have so many amazing friends from all over the world.  These friendships are a gift… we feel so privileged to have met and shared homes and meals with so many beautiful people.  It has also instilled in us a firm belief that – in spite of what mainstream media says – that people are mostly good and generous and hospitable.  And when you believe the best about people (instead of suspect the worst) – your fears (about “the other”) magically disappear.

What inspired you and your family to incorporate travel into your lifestyle?

It’s actually quite simple.  We love to travel.  It has benefitted us enormously – in so many ways.  It just didn’t make any sense to plod along with the usual routines…. following the so-called “safe” paths that so many people choose.

We are very fortunate in that we have both worked from home for many years.  We are very comfortable with earning our own income…. making our own money…. and walking the paths of our own choosing.  Full time travel will allow us a different kind of lifestyle.  Instead of working in one house… in one neighbourhood…. we’ll be working from different locations all over the world.  It just makes sense to us.  We want to LIVE life to the fullest….  not just “survive”…. or “get by”.   Life is a precious gift and we’re determined not to live ours with deep regrets about all the things we could have done… and the dreams we should have chased.

How do you address education while you are traveling?

We are homeschooling (in a very relaxed way).  I used to think that only very conservative Christians home-schooled their kids – but now I see that there’s actually a very broad group of families who homeschool for various reasons.  As a travelling family – it makes sense – obviously – to school the kids ourselves.  This can (and probably will) take a number of forms.  I am open to all kinds of options…  worldschooling / unschooling / hiring a tutor / seasons at schools in other countries / internet schooling / skype schooling…. really, I’m very open.  I think the only thing that I am very firm on – is that I want my kids to develop a LOVE of KNOWLEDGE… and that “education” (whatever form it takes) needs to nurture their curiosity and creativity and NOT (ever!) stifle it!

How do you and your family experience being global citizens?

I (Heather) have always felt like a global citizen.  Even as a young child.  I’ve never felt particularly patriotic to my country… to our flag… to our land…  to be honest, it has never made much sense to me.  After all – what is a country than just a slice of earth… a piece of land… soil… with a few man-made borders?  I have always viewed the world’s citizens as my extended family.  That’s why I hate war so much.  It seems like such a tragic, tragic waste of life to me.

As South Africans, we share a similar culture with a bunch of other people who live in the same space on this planet as us.  We enjoy a certain kind of lifestyle… we like the same kinds of foods… a similar kind of lifestyle… and we’re all affected (as a group) by the political problems our country has faced.  We certainly have a lot in common with South Africans – they’re like our immediate family (some you love – others you want to throttle).  But they’re not our ONLY family.

The human race (and I don’t care what country / colour / culture or religion) is our extended family.  There’s a brilliant quote by Francis Fenelon which says this:  “All wars are civil wars because all men are brothers.  Each one owes infinitely more to the human race than to the particular country in which he was born”.

Can you share one of your family’s most memorable experiences?

Too many experiences to name just one… but here’s a few snippets:

Sitting on a broken plastic chair at a cafe on a busy street corner in Kaduna (Nigeria) eating something very fried and greasy… with a baby crocodile swimming in a tub at our feet.

Watching a shuttle launch at Cape Canaveral.

Dancing all night with the locals in a tiny nightclub in Mombassa (Kenya).

Scuba diving with a whale shark.

Racing snowmobiles across the fields of Ohio.

Driving in an ancient Chevy… through the farmlands of Cuba… with a live pig in the boot (trunk)…. squashed in the back seat with 4 Cubans (none of who could speak a word of English and I can’t speak Spanish)… so we were all singing Bee-Gee’s songs!!!

Rush-hour traffic in Nairobi is something that has to be SEEN to be believed (thankfully I wasn’t driving.  My nerves were shot just watching!) – absolutely fascinating.

Sharing a home and a meal with a family in the VERY rural parts of Mozambique… no electricity… no running water… no toilets… no beds… but one of the best experiences of my life.

And so… so…. so…. many more experiences…..

Can you share one story from your travel experiences when you and your family had an “aha moment”.

It was actually fairly recently…. when it dawned on us that we wanted to travel long-term… and we wanted to sell up everything and just GO.  It was over the Easter weekend of this year.  We had taken a very short family trip down to the Southern Drakensberg (beautiful mountain range in Kwa-Zulu Natal).  We had stopped the car in the middle of nowhere…. not a person to be seen…. not a house… not a building…. just mountains…. trees…. and a beautiful, crystal clear mountain stream.

My son was still asleep in his car seat.  Morgan was awake – and Nick took her down to paddle in the stream.  I sat under a big Willow tree near the car and watched my husband and my daughter playing in the stream while my son was snoring quietly in the car.  There was a gentle breeze.  And I remember thinking:  “THIS is all that I need.  I need these 3 people – and nothing else.  I don’t need stuff.  I don’t need the house.  I don’t need all the stuff IN the house.  I just need THIS”.

Later, I discussed it with Nick and he had felt the same way.  We drove home with The-Plan-of-Action… and ever since then, have been busy renovating our house to sell.  Hopefully it will all be done and dusted by the end of this year.

What’s next?

We just have the upstairs bathroom to finish renovating.  Then we need to paint the outside of the house too.  We’ve been doing this slowly because we are very determined not to get into debt while renovating the house.  We have already got rid of most of our debt.  We don’t have credit card debt.  Our cars are paid off.  We’re slowly decreasing our monthly expenses (the TV was the first to go – almost 2 years ago).

Once we’ve finished renovating (should be by early October) – we’ll put the house on the market.  We’re also getting rid of most of our “stuff”.  I will keep the sentimental stuff in storage (at my mother’s house) while we’re gone.  Then…. everything will depend on how long it takes to sell the house!

Once the house is sold (and we have the money in our bank accounts) – we’ll go.  We’ll start in Europe and visit a few friends and places there – and we’ll stay for a while in Greece (Nick’s family has a home there).  Then we’ll go to the States – starting in DC (where Nick’s business partner is based).  We’ll buy a car in DC and take a slow drive South  (stopping at Disney World – which is cause for huge excitement from the kids)… and then… we want to just continue South and explore Central and South America…. very slowly.

From there – who knows?

And if we ever DO move back to South Africa…. we’ll move to Cape Town and live by the sea.

Name: Heather Costaras

Twitter:  @heathercostaras

Web site:  www.liveagainsttheflow.wordpress.com

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