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 Livingoutsideofthebox.com
We are a family of 5. My husband and I met while working summer jobs in Alaska, and we fell in love with an unusual lifestyle of moving to and from Alaska each year, which we kept up for about 8 years. I suppose you can say it created within us a desire to move every 6 months or less…
On first meeting, many people often think my husband is quiet and shy, but he most certainly isn’t—he is a talkative and social person. He has no problem striking up conversations with just about anyone—and he loves to learn all about people and their lifestyles. He devours information—and loves geography. He is an explorer, and can’t help but turn down nearly every road possible, just to see where it goes. I have to reign him in a bit!
As for me—I also love exploration, and experiencing new cultures. I come across as the social bug in the family, although I’d say I’m really an introvert in hiding. I’m extremely inquisitive and will ask a lot of questions until I have answers. I am also extremely forgetful—so I’ll have to ask Jared later what the answers wer!
We are happiest when we’re in the middle of some new experience—looking over the heads of our kids—and saying to each other, “WOW! I can’t believe we get to be here!”
Our oldest, Ella, is 7, and is a hard-to-please personality. She claims to not like traveling, but truthfully she doesn’t like anything unless it includes her friends doing exactly what she wants to do. I’m scared for the upcoming teenage years! Thankfully, she makes friends very quickly and without reservations, and little things like playgrounds keep her temper at bay. She is also very loving and doting over her younger brother and sister (when she wants to be).
Maiya is 4 ½, and she can be a struggle when traveling. She is a terrible walker, and always claims that her “legs are asleep.” No matter how many times I try to explain this is impossible, she persists in acting like she can’t move more than 5 minutes a time. It makes for some long traveling days! She has a very loving and goofy personality, and loves to joke around.
Ethan is 2, and is an absolute handful! He is 100% boy—he wants to be playing with cars, playing in the water, playing in the dirt, and in general—running away from us! We have to keep a close eye on him, because he would run off in a crowd without looking back. He also loves his sisters, and will go just about anywhere with their coaching
Where are you now, where have you been and how long have you been traveling?
We are currently in Germany. We moved out of the states permanently in January 2011, and had full intentions of living in Central Mexico indefinitely. After 1 ½ years of exploring the beautiful country of Mexico (which is ENERMOUS!), and neighboring countries like Guatemala and Belize…we decided we were ready for another adventure. So, no “settling down” as of yet, for us–the world is too big! We will be in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland for the next month (September), and then we’ll head down to Spain for a month and a half (we’re allergic to the cold, now)! After that, we have open-ended tickets to Thailand!
Why do you travel as a family?
We do it because we love it, right down to our core. It’s where the magic happens—where we put aside our preconceived notions and step out of our comfort zone. We love being able to share the world with our kids—and most importantly—teach them that the world is a lot bigger than they are. When we see what most kids are like in the US (and many other countries in the world), it is clear to us that our goal is for our children to see a bigger picture. We don’t want our kids buried in iPods by age 8, and watching TV and focusing on consumption for the rest of their lives. We want them to realize that people live many different lifestyles, and that every lifestyle and culture has value! Life can have a lot more meaning to it than Black Friday sales.
What are some of the benefits your family has experienced as a result your travels?
It gives us more opportunities to focus on our children. We work from home, and it can be difficult to pry ourselves away from our computers and just see them. When we’re traveling, they get much more undivided attention! We’ve also made friends all over the world—which is one of the biggest rewards. The memories we’ve built together will be a lot more life-impacting than watching a TV show in the comfort of your couch at home. Giving our children that will change them forever.
What inspired you and your family to incorporate travel into your lifestyle?
When we made the original decision to move to Mexico “indefinitely”, we still planned to travel 2-3 months of the year. It was only after meeting other like-minded traveling families that we finally put the idea aside and said, “If they can do it…why not us?! What’s the hurry to “settle” down, anyways?” Sharing ideas and learning from other like-minded people was and is inspiring, and exactly the motivation we needed. We have the benefit of not needing to be in an office 9-5, we don’t have a permanent home or mortgage, so there is nothing really holding us back.
Our children are still very young, and we’re still learning in the whole education department. The idea of unschooling/worldschooling is very appealing—as I think most of life’s most valuable lessons can be best learned with real-life applications. Up until this point, our girls have been in a private bilingual school in Mexico. It was an excellent school, but I was exasperated that they load 6 years old down with at least an hour’s worth of homework each day—they had just spent 7 hours sitting in a classroom! Looking through their schoolbooks, I realize that almost everything in there can be taught just through day-to-day interaction with my kids. They don’t need to draw and read about the seasons in a book, they can experience them in person, and reflect on them verbally!
I also love how our children have grown very confident with languages. They are not afraid of the idea of speaking another language (they both speak Spanish pretty well, and probably would have been fluent had we stayed another year in Mexico). When planning to come to Germany, our 7 year old said, “Oh, I’m sure a friend can teach me German”, as if it was just as easy as playing on playground equipment. They’re not afraid of learning—and they are confident in their abilities to learn! I don’t want them to ever lose that!
How do you and your family experience being global citizens?
When we travel we try hard not to be our own worst enemies. We try not to look and act like privileged Americans who expect and demand everything be a certain way. We try to roll with the punches, and are flexible in our itineraries, food menus, and living arrangements. We look for the good in every culture, and focus on that. There is no beauty in going into another culture, and railing on it and telling others what is wrong with their culture. Being a global citizen is to accept anyone from anywhere, and acknowledge that we are all one giant family. If there’s one lesson our children get out of this—I hope it is this.!
Can you share one of your family’s most memorable experiences?
Pinpointing just one experience is so hard to do. Some trip highlights walking through Day of the Dead festivities near Patzcuaro, Mexico, and observing endless Semana Santa parades in Antigua, Guatemala. Those were moments where our mouths hung open, and we just said “WOW!” We also particularly enjoyed visiting the butterfly reserves in Michoacan, Mexico. After hiking all morning, we finally found the trees where literally millions of migrating butterflies were huddled together to stay warm. The sun came out and warmed them up, making the branches come alive with fluttering butterflies, which quickly filled the sky. It was one of those times when speaking just didn’t feel reverent enough.
Can you share one story from your travel experiences when you and your family had an “aha moment”.
We were once in Lake Bacalar Mexico for a week, and met a lovely local family that babysat our children while we escaped for a date night. When we returned, we picked up our children from this family’s very humble home (concrete floors, two beds for a family of 6, etc), and on the drive home our (then) 6 year old daughter exclaimed, “They’re not poor at all!” My husband and I had never used the word “poor” in front of her, and we certainly hadn’t commented on the humbleness of their home to her. But she, having spent a wonderful evening playing with this family’s children, deduced that they must not be a poor family—because they are happy. And sure enough, that is not being poor!
Other than our flight to Thailand in November, we have no definite plans. We hope we fall in love with Thailand and that we can spend a great deal of time exploring that side of the world, bouncing back to Europe every summer to experience more here, as well! When you look at all of the places on the map—it’s hard to think a lifetime is long enough to see it all!