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 FlashpackerFamily.com
We’re Bethaney, Lee and Reuben. I’m Bethaney. I wear many hats but mostly I’m mom. I run our travel blog, Flashpacker Family, I’m a real geek for research so I take care of all our travel plans. I’m a budget travel enthusiast and I’m addicted to Thailand. Lee runs a successful network of websites and has just launched a web design company. He’s never worked for anyone in his life and was living a four-hour work week well before Tim Ferris. He likes to consider himself a high roller and loves to splurge on a five-star hotel. Reuben is our number one son. He just turned two. He loves spicy food, break-dancing and dogs.
Where are you now, where have you been and how long have you been traveling?
We’ve been semi-nomads for about a year and a half. Right now we’re in Christchurch, New Zealand. We still have a house here and use it as a base for when we need to slow down and get some work done. Our house has been on the market since the beginning of the year but it’s proving very difficult to sell. We spent about three-quarters of the year travelling. This year we’ve been to Australia, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. Last year we rented an apartment in Vegas and spent time exploring the South Western USA.
Why do you travel as a family?
Lee and I were both avid travellers before we met. It’s definitely something that drew us to one another. We had intended to spend around three months a year living in another country but after the earthquake in Christchurch in February 2011 home become a pretty undesirable place to live. It propelled us to look at ways to travel permanent as a family. We definitely favour slow travel – picking an apartment or house somewhere for a month or two and then exploring in between.
What are some of the benefits your family has experienced as a result your travels?
We see enormous benefits in Reuben as a result of our travels. He’s sensitive but extroverted so really enjoys meeting and interacting with new people… when he’s in the mood! He’s an adventurous eater and he’s happier with a tom yum or a green curry than he is with a sandwich. He saw a big surge in his speech development when we were in Thailand. There were constantly new words to learn and new surroundings to explore and explain. The biggest benefit he gets is from having both of us around, all day every day. He gets a lot of attention and interaction with both his Mom and Dad, without the distractions of everyday life.
What inspired you and your family to incorporate travel into your lifestyle?
We knew we wanted to raise Reuben to have an adventurous spirit, to speak other languages and appreciate other cultures. New Zealand’s very isolated so we knew that would have to be a conscious effort on our part as parents.
How do you address education while you are traveling?
We really want Reuben to be able to choose his own path in life. We want him to have the choice of school, homeschool or unschool. We’ve set up our lifestyle so that we can give him any option. At the moment, we’re really working on the basics – learning to read and count. Lee and I both try and incorporate learning into everyday life. He’s got artistic genes courtesy of Lee’s side of the family so we try and encourage lots of creative time.
How do you and your family experience being global citizens?
We definitely prefer to adopt a slow travel approach. Living in a location for a longer period of time means better interaction with local people. We pick up something new from every place we visit. Sometimes that’s a way of thinking or a way of doing something but often it’s about us realizing that the world is so big and different. We want to be part of it and see it all as a family.
Can you share one of your family’s most memorable experiences?
We try to focus on experiencing everything together as a family. Lee and I have both done a lot of travelling individually and so we’re often in places were one of us had been before. Last year we visited the Grand Canyon and it was the first time we’d been somewhere neither us had been previously. It felt great to both be in the same phase of wonder. The Grand Canyon is one of the most amazingly beautiful places we’ve both been and we got to experience it for the first time, together.
Can you share one story from your travel experiences when you and your family had an “aha moment”.
We went through a very difficult stage with Reuben while we were in the islands in Thailand. He was on the cusp of “getting” communication and was extremely frustrated. We were all tired from a few weeks of constant travel. I reached out through my blog and got a great response from other travelling parents. A lot the time, learning is by trial and error but sometimes it’s best to consult those who have been there, done that and bought the t-shirt! I realized we needed to slow down the travel and tend to Reuben’s development needs. I also needed time to mourn my own former life as a single, care-free backpacker. It can be really hard for travelling parents to get any sense of personal space or alone time. It’s so important to have that time to think, process and relax. The whole experience really helped us to move forward as a family, understand how we needed to travel in the future and respect each others limits.
Our main goal is to sell our house to allow ourselves more freedom. We don’t like being tied down to one spot. Selling a house in a post earthquake environment isn’t an easy task. We’re going to be in NZ for the rest of the year. Lee’s starting a new business and needs time to focus on that plus both my Mom and Sister are getting married in the next six months. We’d love to host some travelling families while we’re home to help keep our travel spirit alive so if any of you are headed to NZ, drop me a line! Long-term our plans for next year are to travel in North America and the Caribbean. I’m starting to long for some time in Europe so I’d love to see that on our horizon.