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 TheNomadicFamily.com
Kobi– burnt-out hi-tech manager turned professional dog trainer, nearly 43, loves hiking, planning our next move, telling jokes, getting in shape
Gabi– family therapist and soul healer at www.gabiklaf.com, almost 38, loves time alone, running, writing, the sky, playing guitar
Dahnya– 10 1/2, loves drawing, and coloring, Pet Shop toys, nature, reading in Hebrew, writing poems in English, cooking
Orazi– 9 1/2, loves his toys, and drawing, making weapons, being on the computer, pizza and candy, cooking
Solai– 7 1/2, love cooking, playing dress-up and coloring games the computer, coloring, her two stuffed turtles and one hippo, and climbing
Where are you now, where have you been and how long have you been traveling?
We’re Siem Reap, Cambodia now. We’re working at the Garden Village Guesthouse and adoring the Cambodians, Buddhism, and the slow-paced rainy monsoon season.
We left our mountain-side home in Northern Israel on March 16, 2011; so, we’re now right over a year and a half on the road.
US -2 ½ months, New York, Houston, Texas, RV through Arizona, Utah and Colorado
Costa Rica– 2 months, La Lucha de la Tigra ranch community, volunteering tons!!
Panama– 3 months, house sitting, working in community of expats in Boquete, Kobi volunteered and worked, I taught Clean Your Soul class
Colombia– 1 month, based in Tanganga Colombia Kobi fulfilled his dream of becoming a certified scuba diver
Ecuador– 2 months, volunteered and lived in Quichway indigenous village, kids attended bi-lingual Quichway/Spanish school, life by the river, unreal
Peru-3 ½ months, camped on beach in Huanchaco was highlight. Surprisingly loved Lima, Peru
Thailand– 1 month, in Bangkok, but mostly off the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi
Cambodia– will probably end up being 6-7 months in totally here. We adore Cambodia!
Why do you travel as a family?
Because we want to damn it, and isn’t that what life is about? Doing what you want to, not just want you have to. We’ve spent so much of our adult lives toiling, pushing, making money, reaching goals; and we lost time, we lost our children, we lost ourselves. And because we really do believe that we need to make the most of our God-given time on this earth; we decided to change our lives and make this dream a reality.
As a family traveling, we have time, time to explore, time to chit chat, time to be clueless and discover things together. Travel has become this blessed equalizer in our family. We’re still the parents, but we get to, together, walk around wide-eyed and curious. It’s thrilling to be illiterate and clueless, with your child. Traveling as a family has bonded us, brought forth issues we have been avoiding for years, and has lovingly forced us to come to terms with each other, exactly how we are, and push ourselves (all of us) to become the next ever-changing, better version of ourselves.
What are some of the benefits your family has experienced as a result your travels?
We have cleaned up and faced individual character flaws and family dynamics that would have taken a therapist years to work through. Under the intensive closeness of family travel, we’ve had the honor to look our issues in the face and fix them. A true blessing.
We now have trilingual kids which just blows us away how cool and mind-expanding that is.
Our kids learned through world-schooling what we never could have given them while living in our lovely bubble back home. Our kids have witnessed the children of the world, working the streets and the fields, and living in houses with dirt floors, or the streets. Our kids have seen drunk or drug-addicted travelers get into accidents that have left them handicapped for life. Our kids have milked cows, fish for tilapia, lassoed horses, and made cheese on the ranch in Costa Rica; they have surfed the waves of Peru, climbed ancient archeological ruins in Latin America and South East Asia; and have hitchhiked on the back of coconut-filled pick-up trucks, holding on for dear life on those pot-filled roads.
What inspired you and your family to incorporate travel into your lifestyle?
We dreamed of traveling one day, when we retired, but not those two week vacation kind of travels, we dreamed of traveling slowly, long-term, as a way of life… And then we figured out (after reading Rolf Pott’s Vagabonding) that we don’t have to wait. And if we did wait, who says we’d be healthy, married, or alive to do it. So, we saved for four years and became a nomadic family, full-time.
Also, we wanted to see the world and show it to our kids, while they still wanted to hang out with us. They are growing so fast and we felt we were passing them in the hallway. We were so busy in adult-things that we missed seeing them, really seeing them. Now, we see them, we see them!
How do you address education while you are traveling?
We do schooling, home-schooling and world-schooling. Schooling, for us, includes those times when the kids attend a local school with local kids. It’s the best language, culture and friend immersion we can give our kids. We send them to school with notebooks and pencils, but don’t care what they learn at all. For us, it just a precious opportunity when they get that amazing experience with the local kids. They have attended school so far in a community ranch school in Costa Rica, and in a bilingual Quichwa/Spanish school for indigenous children in the jungles of Ecuador.
Home-schooling entails when we settle down in place (or often in route when we are in the groove) and create a routine. Five mornings a week, we study math, Hebrew or English, and another topic (either geography, memorizing poetry that I feel teaches great moral character, writing in their journals, or topics that interest them). Becoming our children’s teachers, while sometimes super challenging, has become a magical journey into what we always dreamed education could be. We’ve studied, together, Greek Mythology, Old Testament Heroes, and have read some of most-favored, fine literature aloud to them. We’ve grown tremendously through this.
World-schooling for us is that sacred space where the world teaches our kids the uncensored reality, in all her hues. Our kids have witnessed children in poverty, travelers ruining their lives when drugs and alcoholism go too far, and religions and cultures of the world. They have climbed ancient archeological ruins throughout Latin America and South East Asia, and have learned smidgens of languages from travelers and countries across the globe. World-schooling has taught our kids what it means to be a citizen of the world, how to develop street smarts and creative problem-solving, and how to adapt to changes and move on.
How do you and your family experience being global citizens?
Global citizenship has been this unreal realization that we are just like anyone else. That I can talk laundry and parenting and money-stress with anyone in the world. That we can share deep moments of true understanding with people we can barely communicate with by being just us. That everywhere we go, people just want to raise their kids peacefully, have enough money to get by, share deep bonds with others, have fun and laugh, and be healthy. And living with the locals (which is really how we are determined to travel) and even hanging out with backpackers from all over the world has widened our horizons, opened our hearts, and humbled us. We are just as magical, special, unique, and interesting as the guy sitting next to us on the bus (which, by the way, has been the best way to meet really great friends on our journey).
And now in South East Asia, we find it extraordinary how a little bit of sign language, pantomiming, and lots of smiles; allows us to create friendships with any local. True global citizenship.
Can you share one of your family’s most memorable experiences?
Oh god. That’s so impossible, Lainie. Take a year and a half of world travel, self-discovery, soul cleaning, family bonding; nature hikes, full immersion in local communities, unreal sites and pin it on one. Ok, let me go eat an apple (or six) and think about it. I’ll come back soon, hopefully, enlightened.
Here’s where I am after wolfing down 50 grams of pasas morenas (raisins)…blank. I really wanted to invest to give you something so cool, so tropical, so global, so unreal, so memorable and I‘ve gone to bed with this for a few nights now. And then, last night [now, a few months ago], it happened. Something so unreal, so powerful, so international and so I-will-never-forget-in-my-entire-life-that-night. So, I guess I invited it to me just so that I could bring it to you….
It was the most international, global citizenship example I can give you. Twenty backpackers from around the world sharing in one magical, spontaneous dance party.
Can you share one story from your travel experiences when you and your family had an “aha moment”.
I love A-ha moments. I feel I’m having them all the time, and then I run to blog about it. It’s like the road has been a never-ending pearl necklace of A-ha’s. During this year and a half of world travel, our family has been (and continues to be) blessed with unimaginable insights and discovers.
A series of A-ha moments has taken place slowly, quietly as we’ve lived with the locals throughout Latin America and South East Asia. So many of the uneducated, unsophisticated, common, simple people have taught us profound truths that our four combined university degrees have not. These “simpletons” know how to sit for hours and talk to each other, they know how to watch the sunset day after day while thinking of nothing else but the sunset; they know how to coexist happily with three and four generations and an entire extended families together on the same plot of land. They know how to work hard, get by with little, and be so damn satisfied with their lives. Our global friends have taught us ‘modern, highly-successful geniuses’ truths and knowings that have eluded us our entire lives.
I’ve had many A-ha’s moments facing the setting sun. Something in the air, that stillness, those colors has moved me deeply. Be it with the clouds dancing around Volcan Baru, Panama; the sky bowing in breath-taking submission to the sun’s retreat upon the Pacific Ocean; or the geckos sweet lullaby to the golden, red Cambodian sky… it has been unreal.
This is an excerpt from an entry I wrote about sunsets. I feel it is fitting here:
Sunsets have been a real gift in self-discovery. A huge one.
An invitation to cry, and let the soft fading rays wipe my tears.
An invitation to sit in awe, and breathe in the palette stretching out before me.
An invitation to push myself physically passed my limit, inspired by the changing skies.
An invitation to reflect on the absolutely nothingness of my existence, a mere speck in that grand vista.
An invitation for all of us, even back home, even between errands and work and cleaning, between picking up the kids from here to there to stop.
The word sunset in Spanish “atardecer” is one of my favorites. “Tarde” means late or afternoon and (this is my own definition here) and “cer” is so close to the Spanish “ser” which means ‘to be’. So, in my own little world, I define ‘atardecer’ as an invitation, each afternoon ‘to be’.
How can you ‘be in the afternoon’, even for five minutes. “To be in the afternoon”. Just the Universe’s lovely little invitation to stop and breathe and ‘to be’. As I write this, I bless the setting sun over the Pacific Ocean in sleepy Huanchaco, Peru; I bless you and the sunset wherever you may be.
We’re currently in Cambodia, intending to use our 7 months of visa here. Then plan to visit Laos, Vietnam, and maybe China. We want to do a one-month Anapurna Mountain Hike in Nepal, and then head out to India for a year. That’s the plan, we’ll see how it goes…
Name: Gabi Klaf
web site: TheNomadicFamily.com