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 the Blog AutumnLaBoheme.com
Could you tell us a little about your family.
Autumn: My name is Autumn, and I might have an unhealthy obsession with proving that nothing is impossible. I spend my time writing, painting, exploring, and taking pictures of my kids’ strange sleep positions. When I feel deprived from delicious food because of my gluten allergy, I indulge in a Snickers bar and a small bag of potato chips.
Iris: Iris is my 5 year old indigo child. She is incredibly intuitive, and she keeps a record of all of her nightly dreams in a “dream journal.” She is very passionate about animals, refuses to eat any animal product, and saves her money so that she can be what she calls an “animal safarier”, who travels and takes care of animals.
Legend: Legend is my 3 year old modern day Huck Finn. He rarely wears clothes, he sleeps anywhere, he refuses to listen to rules or reason, and he invents his own toys and games. He has never met a stranger, he loves to play outside and explore, and somehow he gets dirt under his fingernails even in his sleep.
Hippie: My 6 year old Pomeranian, Hippie is the princess of the family She hates to get wet, and will only sleep on a clean, warm pile of laundry or a fluffy pillow.
Where are you now, where have you been and how long have you been traveling?
We are currently in Cozumel, Mexico. This has been our first stop on our journey south. This week, we celebrated out 150th day of travel by getting a new tattoo! Ok, I got a tattoo; the kids just drew on themselves. While living here, I met an amazing man named Jonathan who has been a sweet, patient, supportive addition to our little family.
Why do you travel as a family?
My children are my life, and I don’t want to experience the wonders of this big world without them. My job as a mother is to prepare them for the real world, so I hope to show them the real world. I love seeing them learn and discover new things, and I feel honored to give them these experiences. No topic is off limits, and even though they are both very young, I’m surprised at the questions they present to me, and when I’m really stumped, I let them answer their own questions. For example, Iris thinks babies come out of a magic hole in the bellybutton, and that’s accurate enough for now.
What are some of the benefits your family has experienced as a result your travels?
When we packed up our belongings in Austin before coming here, I showed the kids their box of toys and explained that we were trading these toys to go see the world. I showed them photos of Cozumel and oceans, and told them that if we gave the toys to other kids, then we could go see all these other amazing things. So they picked up the rest of their toys and threw them in the box without a question. When I taped up the box, they said goodbye to their toys. But I cried. I had a harder time letting go of toys and “stuff” than they did.
When we left, they brought a couple of their favorite toys, and that was it. Since being here, they have both been wonderfully creative in making their own toys and games. Iris picks flowers and makes her own princess tiaras. She makes up puzzles and games, and uses old boxes and “trash” that she finds to make beds and toys for her stuffed animals. Legend can do just about anything with a rock and a stick, and he challenges himself by jumping off of tall stationary objects.
For me, watching them create their own entertainment is one of the most beautiful things I have witnessed since we left home.
What inspired you and your family to incorporate travel into your lifestyle?
I had dreams of traveling to faraway places as a kid, and Peter Pan was sort of a childhood hero. It was always one of those dreams that I buried in my heart because I couldn’t seem to find a way to make it happen.
In 2011, someone close to me made it his mission to make me believe I could do anything. I think he even manipulated some situations in my favor so it looked like I really was capable of anything. I began reading books by Tim Ferris and Jack Canfield, and I re-awakened my dream for travel. I followed up with everything I could get my hands on by Chris Guillebeau, Rolf Potts, Esther Hicks, Phil Cousineau, and Deepak Chopra, and every article I could find on family travel or traveling with small children. There was this circle of theme repetition for me: I can do anything, there’s more to life than my small corner of the world, and whatever I think about, I bring about.
I spent a year and a half working hard to be able to leave Austin for 6 months. I chose Cozumel because it seemed like the ideal place to heal from some things, and to see if we could really live outside of the states. It also seemed really safe, and it was close enough to home that if something went terribly wrong, we could easily fly back. There were a few other reasons, but those were the biggest. After eye-opening realizations I made while living a simpler life and seeing how well the kids have done, I decided to keep traveling, and make this our way of living.
How do you address education while you are traveling?
Right now, the kids are in a private school. I have not had the time to both work and educate them. I liked having them in a school here where they are learning Spanish and spending time with other local children, but Iris is often bored; Legend gets in trouble for not wanting to sit still; and they both learn so much more when they are interested in something.
Over the last few months, I have changed the direction of my business and slowed things down a bit, so we will be focusing more on the unschooling/natural learning approach in November when we arrive in Costa Rica. Everything is still very new to me, so we are making it all work as we go along.
How do you and your family experience being global citizens?
The kids are young enough that they never knew the meaning of being a citizen of one place. To them everything is new and exciting, all people are wonderful, and anything is possible for them if they try. For me, I was very comfortable in my little apartment in Austin, and the rest of the world was just this big open place I knew very little about. I was (and still am sometimes) very uncomfortable with new places and customs. I’ve had to surrender my mindsets and habits in order to really embrace the culture around me. Instead of going to touristy places, we try to spend time with locals here, learn their language, appreciate their ways, and embrace the beauty in our differences.
I’ve been humbled by the way Mexicans have welcomed my kids and me, and I’m always grateful when they try to decipher my terrible Spanish.
As more time passes, I see fewer differences and fewer borders between myself and others. Being in a different country for a certain amount of time helps you to notice differences, but then look past them to realize that we really aren’t that different. We are all a part of the same world, breathing the same air, enjoying the life we were given, and raising our children the best way we know how.
Can you share one of your family’s most memorable experiences?
The first time Jonathan and I took Iris snorkeling in the ocean was magical. She was so excited that she was yelling through her snorkel at all the things she saw. She even spotted a baby sting ray before anyone else did. She drew pictures of all the sea life she saw for weeks after that. I also love that there have been many mornings when I find her drawing in her dream journal; when I ask her what she is doing, she says, “Just drawing and watching the sun come up.”
For Legend, one of the coolest things we experienced was when he realized that the baby hermit crabs were alive. He gathered them up to study them, and gently released them back into the ocean. For a kid who throws and breaks everything he can get his hands on, it was awesome to see him learn to be gentle with something so small. He notices all the animals and creatures all over our property now. He’s not afraid to pick them up and release them in the bushes. He even takes ants from our house and puts them outside. I love, love, love seeing how at peace they are within themselves when they are outside discovering new things.
Personally, this whole time here has been memorable for me. Cozumel has been a healing place for me physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. Every small experience here has been a small step toward healing from traumatic experiences.
I now feel strong and whole, ready for the next leg of our journey. And not to be all sappy, but the day Jonathan and I met was one of those time-stands-still moments. There was never a question after that moment of whether or not we would be together; we just were. Fortunately for me, he wants to travel with the kids and me, so onward we all go.
Can you share one story from your travel experiences when you and your family had an “aha moment”.
Back home, I felt like I needed everything to be just right, and I needed a certain amount of money each month to be comfortable. The kids and I lived on a modest budget, but I wanted to keep up with my peers. I wanted to feel like I was Super-Successful Super-Single Super-Mom! But I got tired. I just wanted to live and enjoy myself. I felt like I wasn’t experiencing personal growth like I really wanted, and for me, traveling was the answer.
But even when we moved here, I got a big nice house. It was cheaper than my apartment in Austin, so I felt like it was a great deal! But I started spending my money like it was nothing- on entertainment, dinners, wine, ladies lunches, etc. After about 2 months of this, I got really tired again. I started asking myself, if I was going to live like this, then why did I leave my home in the first place? I was missing something.
Something wasn’t right.
I spent some time re-evaluating my life, my business, and how I spent my money and my time here. I made a list of things that were really REALLY important to me, and I realized that I was not really focusing on those things. There were still too many distractions. So I eliminated them by hiding out at home for awhile until I could re-focus my time, thoughts, and energy on what was really important to me. Once I did that, not only did I feel healthier in every way, but my relationship with my kids improved, and all of our little adventures have been more meaningful to us.
My money is being used as more of an investment in our life experiences than being spent on frivolous things. For example, a couple of weekends ago, the kids wanted to paint pumpkins, so we went to the big farmer’s market in search of pumpkins. We didn’t find any, but we checked out all kinds of other interesting foods, and the kids had a blast. We all shared a big stack of pancakes for a couple dollars, and we spend that whole morning laughing and exploring a new place. Jonathan reminds me how little money matters because he can enjoy anything without spending a single peso.
Our living expenses have been dramatically decreased, and we are all much happier.
Jonathan, the kids, Hippie, and I fly into San Jose, Costa Rica next month! All I know is that we are heading west once we get there. I’m not sure why. I just had a sort of “gut feeling” that was what we were supposed to do. I bet it has something to do with how much I love watching the sun set every night.
Name: Autumn la Boheme
Web Site: www.autumnlaboheme.com