RTW with kids in 2001 - what changed?
I travelled around the world for one year with three kids under 13. Why did I want to travel so bad I packed the house and rented it out, sold the car and sold the boat. I was not rich, but I had an itch. No other reason. This was in 2001 and what can I tell you from that time in retrospective?
Back then we didn't have social media and hardly a cell phone. When I say hardly, I mean I had one, but didn't quite know how to use it. I thought I paid per letter when texting, for example. So I didn't use that one much… That meant we had about three hours more per day to experience real life compared to today. The average Swede uses the smartphone for more than three hours each day. I reckon Norwegians the same (https://www.thelocal.se/20190319/almost-half-of-young-swedes-have-tried-a-digital-detox).
I must say, we were all quite a bit bored at times
I must say, we were all quite a bit bored at times. Which only meant we turned creative. I started making patterns and sewing my own broideries. My oldest started her own business actually selling her stuff - cool jewelry made of hemp and shells. She learned that from a basque girl and two sister from New Caledonia. On the ferry from the northern to the southern island of New Zealand. She'd sit on the street and I'd watch over her from the café across. On Rarotonga she took the bus to the market on Saturdays, spread out her lovely business on the ground and sold as h.... All by herself. I was so proud!
My middle boy practised the skill of football (yes, we brought one). In Bangkok we bought him a pair of juggling sticks. He embarrassed one of the street performers by being way better than him. At the age of 10. Yuhu! My youngest boy remembers less. But he does remember when I took them all to see the first "Lord of the Rings" movie recorded on New Zealand - on New Zealand! He only heard "The fellowship of the Ring", as he, after having watched for twenty minutes, hid under my jacket for the rest of the movie. In my lap. With a fear fever for the rest of the film. That was tough for a young hunter from the beaches of Thailand, where he left the straw hut every early morning. With his stick - hunting for birds like the locals.
We walked barefoot in the forest with Tokowha the Maori
We walked barefoot in the forest with Tokowha the Maori and slept in the family marae. We went horseback riding on the beaches of South-Africa. Swimming with seals in Mexico. More horseback riding in Creel in the mountains of Mexico. The stories! Copper Canyon! Tarahumara indians! Rodeo cowboys riding around town on Saturday night in Alamos. Eating soft crabs in Singapore. Learning the backflip on the white beaches of Zanzibar. Seeing wild dogs in Zambia. Visiting huge tea plantations in Malaysia. All of this mainly by coincidence. We were there and we talked to people. We also had to rely on guidebooks, information from other travellers and locals, and of course on our instincts. We bought maps, and when arriving at a new place we checked out the postcards in the local shop. They showed all the sights.
They all believed that when they settled down and had kids, their life on the road would be over
During this year we only met two other families travelling with kids for more than three months. They were both Norwegians. The younger people we met let their shoulders down meeting us. They all believed that when they settled down and had kids, their life on the road would be over. No more travelling. We showed them differently.
Travelling for an entire year this tight taught us perhaps most of all patience. Stepping out of our life style adjusting to whatever and whoever we met on our way. Being bored, maybe for three hours a day, and then getting creative. Staying together. Learning respect and being humble. Mastering new skills. And that humour can take you a long way and build bridges across cultures. And don’t forget:
If your dreams don’t scare you, they are too small.
- Richard Branson