RTW with kids - start planning at home

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Travelling with kids takes some planning. Particularly if you want to travel for a year. I did that and started planning a year ahead. It’s easier to travel with younger kids. When they hit the teens and start having other heroes than the parents – different story. There are details you have to deal with to smooth and plan your trip. The contracts, the savings, the tidying, the selling, the dealing. All good processes.

I started planning a year ahead without involving the kids. As we didn’t quite know yet if we could make it. And a whole year is an eternity for a child – too long to wait or too long hate. We decided it was important to keep the house and rent it out. Then I started checking out

  • Who would rent the house.

  • When to rent out the house – taxwise.

  • How to pack the house.

  • What to improve in the house to get a decent rent.

  • When to sell the car and boat – or whatever we didn’t need anymore. What to do with post and bills.

  • Warn the school – we didn’t want the kids to miss a school year. I should say ask the school.

  • What to do with pets. I loved my cat. She was my family before the kids – so she mattered a lot. Sad story about my cat. She vanished just before we left, and we could not get a hold of her. I am still hoping she found a new family.

  • Actually plan the trip: where to go and when. Did a shitty mistake here. If you have a grass allergy - don’t choose to chase summer round the world. My allergy blossomed at least four times in one year!

We had to get rid of a lot. Luckily we had a small house and not too much stuff. I thought. But all the closets, the clothes, the books, the ”things” of a lifetime, the photos. The drawers where I’d put whatever I couldn’t throw away there and then and had stuffed it all in here and there. I had many more drawers than I even could have imagined our little house could room. I had to throw away everything without looking through anything. Or I had to look through everything and choose what to keep. I chose the latter. OMG that was a process.

I had to deal with all the memories when packing the house

I started packing the house six months ahead. Drawer by drawer. One drawer was not done in an afternoon or even in a day. As I had to deal with all the memories, too. My late mums wedding gown, the doll I got when I was four and the doll my daughter got when she was four. The kayak on the wall (that we never used, but one day...), the bicycles, the roller skates, the cross country skis. If you have a big house you can store everything in a storage room and lock it off. We didn’t. But luckily we had the most wonderful neighbour who had a spare room and offered to keep some boxes for us.

Witch meant we had to pack everything in marked boxes. As I already told you, ”pack everything” was not an easy task. So give yourself a long time to do this. It is a good process. I was going to write a ”wonderful process” – but it was not. It was very hard.

The house was neither big nor beautiful and renting could be hard. We were hoping to get a responsible company to rent. We called some, pluss the international school in town. Did they have a new teacher needing housing? And it so happened they did! The principal came and had a look a few months before we left and rented the house. Rent was quite good and we felt secure. It so happened we weren’t. My advice is as follows:

Write a bulletproof rental contract

You can get good rental contracts on the internet. Don’t leave without a contract signed and secured. People often don’t care as much for the property of others. They get careless. They want to save on the electrical bill. But if you leave a house in mid winter without any heating on, pipes will burst and things will get ugly. This was a cold, cold winter in Norway. You can also choose to rent through a company. But everything is fixable. Meaning:

Have a buffer, and with a buffer I mean money

A school year is a practical time to leave. From July to July. Also check if you have to pay taxes on the rental. And if you can deduct loss.

Not much post in the mailbox in Norway today. But have a neighbour or good friend collect your mail. Close all subscriptions on magazines and newspapers. Register all bills in your net bank if you haven’t already. Also ask your friend to look after the house. For instance when your tenant leaves for his holiday ask him to inform your friend so she can look after the house.

We decided to restore our kitchen before leaving because it would give us a better rent. Count your china and take pictures of the house inside and outside. Sell what you can close to date of departure.

Care for your pets, see the principal, plan the packing and tell the kids. More about the packing later. I find it deserves more space. The kids might not be positive travelling, so you have to be. Do not give them a choice. Some kids don’t like the unknown, but they might when they know. Tell them four to six months ahead. They will have time to adjust. And remember

He who would travel happily must travel light
- Antoine de St. Exupery