Category Archives: Traveling Family Writing Projects

Freedom to Roam This Fourth of July

For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.
– Nelson Mandela

Dear Ava and Kayan,

Today is the Fourth of July, a day when we celebrate our freedom as Americans. We’re observing this day from South Africa, a country that gained its independence in 1934 but continued to oppress the majority of its population via Apartheid until as recently as 1994. We have been traveling around the world for eight months and we have seen the many ways that freedoms are curtailed and enjoyed around the world. All of this has awakened us to freedoms we enjoy as Americans but take for granted.

As an American and as travelers, one of the greatest freedoms we enjoy is the freedom to roam. We are able to visit 10 countries in 10 months because we have the right passport. Many people around the world, even those with the means to travel, don’t have the freedom that you do to hop on a plane and cross borders. At two and four years old, you’re both already running out of pages on your first passports. We hope that you use and wear out dozens of passports in your lifetimes. Use this freedom to roam and explore our world, but always be respectful of wherever you land and defer to your host country’s way of life.

You may find out, as we have in our travels, that you aren’t always happy with how other people live. You are both already well versed with the Internet and enjoy watching episodes of Dora the Explorer on You Tube. However, the world’s second largest economy, China, doesn’t allow its people to access many user generated sites. Even this blog was blocked there, probably because we used the f-word (Facebook). As Americans, you have the freedom to read and watch what you want. Use it to educate yourselves and spread what you have learned.

You also have the freedom to say what you want. Ava, you use this freedom constantly for the 12 hours a day that you are awake. When we were in Myanmar we saw that the only widely distributed daily newspapers were government run and they told the people only what the government wanted them to hear. In contrast, we have been able to share our own travel stories with whoever wants to read it on one the world’s most widely read online news sources. When you grow up we suspect there will be information everywhere in forms that don’t exist today. Every story, even those you will read in school, have a point of view. Absorb as much as you can, but take the time to form your own opinions and then use the freedom you have to speak your minds.

Tell stories about what you currently think and what you foresee, but also share stories of where you have come from. You have the freedom to be be anything you want to be because prior generations fought for both of you to have equal opportunities. Your great-grandmother was denied the opportunity to become a doctor because of her gender. Things have changed. Ava, America chose to elect its first non-caucasian president the year you were born. A woman came very close. Take advantage of the path that has been paved for both of you.

Excel at whatever professions you pursue. But also use your the freedom you have to grow yourself spiritually. As an American you have the freedom to follow whatever religion you want. Even if you choose not to follow any religion, find what connects you on a deeper level to our world. Kayan, at only one year old, you already showed traits of quiet contemplation. You enjoyed every temple we visited in Thailand and seemed to instinctively know that they are places of quiet reflection. We hope that you hold on to this side of your personality as responsibilities grow in your life.

As an American, serving your country’s military is usually a choice. Your great-grand father chose to serve in the Indian Army and in Malaysia and Myanmar we visited the places where he was stationed. In some countries that we visited, such as Turkey and Greece, military service is a requirement. The decision to serve the military will be yours. If you choose not to, be sure you still serve the country by using your freedom to vote, your resources to give back and your education to be contributing citizens.

In Namibia and Greece we were free to appreciate so many natural wonders, from endangered animals to pristine beaches. These marvels are here today but you need to take care of them so that your own kids can enjoy our earth. Remember what we taught you about simple things taking care of plants and flowers so others can enjoy them, putting things in the garbage so our world stays pretty and turning off the water so that there is enough for everyone else.

We will be spending next month in Brazil, where our friend Joe and his boyfriend are going to come stay for a few days. America gives you the freedom to love who you want to love. You are free to commit yourself to anyone of your choosing. Whatever love ends up meaning to you, love yourself first and foremost and know that we will always love you.

As Americans we enjoy many freedoms. However, there are so many things that we can do to continue to enhance freedom within our own borders. You are lucky to have friends from a variety if backgrounds, but the reality is that most of our country still lives in pockets and you will have to make an effort to form relationships with people who are different from you. While we have the freedom to speak, we rarely talk openly about our most sensitive issues. There are things we would like to do but can’t because everybody is worried about getting sued. So even in America we have created our own borders and boundaries and some people would say that we aren’t really free. Freedom is a matter perspective, but take time every once in a while to appreciate the freedoms that you do enjoy.

Like our nation’s first settlers, your own grand parents immigrated to America in hopes of giving their descendants a freer future. Today you can embark on whatever journeys you want. Remember that it is not enough for you to be free, you must use your freedom to improve our world.

Roam free.

Dada and Mama

This post was inspired by the Facebook Families on the Move Group. Several members from all over the world chose to write posts today about freedom and travel. You can read their stories below.

Let Freedom Ring by The Nomadic Family

Are we free? by Living Differently

The Freedom to Choose by Living Outside of the Box

Freedom and Straying off the Beaten Path by Barts go Adventuring

Living a Free and Meaningful Life by Flashpacker Family

What is Freedom by Family on Bikes

Do you know what Freedom is by Bohemian Travelers

Free Falling by Break Out of Bushwick


Filed under South Africa, Travel With Kids, Traveling Family Writing Projects

Running to Slow Down

What instigated our around the world journey? Were we running from something or towards something? Our Facebook Families on the Move Group is running a series of posts to answer this question. Last week in Flashpacker Family, Bethany wrote about how an emotional and a physical earthquake prompted her and her husband to pack up their seventh month old baby and start living nomadic lives. Here is our family’s response to the “running from or to” question.

We weren’t running away. We were happy with our lives. We weren’t necessarily running towards anything either. When a window opened for us to travel full time, we jumped through it. Our only goal for the trip was to get “the diversion we need to appreciate each other, our world and ourselves.”

We took this trip to slow down. At home, Sandeep and I had packed work schedules. The kids had their own lives between schools, play dates and birthday parties. The four of us were happy and busy, but we really had to make an effort to connect with each other, our world and ourselves. Has the trip given us the diversion we needed to meet our goal?

Yes, we have been able to appreciate each other in the most magical and mundane ways. Last week we spent an hour making sand shadows in Namibia’s massive dunes, posing in all sorts of funny shadows and laughing hysterically. Each of us directed poses, something we had time to do because we were had no other agenda.

Yes, we have been able to appreciate our world. Traveling to all corners of the world has shown us that our planet is fragile and we are responsible for its upkeep. The snow lines in the Himalayas are receding, the Mediterranean is running out of fish and the flamingoes in Namibia aren’t migrating anymore. Our climate is changing more rapidly than we can fix it. We have been fortunate to experience nature that may not be around when our kids grow up. Our hope is that, by traveling to such diverse and fragile places, our kids have learnt to love our planet enough to take care of it.

Yes, we have been able to appreciate ourselves. Each of us has fostered interests that we didn’t have time for at home. I discovered a love for writing. Sandeep surprised us all by discovering a love for nature and has led us on some great adventures because of it. Ava has become an artist extraordinaire and Kayan has become quite the singer. The best part is that we all have time to actively participate and encourage each other’s talents – even when it means listening to The Lion Sleeps Tonight 50 times a day while searching for lions.

Sure we could have appreciated all these things had we stayed at home. But it would have taken a lot more effort and it wouldn’t have been nearly as fun.

To continue our group’s “running from or to” stories, I invite Clark from Family Trek to tell us why he, his wife Monica and their two little ones decided on a life of travel.


Filed under Africa, Travel With Kids, Traveling Family Writing Projects

Yiamas to Facebook

Facebook is living through its first day as a publicly traded stock and I wanted to reflect on the non-monetary value that the social network has brought to our journey.

I was relatively late to join Facebook. I hated the idea of being found so easily and I had no clue why anyone would want to know what I was up to every minute. However, my entire high school reunion was planned on Facebook, so I either had to join or be stuck in the 90s. Over the years, Facebook and I grew into a comfortable relationship. I am not embarrassed to admit that this journey even made me dependent on Facebook. Without Facebook, we would have had a very different travel experience.

Without Facebook, we would not have been as connected

We realize that we aren’t doing the best job of individually keeping in touch with friends and family. This blog is our way to let you know what going on in our lives. It’s a larger task to find out what is happening in yours. Facebook fills us in. Five minutes a day tells us who is running a marathon, who is pregnant, who cooked a soufflé for the first time, and who just got at dog. Ava and Kayan also see pictures of their friends, leading Ava to say things like, “Oh, that’s Max. I almost forgot his style.”

Without Facebook, we would not have a network of traveling families

The Facebook Families on the Move Group has been a source of information and inspiration. This group has helped us out with travel planning, answered questions on malaria, hooked us up with play dates and been an source of support for a life on the road. We have not met most of these families but, thanks to Facebook, have formed life long friendships with like minded people. If you want to get to know some of these families, check out our monthly writing projects.

Without Facebook, we would have missed out on experiences

When we post an update on our destinations, we get suggestions from friends or local connections. The power of Facebook helped us employ an wonderful African refugee as our nanny in Istanbul. Thanks to Facebook, we created an instant network in every place we went. Groups such as I Love Chiang Mai and Istanbul Moms were instrumental in making us feel at home in each of our new locations.

Facebook’s mission is to make the world more open and connected. For this family they have succeeded. Yiamas (cheers in Greek) to Facebook today.

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Filed under Greece, Traveling Family Writing Projects

Starting our Days with Turkish Breakfast

I participate in a monthly writing project with other traveling families. Last month we wrote about how Anyone Can Travel. This month, we’re sharing stories about a major reason why many of us travel – food. After reading about our breakfasts in Turkey, you can go on a culinary journey around the world with other families by clicking on the links at the bottom of this post.

The first meal of the day in Turkey is an elaborate affair, one traditionally enjoyed over hours with family. Visitors can experience a Turkish breakfast at leisure in one of Istanbul’s cafes or restaurants, each competing for the best breakfast spread. Turkish cuisine reflects the country’s position at the cross roads of East and West. Of all Turkish meals, breakfast best showcases the effect these cultural exchanges have had on Turkish food.

The Turkish word for breakfast is Kahvalti, which translates to before coffee. No respectable Turkish person would consume coffee without first starting with a hearty breakfast and plenty of cay (tea). Equally as important as the food, numerous tulip shaped glasses of black tea accompany the traditional Turkish breakfast. I am a tea drinker but I’m not a big fan if Turkish cay. I find the brew bitter and would love to add just a little bit of milk to calm the flavor. I’ve been told that the locals would gasp in horror if I tried.

To truly understand the ingredients in Kahvalti, we went to the market to assemble our own Turkish breakfast. It’s hard to name the main dish in Kahvlati as the meal is more of an assortment of various nibbles. Most of the dishes do not require cooking, which means that even though the meal is broad in variety, it can be somewhat easy to prepare. Consuming it is another issue. It takes time to enjoy traditional Kahvalti and our Turkish friends tell us that in modern days, a full spread Kahvalti is a treat for weekends and holidays.

Cheese, peynir, is a key ingredient. The most ubiquitous cheese is white sheep’s milk, which is creamy and salty. This is usually paired with a couple of other cheeses, one fresh and mild and another aged and sharp. I put a cheese plate for breakfast up there on the list of genius culinary inventions.

For meat eaters, there is always a selection of cold meats. Being a predominantly Muslim country, this rarely includes any pork products. What’s missing from bacon is more than made up with cuts such as pistachio studded beef or garlicky Turkish pastrami. Various countries claim to have invented pastrami, and the Turkish say it originated with their bastirma, which means to depress and reflects the process of squeezing out the juices from air dried meat.

Green and black olives, zeytin, add additional saltiness to the spread.

To balance out the meal there are fresh seasonal vegetables, currently tomatoes and cucumbers.

The savory side of kahvalti is married to sweet goodness. White bread, ekmek, baked twice daily serves as a vehicles for freshly churned butter, jams and honey (called bali). At least one syrupy jam, recel, is on every Kahvalti plate. Usually there is also some honey, preferably still in its comb. The recel and honey are meant to be mixed with the fresh butter and then applied to the bread.

Fancier Kahvalti include boiled eggs or mememen scrambled eggs and fresh juices. However, with all the food and cay these additions seem superfluous.

If breakfast really is the most important meal of the day, then the Turks have their priorities straight.

Finding My Way to Fabulous (and Freaky) Food by Walkingon Travels

Persian Pomegranate Chicken and other Fantastic Foods of Iran by Growing Grace Life

Food from Guatemala by Travel Experta

Magical Easy-To-Make Israeli by The Nomadic Family

Traditional Dishes of Peru by Raising Miro

Alloco (from West Africa) by Sparkling Adventures

My crêpes recipe (from France) by Avenue Reine Mathilde

Gallo Pinto, Costa Rica’s Signature Dish by Family Travel Bucket List

Taking the Kids to Yakitori Alley in Tokyo Japan by Vagabond Kids



Filed under Food, Traveling Family Writing Projects, Turkey

Anyone Can Travel, Just Let Go

Each month, a group of us nomadic families participate in a writing project where we share our ideas on a specific topic. We’ve been chatting about how we respond to people who tell us “I’m so jealous” or “I wish our family could do that” and realized that our answers may be of interest to a wider audience. So March’s writing project is “Anyone Can Travel, All you Have to Do is…”

Let me start by saying not every family should travel. If you can’t handle crowds, if you can’t stand the surprise of a wrongly advertised hotel room, or refuse to go anywhere without a seatbelt, then perhaps extended travel is not for your family. Then again, maybe your family should travel and get a different perspective.

My thoughts are more for those families that know they want to take off on a long adventure but don’t think they can. We reckon that most families resist pulling the trigger because they fear letting go of a life they’ve worked so hard to build. I want to share what were the hardest things for us to let go of, why we did it and what it all means five months into our journey.

Letting go of responsibility

Sandeep and I are the quintessential Asian couple. We followed the path that was expected of us. We got good grades, went to top universities, found each other and settled down early, popped two babies and climbed the ladders at multi-national corporations. We did everything to set a foundation for our family and prepare for our own retirement. However, both of us had a sense of adventure and curiosity that we weren’t able to satiate through our vacations. Our first decade as professionals had flown by and at least another three stretched ahead. We wanted a break from living the life we should to live the life we want. Watching our kids grow up made us realize life goes by fast. Finding out I had multiple sclerosis made us realize that life also take turns we don’t plan. Too many of us take our responsibilities so seriously that we start forgetting the things that really matter such as health, personal connections, or introspection. Every elderly person we meet on the road compliments us, saying that they have all the time now to travel but have lost either the physical ability or the family ties to make it a reality. Their advice and ours is don’t wait until retirement to travel the world. You may not be able to climb the Himalayas or swim in the bluest oceans if you do. And you certainly wont be able to experience these things with your impressionable children. By making the decision to travel, Sandeep and I actually think that we did the most responsible thing we could for our family. We’re navigating the world together and understanding each other on a level we never did at home. Most importantly we have all the time in the world to truly appreciate each other and what makes us a family. We’re not turning our backs on the conventional paths to responsibility, but travel has given us a renewed focus for why it matters.

Letting go of Parenting 101

As New York City type-A parents, we stayed in established neighborhoods, enrolled the kids in a variety of classes and even got them into private school before they could talk. We scheduled meals, nap times, gave them mostly organic foods, played lots of music and very little TV. We provided Ava and Kayan with every opportunity, but they were growing too fast for us to process any of it. It was as if we were leading separate lives, hurriedly squeezing in family time in the evenings and weekends. We wondered if taking this trip would disadvantage our kids. Some people were shocked that we would expose a one- and three-year old to the diseases of the world. So far, all these concerns seem to be routed in fear not reality. The kids have been healthier on this trip (despite licking floors and playing with the earth) than they ever were at home. When we have needed health care, such as in Kuala Lumpur, we have found it to be of higher quality service than in New York City. And despite visiting ten countries, the kids have only required one non-routine vaccine. Our family has been a single unit over the past five months and we’ve become intimately familiar with each others’ gifts and neuroses. The biggest benefit to all of this is that we as parents have an infinite platform to educate our children about our world. We’ve laid under the Indian sky teaching the kids about constellations. Ava now loves finding Orion’s belt in every new country. By the end of our trip Kayan will know a zebra, lion and rhinoceros because he saw them in the wild, not because he was shown them in a book. After three months in India the kids understand our heritage in a way they never could have at home. Our experiences on the road has brought us closer to our children and them closer to each other. Sandeep and I would like nothing more than for that do define our success as parents.

Letting go of our desks

As parents in our 30’s, we were focused on wealth accumulation and defending whatever nest egg we had already built. Letting go of a job when the global economy is unsteady may seem like a stupid move. However, let’s put things in perspective. Most of us spend at least forty years working. With retirement age expanding, that number may be closer to 50 for our generation. We’d argue that taking a year off, even in a tough economy, is a rounding error in the grand scheme of things. Moreover, by focusing on a career a few years at a time, we were missing the broader movements in our shifting world. As U.S. professionals spending time in India and China we can confidently say that our relative positions in the business world will be drastically different going forward. Traveling has given us the opportunity to experience this on the ground, and to learn from and build a network with our counterparts globally. Extended travel has also given us time to work on skills that will help us professionally. I’ve had the chance to write for Huffington Post and Conde Nast, which has pushed me to be a better communicator. Interacting with people of different cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds, and navigating through uncertain situation builds confidence as a leader regardless of profession. A doctor gains better bed side manners, an investment advisor better understands economic shifts and an educator can apply new ways of teaching and learning. Yes, we can succeed by working hard, going to the right schools and stacking years of experience. However, what differentiates leaders is their ability to consume diverse perspectives, negotiate different viewpoints, inspire and mange others through uncertain conditions and times of change. The confidence gained from maneuvering a family through multiple countries, cultures, logistics, political situations, housing conditions, health care systems, and hygiene levels will make you a stronger person, a better professional in the long run and a true leader.

Letting go of familiar grounds

We all have things that ground us – routines, personal and professional networks, families. It’s daunting to let go of these things to face the unknowns that come with long term travel. What we have found is that by figuring our new comforts and routines as we go, we have become better people and a tighter family. The four of us depend on each other a lot more than we did at home. Yes, little annoyances become magnified under these conditions, but small accomplishments are also jointly celebrated. Sandeep and I are forced to deal 24 hours a day with the things that irritate us about each other. It was a hard adjustment at first, but we are more honest with each other as a result. Kayan first two-foot jump was on the beach in Penang and all four us were there to cheer. Because Ava has seen the extremes of open sewers and pristine mountains, she knows not to litter or to pluck flowers. The kids know how a chicken is raised, how fish are caught and that fruits and vegetables come from the ground and not grocery shelves. They could have been taught all this at home, but they have lived it on the road. We do miss our friends and family, but in this digital age we’re not too far behind on each others’ lives. Many of our friends and family love to travel as much as we do and have people visiting us in seven different countries. That gives us a chance to become closer to them as well.

What you gain… 

Once we hit the road we immediately realized that we traded in our full lives for richer ones. Instead of setting our alarms to get to work, we set it for things like giving alms to 12,000 monks in Chiang Mai. Instead of limited family time, we have the luxury of lazing together. We’re not saying life on the road is perfect or that we never miss certain comforts of home. Sometimes things don’t work. Other times we just can’t get what we want – the only available diaper brand leaks, the coffee is not strong enough, no one speaks English, nothing on the menu is gluten-free – but we adjust as a family. We spend every day now learning about our world with our children. We’re more connected to each other but also realize how connected we are to the rest of mankind and our natural world. We knew this on a superficial level before our journey and live it every day now. We are  learning what it means to be responsible and adaptable global citizens.

Do you dream about extended travel? What prevents you from letting go?Read what other traveling families have to say about realizing their nomadic dreams.

Anyone Can Travel by Bohemian Travelers

Diet Shouldn’t Stop You from Traveling by Livin’ On the Road

Not Everyone Can Travel by Living Outside of the Box

Only the Very Special, Lucky, Rich, and Perfect (Like Me) Can Travel by Nomadic Family

Anyone Can Travel Why Don’t You by Walkington Travels

Anyone Can Do This by Experiential Family

Not Everyone Can Travel by Living Outside of the Box

You Have to be Special Like us if You Want an Awesome Life by Discover Share Inspire

True Story: Single mother from Bushwick, Brooklyn, funds long-term trip without having to sell a kidney by Break Out of Bushwick

You Can Make it Happen Too by Growing Grace Life

Why Anyone Can Travel by Family Trek

Travel – Possible? by Wandering Photographer

Even Solo Mamas on Government Handouts Can Travel by Solo Mama Travels

A Family Travel Lifestyle is More than Just Luck by Little Aussie Travellers

Anyone Can Travel Can’t They by New Life on the Road


Filed under India, Travel With Kids, Traveling Family Writing Projects

Our New York City Family Favorites

This month, our Facebook Families on the Move group got nostalgic about home. We are all traveling around the world with children and keep asking each other for advice on our hometowns. This is our collaboration to bring you our favorite family spots from home.

For the New Yorkers reading this blog – I’d love to know your comments on our selection or your thoughts on what was missed. We could only choose five and know that our city has hundreds more.

Whole Foods Bowery

This Whole Foods has two floors spanning an entire city avenue. Roaming the wide isles (a rarity for New York City grocery stores), cheese vault, dry food bins and upstairs food court is like attending a food amusement park. The real education is to be had upstairs in the Whole Foods Culinary Center, a teaching kitchen that hosts recreational classes in an intimate settings for kids. The calendar rotates each season. Our kids have taken Spanish Tapas and Indian food classes here. Ava went to a week long summer camp last year, where each day was focused on food from one of the five New York City boroughs. She made pizza from Staten Island, pierogies from Queens, cheesecake from Brooklyn, empanadas from the Bronx and bagel and lox from Manhattan. Chefs Wei and Cricket are great with the little ones and provide everything from safe cookware to miniature bibs. The a la cart classes are well priced at about $20 per child per class.

Brooklyn Smorgasburg

Brooklyn Flea was started in 2008 as an outdoor market for local vendors. It’s only three years old, but has already gained a strong following for its quality and breadth of offerings. So much so, that it’s all-food offshoot, Brooklyn Smorgasburg, is packed every weekend during the summer. The market is wonderfully kid friendly, with stalls selling everything from stuffed animals to handmade furniture. And who knew clothing racks can be so fun when filled with sequins, yards of fabric and the occasional boa? The food choices meet all our needs. I usually go with a veggie quesadilla from the Red Hook Taco place, Sandeep gets bratwurst, and the kids get fruit salad, horchata and tacos. The other unique thing the venue offers is a plaza where the kids can actually feel their feet on grass – a rarity in New York City.

Tompkins Square Park

When we first moved to New York in 2003, a local friend advised that we could live anywhere in Manhattan except north of 96th Street and Alphabet City. How things have changed. In 2009 we moved to Alphabet City, now one of the few neighbourhoods in Manhattan that is still filled with mom and pop stores and a very strong cultural heritage. Tompkins Square Park in the 1980s used to be a drug dealing and using shanty town. Now it houses one of the nicest playgrounds in the city. Our favorite is the one along Avenue A between 7th and 9th streets. It has several distinct areas for different age groups, a large sand box and water sprinklers in the summer. Fun for the kids extends beyond the playground. An eclectic mix of musicians, artists and elderly playing chess claim the benches and make for eventful discussions. The north side of the park has some playing courts and a small, shallow public pool. You’ll find plenty of eating choices around, but our favorites are Australian pies at Tuck Shop on St. Marks between First Avenue and Avenue A, and stuffed Venezuelan arepas Caracas Arepa Bar on 7th Street between First Avenue and Avenue A.

The New York City Transit Museum

We’re generally not a museum family. The kids are too difficult to control and we can’t focus on the exhibits. There are several museums in the city that are catered to children and have children’s activities, but the one that our entire family enjoys the most is The New York Transit Museum. The museum is located in an old subway station in Brooklyn Heights and offers a history into the century old subway system. The best part lies underground, where a live subway line houses cars from most decade since the system’s inception. The kids have a blast running between the cars, and we enjoy the step back in history with period appropriate advertisements.

Sandy Hook Beaches

There are some great beaches within a couple of hours of the city. We are fans of Sandy Hook because half the fun is getting there. The Seastreak Ferry departs from 34th Street and the East River as well as Wall Street and arrives in Sandy Hook National Recreation Area within 30 minutes. The ride passes under the city’s bridges and the Statue of Liberty before docking at a Sandy Hook. Summertime weekends can get packed with the school crowd, but a weekday trip usually offers quiet beaches and unspoiled surroundings. It’s also possible to rent bikes and cycle the park, just go with all needed supplies. Apart from two cafes selling burgers, hot dogs, fries and beach umbrella rentals, there aren’t any conveniences.

The links below take you to the homes of other traveling families. Enjoy the trips.

Ambergris Caye, Belize – A King’s Life

Boston, USA – Great Family Escape

London, UK – Travels with a Nine Year Old

Central Australia – Wandering Photographer

South Australia – Livin On The Road

The Netherlands – Act of Traveling

Antigua, Guatemala -Raising Miro

Seattle, WA – Walkingon Travels

Sunset Coast, MI – WanderingEducators

Vancouver, B.C. – With 2 Kids In Tow

Kingston, Ontario – EdventureProject

Lake Chapala, Mexico – Living Outside of the Box

Washington, D.C. – Growing Grace Life

Costa Rica – Bohemian Travelers

Fethiye, Turkey – ramblecrunch

Brisbane, Australia – OurTravelLifestyle

Israel – The Nomadic Family

Chiang Mai, Thailand – The Dropout Diaries


Filed under Travel With Kids, Traveling Family Writing Projects

Reinventing Christmas

I can’t believe it’s December. Exactly one month since we started our journey, and time for the holidays. This post is part of a writing project for the Families on the Move Group. You can read the links below about what other traveling families are planning this holiday season.

We spoke to a friend in New York this week and she says the city feels like the holidays. It’s cold, holiday music draws shoppers into every store, and christmas trees are lined up for sale on street corners. I love New York City in the holidays. It’s the only time I don’t mind the tourist attractions because that’s where I can find roasted chestnuts. The holiday lights are enough to take the darkness out of 5 PM sunsets.

It doesn’t feel like Christmas in Chiang Mai. We’ve seen just two Christmas trees, one at a tourist-frequented night bazaar and the other by the airport. The only holiday song we’ve heard is jingle bells. From Ava. Ava sings jingle bells all year long.

The area’s celebrations such as Loi Krathong have been so festive that we’re not yet missing the holiday spirit. We’ve been able to spend time together, share stories and eat good food every day. At the heart of it, that’s what holidays are about anyway.

In a few weeks we’ll be celebrating Christmas with my parents in Goa, India. We won’t be bringing any boxed gifts. Two bags, four people and a year’s worth of items doesn’t leave room for purchases along the way. Also, if our short month on the road has taught us anything, its that experiences are much richer and more lasting than material goods that wear, get outdated, or lost.

We will be giving gifts, just not the material kind. Our gifts this year include the upkeep and medication for an orphaned elephant in the name of  the recipient. Chiang Mai is home to many elephant orphanages that seek to provide safe environments for neglected, abused or overworked elephants. While we can’t replicate the same expriences we have had for our friends and family, we hope they agree these gifts are more meaningful, lasting and impactful than any handicraft we could have bought along the way.

We can’t speak for what we’ll receive this year. The kids have been happy with minimal toys and wev’e been fine recycling our week’s worth of clothes. Our bags are stuffed and our hearts are full. We’re looking forward to more time with loved ones around the tree and less time looking at what’s under.

What are other traveling families saying about Christmas?

A King’s Life: Forget the Gifts, Give an Experience this Christmas

Pearce On Earth: A Different Kind of Christmas

Family Trek: What’s For Christmas? Dear Santa, do we really need more stuff?

The Nomadic Family: Poverty for Christmas

New Life on the Road: Dear Mr Santa Claus Whats For Christmas

With 2 Kids In Tow, It’s Backpacking We Go:  Dear Santa, For This Christmas We Wish…

Living Outside of the Box –  The Best Christmas Presents

Discover Share Inspire: Christmas is Coming – What Do We Give on the Road?

Bohemian Travelers: Gift giving while living a simpler life

Little Aussie Travellers: Presence vs Presents Christmas Time for Travelling Families

Family Travel Bucket List – Feliz Navidad Without All the Stuff

Life and Views: Christmas Travelling

Adventurous Childhood: Christmas

Carried on the Wind: Christmas Giving

Edventure Project: On Christmas a Reflection on the Real Gifts


Filed under Religion, Thailand, Traveling Family Writing Projects

What We’ve Learnt to Live Without

I’ve joined a great Facebook group “Families on the Move” with other nomadic families. The group holds writing projects and today’s is about what we have learnt to live without. At the bottom of this post you can get to know some other traveling families and read about how they are living with less.

We’ve left behind so much stuff at home that was part of our regular lives. Here’s a sampling of things we have learnt to live without.

An alarm clock. Sandeep’s asleep by 9 and up at 5 to work. I blog at night, sleep at midnight and wake up at 8. I suppose what is said about humans needing eight hours of sleep is correct because we both wake up naturally to the cocks crowing in the morning rather than our rude alarms.

Cell phones. We’re nomads, not hermits. We still communicate with the world, but instead of being glued to our cell phones or running to the crackberry every time its red light goes off, we’re communicating at our own pace. We stay in touch through this blog and have purchased a Skype package so that we can make local and international calls. Being cell phone free has been a key factor in setting a slower pace of life.

Choice of shoes. This was a big point of contention while we were packing. Sandeep insisted that he needed a bag to himself because his shoes are bigger. He wanted to pack six pairs of shoes. In reality, we each only use two. One pair of walking shoes and another pair of casual flip-flop/sandals. To Sandeep’s credit, he has been running so he uses his running shoes as well. Mine are sitting idle at the bottom of the bag.

Wine. Food and non-alcoholic beverage is so cheap in Thailand, that it feels wrong to spend $30 for a bottle of wine. Ordinarily, we would order wine at dinners out, but we’ve become used to getting our anti-oxidants from fresh juices instead. Sandeep’s enjoying the local Chang beer, but since I avoid gluten, I’ve been dry for the past couple of weeks. I’m not sure this is something we’re going to live without for too long, though.

Children’s utensils. At home we had an entire cabinet in our micro-kitchen dedicated to children’s kitchen paraphernalia. Sippy cups, pacifiers, bottles, plastic forks and spoons, bowls and plates. We agonized over what to being from this assortment. In the end we brought a small Kleen Kanteen for each child, two plastic bowls with lids,  and two plastic cups. The Kleen Kanteens haven’t been used and the plastic cups have morphed into bath and pool toys.   We do use the bowls, but as food storage more than kiddie ware.The reality is that Kayan was forced to graduate to adult ware sooner than he would have at home. In the end we could have done without any of these.

Toys. Ava and Kayan will say that they want more toys, but they’ve certainly learnt to live without the scores of books, puzzles, dolls, bouncy balls, and blocks we had at home. Ava has even learnt to make do with just a handful of hair accessories. We spend a lot of time out together, so the kids are busy learning from the colors, noises and smells of our surroundings. We made a trip to  a toy stall here to buy a set of markers, coloring book in Thai and puzzles. These few toys, along with inventive uses of various household goods, have kept the kids entertained during down time.   I do confess that the iPad has also become a children’s toy, which I don’t mind too much since educational games such as Monkey Preschool to keep them entertained.

Here’s what other families are saying:

Windwalker Duo

Tripping Mom 

Living Outisde of the Box

A King’s Life

Globetrotting Mama 


Family on Bikes

Living Without the Norm 


Filed under Thailand, Traveling Family Writing Projects