Wednesday, October 5

10 Nomadic Families Traveling the World, 7 Continents: How They Afford It

Way back when, when I would hear of some family scaling the globe; I assumed they were rich. They had to be. Who can retire in their thirties or forties and travel the world? When I was 36, my family had begun traveling the world and thus became a nomadic family; and then I knew, you don't have to be rich to live this dream lifestyle. Turns out, a vast majority of nomadic families are not. Almost all of them, in fact, are quite normal, everyday people who dreamed big, and saved bigger. They envisioned something they wanted, and went for it. Below you will find out how 10 nomadic families have afforded their world travel dreams. May our collective frugality, persistence, creativity, and courage inspire you to look into your own life, and seriously contemplate this once way-out-of-reach dream as plausible. this is great.

In doing the research and work to write this piece, I must say that as is usual in my life; I venture to find one thing, and reach something else, more magical, quite unexpectedly. I sought numbers/finances/affordability and found awe/admiration/respect to those families, those parents who live the talk, they are taking their ideologies/values/hopes/dreams and making them happen. I entered a world of heroes this evening, a world of real people who leave me in the utmost admiration. Enjoy!

1- The Family On Bikes

John and Nancy Vogel, and their two boys Daryl and Davy, took the gift of time. As teachers, they said, "Time is why we made the decision to quit our teaching jobs and join the ever-burgeoning ranks of homeschoolers; we were tired of spending more time with other parents' kids than with our own." They took three years of their lives to ride their bikes from Alaska to the southern most tip of South America, camping a majority of the time. They spent 1000 days and an estimated $70,000 living their family adventure dream from 2008 to 2011. 

See, they're rich, right? Who has $70,000? Well when you break it down, you realize that over the course of 36 months; they spent less than $2000 a month! Back in our 'normal lives' $2000 a month covered food and gas, maybe. They rented out their home, and luckily, had a great property manager find them great tenants, and two other homes they could buy for super cheap, and rent out.  They also make money from the ads and affiliates on their site. They call themselves normal, everyday people who are now settling back into 'normal' life in Boise. I call them remarkable!

I wonder, what my abs and thighs would look like if I road a bike tens of thousands of miles?

2- Raising Miro

Forty-four-year-old single mom Lainie is on a mission to travel the world with her 12 year old son, Miro, until he reaches the age of 18. They began in 2009 and are slowly meandering down Central and South America. Lainie explains that things went south in 2008 financially and she decided to reclaim her sanity after burnout and travel. Lainie says quite eloquently, "How can we afford not to do this?" Is she rich? No, she's creative, focused, and determined.

Lainie sold everything they owned before leaving. Now, two years later, as the money is running out, she is turning to podcasts and advertising to make additional funding. They are both very active online, and Lainie, highly creative and determined to fund this nomadic family life until the year 2017, is doing a marvelous job networking and convincing founders, sponsors, and businesses that advertising with RaisingMiro will be a profitable investment for all. 

Lainie is spunky, opinionated, brave, and very, very cool to read about. She surely has a niche, and the gift of raising her son with the world as their home.

3- Six In The World

Anne and Tom Andrus took their four children on an eleven month journey around the globe back in 2008. Theirs was one of the first family travel sites I happened upon so many years ago when I began looking into the possibility. Both are fantastic writers; both are honest and sweet; both make you feel like you've been friends with them for years; both are inspiring. The blog has of lately become an open book to Anne's fight with a very aggressive cancer which has returned, and is tearing their hearts with fear. Tom and Anne share her loneliness in fighting it; and like all of their other readers, I send them light and complete recovery in this newer journey in their lives. 

What I took away from reading their preparations for their round the world journey over the years is that Tom, like Kobi, was the absentee-father, getting burnt out and working hard so that the family could afford their lives. I was always inspired by others' reflections about what was the point of working so hard that our lives just pass us by. 

Their financial story was a simple but, modern one. Tom took " two month sabbatical and accrued vacation time (roughly 2 months) as a start and was granted a leave of absence for the remaining 7 months". They bought RTW flight tickets using 840,000 Delta frequent flyer miles and paid an additional $1500 on international taxes for the six of them. Considering they spent 170 nights in hotels, they're allocated spending is way higher than most of the longer-term traveling nomadic families. Still, they are one remarkable family who, over the years, I feel really bonded with. It is well worth visiting their site. 

4-  The Wide Wide World

Dani, Craig, Caroline, and Conor traveled the globe in 285 days. From July 2008 until May 2009 they traveled through South America, Australia, the Far East, and the Middle East. They took an impressive amount of stunning pictures and have entries about knowing they were destined to go because the fortune cookie told them, and other cute, quiet thoughts interspersed within their entries. 

Turns out they once shared the details of their personal financial planning and expenses and got hurt by the comments of some out there who don't appreciate that family travel bloggers really do put themselves on the line every time they write. For those who share their lives with others, I believe, we should tread into those lives respectfully, appreciatively, and non-judgmentally. At any rate, they speak of being inspired by the information they gained from other families that tread before them. They also, quite impressively, mention that they ended up spending almost to the dollar what they allotted for their budget for the trip. 

I have loved the photographs on this site. Enjoy!

5-  4 Suitcases

The Hoffmeister family of four traveled through the Caribbean, South American, Pacific Islands, Japan and China, and Southeast Asia in a year. The story of Marc, Danielle and their two daughters Hannah and Olivia eerily echos the gnawing voice more and more families are hearing today:

 "We were all busy living the life you’re supposed to want: high-paying career (with long hours to match) and big house with a pool in the suburbs, fat retirement accounts, and plenty of homework and after-school activities to keep the kids out of trouble. We filled what little free time we had by going out to restaurants and taking a week-long vacation every now and then. On paper, it was a pretty good life.

Yet we were beginning to realize that all the stuff we thought we wanted wasn’t really making us happy. Even that dream of an awesome retirement no longer seemed worth the price we were paying to secure it. "

They funded their journey by selling almost everything they owned (and being slapped by how little their stuff was worth). Danielle and Marc speak of the guts it took them to sell their home for just under what they owed on it, and facing the reality that once they return from their around the world travels, they will be quite broke, and will need to figure out what to do next. I love reading about people, being real, facing real tightrope decisions, and going for it!

6-  From Here To Uncertainty

Brenna, Bob, Owen and Eleanor Redpath are one everyday normal family who decided that the modern rat-race was just too much for them. And so, in 2009, husband Bob quit his job, the family sold everything they owned, and they bought one-way tickets to Europe. Both Brenna (self-acclaimed singer/star spirit) and Bob (a down-to-earth and brutally honest guy) are tons of fun to read. 

They spent 6 months living in Scotland, and spent the rest of their year doing slow and lovely 6 week- residencies in Southern France; Bamberg, Germany; Krawkow, Poland; and Belgrade, Serbia. Under their "economy" label they speak of money matters, and in one entry written before they left, Bob shares how in his industry YOU DON'T TURN DOWN WORK. He says the following: "The uncertainty of this whole venture is something we talk about a lot in this house. Hell, uncertainty is in the name of the website! But, turning down work (especially in this economy) MAKES IT REAL!"

They no longer update their site, but the first two years online is just great!

This one's about us- the Klaf family. We are a family of five on an open-ended world wide nomadic family adventure. We did not sell anything we own back home in Israel. We have rented out our sun-lit bathed mountain-side apartment home in the Northern Galilee Valley of Israel; our car is in Jerusalem, being driven around the block occasionally by Kobi's Argentinian brother-in-law Roni; a few other things of value (including my wardrobe and a water jamboree) have been passed around to family and friends to enjoy while we're gone.

In the four years between nomadic family travel inception and actually stepping on that first flight; we worked and saved like mad. Through dedicated frugality, simplicity, and prioritizing we paid off our house mortgage, student loans, and enough for a year and a half of nomadic family travel. In mid-October 2011, we are publishing a series of online products on both the nomadic family travel  and inspirational work on Gabi's parenting site to fund the remaining undefined amount of time we want to keep traveling. We also have gotten a few generous donations. Gabi continues Skype family therapy for clients across the globe; and when able, Kobi does dog trainer for clients we meet on the way. 

To read more about the real life on the road, the ups and downs, and what we've found as we explore, volunteer, and live off of $1200 a month: 

This remarkable French family of five consists of Father Vincent, Mother Julie, and three beautiful girls: Margaux, Lena, and Noemie.Their 9 year old daughter Lena has Cerebral Palsy, thus allowing the family opportunity to further find their creative genius in the already sometimes challenging road of nomadic world travel. I must say a few things come to me as I read their site: 1- how awesome it is when we realize that people and families across the globe are exactly like us 2- how much I admire that their child's handicap did not allow this family to become a victim to their circumstances (how inspiring!) 3- how in most of the photos, they lift their daughter to be photographed without the wheelchair like the rest of her family and 4- how kind Google-translate ( has been to me, allowing me to enjoy their entire website in French without me speaking a word of it. 

In their eleven month voyage, they have thus far traveled the US and Canada, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Costa Rica. We found out about their family from a company that helps people ship their vehicle from Panama to Columbia. So though their site does not yet reflect it, we've seen pictures of their RV en route (we think) to Columbia. Thus, we assume (dangerous, I know) that they are now starting the South American leg of their journey. 

Because of the language issues, we did not find the specific financial information we were seeking but we'll update this when a- someone who speaks French volunteers to get it for us or b- they write us back! And though, this blog entry is dedicated to the financial aspect of affording the nomadic family life; after all the translation work, and because it just brings tears to my eyes, how amazing this family is, we'll still keep them here for inspiration. If they can do it, buy the special RV for their handicap needs and carry with them around the world that bulky chair and all; surely our excuses not to travel the world with our families get much lamer by the minute!

Matthew (36) , Charlotte (31), Tugdual (11), Agathe (9), Enguerrand (7), Octavia (6) and Beatrice (5) have embarked in a three year around the world voyage. Their plans take them across four continents (five, if you learned that North, Central, and South America are separate). I was fascinated by this young family and their journey for several reasons: 
1- They had 5 kids in 6 years, and are traveling the world with them!
2- Either they have a really great camera, they are all super photogenic, or that each child (and their parents) are angelically healthy and attractive (or all of the above)
3- They are doing this for three years! (how cool)
4- Their car is unreal! They totally revamped a 1997 Land Rover Defender into a kingdom for the nomadic family of 7. 

Matthew goes into about the same about of detail as John Steinbeck's Travels With Charlie did in defining how the roof converts into a tent for five and how every inch of the car is utilized for maximum benefit. Economically, they put in a great deal of money converting their car/kingdom, but in one fail swoop have solved the two most costly expenses for nomadic families: transportation and sleeping accommodations.  And because an RV could never cover the rough roads and terrain they faced driving through Central and South America and now as they enter Africa; it's just genius. 

Again, once I learn French, or once they answer me; I'll update their entry with more financial information. I'm dying to know how a family of five affords a three year international nomadic family shtick, and how much it's costing them. 

The Adventure is Not Contagious in a Chair (I bet it sounds better in French and means something like 'Get Up and Live the Adventure!')

10- Cage Free Family

Almee LeVally Harris and her husband, three kids, and their dog have become their own unique definition of a nomadic family by giving away all that they owned and buying a 25-foot RV. They decided that they want to find out what they really believe in and trust that Universe will bring them all that they need. On their blog description, they explain that they have made the move "from the six figure funded ties which bind the American middle class to Cage Free movement toward our true dreams; a farmstead funded healing community in the wild of Vermont. In this crazy, overcomplicated world where we begin to feel like slaves to our possessions...." and so they are on a journey to discover themselves, and the true difference between "need" and "want".

In addition to homesteading and unschooling their children in breathtaking nature (reflected in stunning photos on their site), they also believe in helping and healing as many people as they can through natural remedies, oils, and organic food. Her journey towards natural and spiritual healing came after her 16-year unsuccessful conventional-medicine fight against fibromyalgia.  This video reflects her journey.

This family is just cool, unique, and not particularly scared to live by their own rules. 

They clearly had a nice amount of money to start with, as the detailing of the cabin is quite exquisite. I do like that a somewhere back there, they gave away everything and lived out of a 25-foot RV for a spell.Owning your own cabin, using fire and wood for natural heating sources, and raising your own food through homesteading is a marvelous self-reliant way to live in line with Mother Earth, as well as being economical.

In addition to all the other stuff; I love their connection to nature and their belief in their children's natural ability to learn from curiosity; I also love her writing, and her determination to find the cure to her own body and soul. I looked for some product or service that they sell, but found none. They do accept donations from those who wish to support their lifestyle,and their desire to give natural healing to anyone needy they meet on their journeys. site:


re: The Riss Family
As a francophone, I'm happy to dig a little to get you the answer you're looking for. It seems this French family finances their trip thanks to an 11 month sabbatical taken by the father, Vincent, who works as a human resources director. His wife, Julie, has trained as a naturopath.

Michelle, it's Gabi. Thank you for 'digging' for us. Wonderful, so now we know how the Riss's are doing it. If you have free time and tell us how the family in that amazing car with the tent are doing it for three years, that would be sooo helpful! Thank you Michelle.

"L'aventure ne s'attrape pas dans un fauteuil" translates to "You can't catch adventure while sitting in an easy chair" :-D

I wish you long and happy travels, in these uncertain times you've got to go for it.
Simone and I are trying a similar lifestyle, but with no kids, a 38 foot RV and enough funds it's way too easy.
Good luck and best wishes to all of you!
Rene & Simone

Jackie and Simone, Thank you for reaching out! I needed a good translation! AND, yes, you've got to go for it. Otherwise, what's the point in being stuck living a life without LIVING IT!

Gabi: The "Adventure is Not Contagious in a Chair" blog doesn't have a search engine, unfortunately, and early posts don't mention financing. I'm presuming that this was self-financed by the family, after years of planning. It took them 2 years to adapt and outfit their vehicle, apparently.
Looks like I just missed the Quebec portion of their itinerary - what a shame! They've just left Canada for South Africa.

If I rely on their adventures in Quebec, it looks like the family depended, as Blanche Dubois would say, on the kindness of strangers - they were invited to camp on private property and invited into people's homes. So it looks like a young family definitely attracts generous citizens! They left their camper behind (to be shipped in a container) to travel through parts of Quebec by bike. Looks like a fabulous adventure. Glad their received a warm welcome in Quebec.

I finally got to your site. I have been writing like mad on our own adventure and rarely read other bloggers. I really should start! Great story!

Hahaha...still laughing about "I wonder, what my abs and thighs would look like if I road a bike tens of thousands of miles?" Hear, hear!! Great highlighted families!

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