The “I slow travel, solo parent, worldschool around Asia with kids, to find my global village while the husband/dad must stay home to work and study” spiel has lead to a number of reactions. Many people look confused, some look bemused, some are apparently angry, and some look genuinely impressed. Clearly ego-wise I want to see the latter! Unfortunately, I have coped many questions with passive aggressive undertones from people. The most violent reaction, though, was a Chinese Malaysian woman who said she would rather kill herself than travel with kids. It did seem a touch over the top. But, who am I to judge?! Maybe she hates kids. Maybe she loves being at home! Who knows! Her reaction was amusing, not judgemental!
As a person who is overly sensitive thanks to living in a dysfunctional household as a kid – cheers for that! I remember what people say, and then I ruminate. For anyone similar, you will know that overthinking is not fun. It is exhausting! I wish I could be a duck, I am more like a hamster. Around the thoughts go like I am in an ever-spinning wheel!
As a result here is my Q&A that follows on from my rant about our ‘journey’ not being a holiday, because it’s not, okay? Clear. Good.
What about school?
Well, two of the kids are too young to worry about school. Our eldest is doing a government-school based distance and remote education, and I am now his “home tutor”. The amount of crap they expect you to lug around is ridiculous as is the expected amount of paper you use. Yep? No! Not happening. He loves doing his online classes and gets to talk to kids all over the world. It is awesome! The difficulty is getting him motivated to do the ‘boring bits’. We are not homeschooling, we are worldschooling.
Why are you going away?
My husband must complete an exam called “The Exam of 1000 Hours”. Sounds like fun, eh? He works long hours and he must do things like sleep or eat. I suggested, and yes, it was MY idea that I go away with the kids. It was clear to me he needed less responsibility with fewer distractions for a while. Yes, I am calling our kids and myself a distraction. But we are. And loud… our kids are very loud.
It is not all altruism. I find being a mum to 3 young kids really hard! We don’t have family near us. It is just us. So, in Asia, we can afford to get help. In each location, I will be getting a nanny or two to help me with the kids. Currently, the baby gets one or two helpers and so does the toddler. That is not by choice as such! They just love kids here! Asia wasn’t the location by mistake. They appreciate and support their extended families. We just do not do that in the West.
How will/do you cope without your husband? How do the kids cope without their dad?
I would love just to say I am a feminist (and I am!) that doesn’t need a man! Well, that isn’t true, I miss my husband so much! Some days are hard, and often I just want a hug. Other days, we all say how much we miss him and then cry together. Many days all is fine and we have a great day. I justify it in my head with the following fact: if we were home, in Perth, we wouldn’t see him much anyway.
We all miss each other. Matt has cried, I have cried. Boy, the kids have cried. The baby is too young to say “I miss daddy”. But he shows it. Every man he sees is “dada”. He has adopted a man in Fiji and now in Sri Lanka as his surrogate dad. The toddler misbehaves MORE than usual. The kid cries and tells me how much he misses his dad. We have a system now that they know when he will be back and so far, so good! We get all of daddy/husband even if it is for a short time! Less stress for everyone. It is not forever.
Why are you doing this?
Why such a drastic decision?
Read #2. For me, it is about finding a global village. I need some extra help. We don’t have that in Australia. The extended family is in Victoria. Even if they were close geographically, relationships are never straightforward. I do not need to put even more strain on already strained relationships. There is no way we could live in each other’s pockets without tearing each other “new ones”. Even if it all gets too hard, going back to Victoria is well down on the list of plans. Maybe plan F.
6. Where are you going?
Asia. We’ve already been in Malaysia (KL, Melaka). We went to Maldives (Inhabited Island; Read – not a resort!) and we are now in Sri Lanka (South-East coast). Next location is India (Kerala) and then we are going to Myanmar. I would like more time in Melaka and suss out Langkawi. Maybe Thailand for a month. That get’s us to September.
I promised the kid we would go to Hong Kong Disneyland. I would like to go to somewhere in mainland China that is not completely frantic or polluted to ideally to see pandas. I met a lovely girl on the Maldivian Island from China, and I want to visit her. We would only go there for a couple of weeks given how bad the air pollution is.
I would LOVE to go to Mongolia. From that region going into Vietnam, then Cambodia and Laos would make sense, although I have been there already. I would like to visit Japan in Autumn or Spring to visit my cousin who lives there. I would like to go to South Korea, see a cat café and meet Allana another lovely person I meet on the Maldivian Island. The Philippines sound beautiful, but I am not sure about there yet. I want to go to Borneo – Brunei to see the extravagance, Malaysian Borneo to see Orangutans.
Singapore is awesome for family travel and we could hop over to Johor Bahru for the kids to see the Legoland. I need to go to Northern India and the Andaman Islands later in the year. I would like to go to UAE to see another cousin. I love Sri Lanka and am already planning to return, or maybe extended our current stay. It can all change at the drop of a hat! So, I am not even sure!
Yep, I said “I” about 3120937218396 times here. Truth is. I am travelling where I want to go and the kids are coming along for the ride or flight. I’ve started asking the kid where he’d like to go. The first response was “somewhere with snow!”. Hmmmmm.
How long are you away?
Until Matt passes his exam….! The current plan is he will sit the exam in February. We will know by March if he had passed. If that happens, we will aim for an April return to Perth next year. I have said I think that the pressure of such a strict timeline is not ideal and the Kid will have missed much of the year. So, I have proposed for him to sit his exam in August. We would know by September if he passed. So, we would return in October or November. Again, not sure!
How are we doing this? AKA How can we afford it?
Living in Australia is expensive. The cost of living in Asia is less than what we would spend on food, childcare, schooling, extra costs in bills, petrol, etc. , health insurance. We have a $100AU/day budget, and that excludes flights. I work. Matt works. We often use long-term rental options, slow-travel, eat locally as much as possible and plan ahead. We fly with budget airlines if we need to and minimise our costs as much as possible.
Well, why aren’t you just going to Bali for a year?
Short answer: I don’t want too.
Long answer: I don’t like what Bali has become or is becoming. This is not the local people per se it is the just “The Vibe”. If I do go to Bali, it would be for a “holiday” and stay in a resort to meet Matt. I have no plans to return for a long-term stay. Additionally, visas are also an issue for long-term expats; you must renew your visa every 30 days and do a VISA run every 60 days. That would be $50/per person for that and a flight to just return. I cannot in all good consciousness do that. If I do go somewhere long term it would be Malaysia – you can get a free 3-month visa, and I loved Melaka and Penang!
How can Matt do that? I could never do that. What about the kids! The family should always be the priority, not work.
This one stung the most. First of all, it was a family member. I was so upset because I agree family is number one. I disagree though as we are doing what is best for the kids and our family, at the moment. I can be a better mum with help. Matt can be a much better dad because he can focus on the set tasks.
Got more questions? Fire away, I want to educate and inspire, but I do not want to have anyone under the assumption this is a free ride, and we are holidaying around the world. We are living in Asia – we are worldschooling, slow travelling, immersing ourselves in each culture, getting to know local people, making friends and that part of this experience is life changing.
Do you want to slow travel? Or want to learn about how to worldschool? Or do you just want to learn more about ethical family travel? I am offering families who want to make this happen a free 30 minute Skype session**! Email me today and let’s chat!
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