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Anyone ever traveled for months at a time?
Old 05-25-2010, 02:17 PM   #1
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Anyone ever traveled for months at a time?

We have this dream to go on a year long trip around the world once we FIRE.

But first I want to do a trial run of maybe 2-3 months. This is nothing immediate, just something that would happen in 1 to 3 years at the earliest. Location to be determined.

DW and I (back when we were just living in sin together) did a six week "backpacker"-ish trip around Mexico ten years ago, traveling exclusively by bus. Including 1600 miles from the east coast, USA to the Mexican border (Texas, you are large). So we are not complete strangers to long term travel.

Now we have young children.

Anyone traveled for 2-3 months straight? With kids?

What did you do? Where did you go? What mode of transportation did you use? Where did you stay (hostel, hotel, short term furnished apartment rental, etc)? Did you set up a home base in an area, then go on weekend or week-long excursions to other parts of the country/region you were visiting?
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Old 05-25-2010, 03:47 PM   #2
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I did a 3 months overland trip Europe to Nepal and back a while ago (I was a bachelor at that time). I also hitchhiked all over Europe (on a business trip too to boot ) month at a time.
Nowadays we do summer month/two months trips to Europe with the kids (three little sailors so far).

Solo, we (me & two other guys) were just using whatever transportation mode was available (buses, trains, buses roofs, rafts, ferries, feet). We stayed wherever was cheap (hostels/hotels/ sometimes people invited us to our houses/ under the blue sky). No home base than. 9 countries visited, little over 3 months long

Nowadays, with the kids, we tend to stay longer in one spot and DW prefers more upscale accommodations than a hovel (still LBYM though) and with the kitchen/kitchenette (so we don't need to leave the place for breakfast).
We are leaving for our European trip tomorrow (this year will be Malta, UK & Poland), returning middle of July.
We'll be renting a furnished apartment on Malta for a week (found on UK equivalent of VRBO), four weeks in Poland and two weeks in UK. On Malta - we'll probably take the taxi from the airport (b/c of the amount of luggage), but than planing to use local buses to go around. In Poland we'll have a car for part of the stay, public transport rest, in UK public transport.
On Malta we'll do just do day trips, in Poland and UK we might do an overnighter (no set schedule).

We found that we seem to have a lot of kid stuff (coloring books, puzzles, kid's books and toys) and way more kid clothes than adult clothes. It also does not help that looks like we need to pack for both cool (UK,Poland) and beach (Malta) weather.
We also tend to pack way bigger first aid kit a.k.a. pharmacy now when we are with the kids, although some local medicines have been more effective than commonly used in US (for example our last year trip discovery was NSAID tantum verde - almost not used here) and in the internet era it's relatively easy to find online what the doc prescribes you (or most likely your kid). Diapers also take some space (the youngest one will be hopefully out of it soon) and while we use cloth at home we switch to disposable for travel.
In a lot of places you don't pay for young kids (trains/buses/museums/hotels/restaurants) or pay greatly reduced rate or even the adult does not pay when he/she is with kids (for example public transport in Helsinki, Finland).
When traveling we look online for attractions to see & use Lonely Planet books.
We take a relatively narrow collapsible double stroller with us (Phil & Ted sport) and it's quite useful to haul both kids and stuff (older ones are good troopers for hiking, but they do get tired) and a soft baby carrier (Ergo is the brand we use). 4 of us have small backpacks for carry on luggage (kids of course smaller than ours) and roller bags for checked in luggage (if needed I can drag 4 or them + my backpack + toddler in a carrier). We hope for less luggage when the toddler is older (or rather he'll carry some of his stuff

For now we travel mostly developed world until the youngest kid can at least speak (so he can tell me what's hurting him for example). But in two years we'll be game for "off the beaten track".

sailor

PS: Where do you want to go? Want to go together? There are so many nice places we have not visited yet... For example my two older kids (5.5 and 3.5 now) want to see Great Wall of China and Machu Picchu - we told them not this year.

PS2: DW just called me that no way in hell she can distribute 60kgs in 4 bags for 5 ppl (cheap airlines have limit 15kg (~33lbs) per bag) so my packing skills are needed tonight.
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Old 05-25-2010, 04:18 PM   #3
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PS: Where do you want to go? Want to go together? There are so many nice places we have not visited yet... For example my two older kids (5.5 and 3.5 now) want to see Great Wall of China and Machu Picchu - we told them not this year.
Our kids are nearly the exact same ages (5.2 and 3.7 years old). No third child (yet!).

No idea where we want to go yet. A tour of South America has been preliminarily ruled out by DW (we just returned from there in March). I would consider western and/or Yucatan Mexico (depending on drug wars) and a little Central America.

Europe is high on the list (depending on foreign exchange rates at the time) since we have never been there. Southeast Asia is up there too. As is the rest of Asia. In other words we have no clue!

Great Wall and Machu Picchu are up there on our lists too. So much to see, so little time...

As for traveling together, I'm game as long as we are compatible people and can get along. It sounds like we aren't too far off in terms of budget choices. My days of staying in dumpy hotels are over given the wife and kids. Just the idea of traveling with another family/couple in general sounds appealing, since you don't have to do everything together, but there is at least another familiar group in the hotel or town with you. I imagine switching off babysitting occasionally would be a treat (even the best parents need some down-time!).

My youngest recently said she wants to go to Argentina (where we went recently) and then she got shy and changed her story to China. This may be because she only knows of a limited number of countries...

I'm still working right now, so I would have to work it out with the J-O-B to take off 2 months straight. Or do something like this in between jobs.
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Old 05-25-2010, 04:23 PM   #4
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I did a 3 months overland trip Europe to Nepal and back a while ago (I was a bachelor at that time).
I was looking at some form of Europe-to-Asia trip and guess it is limited to traveling through former Soviet states to the north of the Caspian or crossing the Caspian. Pesky Iran and Afghanistan get in the way of an overland southern route. Which way did you go?

Europe-to-Asia overland would probably be too much for 2-3 months with kids anyway.
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Old 05-25-2010, 04:45 PM   #5
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I've read parts of a book I found at the library called "The Family Sabbatical Handbook" that gives a lot of advice on extended travel with children.
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Old 05-25-2010, 04:55 PM   #6
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Sailor, while you are in Malta, be sure to get over to Gozo on the ferry. And of course Valletta is wonderful. Ahhh, Malta...
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Old 05-25-2010, 07:15 PM   #7
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I've read parts of a book I found at the library called "The Family Sabbatical Handbook" that gives a lot of advice on extended travel with children.
Thanks, looks like a solid book based on 16 out of 17 amazon.com reviews being five stars. It says it is actually about living in Mexico for 18 months, so that is interesting to me as well since I know the country, culture, and language pretty well.
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Old 05-25-2010, 11:59 PM   #8
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Just the idea of traveling with another family/couple in general sounds appealing, since you don't have to do everything together, but there is at least another familiar group in the hotel or town with you. I imagine switching off babysitting occasionally would be a treat (even the best parents need some down-time!).
Works great for us. We have a "travel buddy family", with a 6y.o. girl,
but unfortunately they are about to move to California for a new job and significantly less vacation time. Also my SIL with her two small kids are our travel buddies for tropical locations and she as a teacher gets the whole summer off (her husband sometimes joins for shorter periods as he does not get a lot of time off from work)

Quote:
I'm still working right now, so I would have to work it out with the J-O-B to take off 2 months straight. Or do something like this in between jobs.
I get 25 days of vacations and on one good year I made a deal with my boss to work 4hrs a day for 50 days. I needed to travel places with good internet access, but that's not so hard nowadays. Both of us liked the arrangement, maybe I can do it next year too. I was able to put my 4 hours mostly at night after the kids went to sleep, so it did not impacted our plans too much.

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I was looking at some form of Europe-to-Asia trip and guess it is limited to traveling through former Soviet states to the north of the Caspian or crossing the Caspian. Pesky Iran and Afghanistan get in the way of an overland southern route. Which way did you go?
We wanted to go through SU & China and came down Karakoram Highway, but did not have enough money to qualify for Chinese tourist visas at that time. So we ended up going south east (Poland/Czech/Hungary/Romania/Bulgaria), crossing Bosphorus and continuing Turkey->Iran->Pakistan->India->Nepal route where we trekked around Annapurna for a month. Nowadays probably not the safest route.


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Sailor, while you are in Malta, be sure to get over to Gozo on the ferry. And of course Valletta is wonderful. Ahhh, Malta...
Thanks, both Gozo and Comino are in the plans, but you never know with the kids.

All packed now, going to work tomorrow for half a day and than kids "last day of school picnic" and than straight to the airport.
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Old 05-26-2010, 05:08 AM   #9
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You may want to check out SERVAS - Home Page.
It is about homestay in other people's homes with them as hosts. From the list of hosts in each country you can select those with kids in the same age group as your kids. The normal length of stay is for 2 nights and it is a great experience to mix Servas with youth hostel / hotel or other accomodation. Often guests are invited to stay longer if the hosts find that they are a good match.
We are hosts for more than 25 years now and have also travelled with Servas.

Some years ago we hosted a family from India with a girl of about 8 years. They biked around the world for one year. But I am sure that the girl learned more from her trip than she would have at school.
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Old 05-26-2010, 09:28 AM   #10
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You may want to check out SERVAS - Home Page.
It is about homestay in other people's homes with them as hosts. From the list of hosts in each country you can select those with kids in the same age group as your kids. The normal length of stay is for 2 nights and it is a great experience to mix Servas with youth hostel / hotel or other accomodation. Often guests are invited to stay longer if the hosts find that they are a good match.
We are hosts for more than 25 years now and have also travelled with Servas.
Thanks for the tip. I had considered some form of "couch-surfing" and something like Servas seems to be a good fit since we like to experience places and cultures a little more than touring through museums. DW likes her privacy though, so it may be a hard sell.


Quote:
Some years ago we hosted a family from India with a girl of about 8 years. They biked around the world for one year. But I am sure that the girl learned more from her trip than she would have at school.
I figure even if I suck at homeschooling and get really slack, my kids will still learn way more from traveling the world for a year than they would in school. But we are making good progress with "Daddy Homeschool" right now in lieu of preschool.
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Old 05-26-2010, 09:37 AM   #11
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Works great for us. We have a "travel buddy family", with a 6y.o. girl,
but unfortunately they are about to move to California for a new job and significantly less vacation time. Also my SIL with her two small kids are our travel buddies for tropical locations and she as a teacher gets the whole summer off (her husband sometimes joins for shorter periods as he does not get a lot of time off from work)
I have a few local friends with kids that I have discussed taking trips with. But all are still working and probably not able to take more than 2 weeks off at a time.

Quote:
I get 25 days of vacations and on one good year I made a deal with my boss to work 4hrs a day for 50 days. I needed to travel places with good internet access, but that's not so hard nowadays. Both of us liked the arrangement, maybe I can do it next year too. I was able to put my 4 hours mostly at night after the kids went to sleep, so it did not impacted our plans too much.
I'm stuck at 16 days/yr but can carry over 20 days from one year to the next so I could theoretically take 36 days (or 7 weeks) straight without asking to go on unpaid leave. Or quitting. I doubt my employer would work with me on the 4 hrs/day bit, even though it would be perfectly workable from my end. In a true homage to the 20th century working environment, my employer will not even allow me to work from home at all. Which may lead me to find a new employer to wind down the last few years of my working career.
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Old 05-26-2010, 10:18 AM   #12
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Fuego, there are a few blogs out there of families who have done this. I was reading one the other week of a family who sold up and went to live in South America for a year. They based themselves in ARgentina and every time school was out they travelled elsewhere. If I come across it again I will give you a link. Think after a year of being away they were all ready to go home.
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Old 05-26-2010, 10:29 AM   #13
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In a true homage to the 20th century working environment, my employer will not even allow me to work from home at all. Which may lead me to find a new employer to wind down the last few years of my working career.
Even if they formally say you can work from home, it ain't always the case. Unless you are a woman with kids, the unwritten rule is no working from home here. Career suicide to run afoul of that one by a man even asking about it.
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Old 05-26-2010, 10:30 AM   #14
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Travel and Travails

This is not the blog I was thinking of, but covers a family travelling.
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Old 05-26-2010, 10:32 AM   #15
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Think after a year of being away they were all ready to go home.
That is a concern of ours too. I'd rather find out that we can't stomach leaving the comforts of home after 2 months of traveling instead of 2 months into a year long trip.

I have seen the bumfuzzle blog and now they have a kid, too.
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Old 05-26-2010, 10:50 AM   #16
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When working, I think that for some of us a huge part of the attraction of traveling for months at a time is that it implies NOT WORKING for months at a time.

Now that we are no longer working, it is nice to know that we are free to do whatever we want, wherever we want, for the infinite future. We travel when we feel like it, don't when we don't.
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Old 05-26-2010, 01:00 PM   #17
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Even if they formally say you can work from home, it ain't always the case. Unless you are a woman with kids, the unwritten rule is no working from home here. Career suicide to run afoul of that one by a man even asking about it.
I work in a virtually all male environment (engineer lol). However most of the young men are family men with young children. There are a lot of people here that have asked, hinted, suggested, etc that it might be helpful to be able to work from home occasionally. Our 1950's era leadership can't understand why that would enhance our quality of life and make us hate the drudgery of working less.

So I have acquiesced to conforming to the 40.0 AIST procedure. That is 40.0 hours of Ass In Seat Time every week. My goal is to not put in a moment of additional time. I am lucky or unlucky enough that mediocrity and excellence are similarly rewarded here.
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Old 05-26-2010, 01:12 PM   #18
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When working, I think that for some of us a huge part of the attraction of traveling for months at a time is that it implies NOT WORKING for months at a time.
I just want to work a little bit, so I can gloat. "Yeah, what did you say, the TPS reports are 2 days late? Sorry, I couldn't hear you over the sound of the waves lapping here on the Italian Riviera. Hey, hold on a sec, I just got some of this beach sand in my skype headset. Hey I gotta call you back, the scantily clad local ladies keep trying to serve me frosty beverages".
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Old 05-26-2010, 01:53 PM   #19
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I work in a virtually all male environment (engineer lol). However most of the young men are family men with young children. There are a lot of people here that have asked, hinted, suggested, etc that it might be helpful to be able to work from home occasionally. Our 1950's era leadership can't understand why that would enhance our quality of life and make us hate the drudgery of working less.

So I have acquiesced to conforming to the 40.0 AIST procedure. That is 40.0 hours of Ass In Seat Time every week. My goal is to not put in a moment of additional time. I am lucky or unlucky enough that mediocrity and excellence are similarly rewarded here.
This place is like the united colors of Beneton, but has a culture that congealed in the Mesozoic era. So unless you are a woman with kids, forget it. And if you are in management, failure is rewarded with more resources. Not so much for those of us in the peon class.
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Old 05-26-2010, 01:59 PM   #20
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This place is like the united colors of Beneton, but has a culture that congealed in the Mesozoic era. So unless you are a woman with kids, forget it. And if you are in management, failure is rewarded with more resources. Not so much for those of us in the peon class.
I'm kind of in the purgatory between important managers that matter and the peons. Maybe that is why no one has noticed what I don't do around here.

Our past company president made it abundantly clear the gender roles he expects. Men work and have no reason to deal with their children. That is a woman's job. If for some reason you are not man enough to keep your woman at home, then it is your responsibility to hire a nanny. This will enable you to devote your unused 128.0 hours above the basic 40.0 hours to the Company.

90% of the employees here put in 40.0 hours a week.

LOL.
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