Top Tips And FAQ’s
Travel doesn’t need to be expensive or off-limits. We are a blended family with 4 kids which raises a lot of questions about our travels. We travelled full time from May 2019 until we got locked down in the Solomon Islands in 2020. Once we got repatriated we settled in Noosa, Australia as I was pregnant with our son and had complications. Now he’s born, we are travelling again.
Some of the most common questions include: How do I make money/how do you afford it? What about the kids education? Don’t I want to date? Where is their Dad? What do we pack? What about your stuff? Here are our top tips, links to articles we’ve written to help you travel more and answers to the most frequently asked questions.
How do you afford to travel?
We do a mix of travel including staying with friends, work trips and travelling on a budget. Most of our travel is now ‘slow’ travel in that we stay in one area longer which usually works out cheaper. I outlined how we make money and afford to travel here.
It is easier than ever to travel on a budget or get paid to travel. Since travel is a passion of ours, we’ve looked at numerous options. The number one option many people do is credit card hacking. I’m not going to share that here, instead, I am sharing all the other things we do.
Sign up to cashback sites and install them on your Chrome toolbar. They will pop up with discounts and how much cash you can get back on each site you visit. As an example, when we’ve booked through Booking.com not only did I get a cheaper rate than the accommodation was offering, I also got 12% cashback through one of the sites. Here are the ones I use:
Shopback is my next favourite. They also offer $10 when you spend $20 or more.
Honey is great as they scan for extra discounts and coupons you can use.
They are all free to join and easy to use. However, you can only use one site at a time.
Where To Book
We’ve used Airbnb (get up to $76AUD off your first booking) and Booking.com (get $25AUD off your first booking) the most but will check a variety of sites before booking. Lately, Booking.com has had much better prices. That said, you can also contact the accommodation directly and some will give a discount or throw in a special offer for booking directly through them. Booking.com and other sites such as them charge high fees to the businesses listed with them. Also, with Booking.com be aware people can rent their houses out now too so it isn’t always a hotel you are booking anymore.
For flights, I prefer to book directly with the airline now. They were much easier to deal with and change bookings whenever we’ve needed to than any other company. Some people prefer to have a travel agent but in my experience, they were not worth it. I can book everything myself online and they were no help when I actually needed them.
Always have travel insurance, even for domestic trips. Yes, I have had to use it and it is worth it. My preferred company is Travel Insurance Direct, I’ve used them for a few years now.
How Do My Kids Do School While Travelling?
Before doing it full time we worked with the school they attended. Using their iPads, apps they used at school and a few extra activities such as journaling, their education continued. When we would be away for 2 to 4 weeks, they never felt behind. In fact, most of the time they did more work in less time so they were ahead when they returned to school.
On top of that, during our travels, they learn more. They read more, visit museums, get involved in cultural experiences, meet new friends (who we stay in contact with and catch up with on our travels) and are exposed to more. Aside from the usual academic things learnt at school, my daughters are learning to cook different cuisines, learning about cultures and experiencing more.
When we travelled full time they did free-range distance education. Meaning, they chose what subjects they wanted to focus on and could go deeper into their areas of interest. As a result, when we repatriated to Noosa and they went back to school, they were 2 years ahead of their peers academically. As for mental, emotional and social skills, all of those they were were ahead of theri peers too.
How Did You Meet?
Justin and I met in 2018 in the Solomon Islands. He’s from Vanuatu but was working over there, I was there for work too. Amazingly, our work brought us back together a few times, enabling a relationship to develop. At first, we had a long-distance relationship as we both had some pretty exciting work things happening. For example, he was part of the expedition to find Amelia Earhart’s plane while I was working around the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Australia and was on the 75th Anniversary hike of The Crow’s Flight in Slovenia.
October 2019 we were finally able to all be together full time. Starting in Vanuatu for my daughters first overseas trip, we were there a few weeks before coming back to Australia. Upon arrival, both my daughters commented they finally felt at home. Justin has 3 properties and most of his family in Vanuatu, his daughter lives in the Solomon Islands. So our life is split across 3 countries now.
What About The Other Parents?
My daughters and I have no contact with their father as he was abusive. After 7.5 years I won full custody. We were also granted another protection order which is 5 years. Justin’s ex-wife lives in the Solomon Islands and they have an amicable relationship. We see his daughter when we can, with plans to travel with her when she is older.
What About Our Stuff?
I sold off everything we owned except a few things special to my daughters, paperwork and sentimental things which are stored in a box in Melbourne until we settled in Noosa again. Did I miss it? Nope. As I sold things it felt freeing. We each had a bag, some camping gear and overall, I had no desire to buy stuff. Experiences matter more to me. If you want to sell off everything, read this on how to do it to make the most money.
What Do We Pack?
This depends a little on what we are doing and where we are. When travelling internationally we have a suitcase each, some clothes, toiletries, snorkelling gear etc. I cover our essentials and resources here.
Because I am super fussy about hair and beauty I have a mini-kit that has an epilator, manicure set and my hairdressing scissors etc. For starters, I am qualified in hair and beauty. To get done what I like it would cost around $7,500 a year vs $100 a year for my little kit.