Let’s begin our world travel adventures in July 2020 we said. Full-time world travel has been a plan in the making for the last three years. And then wham Covid… yep really bad timing!
If you need to go back a step to find out how we arrived at our plan to travel the world full-time as a family, then check this post here.
This post is going to give you some of the highs, some of the lows, some of the “I just don’t knows.” Not a travel post exactly, no tips here. Just the reality of what life looks like when the plans come crashing down around you.
“So What’s Happening With Your Travel Plans?”
If I had a dirham for every time I’ve been asked that question in the last 5 months, I’d have funded our entire trip. And the funny thing is, I always try and find an answer because I am, and probably always will be a very optimistic person.
I’ve found myself saying things along the lines of, yeah I think this will all be over in three months, you know… economies won’t survive without travel. We’ve talked about the countries that we might be able to take haven in until this all blows over… Dubai, Morocco, Spain, Holland, Portugal, Ireland and Croatia. Just a place to sit it out and wait.
We go through the options of income. Should we all leave Dubai together, if Mike stops work now we can begin our survival on no more than $100 a day. Or do we wait it out, I take the kids to Europe and Mike continues work to the end of the year. Because hey, an income is an income right now, it’s damn good to have one.
Meanwhile Covid rates go down, they go up, they go sideways. There is positive news, bad news and confusing news. And I get excited for a minute as a plan seems to piece itself together. I imagine us throwing the backpack over our shoulder and hitting the road. Then with the next bit of incoming news, we are back to square one! Reevaluating plans, throwing our hands in the air only to come up with “I just don’t know!”
And That’s Okay! My need to plan ahead for now will just have to take a back seat, as I learn to just let it go.
The Adventure Travel Timeline
Let me give you a bit of a timeline of events thus far.
March – my family came to visit. Their timing was perfect. We bundled them onto the plane ride back to New Zealand with enough hand sanitiser to sterilise the plane. The day after they departed, schools in Dubai were closed.
April – I lost my job… turns out education is not a good sector to work in during a world pandemic. And of course the world prepares for lockdown!
May to June – Dubai lockdown gradually begins to lift.
July – Our best friends leave Dubai to live in Spain. Our annual tenancy runs out and I have to renew it for another two months to cover us until mid September.
Which brings us to August. We have one month to clear everything up, to basically erase ourselves from fifteen years in Dubai. Find a tenant to take over the lease of our villa, ship our stuff back to NZ, sort out our two cats, sell the car… and everything else that we aren’t taking back. We’ll need to close bank accounts, phone accounts and electricity accounts. On top of this we have to open a travel bank account, arrange travel insurance, book flights (to god knows where), find a place to live… and on, and on!
My biggest anxiety right now is not how to start world schooling my kids, or where we are going to start these full-time travel adventures. Oh no… the thing that scares the hell out of me, is how we are going to fit our entire travel belongings, a family of four, into two backpacks.
Ever heard of the packing policy… one to wash, one to wear, one spare. That will be the rule as it comes time to fit it all in.
But hey I’m up for the challenge!
Vámonos a México
After all is said and done, all we know is that this travel adventure is not going to change. Our plan to travel will go ahead and it may be delayed, and we may face challenges along the way. But it will happen.
So let me tell you all about where we will start, when the planets align! Our trip will essentially begin in Mexico.
We originally planned to fly into Miami, as the flights were super cheap from Portugal with TAP. However, we may now find it cheaper to enter from another state.
In the United States we will buy a vehicle, a Toyota 4Runner has been widely recommended. But we are open to ideas and suggestions. We will convert the vehicle into a home on wheels, nothing permanent, not a camper or RV. But enough to make ourselves comfortable if we need a place to sleep for the night. Things like a tent on the roof, a safe, a gas cooker, and we’ll put an alarm in.
Then it will be vamos a Mexico muchachos! We’ve reached out to people we know living in Mexico, investigated some places that are number one on our list of places to visit. And when the world opens we’ll be looking to get off the beaten path in places such as Tulum and Quintana Roo. This post by Her Life Adventures highlights some of the adventure places you’ll likely find us… swimming or diving in the Cenotes or exploring ruins. It looks incredible and I honestly can’t wait.
Travel Plans Beyond Mexico
Beyond Mexico the plan is very loose. We will make our way very slowly down through Central and South America.
I have lived in Honduras for a year, and my sister lived in Costa Rica, thanks to AFS… a student exchange programme. This programme finds young students host families all around the world. As a result, you develop relationships, you learn a new language and you become very connected to the country in which you have lived. This makes returning at some stage in life a priority.
We have contacts in El Salvador, Panama and Colombia. We have have heard amazing things about Ecuador and Argentina. And of course places such as Machu Picchu have long been on the bucket list. The key is that there is so much to see, and all the time to see it. Slow travel will be the plan!
“How Will You Pay for Your Travel?”
This is a very good question! We have saved a little but our travel will not be the frivolous kind.
For example… when we sell our car here in Dubai, that will provide the funds to buy our car in the US. We will look for free accomodation wherever we can through iOverlander. This app helps it’s users find free camping places in the vicinity. It comes well recommended by others who have travelled full-time in a similar manner. We will also register as professional house sitters – yes that is a real thing.
But most exciting, is the WWOOFing! We are very keen to find a few organic farms along the way where we will be able to work in return for food and accomodation.
Our budget will be a maximum of USD $100 a day. And this will include everything! Accomodation, food, travel… the lot!
“Do You Think It’s Safe to Travel?”
There are two parts to this question that we are frequently asked. First people ask if we think it is safe to travel with kids through this part of the world. Secondly, and more recently, do we think it is safe to travel during a world pandemic. I will answer each separately below.
Travel Safety Through Central and South America
Travel through Central and South America comes with it’s risks for sure. There is no doubt of this. We have followed YouTubers travel this part of the world for over a year now. Their travel tips are extremely valuable.
They recommend things such as not travelling after dark, not because of personal safety, but because pot holed roads which can pose an issue. Keeping a copy of your drivers license, which you would use if you get pulled over. And smaller change in a second wallet to pay off advantage takers, in the event you get pulled over for any mystery reason.
We as well would be sure to keep valuables, such as passports, in a hidden safe in the car. And if we were to camp, it would only be with others around, in a place that feels safe and secure. (Don’t worry mum I would never put your granddaughters in any danger!)
Travel During and After Covid
The Covid thing is a little more complex I suppose as it’s largely an unknown. But to be clear, we will not be travelling to destinations that have rapidly increasing rates of Covid. We will quarantine and self-isolate whenever we are required to do so. Most importantly we will look for experiences that are off the beaten track, not surrounded by crowds.
I think the most important thing in all of this, is reassuring friends and family that we don’t take safety lightly. It is constantly at the forefront of all our decision making. We are extremely responsible people and would never intentionally expose ourselves to unnecessary danger or harm.
What Happens Next?
So, what happens in September? Well our container is booked on the 1st of September to pack up all our belongings. Everything will be sent back to New Zealand and go into storage.
Then me and the girls will wait out the worst of Covid, in Europe for a bit. You’ll find us in Spain, hanging out with our friends in Xàbia for a couple of months. As kiwis we can only stay in Europe for 90 days, so will need to reassess things after that. Meanwhile, Mike will stay on working in Dubai until the end of the year. I know he definitely gets the raw end of the deal!
But stay tuned for more updates, as plans have a tendency to change real quick round here!!!
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It’s sure to be a fun ride!
If you have any other questions about full-time family travel, drop them below and we’ll share our experiences.