Jan 20, 2012

Five Things We'll Miss About Our Year Of Travel

Our year of traveling together as a family is rapidly coming to an end and although in many ways we are looking forward to going home, we can’t help but be a bit wistful about leaving behind certain aspects of the past year.
What will we miss?


Few families are fortunate enough to spend 24/7 together.  Work, school, friends, hobbies, and other aspects of day-to-day life compete for our time and attention. ‘Free Time’ is often an unaffordable luxury and the family unit is often the casualty.

But away from all the distractions (including work) you become ‘in-sync’ with each other.  For us as parents, it also means that we now work even better as a team.  And the girls also seem to have a very special bond between them too.

Spending so much time together, you also appreciate one another better.  Jim and I have realised this early on as a result of our previous trips.  And now we’ve also been able to better appreciate our kids as the unique individuals that they are.  It’s also been a lot of fun to see their personalities and characters develop and change too as a result of this trip.  But most of all it’s been very rewarding to have the time to help our kids with their personal achievements.


We totally didn’t expect the high number of family and kid-friendly activities that were on offer to us in SEA and in particular, India.  And they were all so ridiculously cheap.  We rarely had to pay more than $30 USD for an entire day’s outing at a good quality amusement or water park—and that included all the rides too.  Zoos could be visited for as little as $1.50 USD for our entire family! Vietnam and Cambodia had lots of amusement/carnival rides aimed at the pre-school set too, for about $0.25 cents USD per ride. 


We often hired 100cc motorcycles for $3-5 USD/day to get us around the local area.  We’d all jump on the back as Jim expertly navigated us around.  We got to see much more of the ‘real’ area vs being limited to just the touristy parts, and with the kids, we were also able to cover more ground.  Although traffic rules tended to be quite arbitrary at times, the fact that most vehicles travel at relatively slow speeds (especially compared to North America or Australia) made it a lot less risky.  Jim’s many years of experience as a rider also helped keep us out of strife on the poorly maintained roads.

Ok--this isn't us, but you get the idea!


We haven’t had to cook a single meal in the entire time that we’ve been away –unless you include our self-catered breakfasts of cereal, bananas and milk while we were in India and Thailand!

On average we spend about $15-$20 USD/AUD per day for all our food/meals, with lots of fresh fruit, meat and vegetables, ice cream and sometimes even seafood.  Surprisingly India also had lots of fresh pasteurised milk that was also very inexpensive.  We definitely spent more than that a week on groceries at home, not to mention the time to prepare and cook it!  And you’d barely be able to get 1 meal in a restaurant in Australia for that amount, let alone feed a family of four, 2-3 times a day.

Fresh BBQ Whole Snapper for $4.00 USD, Pina Colada for $1.75--all served right on the beach!


Without the responsibility of your own place, ‘chores’ like cleaning, yard work or dusting are non-existent.  Occationally we’ve had to hand-wash our own laundry, but usually we can get it done, washed and folded, for $1 USD/AUD per kilo on average in most countries that we’ve been.  You would spend more on electricity and water usage at home, not to mention your time!

We’ve Just Been So Spoilt This Past Year!

And we know it.  

While it’s ironic that we were able to have such a good standard of living while backpacking on a budget in SEA and India, we were still the ‘privileged foreigners’ and as such had the disposable income that a good portion of the local people did not. 

But although we have lots to look forward to, we can’t overlook the distinct possibility that our standard of living will be reduced once we return home.  We simply won’t be able to eat out nearly as often, nor ‘do’ as much of fun stuff like the zoos and amusement parks because the cost of living, including  family travel, in Australia is so high. But at least we’ll have a year-full of memories and lots of travel photos which will hopefully sustain us for a long time—or at least until the next trip!


  1. I am so looking forward to enjoying all the things you mentioned! Especially spending time as a family and not having to cook!

  2. No doubt things are much more expensive in Australia, but it is a trade off for other qualities of living, like clean air and food, space, etc.

    The experiences you all gained and the closeness you all have fostered are indeed beyond anything one can measure. Your kids will be more mature than their peers, I am sure, and their knowledge of how people outside Australia live will be invaluable in shaping their attitudes.

    God bless.
    Uncle Stephen

  3. Amy: Traveling as a family is such an enlightening experience--we are so lucky to have been able to do it.

    Uncle Stephen: Definitely, clean air and space are two positives which we are looking forward to when we get back. not sure if we'd agree about the food, as we probably had a fresher, healthier diet while we were away that was also affordable to us. In australia, fresh and healthy comes at a high cost. Hopefully some of the impressions that our kids have had during this past year will continue to shape them through their lives.

    Thanks for your comments.

  4. That kind of travel is a joy and a privilege and often transformational for families. While you may find you miss things from being away, the strength of connections you made doesn't go away! And you may find the spirit of adventure lives on in surprising ways back 'at home' As one chapter ends, another begins... and you get to write it.

    1. Thanks Stuart! Am hoping that I will still have something of interest to say in 'the new chapter' :)

  5. Wow! I have been looking for something to read through to get some ideas about travelling with my two children and this blog is just amazing! I have things to be doing this morning but cant tear myself away from the computer! What an incredible journey. What an inspiration and it has made me feel so much more positive that the idea of travelling with children IS possible and that my dream to travel shouldnt have to be put off till the children have grown up and left home! Thank you! X

  6. Stuart--we are hoping that this will be the case, that our connections as a family were strengthened through this trip and will be strong roots for us in the future. We are aiming to be inspired by this trip and thus to continue finding inspiration around us at home. And we also hope to keep writing about it! Thanks for your comment!

    Jacky--thank YOU for taking the time to comment and to put a big boost to my day, especially at this time when our trip is nearly at the end. It's good to know that we can inspire as others have inspired us! Feel free to email me if you have any further queries.


  7. I have really enjoyed following your adventures this past year. My husband, son and I spent 8 months volunteering in Honduras and I really can appreciate the special bonding time that travel can provide a family. We're headed to SEA this summer for two months. I would love to hear your recommendations for where to travel given we only have two months. I spent two months in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand almost 10 years ago. When we travel this summer, our children will be 1 and 4 years old. Enjoy being back home.

  8. Hi Jane
    For us, traveling slow was the 'key to our success'. We generally tried to stay at least 3-4 nights in one spot before moving on. Ideally travel days were kept to about 4hrs, but often it was unavoidable to have big 10hr ones too in order to just 'get there'.

    Because we also had the luxury of having 1yr to travel, we could also travel leisurely and we tended to max our our stay in a country according to what the visa allowed. So that is why we spent 1 month in each of Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand. But we also found that it was a good amount of time for those countries, on average, although you could easily spend more than that in Vietnam and Thailand (which we did).

    So in terms of where you should go with your kids--we really enjoyed all of our destinations. Even in places that we'd previously visited before we had kids we had a very different experience this time 'with 2 kids in tow'. Your perspective is totally different, not to mention that SEA is rapidly changing too.

    Just keep in mind not to try to be overly ambitious with your traveling schedule and to keep as much flexibility as possible in your itinerary, which will in turn reduce your stress. Kids can get more sicknessess too if pushed too much, especially at that age where their immune systems are less developed (we saw the difference between our 3.5yr old and our 5yr old, especially at the beginning of the trip).

    Good luck, have fun, and feel free to email me with any further questions. hope this helps.

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