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World Travel Family is a very large family travel blog that shows readers how to travel around the world with kids. I am one of the co-creators of World Travel Family blog, the owners are Alyson Long, my wife, and now my son. I am James Long, World Travel Chef or simply “Chef.” I’m the Dad behind World Travel Family, one of the biggest and most helpful family travel blogs in the world. In this post, I’ll give you my guide to making your dream to travel the world a reality. This is full-time travel as a family, we simply packed everything up and hit the road.
But was it that simple? This is how we did it, and how you could do it too.
There isn’t one right or wrong way to travel the world with a family, we’ll just give you some ideas and important things to remember. I’ll also tell you how we did it.
World Travel Family is the name of my wife’s website and her official business name, it is copyright protected, I am using it here with permission and authorisation, of course.
You will see it stolen, often, unfortunately.
World Travel Family, Dream to Reality
We had the idea to travel the world with our kids for freedom, fun, their education, and to give us more family time. We started to document the process on worldtravelfamily.com and have been filling our family travel blog with more tips and ideas ever since.
We are still actively travelling today thanks to the foundation we built via our worldtravelfamily site.
Today we’re a part-time travel family based near Port Douglas Australia. This is why you’ll find so much Port Douglas content on this site, including my favourite, our guide to the best food in Port Douglas.
But this post is about planning and executing your own family travel adventure, taking your dream to travel with your family, and making it happen.
Planning The World Travel Family Full-Time Travel Dream
There are a few things to think about before you decide to travel the world with your family. Sit down, have a chat with your partner and make sure everyone in the family, including the kids, is OK with the idea.
Or can be persuaded or bribed. Ice cream goes a long way.
- Where do you most want to travel? What are your dream destinations?
- How long can you travel for on your existing money? If you have to travel on a tight budget will this spoil the experience? Would you be better off waiting until you have more money?
- What type of travel do you enjoy?
- Will you be able to work remotely as you travel as a digital nomad or entrepreneur?
- Will working as you travel actually spoil the experience for you or your family?
- Are there visa requirements for your destination countries?
- Will you need extensive travel vaccinations, and can you afford them, they can be expensive?
- You will need travel insurance, is it even possible to get insurance for this type of travel? It is, World Nomads travel insurance has been designed by travelers for travelers. If you leave home without travel insurance or your policy runs out, you can buy or extend while on the road.
- Are the places you most want to travel going to be affordable, should you choose cheaper places instead?
- Do you and your family have any allergies or other health requirements that could make travel difficult? Are you into sports or keeping fit, can you continue with these activities as you travel? I was able to keep competing in Ironman triathlon events internationally, with some ingenuity!
- What are you going to do about school, and is taking your kids out of school even legal? How old are your kids? This is an important question.
- What will you do with your existing house, car, belongings or pets?
- What (other than travel insurance, tickets, and vaccinations) do you need to buy before departure. What are the packing essentials?
All of the above questions are important, but nothing to worry about. Just take a cool, logical approach and you should get there.
I have to say my wife worried a fair bit, I just got things done, step by step. I was already a homeschool dad and I could see that my kids were thriving and getting a great education outside school, so that didn’t worry me.
Homeschooling or worldschooling was a big responsibility for my wife and she handled most of this while I handled visas, logistics, currency, getting from A-B and all the less-glamorous parts of full-time family travel.
It’s good to have clear roles within your family like this, it’s not sexist, it’s just that we have different skills. Delegating all of the different responsibilities to the person best at them, or the person who dislikes them least is a good way to be in a marriage, I think.
As the father of this travelling family I could see that financially, we could do this. I have a trade, I was an executive chef at a 5 star and good chefs are always in demand, I knew that I could walk into work within days if I had to.
As I have 2 passports, Australian and British, I could work anywhere in Europe (pre Brexit) without a working visa.
I knew we’d be OK, and if we had to go back home I could get a job almost instantly. Are you in that situation too? Alternatively, do you have the commitment and can you learn the skills to start your own business and work remotely as a digital nomad? This is what happened for us. My wife’s site, worldtravelfamily.com did so well that she was sole breadwinner for many years and we were able to travel on the income she raised.
So we packed our bags, bought a one-way ticket, kissed Australia goodbye and off we went. As far as we were concerned we were gone forever and heading for a better life, everything neatly tied up and nothing to pull us back. We just had to make it work financially.
Where Should You Travel?
Do you have a bucket list of places you’ve always wanted to go? Have you dreamed of swimming with manta rays or seeing Everest Base Camp? Write your list. Get a notebook or start a Google sheet and write them down.
If you’re on a tight budget strike off the more expensive countries like Bhutan, Singapore, Australia or Japan. Unless of course, they are your #1 must-visit place.
If snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef is your number 1 must-do thing, make that your priority and save costs elsewhere. This trip is about you and your family, make it work for you.
I’ll mention here that all members of your family should be involved in planning where to go on the great travel adventure. If your kids would love Disney or any other theme park and have no interest in the Louvre, so be it. Every member of the family has to be having a good time.
You need to start getting a bit familiar with the costs of travel. Southeast Asia will be the cheapest in terms of food, accommodation and activities. But will you have to spend thousands to get there if you’re going there from the United States, New Zealand or the UK?
Thailand and Vietnam are the two cheapest countries, and also the easiest countries, to travel in our experience. They are a lot cheaper than Central and South America.
Eastern Europe is cheaper than Western Europe and the United States is cheaper than Australia, Dubai, Singapore etc, probably about the same costs as the UK. But a lot depends on the type of travel you prefer and the ages of your kids.
Plan Your Route
Once you have a list of countries start considering your easiest escape routes from where you currently live. If you live near a big flight hub like London, it’s easy, there will be dozens of budget flights.
My family recently took their world travels from London to Jordan for about 40 quid. If, as we are here, you’re flight options are limited, go where you can. We started our World Travel adventure by flying to Kuala Lumpur. Once you’re in Asia internal flights are cheap, or there are buses and trains.
Try not to zig-zag across the globe, hopping between continents. Instead take smaller steps, take the cheaper routes, travel bit by bit and figure out your itinerary as you go.
Don’t worry too much about weather and the “best” time to visit a certain place, those rules don’t apply in long-term travel.
You Are Travelling, Not On Holiday
If you are on holiday you may book a different activity or tour every day and eat at nice restaurants every night. You are travelling, not on holiday. You are living your life on the road and it should be a fairly normal family life. Not every day has to be packed with activities.
You probably won’t be able to afford to take expensive tours every day and you probably won’t want to. You’ll need some downtime for the kids’ education, to get laundry done, to plan and book your next moves or to just relax.
Don’t try to cram too much in. Just explore each destination, walk as far and as much as you can. Visit the places the locals go and just enjoy observations and interractions with the local community.
That said, I’m really not a fan of slow travel and just hanging around in one place to save money. That can be really dull, so I don’t recommend that to anyone.
Even if you travel at a normal backpacker pace of a few days here, a few days there and maxing out your full tourist visa in each country, travel can be cheaper than staying home in you mainly stick to the cheaper parts of the world and have a few travel smarts.
Staying Within Budget
Setting a daily budget isn’t reasonable for this kind of travel. It’s much more realistic to have a budget for the year and to organise your travel to fit within that amount.
You never know, by the end of the year your side hustle may be booming!
Scrimping as you travel is no fun. Makee sure you have enough money to do all things you want to do. Don’t be a slave to a budget.
What Do Travelling Families Eat?
How and what world-travelling families eat depends on where in the world they are.
In much of South and Southeast Asia eating out 3x per day for around $1 each is very possible. In parts of the world where food is more expensive, you may prefer to self-cater. But self-catering isn’t nearly as much fun as eating out!
Wherever you go, eat the local food, this broadens horizons and pallets. I’m a big believer in trying every new food on the road.
I’m also a big fan of food tours and cooking classes, these are great for kids to learn about the world as they travel. My kids learned loads of skills and met some cool people this way.
Today you’re just as likely to find my kids cooking a family meal as you are either of their parents.
What Kind of World Travel?
Long-term travel is normally backpacker style, where you move around often, staying in cheaper lodgings, often using public transport be it planes or buses and hopping on budget airlines where necessary.
Can you be a backpacker with a suitcase? Yes, of course, but you’ll be making your life more difficult than it needs to be.
In some countries, you may find it a good idea to hire or rent a car. If you have a family this can work out very cost effective. We hired cars in Thailand and Malaysia to self-drive to more remote areas and even to get around the island of Phuket, where taxis are much more expensive than in other parts of Thailand.
Remember to thoroughly check if you need an international driver’s license, and make sure you’re insured.
Should you buy a TRW plane ticket (RTW=round the world) and plan out your travel for a full year or wing it, make it up as you go along?
We found that winging it, having no fixed route or itinerary gave us freedom, flexibility, and fun. It was also, I think, cheaper, we could take up good travel deals whenever they came along.
For instance, we once crossed the Atlantic on a cruise ship rather than flying because a great kids-travel-free deal came along.
Eating out all the time can have health impacts, particularly when you don’t really know what you’re eating. This is one of the reasons that today we only travel a few months of the year. We now grow the bulk of our own food organically and have our own chickens. We’ve eaten enough poor quality eggs to last a lifetime.
Packing – What Do You Need To Buy?
Will you pack big backpacks that have to go in the hold on airlines, or just take a carry on bag? Travelling like this long-term, with just a travel bag is very possible, and in later years we travelled this way 90% of the time, leaving bulky items with friends or in storage.
If you’re travelling with kids it can be harder to travel lite because you must pack toys and educational materials plus so much stuff “for emergencies.” As the kids got older we travelled lighter and lighter until the 16 cuddly toys didn’t have to come everywhere with us.
Will you buy your kids luggage too? I’d recommend you don’t for small kids, or at least, don’t expect them to be responsible for them, and don’t make them carry them.
Around 8-10 years old kids can manage an adult-sized carry-on bag. And an extra carry-on bag is useful.
We have never left our kids in charge of packing their own stuff. We didn’t want things left behind and a “final room check” was always part of our check-out routine.
What electrical gear do you need to take with you? Kindles were essential when my kids were younger. World Travel Family had a Kindles-only rule, the kids could read freely, they didn’t have phones, games, or ipads. They read a lot and never missed ipads because they never had them. Buy a Kindle for each of your kids here.
What clothes do you need for long-term or full-time travel as a family? You just need regular every-day clothes that will work in most climates. We pack jeans and running tights or shorts for the kids. You don’t need special “travel” gear at all.
If you plan to take on some specialist environments like Everest or a cruise ship, you’ll need to buy a few things to top up your wardrobe. Take whatever clothes you feel comfortable in, that’s all there is to it.
You will need a water bottle, but don’t think you need one each, that’s too much bulk.
You will need back up power. These days you need your phone at airports to show electronic boarding passes. Some airport security will also check that your laptop is charged. Never travel without emergency power banks. See our post on these power devices here. (link opens in new tab).
How To Create An Income Stream For Your Family As You Travel
There are various ways to earn as you travel.
I did indeed work for a while in London as a chef while we spent long summers enjoying the city in which our kids were born. We all love London, so for me this was easy. London is an expensive city, but I could just slide into a job there at a moment’s notice. I have a post on finding chef work in London.
Obviously, if you’re travelling with kids, adults can’t give their time to work. There’s no school or day-care for worldschooled kids. Work or earning a living has to fit around travel and life, not the other way around.
Our answer to earning on the road was blogging. My wife was very good at this, self-taught of course. By the time she got worldtravelfamily to 10,000 page views per day, we were earning a very good living and finally, we could afford to go to Bhutan and spend Christmas in Singapore. Don’t think its easy or that anyone can do it. Also don’t think it takes a huge amount of time or effort. She mostly worked in bed in the mornings, before the kids got up. With blogging you need to work smart not hard.
There are various other ways in which people we know on the travel circuit afford to travel the world as a family.
There is teaching English as a foreign language, online or in person in your destination countries. VIP Kid is a platform many use to get into this online teaching. Alternatively, take a TEFL course. You do not have to be a teacher to do this. This sounds like a “job” to me though and far too time consuming. You’re out there to travel and spend time as a family, not work.
Freelance writing is an option, or working as a VA for an established blogger. As we are established bloggers ourselves we employ these people occasionally, we don’t need to work like this.
If you happen to be a teacher there are various online schools that employ teachers all over the globe, remotely. We know because we briefly put our kids in one of those schools to sit their iGCSE exams. They did better than I did in school, by far.
Being a travel influencer is not the same as being a travel blogger. We found keeping up with all the social media channels absolutely impossible. It’s not our scene and its too much like hard work. Making reels and Tik Toks is absolutely not something we want to do.
Crypto currency investing and trading is loved by some, it’s not something we’ve ever considered.
Forex Trading was something I dabbled in but it’s harder than most would have you believe (particularly those selling courses.) I don’t recommend it.
There are also families on the road selling courses, offering services or working remotely in quite conventional jobs. The digital nomad world is quite diverse, but there are a lot more singles than families.
The one thing that’s very hard to do is to work conventional jobs as you travel. The working visa system just makes this too hard for just about everyone.
Travel For Free
There are ways to travel for free or partially free, even as a family.
There’s Woofing, Helpx and Working Traveller where individuals trade work and skills for bed and board. There’s also House Sitting, where travelling families will look after your house while you go away.
We’ve tried them, we don’t enjoy them. I think if you can’t afford to pay for your accommodation you’re better off waiting a few years and saving up more. They’re very limiting to your time and location and finding these gigs is a lot of work.
There are very few legitimate volunteering opportunities out there and it’s common to have to pay to volunteer, so this isn’t a good option.
If you do think house sitting could work for you, join Trusted Housesitters, there is a joining fee and a fat commission (affiliate commission) for those bloggers who recommend these companies. That’s why so many recommend them, we would be hypocritical to do that so no affiliate link here.
Hitchhiking is acceptable in some parts of the world. We spent a few years hanging out in rural Romania where it’s absolutely the norm, but as a general rule this method of free travel is just too dangerous.
We have a full post on how to travel for free here.
Where Will You Stay as A Travelling Family?
Travelling families stay in hotels, guest houses, apartment rentals, cruise ships, sleeper trains, village huts, luxury island resorts or whatever other form of accommodation they choose.
The world is full of accommodation providers and its all easy to arrange.
These days we book everything online, in advance, as late as the day before is absolutely fine unless its high season or a popular destination that may get full.
Use Booking.com, they have rental apartments just like Airbnb minus the cleaning fees.
World-Schooling Your Kids
world-schooling is a type of homeschooling. It is alternative education where a large chunk of the child’s education comes from places and experiences. My wife is the expert here and she’s the author of several books on worldschooling and worldschooling travel. Read her post on what is worldschooling here.
Safety and Security
There are plenty of steps you can take to ensure safety and security while being a family travelling the world with kids. The most important factor here is of course to have good travel insurance.
World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while traveling and claim online from anywhere in the world.
We’ve personally lost belongs to thieves due to a combination of lack of concentration and exhaustion. Once while we let our bags out of sight on a train, and another while distracted with the kids. So keep your wits about you to avoid a similar fate. We were blatantly pickpocketed face-to-face in Malaysia too.
The most important thing is awareness, not only will it allow you to spot something occurring, but if you seem aware and attentive you probably won’t have any theft or pickpocketing attempts happen in the first place.
Security gear is another important thing you can have when it comes to ensuring the safety of yourself, your family and your belongings.
Anti-theft bags and security devices for your backpacks are a great piece of kit for any traveller, as while theft is unlikely, it’s always better to be prepared.
Door stops are also a great idea if you’re worried about your safety in a new place, pop one under the door for some security in your hotel room. Buy travel security door stops with alarms here.
World Travel Family – Final Thoughts
Being the family behind World Travel Family has been great fun. Today I’ve handed worldtravelfamily.com entirely to my wife and son, they are business partners and doing a great job in keeping our family business going. Running World Travel Family is something we can do from anywhere in the world, so we still have full freedom to do our thing and travel at will.
Today we travel for work and recreation. Being professional travel bloggers has been our job for over a decade.
I did write for World Travel Family for a few years, but my focus has shifted to World Travel Chef today. I want to get this travel and food site off the starting blocks this year.
Travelling full-time for many years was great for my family. If I can help you in any way with planning your own world travel ambitions, just leave any questions in the comments.