In the beginning…
I am writing this sat in a static caravan in the seaside town of Seasalter on the Kent coast. I am here with my husband and our two sons and on this Sunday afternoon we are hiding from the grey October sky with hot drinks, books and computer games. We arrived here exactly one week ago, in our car with 2 large suitcases, a backpack each and a car full of other bits and bobs.
These things are all we have in our possession now. We have sold our house plus gifted, sold or thrown away pretty every piece of furniture, kitchen appliance and random bric a brac that we owned.
Why? Well we have a plan — to take a gap year — a year where we will be free from mortgages, rent and neighbourhood gossip. Free from tending to a garden, repainting smudge marks on walls and wondering whether the roof replacement can wait one more year.
A year to see and show our boys as much of the world as possible, to move fairly slowly, spending 6 to 9 weeks in each new place, soaking up the culture, the people, the food and the music. Enjoying the atmosphere as it changes from county to country. Over the past months and weeks, as we’ve planned this, well meaning friends and family have asked us “are you not scared?”
Of course we are, I think it would be worrying if we were not terrified. This has pushed all of us out of pretty much every comfort zone we know — we have systematically dismantled our comfortable, muddle class, easy life on a huge bet that we’ll enjoy the nomad lifestyle for a while.
Saying that, there are things that make this choice easier than it would for most. Firstly we have been a home educating family since our eldest boy (now 14) was 6 so there are no school worries on that front, we trust in the process that comes from stepping away from traditional schooling.
Secondly my husband and I have jobs/careers that can be done remotely, meaning that as long as we have access to a mostly reliable WiFi source we can earn money as we go. Finally, and maybe most importantly, we are not strangers to a little stormy water in this thing called life. We’ve had our fair share of worry, ill health and sadness over the years, and what we have learned is that we always weather the bad and come out the other side stronger (although also with more grey hairs and wrinkle lines as the years slip by). I have had the urge to travel ever since I can remember, I didn’t get the chance to do much when younger but would soak up stories from other people about far flung places and adventures.
Since becoming parents we have taken plenty of short trips, and some longer ones (a month in the UAE is the longest we’ve been away from the UK so far) but as incredible as those experiences have been they were never enough to scratch my travel itch, if anything making it more intense.
My friend lovingly refers to me as “The Snail on The Whale” — from the popular Julia Donaldson book about the tiny, shelled creature who longs to see what’s over the horizon and she is right. I’ve never felt settled, or “at home” and to have this opportunity to follow my instinct to move, to explore and to not stay still for a while feels incredible. So, this is me, terrified but excited. Sad to be stepping away from family and friends but confident they’ll be waiting for me when I return. I can’t wait to take you on this journey with us as we navigate parenting on the move — I’d love to know where you are reading this from and if you’d like to share your favourite travel memories, please do, who knows, perhaps they’ll make our list too.
Come along for the ride, I’m hoping it’s going to be sensational!