Packing for Eight: An Adventure in Spatial Relationships and Digital Travel Scales

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Thank you to Bob & Tina Farewell for snapping this photo as we prepared to checking to our transatlantic flight!

After the tickets were bought, the packing plan began.  After spending over a year in Florida, we didn’t have ANY winter clothes.  It was fun getting new clothes, but hunting them down was exhausting.  Honestly, for me, I got most of my clothes second-hand either through Thred Up or Goodwill.  I found a few things for the children at Once Upon a Child (a franchise children’s second hand clothing store) and the rest was bought at local retail stores.

Because of how many of us there are AND how easy it is for me to lose track of who has what, I came up with a plan for how many of each type of clothing every person needed (including Celebre-baby), turned it into a spreadsheet and loaded it into Google Drive.  If you’ve never used Google Drive, it’s a great way to share a document with lots of different people :)  Once I had that done, I had the children go through their clothing and make a note of everything they owned and what needed to be purchased.

Click on the image below to see the breakdown.  I did hide the column for feminine “unmentionables” because I am not the mom that will broadcast to the world that kind of stuff regarding her daughters!

winter pack list

Here’s how it all broke down:

We ended up packing 6 carry-on size Rockland spinner expandable suitcases (you can find them on Amazon.com), one larger 24” hard sided spinner suitcase, and my husband’s eBags backpack style bag that he’s had for several years.  Somehow, along with a personal bag each, I was able to pack everything into these carry-ons (10kg each or 22.2 pounds) and the big one was a Dejuno Spinner 24″ hard side suitcase (similar to the one in the link, but a different color) and weighed exactly 20 kg, or about 44.4 pounds.  I am SO glad I bought the Travel On Digital travel scale to help me with the weights.  As hard as it was to get everyone’s bag at exactly 10kg, it would have been 10x harder if I’d tried using a simple bathroom scale.

In hind sight, I think we should have maybe done 2 large checked bags (at $59 each) and done away with 2 smaller carry-on bags.  I was hopeful, initially, that we could do without a checked bag, but things always come up, especially in regards to liquids that can’t be in a carry-on bag, so that plan was out the window fairly early on.

We all used some type of packing cube, too.  I have a mix of eBags cubes and some I found on Amazon.  Both seem to be very good quality.  The only thing I didn’t really like about the Amazon cubes was the color: Gold.  I’m just not fond of the color, but they function very well.

What is the biggest challenge you face when packing for a long trip?  In the winter?

An Adventure in Europe Times EIGHT!

We’ve been planning our next adventure for months and are finally ready to announce it.  We’re in Europe!

After a long year of the pilot working abroad, the family is reunited and ready to tackle Europe.  If you used to follow along with us while we were in Costa Rica and Mexico (previously at FamilyTravelBucketList.com), you may remember that we were a family of 7…5 kids, 2 adults.  Well, we got a BIG surprise and now have a second little prince.  Except he’s really NEVER been little, weighing 9 lbs 13 ounces at birth and just being a chunky baby!  This little guy has been a huge unexpected gift and we all love him to pieces, but there was no way he was going to slow us down for long.  We call him our Celebre-baby because everyone just loves him!  He’s got huge smiles and is a happy, content baby.

So, we’re heading to Europe.  Now, what does that look like when you’re a bit of a “super sized” family?  Planning.  Packing.  Repacking.  And lots of frustrations.  But it is all worth it, right?

How did the planning go?  Why did we decide to fly into Paris, France above any other location?  Why did you pick the WORST season, weather wise, to go to Europe?

The planning was slowly done over months, but started by picking some dates.  After the year of separation from the Pilot, we decided to give ourselves some time to get used to being a family again, then took a month to attend a business conference (CES II…I’ll talk more about this soon) and  then a whirlwind trip to West Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, St. Louis, breezing through Kentucky and almost a half-dozen other states before West Virginia and then North Carolina.  After we had all those dates, the pilot wanted to do some time back in the cockpit, so we planned a month near an airport close to Orlando and got a rental house there.

Then, finally, we had some dates to work with.  If you’ve ever tried to shop for airfare, you know that a day can make a HUGE difference in prices.  But my criteria were these:

1. Tickets MUST be under $300 one way.

2. Arrival city MUST be easy to launch to England because the Pilot has a course to take there in November.

3.  Should at least be a place were somewhat interested in.

4. Flights must have no more than ONE connection.

After playing with dates and cities and more dates and more cities, we finally arrived at Paris on Norwegian Airlines.  They’re a low-cost airline, but fly the new Boeing Dreamliner so they’re not junkers (this is a BIG thing to the Pilot), tickets were pretty cheap, getting to England is fairly easy, we’re interested in France and there was just one connection through Oslo.  So it ticked all the boxes.

Tickets did not include assigned seating or any food, so since the overnight flight was scheduled to be almost 9 hours, I bought meals for everyone, which worked out to about $42 per person!  It wasn’t cheap, but ‘m glad I did in the end because we had too much else going on before we left and in the airport to wrangle buying food for everyone.   And we all know how expensive airport food is anyway.

Everyone was on board with the trip, but how do you pack for a long stay in Europe with 6 kids…without breaking the bank with excess baggage fees?

Well, that is another post! :)

Going to the Movies in Mexico – How much does it cost?

going to the movies in mexicoI thought it would be fun to do a quick post about the costs of going to the movies here in Mexico.  This afternoon, our family of 7, plus a friend of the girls, went to see The Croods, or Los Croods since the movie was dubbed in Spanish. Here is the breakdown of the costs:

8 movie tickets @ 40 pesos each, except today, Wednesday, is 2 for 1 = 160 pesos or ~ $12.96 USD

One large popcorn and 2 large sodas combo = 65 pesos or ~$5.27 USD

Two additional large popcorns @ 25 pesos each = 50 pesos or ~$4.05 USD

One 600ml bottle of water = 15 pesos or ~$1.22 USD (which is actually quite high since I can get one for about 8 pesos at a convenience store)

One bag of peanut M&Ms (for me) = 18 pesos or ~$1.46 USD (also high compared to 10 pesos at Walmart)

In all, we spent 308 pesos or right at $25 USD for eight people to go to the movies.  Granted, our daughters' friend bought her own snacks, but still.  That's less than $4 per person to see a first run movie in Mexico.

I do want to note that 3D movies do cost 20 pesos ($1.62 USD) more.

The movie theater is very nice with reclining seats, cup holders, AIR CONDITIONING, which was much needed today, and clean!  No sticky floors…which I really hate.

The kids have said they want to see the movie again in English when we're back in the US, but I've told them we can't unless it is at a dollar theater.  The last time I priced out movie tickets in the US (El Paso, TX), it was around $8 per person for tickets…and I am 100% confident that popcorn costs more than $2.03 for a large container.  Just to get inside it would be at least $56USD and there's NO way we could avoid buying popcorn for the Pilot, ahem, I mean the kids.

So, there you have it.  Mexico is a GREAT place to go to the movies and not break the bank!

What does is cost for you to go to the movies?

Traveling with Kids: Keeping them Occupied

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I don't know about you, but after planning a trip, the most stressful part is making sure everyone is in decent spirits during the travel time.  Little ones especially are not that great at delayed gratification, so being prepared is important. I hope you get a few helpful pointers in this post done in collaboration with Direct Holidays.

While the concept of a summer vacation is an exhilarating one, the actual travel aspect of the trip can be a little arduous at times when traveling with kids. It can create the first stress of the holiday if they start to play up on the plane or in the departure lounge, and nobody wants that as a precursor to their fantastic vacation.

Whether you are in Europe and hoping to snap up one of the cheap Turkey holidays as a last minute vacation or you’re planning on something a little closer to home, there’s no reason why your trip should be tainted with stress. Book with Direct Holidays and you will benefit from an affordable escape, including many offers for families that will ease any financial woes.

If you are taking the plunge and travelling with the brood, the best thing to do (especially when your children are young) is stick to the short haul destinations near your home.  If you're based in the UK, Spain or the Canary Islands are a nice option.  In the US, there are many short jaunts you can take to experience something completely different than your hometown.  When choosing somewhere nearby,  you’ll only have to endure a few hours, at most, in the air and, with a little forethought; you can pack some things that will help the journey pass by without a hitch.

Any child over the age of 2 has to have their own seat on the plan.  Although this means an additional expense for your budget, it also means that they have the baggage allowance that, as a baby, they wouldn’t have had. Make the most of this by packing their own carryon bag to keep them occupied during the flight.

A Trunki is an ideal carrier because, not only is it fun and bright, but it has wheels to help to move it. It is designed to bear the weight of your child too, being great fun in the airport when waiting (im)patiently for the flight to board!

Pack plenty of on-board entertainment to keep them busy and to avoid tantrums. Some of their favorite items, such as travel games, favorite toys, magazines and coloring books, as well as the trusty handheld game consoles.  Our kids love our iPad and Nook Color for in-flight entertainment.

And don't forget to pack a few snacks for the flight.  While our kids like the idea of getting snacks on the plane, sometimes they either don't like what they picked OR they get hungry before the snack cart rolls down the aisle.  Security issues usually prevent you from bringing any drinks on the plane, so just make sure you don't pack salty snacks that will make your children thirsty.

One tip that I got from another traveling mom was to pack little plastic bags of stickers, maybe a little toy or two, and some snacks to have available to other children on the flight.  Nobody likes to fly on a plane with a miserable child, so if handing a little bag of treats and surprises to a desperate mom can help, I think it's a great idea.

Book with Direct Holidays today and, with a little pre-planning, flight dramas from the kids will be kept at bay.

-In collaboration with Direct Holidays

Beach Heaven in Fuerteventura

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I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but my husband has been craving beach time. Growing up only 15 minutes from the Gulf of Mexico and now living in a very dry central Mexico, I confess that a little time on the coast with some humidity would be nice.  I hope you like reading and dreaming a bit about the beautiful beaches of Fuerteventura Island in this post done in collaboration with Thomas Cook.

When it comes to finding an ideal location for a beach holiday, with all the sun, sea and sand you could ever wish for, you can't beat Fuerteventura.

As part of the sun-soaked Canary Islands, a gorgeous archipelago marooned off the West coast of Africa, Fuerteventura has plenty of sunshine, great beaches and a superb year-round climate to boot. This volcanic cluster of islands was born out of fiery eruptions that created a spectacular array of dramatic landscapes, craggy mountains and bizarre rock formations. Most of Fuerteventura's island neighbors have black sand or pebbly beaches, but most of Fuerteventura is blessed with silky soft golden sand that provides a fabulous beach holiday environment.  The island was recently chosen among 500 European destinations by the QualityCoast International Certification Program of the European Coastal and Marine Union as one of the most desirable tourist destinations for travelers interested in cultural heritage, environment and sustainability.

Once you've had your fill of soaking up the sun or sinking your toes into those powdery soft sands, you could try your hand at watersports – one of the things that the island is famous for.  Surfing, sailing, scuba diving and fisherman love the clear blue waters of this Atlantic paradise.  Or head inland to explore its volcanic landscapes and beautiful mountains.  It's a UNESCO biosphere reserve so you are guaranteed plenty of wonderful sights and grand days out.  There are several museums, an open-air sculpture park in the capital city of Puerto del Rosario, and lots of fresh, delicious seafood to enjoy.

What's more, there are plenty of ways to get to this lovely island. You could go your own way and organize your own flights and accommodation, or opt for a package holiday deal with a tour operator like Thomas Cook. When you book package holidays with Thomas Cook, you're able to plan for a stress-free getaway, without the hassle of organizing your own travel arrangements or figuring out how to get from the airport to your hotel.  Sometimes, when you travel, it's nice to let someone else handle all the details so you can arrive in Fuerteventura carefree and relaxed, making sure you get your holiday off to the best possible start.

However you get there, Fuerteventura is a beach holiday heaven that's not to be missed. When will your family visit this wonderful island? 

-In collaboration with ThomasCook.com

Photo credit: http://www.arteyfotografia.com.ar/6544/fotos/259104/

Monarch Butterflies Sanctuary in Mexico

I think our family's fascination with butterflies began as soon as our oldest could talk.  She has always loved butterflies and even went so far to tell people, in her adorable 3 year old voice, that she wanted to be an entomologist when she grew up.  (That's a scientist who studies insects.  And no, that's not a typo…she could say that when she was about 3 years old!)

We've studied butterflies in our homeschooling.  We bought the butterfly kit with live caterpillars sent to us in the mail.  They died.  We went to butterfly farms and houses and somewhere, in an old scrapbook at my sister's house, we have a photo of her in one of those wood cut-outs at a zoo in Navarre, FL with her face in a circle that makes her look like she's a butterfly.

Yep.  We love butterflies.

So when the opportunity arose for us to join a local group to go see them, we couldn't pass it up.

As you may know, Monarch butterflies make a miraculous pilgrimage to Mexico every fall and stay through the spring in the mountains of the state of Michoacan.  The amazing thing is that the butterflies that begin the journey die along the way and never make it to their destination, yet every year, they come back…in the millions.

We left EARLY in the morning, at around 6am.  Which means we were awake before then…with a night owl momma and a few night owl kids.  This was no easy feat, but the excitement of seeing one of creations most amazing sights, we didn't have any trouble getting everyone awake.

The ride to the butterfly sanctuary was L-O-N-G.  Like 6 hours long.  But we had snacks and an iPad and were good to go.  The location of the sanctuary was in Sierra Chincua at about 10,000 feet in elevation.  Read that as code for "quite chilly with not enough oxygen to breathe" and you've got the idea.

The trek into the mountains to see the butterflies was, in a word, rough!  We'd considered taking a horse, but as we arrived, a bunch of other people were snatching up the horses left and right, so we hiked it.  I think it took at least 1 hour to get to THE spot.  A long, hard hour with numerous stops to try to make our hearts stop beating out of our chests.  I'll admit that I am not in the best shape, but holy moly if a hike at 10,000 feet doesn't smack you in the face with the fact you need to get into better shape.

When we finally got to where the butterflies were, it was breathtaking.  No pun intended.  We had to be super quiet to not disturb them.  And they were everywhere: flying all around us, above us in the trees and all over the ground…some dead, some alive.

It was not uncommon to have one land on you.  What a treat. 

I wasn't sure how our "little prince" would handle it all, but he LOVED it.  There's just something magical about seeing these amazing creatures flying around.  It was a once in a lifetime experience to see God's handiwork like this.

One of the most amazing things is how serene and quiet it was.  There were SO many butterflies, yet no sound.  No beating of wings.  No birds chirping.  Only quiet whispers of children and adults marveling at the Monarchs.

Here's a little video I shot while we were there.  It does not do it justice.

If you ever have a chance to see the Monarch butterflies in Michoacan, Mexico, DO IT!  We all loved it and are so thankful to our friends at La Ola, a local children's home, for inviting us to come with them.  THIS was a Bucket List item!

Top 5 Family Friendly Activities in Blackpool, England



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England has been a top bucket list destination for our middle daughter for quite some time, but honestly, I didn't realize there would be so many family friendly activities outside the larger cities.  I hope you enjoy learning a bit about Blackpool and the places your family would enjoy on a visit there in this article done in collaboration with Travelodge UK.

One of the most fun-filled and care-free capitals of England, Blackpool really is the family entertainment center of the north. Boasting hundreds of attractions, events and eateries, there really is no better place to spend a vacation with the kids, whatever the weather.

Cheap hotels in Blackpool make getting away this spring doable for even the most frugal of families.  Book budget lodging for your break and save your money for having fantastic fun with your family.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach

Make the most of special offers from the Pleasure Beach this spring. You can purchase wristbands online to get up to half off entry prices and rides for the whole family. While tweens and teens can get their adrenaline kicks on rides such as the infamous ‘Big One’ and Revolution, younger children will love the new Nickelodeon Land area, featuring TV favorites including Sponge Bob Square Pants and Dora the Explorer.

Blackpool Tower

Blackpool’s most famous landmark, Blackpool Tower, is home to a wealth of entertainment suitable for all ages. Now part of the Merlin Group, the recently renovated Blackpool Tower features the Tower Dungeons, Tower Circus, Jungle Jim’s, and the new 4D Tower Eye Experience.

Coral Island

Arguably Blackpool’s best amusement arcade, Coral Island has a huge collection of machines and rides suitable for children and adults. Try your luck on the slots, battle it out over a game of air hockey, or take things over to the adult area for some casino inspired shenanigans. With a café and bar on hand, die hard seaside lovers can easily spend half a day or more at Coral Island.

Central Pier

It may be a blustery day, but spring is the time that the piers open once again on weekends to the public – and you’d be a fool to miss out. Located at the heart of the promenade, Central Pier is brimming with rides, fairground games, arcades and child friendly bars. Brave the cool weather, throw on a warm coat, and team your visit up with a ride on the donkeys.

Sandcastle Waterpark

No family adventure would be complete without making a splash, and Blackpool has just the thing to add that touch to your trip. One of the most loved visitor attractions in the town, Sandcastle is the UK’s largest indoor waterpark. It has over 18 slides, a wave pool, a lazy river and much more. Save your trip here for a rainy day, as there’s plenty to keep the kids happy for an afternoon, as well as bars and a number of catering facilities on site.

Are you looking for an alternative destination to take the kids this spring? Think out of the box and opt for an English seaside resort. Come rain or shine, there’s always an activity to keep you and your children occupied. Look online for cheap hotels in Blackpool from a hotel company you know and trust and start planning your Blackpool vacation today.

–This post is in collaboration with Travelodge UK

*Photo credit: By Seth Whales (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Guadalajara Regional Museum – Museo Regional de Guadalajara

On a recent trip to Guadalajara, we stumbled upon this neat museum right off the central plaza the Museo Regional de Guadalajara.  We got there fairly late in the day (because we never seem to get anywhere early) and were delightfully surprised.

The museum is in an old colonial mansion, complete with a lovely courtyard in the center.  The entrance fees were cheap.  If I remember correctly, the kids were all free, the Pilot was free with his student ID and I was 45 pesos (less than $4USD) and paid an extra 35 pesos (under $3USD) to be able to take photos…without flash.  And DO make sure you set your camera to the "no flash" setting because there are museum watch dogs all around to make sure you follow the rules. :)

On the bottom level, there was a huge skeleton of a mammoth.  Honestly, I never imagined seeing a dinosaur skeleton in Mexico…it just never crossed my mind, but this mammoth was found in the Mexican state of Jalisco in the 20th century.  Fascinating!

In addition to several other fossilized dinosaurs, the museum has a large collection of huge paintings, as well as artifacts from the Spaniards that took over the country.

I created a little slideshow video to showcase some of the things we saw.  Remember, I couldn't use my flash, so the coloring is a bit off, but you'll get the idea.  You may just see a few cute kids in there, too.  They're ours.  Sorry there's no music.  My video program didn't like the music file I chose. :/


Five Reasons Why Orlando is the Perfect Location for a Family Holiday

Growing up in Florida, Orlando was one of those places I dreamed of going as a child.  When our family took the 4 hour drive to see Mickey, it was a BIG deal.  Now, decades later, Orlando has really grown into a tourist destination that surpasses pretty much everywhere, so I am excited to share this sponsored post that highlights some of the best reasons why you should consider Orlando for your next family vacation.


Orlando, Florida has it all. The weather is perfect all year round, the locals are friendly, and there are tons of great sights to explore and activities to enjoy. With 52 million tourists heading to the city each year, Orlando has quickly become one of the most popular holiday destinations in the US, a favorite, especially for those with families.

Let's take a look at five reasons why Orlando is the perfect location for a family holiday.

#1 – World Class Theme Parks
 
Cinderella's castle

Orlando is home to some of the greatest theme parks in the world. Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, Gatorland, and more are proud to call the city their home. 

SeaWorld Orlando also deserves a mention, as it ranks right up there with Orlando's best atracting upwards of 5 million guests each year. Here, visitors can ride roller coasters, explore massive aquariums, and see various shows starring dolphins, killer whales and other sea creatures set in over 200 hectares of sprawling parkgrounds. Aside from being one of Orlando's top theme parks, SeaWorld is also a zoological park, with most of the park's denizens consisting mostly of various species of marine life highlighted in a wide variety of exhibits. 

While all of Orlando's theme parks come highly recommended, Walt Disney World, the largest theme park in Orlando, is arguably the best. No holidays to Orlando would be complete without a trip to Walt Disney World.

Walt Disney World itself is separated into four smaller theme parks, each with their own unique theme and set of attractions.

In the ‘Magic Kingdom’, visitors can enter the magical world of Disney and see Disney favourites like Mickey Mouse and Goofy come to life, while the magic of science and technology is on show in Epcot, a theme park dedicated to the celebration of human achievement. At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the third of the four theme parks, visitors can explore the best of Disney’s Hollywood franchises, while at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, a giant animal conservation park spanning more than 500 acres, exotic animals can be seen roaming an Africa-inspired environment.

#2 – Family Friendly Museums

Orlando contains a number of family friendly museums that are quite fun to explore.

‘Ripley’s Orlando’, a museum dedicated to many oddities, gives visitors the chance to experience a sinkhole in person and are currently featuring some famous fertility carvings through Labor Day.  The ‘Orlando Science Center’, a museum dedicated to science, runs a number of entertaining exhibitions that detail recent scientific discoveries. ‘Titanic The Experience’, a museum about the Titanic, also gives visitors the chance to explore a replica of the famous ship complete with actors and actresses dressed up in period clothing.

#3 – Close Proximity to Nearby Beaches

cocoa beach
Orlando’s climate is perfect for spending time at the beach. Temperatures rarely fall below 75 degrees fahrenheit, the sun always shines and it very rarely rains. There are a number of wonderful beaches just a short distance away from Orlando.
 
Cocoa Beach, Daytona Beach and Melbourne Beach are amongst the best and can be reached via a short drive by car. All three have long, sandy shores and waves that are perfect for surfing. Family-friendly Daytona Beach, with its hardpacked-sandy beaches, is a particular favorite, especially among visitors and tourists coming from out of town for a quick dip at the beach during the weekends.   

#4 – The Kennedy Space Center

The Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral claim to fame is that it has been the launch site of every space flight from NASA since 1968. One of the top tourist destinations in central Florida, the Kennedy Space Center can easily be reached by car located just an hour's drive away from Orlando. 

At the Kennedy Space Center Visitor, families can expect see a number of exhibits, interactive displays, artifacts and memorabilia depicting the history of man's journey into space as well as a glimpse into the future of human and robotic spaceflight and learn more about how they actually work. Life size replicas of the International Space Center and the Saturn V rocket can also be explored, with ‘Habitation Modules’ that give an idea of what life is like for astronauts when they’re in space. A nearby Imax theater also gives the chance to relax and enjoy space based documentaries on a huge screen.

#5 – Orlando's Wonderful Water Parks

Water parks offer a more laid back alternative to the organized chaos and revelry of Orlando’s top theme parks. 

Walt Disney World has two water parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, that are filled with a wide variety of water slides and swimming pools and a slew of other attractions that kids of all ages will certainly love. Both occupy the top two spots, ranking first and second in that order, among the most visited water parks in the world.

Typhoon Lagoon also holds the distinction for having the world's largest outdoor wave pool, with the park drawing over 2 million visitors each year. Blizzard Beach meanwhile, with the iconic Mt. Gushmore and its three differently colored slopes, feature a multitude of rides, water slides and attractions some of which even allow guests to race one another along side-by-side slides before splashing at the finish line. Downhill Double Dipper and Toboggan Racers are two of the most popoular 'race slides' at Blizzard Beach.  

Other aquatic water park highlights in Orlando include Discovery Cove, a small ocean park that offers the chance to swim with dolphins, and Wet ’n Wild, a huge ocean park filled with water slides and other fun rides.

Conclusion

The city of Orlando’s motto is “built for families, made for memories”, and it’s certainly easy enough to see why. The city is full of family-friendly attractions and destinations that are sure to entertain both adults and children alike.

Make sure to consider Orlando when you’re planning your next family holiday. We guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Long term travel with kids

long term travel with kids

Maybe it's just the circles we're in now, but it seems like more and more families are exploring the idea of long term travel with kids.  Sure, everyone knows a young 20-something that's backpacked through Europe or hiked the jungles of the Amazon, but what about families?

Is it possible or even worth it to travel for extended periods of time with your kids?

We think it is!

Long term travel with kids can vary widely depending on what works for your family or your budget.  Here are suggestions of ways you can do it, based on our own personal experiences and the experiences of our friends.

1.)  Plan a RTW (Round the World) trip.

These kinds of trips are usually for a specific time period, like a year or so.  (Although many people we know decide to extend indefinitely while on these trips.)  You move at a moderate pace, trying to see and experience as much of the world as possible in a certain amount of time.  Based on what we've read by RTW trip families, the time spent in one spot usually doesn't exceed a month because of the (self-imposed) pressure to see more of the world.

This is ideal if you have a flexible monthly budget (because Europe will be far more expensive than Thailand) or if you have a job that is letting you travel and work remotely for a year.  Ideally, you will have saved up quite a bit ahead of time and planned out your stops along the way.  Most families have a bucket list of destinations they want to make sure they see.

2.)  Plan a long term stay in one location outside your home country.

We've met several families online who took a year and lived in another country.  One family spent a year in France.  They had a specific plan to get their kids completely fluent in French (it came more easily to some than others) and really immerse themselves in French culture.  Of course, they did do some exploring around Europe, but France was their main base.

Most people who do this type of long term travel incorporate regular work into their plan, whether they continue running a business or have other types of income that do best with some sort of regular and predictable schedule.  This type of travel tends to look the most like "regular life", but in a new location.  You develop friendships with locals, can put the children into schools or music lessons or sports/dance classes, etc.

This is the type of travel we've done so far.  It seems to be the most budget friendly because you can rent a home for several months or a year (versus paying for short term nightly or weekly rentals that cost more) and develop a regular family routine that includes eating and cooking more meals at home instead of always eating out.  The main budget items for us involve renewing our visas and the expenses involved in a border crossing.

3.)  Plan short stays in many locations over a long period of time.

This is a bit different than a RTW trip because it doesn't necessarily have an "end" to it OR you just focus on exploring one specific region, say North and South America or Southeast Asia or Europe.

We have many friends who are dotting all over Southeast Asia at the moment, sometimes spending 3 weeks or so in a certain city and then moving on to another spot in Southeast Asia.  They might start off in Thailand, then hop over to Malaysia, and then Vietnam, and on and on.  They get a taste of the cultures within a larger geographic region, but don't necessarily stay put to the point of settling down like those who choose option #2.

Depending on the area of the world you're in, this type of travel can get expensive if you're using air travel or have lots of kids, like we do.  But unlike a RTW trip, you get to see more of a region and can become much more comfortable with the nuances of, say, Asian life.

Some families won't fit into any of these boxes, starting out with one plan and then drifting into another.  We've known some families who handle a fast paced travel schedule well.  They adapt easily to new places every few weeks.  And others, like our family, get worn out with even small bursts of travels.  The month that surrounded our nightmare visa renewal from Costa Rica to Panama and then to Nicaragua was just plain tiring.  Our family needs lots of down time between adventures.

Whether you've got bank accounts full of cash or have ways to make an income that don't depend on you being in one specific location at all times, long term travel with kids can be a very rewarding experience.  As with anything, there will be days when nothing seems to go right (again, a reference to our trip to Panama), but that's just life.  Kids (and parents) will get sick at the least convenient times.  Banks will do something funny or mess something up and you'll be strapped for cash for a day or two while things get worked out.  Things may get stolen or lost (like a rain jacket left on a bus) or broken (like our cracked iPad) and you'll wish for the conveniences of replacing things in your home country. 

And never forget that you WILL get the "Gringo special" or "tourist pricing" when paying for local goods or services.  Once, my husband paid $28 for a taxi ride that should have been half that.  Or the time our friends were overcharged at a restaurant because they were a bit rusty on their Spanish.  Or when we paid WAY more for a Mexican traffic violation than we should have, but just wanted to get home!  Those are just the costs of traveling.

Usually, though, the hardest part of all this is making the decision to go!  If you're really afraid you won't like it and have to return home, have a strong backup plan, but go anyway.  The worst that can happen is you try it, hate it, and come home early.  Even that experience is one that can change your lives.

Long term travel with kids is a great way to see the world and grow closer as a family.  Are you planning to go?