My husband Jason is from Iowa, his whole family lives there and farms and has deep roots. By contrast my dad was in the military and the family moved every few years even after he got out. Guess whose idea it was to travel?
This blog is written and managed by me, but our traveling family is the center of it.
How we got here
Eight years ago the idea was simply to move to the coast and be near the ocean. I went to nursing school with the intention of being a travel nurse, Jason worked in IT and always kept his eye out for remote opportunities. We were waiting for our oldest to graduate from high school, and while we waited the plan evolved and changed.
In 2013 we took our three children with us to Mexico, Chenoa was 16, June turned 6 while we were there and Rory had just turned 4 years old. Traveling overseas with kids was not so hard, so why not do it full time? At first it seemed crazy, but the more I searched online the more I found people were already doing it. Our idea wasn’t new at all, and it wasn’t all that hard. It was just a matter of being willing to step outside the box of expectations and do it. I tend to live outside the box, so this wasn’t hard for me, but Jason took years of convincing.
The plan went through lots of revisions until in 2015 we were ready. Jason told his job about our plans and got permission to work solely from remote. I stopped working as a nurse to focus on preparations and house remodeling. We sold our house, sold or gave away almost everything we owned, and used the money to pay off as much debt as we could but there are still a few bills that won’t go away (I’m looking at you student loans.) Our oldest child decided not to come along, a revelation that broke my heart, but I knew we each had to follow our own paths. In July of 2015 we packed our 2 suitcases each and moved our family of 4 to Cozumel, Mexico.
July might not have been the best time to move to a tropical climate. We melted for the first month, failing to acclimatize to the heat and sleeping together in the one room with a/c. We made expensive mistakes that quickly drained our savings. The woman we rented our first house from refused to give our deposit back and then insisted we pay the next month rent as well when she didn’t have a new renter. The kids suddenly decided they wanted to go to private school with the other American kids instead of being home schooled (getting up at dawn put an end to that pretty fast.) We bought a car only to find out later the paperwork was a ridiculous mess and we couldn’t register it or resell it. Anyone who tells you moving overseas is easy is lying, it was a rough adjustment for that first year.
But we made it, just like anyone who moves to a new place does eventually. I view being in a new country as not much different than moving to a new state; you have to learn where things are and how stuff works no matter where you go. You figure it out, and once you get past that initial adjustment it gets easier.
What will we do next?
We’ve moved over to Playa del Carmen to allow us to explore more of the mainland and take advantage of the large homeschooling community. After this I think we’ll spend some time in central Mexico exploring Mexico City and the area that surrounds it, then we’ll start heading south. After spending all this time learning Spanish we are going to stay in Spanish speaking countries for a few years, making our way through Central America into South America. Some places will be new and some we’ve visited before.
Now and then someone asks when we are going to “come home,” not understanding that when we left the U.S. we had no intention of coming back for years. We are slow traveling, soaking up the culture and getting to know each place as well as possible instead of a whirlwind vacation. Our kids are active participants in deciding what we do and where we go, adding places to the must-see list as often as we do.
We have transitioned into digital nomads and will keep traveling until we get sick of it or until the money runs out. Neither is likely to happen any time soon.
Meet the family:
Amelia (that’s me) is an RN who burned out fast in the U.S. system. I’m now in charge of research and planning our adventures as well as homeschooling/worldschooling the kiddos while building my freelance writing career. I just turned 40 and am taking horseback riding lessons for the first time, although I am a little worried that I’ve never broken a bone…(yes I’m knocking.)
Jason works in IT for a healthcare company back in the U.S., which makes him the bank that pays for our travel right now. Working from home allows him to avoid pants on a regular basis. He played in heavy metal bands in Iowa but sold his drums when we moved so he needs a new hobby or a very portable kit, maybe some bongos.
Juniper is 9 years old and hopes to find out she’s a demigod like Percy Jackson by the time we make it to Greece and Italy. She is stubborn as a rock, loves dolphins and is learning ukelele and piano in the hope that we can start a family band and make her a superstar. Her nickname is Goat Girl for her ability to run up and down the Mayan ruins at full speed.
Aurora is 7 and made of solid muscle, with the largest one being her sweet heart. She loves to wrestle and climbs like a monkey, keeping the local boys on their toes. You will often find her hanging from any available fabric practicing her aerial silk skills. Her nickname is Jungle Monkey.