About

Zac and I on Mount Sinai.

I’m Theodora. I’m nomadic.

That means I, and my twelve-year-old son Zac, live anywhere, everywhere, and nowhere.

We bounce from adventure to adventure, to mishap to mishap, and travel pretty much all the time.

Workwise, I’m a freelance writer. Which is, mercifully, portable.

Very portable.

Which doesn’t stop me moaning about it. (I’m British. What can I say?!)

I get asked three questions very often. The first is “What do you do for money?” (write, but here’s how some other people earn enough to travel).

The second is “What do you do about school?“.

And the third is “Where have you been?“.

I’ve also put together a helpful set of longterm family travel FAQs, which should answer a few more questions — feel free to ask more if they’re missing.

Zac riding a camel to go diving in Egypt.

Way, way back in January 2010, after the year from hell, I sold my house in London, packed up a backpack and my then nine-year-old son, and set up a blog called Travels with a Nine Year Old.

We were going to be gone for a year, you see. Because you can totally see the world in a year, right?

Right? Err, right…

And, yeah, Travels with a Nine Year Old is totally a futureproof name for a blog…

Ahem.

So now we’re EscapeArtistes, and I do hope that’s better, cos I’m fucked if I’m changing it over again.

Z with Luobo, a member of the Togutil minority.

I like to think I answer the big questions of travel, along with a funny motorbike story or two.

What can you learn from hunter-gathering nomads about happiness?

What does an 80p bottle of whisky taste like?

What’s the appropriate reaction when a monkey starts having sex with your ear?

What does burning human flesh smell like?

And what’s it like doing maths in Chinese?

And, umm, how about an elephant cuddle?

little Zac with big elephants...

I write about the apparent mundanity of leading a life less ordinary, of rolling into a new, foreign town and finding an apartment, reacquiring the art of driving in Lebanon’s unforgiving traffic, or grappling with the temptations of social media and persistent cretins in a pizza joint in Bali.

I stick up photos of fabulous, crazy and just plain bizarre places we’ve visited. I rant about topics from politics to books and films, and I share the odd embarrassing sex story.

But most of all this blog is a love letter to my son, an account of a journey through mother love and motherhood, every last sweary, shouty, screamy and plain infuriating minute of it.

Sound soppy? Read this post and you’ll be a little bit sick in your mouth.

Want to keep up with us? I do hope so. Because I’m apparently a family travel expert.

Wow.

You can enter your email here to get new posts in your inbox just as soon as I finish writing them (I’m typically some time behind my life):

You can also find me on Facebook and on Twitter, and catch up with the boy, who writes erratically but always entertainingly over at Kidventurer.

101 Comments

  1. MummyT says:

    It would be great for the kids to meet, I think! Current plan is for us to be in Australia in July, however, then heading to LatAm in August, so Z and I can learn Spanish, although we shall see…

    Whereabouts in Asia are you planning to base yourself? It’s a wonderful place for children, I think. (Though, compared to the UK and northern Europe, most places in the world strike us as child-friendly!)

  2. jessiev says:

    YAY for you!! i am looking forward to following your journey.

  3. jessiev says:

    btw, we’d love to share your site on ours, wanderingeducators.com – email me? jessie at wanderingeducators dot com.

  4. You’re a cool parent! I mean, travelling around the world with your child? That’s very unique. I wish my parents could take me in Europe or somewhere. *sigh.

    I’d follow your blog! :)

  5. Feb Ruizo says:

    Well done to both of you! You’re an inspiration to single mums in the world like myself who has recently joined the singles club. It’s been a daunting feeling to travel now with just my 11yr old daughter. I guess the trepidation will wear off once you’re enjoying the holidays!

    Will follow your blog and three cheers to you!

  6. Tatiana says:

    What you are doing is great! It reminds me of how William Hearst traveled with his mother and how that shaped the rest of his life. Best of luck to you! I look forward to reading your stories!

  7. Carmen says:

    Good for you for having the spirit of adventure to make this amazing journey! I look forward to reading more and getting to know you.
    I’m also traveling with a 9 year old as well as two teens as a single mom. (I’m married but my husband has stayed home so for daily life this year I”m a single mom). It’s a great experience and such an opportunity for bonding on a new level.

  8. if only my parents had taken me travelling… I’m making up for it – and will make up for it with my kids someday…

  9. MummyT says:

    Totally do it with your kids… I can’t recommend it highly enough. But then you knew that, anyway…

  10. melanirae says:

    I would LOVE to do something like this. What a great exp for the two for you. We try to take our girls as many places as we can afford. I hope they are bitten by the travel bug and continue with it through their lives.

  11. sannekurz says:

    …a funny coincidence that just right today, where freshly pressed flooded your blog in to my view…I got a couchsurfing request from a family with two sons who are on their way home after travelling all around the world for a bit over a year now…

  12. sannekurz says:

    MummyT – I subscribed to the new comments and I ABSOLUTELY ADMIRE that you indeed answer everybody! WOW!!

  13. You are truly inspirational, and i’m looking forward to reading one of the most genuinely interesting blogs i’ve come across.
    Happy reading!

    http://marketingtomilk.wordpress.com

  14. Jim Hagen says:

    I thought single mums were all living on a shoesstring and relying on welfare. How are you affording all this? And when does the kid go to school?

    • MummyT says:

      I don’t know why you thought that. I know plenty of working single mothers in the UK (where the government helps out with childcare costs for all working households with an income of under £58k): I had worked constantly since Z was born.

      The cost of longterm round the world travel is less than the cost of rent or mortgage on a two-bedroom flat in London, where we’re from. We’re living well on $50 a day at the moment. So… sold out my share of the house. Travelling for two years, digital nomad working a little during the second year. Get a far cheaper base in Spain so we can continue to nomad, I can work (but less than I had to in London) and he can go to school and become bilingual, while being in relatively easy reach of UK family and friends.

      I wrote a bit about this here: http://travelswithanineyearold.com/2010/06/10/quality-time-family-rtw-travel-single-parent-single-mum-single-mother-round-the-world-quality-tim/

      As regards what we’re doing with formal education. I wrote about this here: http://travelswithanineyearold.com/2010/05/23/homeschooling_unschooling_travelling_family_rtw_education_learning/

      His attainment level’s actually very high. He’s nine. So just finishing Year 4. He tests out on maths to at least the top of Year 6, can read Dickens, the Guardian and the FT, writes very well, knows a lot of science, loads of history, highly computer literate (administers his own laptop, etc, just learning to touchtype) and is talented at art. He’s learning a huge amount as we travel and the homeschooling coordinator in our borough is happy with what we’re doing.

      My mother, who’s a head, will be bringing out papers for the exams kids do at the end of Y6 so we’ll have a better handle on where he’s at in terms of conventional education.

  15. I don’t know any “conventional” mums that have thought things through so thoroughly and made such informed, long term decisions. you are teaching us not to judge based on cultural norms, which is a very difficult thing to do mind you. Would be interested to know what your mums first reactions were.

    http://marketingtomilk.Wordpress.com

    • MummyT says:

      Wayull… She was all up for travelling. They’d thought about doing something similar with me and my brother, but hadn’t done it. That said, they do miss him. And me, i guess, too.

      Education wasn’t particularly an issue, because he’s a very able child.

      She brought out a GCSE maths book last time she came out, having talked to one of her staff. Which Z coped with, but wasn’t inspired by, so we sort of dropped that as being more hassle than it’s worth. She also sent out E.H. Gombrich’s A Little History of the World, which has gone much better.

      The real transformation that she appreciates educationally is how happily he will settle down and write. He’s a left-hander. Started writing very young. And because current policy is not to “teach” writing until age six or seven, he’d been making letters in his own “special” way for three-plus years by the time teachers started doing the handwriting thing. So he absolutely loathed putting pen to paper and wouldn’t finish anything. Now he’ll write on his laptop happy as Larry…

      • my eldest (4) is also left handed and i’ve discussed with his pre school whether i need to watch out for anything, for which i’ve got blank stares as if i’m crazy. but i’m sure it does make a difference…..

        • MummyT says:

          It makes a massive difference. I know the blank stare thing all too well, so I rather wussed out on the whole left-handed writing thing until his script was completely shafted. There are great resources at the Left-Handed Shop (http://www.anythingleft-handed.co.uk/). Basics are: sit them on the left of the table with space, not a wall, by them so they don’t bang writing/drawing arms with right-handers (or bang them on the wall). Most left-handers write better with the paper held at an angle, which minimises smudge. However, unless you sit down with the teacher, they’ll get told not to do it… With things like tying shoelaces, you need to demonstrate by facing them, rather than side by side, so they can mirror. There are chunky pencils etc. which help as well.

  16. Hi!

    I just found this blog and immediately loved it! I have always been dreaming to travel the world sometime after college and making some money (which will be in seven plus years!). Your entries inspire me to really make it happen.

    Happy traveling! I will be looking forward to more posts!

    Anjie

    • MummyT says:

      Thank you very much… Don’t let career etc. get in the way of your dream…

      • nikita bandoleras says:

        Hello Mummy T,

        Good on you to take your son on such a wonderful journey that will broaden his outlook in life and about people.

        Lived and worked across east indonesia for over 15 years travelling intensely to some of the most remote parts of it, ………. it is my most favourite location in the world, and was a positive experience for my three children who grew up there.

        If you havent already try to take a peek at Alfred Robert Wallaces “the malaysian archipelago” ……… it covers his travels in the area which he shared with Darwin, ………….

        Fascinating, wildlife, flora fauna, ethnicities, etc in the area and especially marine life, ………….. seen a piece of coral eye did not recognise and it was named as a new species, found a japaneese destroyer offshore Makassar ………. and many other fascinating experiences, incl one to Halmahera where was stranded for 4 days on NE leg …………. and coconut crabs never tasted so good as when got back to Ternate and washed them down with bir bintang and watched another sunset ……..

        Great writing, good on you, keep it up.

        Cheers, Paul

  17. Amazing blog! Z is absolutely witty, what an awesome experience and lucky kid.
    Going to link you on our travel blog, hope you don’t mind.
    Best of luck and safe travels!
    The Khalerias

  18. keeley says:

    Heyo can I just say I praise you for living life to the max! I am off to Brazil/Argentina in Jan as part of a 6 month trip (later heading to NZ/OZ/Thailand) and I see you were in south america when Z was smaller.

    My son is nearly 2 and I would just love a lil insight into how you found that part of the world…x

  19. Stephanie Ling says:

    I admire how you and your son travel the world! What a wonderful way to learn the world for kids! We are in Taiwan so if you ever plan to visit, u know we are here!

  20. tempo dulu says:

    cool! Happy travels!

  21. Cile says:

    i’ve just read your all your journals and it reminds me with my parents, they like to travelling too. They always taking me wherever they going. That’s my best moment with my family.

    But since my dad got sick, we don’t travel alot anymore. Luckily now we lived in paradise, so there’s a lot of place we still can discover together. :)

    Cheers,
    CILE

    • Theodora says:

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment, Cile. And I do hope your dad gets better so you can discover more.

  22. Kristen J says:

    You are both such an inspiration! I’m 24 right now. I don’t have kids yet, but I am traveling the world. I’ve been traveling for 8 months so far, and it’s been great. I am currently in the north of India. When I have kids, I definitely want to travel with them. I think this is really great what you are doing for your son. What a life he has had and will continue to have.

    • Theodora says:

      Thank you! We’ve not had the best week, so it’s great to hear from you. He does love his life, which is great. And I do too… Travel with children is fantastic, honestly.

  23. Kevi says:

    I love your blog…..you are such an inspiration and an awesome writer. We’re a Canadian family who lived in Vietnam for two years 2003-05 (I taught english) and fell in love with Asia…..6 years later, we are getting ready for a 10 month travel adventure….starting in Borneo, visiting Vietnam and then we’re open to whatever comes our way. We’ll be looking for some volunteer experiences. Your blog will be so helpful. We leave in September…..there’s 4 of us – mom, dad, 13 year old girl and an 18 year old boy who just graduated from high school…..I’ll send you our blog link when we start one….it won’t be as detailed as yours…….

    Take care

    • Theodora says:

      Thanks, Kevi! You’re so lucky that your 18 year old and 13 year old still want to spend time as a family. You must feel very blessed. Sounds like a great adventure to be on.

  24. Rebecca says:

    Hello – fantastic to read about your travels. Trying to persuade my reluctant husband that we should do something similar but he is scared of doing this with the kids (he has backpacked before kids). My concern is financial and how much we will need to travel for 6 months – we intend to finish (and stay) in Australia and travel through Asia on the way. How much do you need on a daily basis (we have two kids)? I know its a hard one but even a guesstimate would give us some idea as we have no clue! Thank you x

    • Theodora says:

      OK. Australia is hideously expensive at the moment because of a strong currency, so Australia’s going to be the most expensive of your places. We have lived well in Asia, excluding Singapore, on +/- $50 a day for the two of us, though we travel overland rather than flying a lot. I’d allow $75 a day for a family of four, or $100 if you want to do a lot of fun activities (splurges like tourist flights, eg), in planning for Asia: you’ll spend less in Cambodia, Laos, most of Thailand, more in Malaysia and parts of Vietnam. Singapore is v. expensive. I can’t give you a full ballpark as we haven’t been there yet — we’re going because I have work there, more than from any compelling desire to see it — but it’s worse than Australia, which is, in turn, more expensive than Europe. I’m assuming you’re a Brit, for some reason… The $100 per day excludes the cost of getting out there. I’d check AirAsia for flights into KL — depending on the lead time, you can pick them up for a couple of hundred quid coming out of London. Please feel free to ask more questions, this is pretty brief…

  25. Rebecca says:

    Hi thanks so much for that it gives me some idea! Despite scouring the Internet I am not finding much regarding actual costs. I am actually Australian but not been back for 38 years! We plan to move out there permanently but unsure how much travelling around we will do before we put down roots. When you say £75 does that include accommodation? I am so keen to explore but husband reluctant with the kids – he has safety concerns. Our actual budget is £10,000 and he says its nowhere near enough to do very much. I think we can do something but 6 months possibly unaffordable and overly ambitious. Not intending to work our way round and unsure what call there is for a tourism lecturer and an avionics engineer to do! Kids are pretty young as well 2 and a half and 7 years (when we intend to travel next May). He has been to Malaysia, Singapore and not bothered about revisiting. Both keen to do the south east including Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. My feeling is if we are going all the way to Oz we may as well do extended stopping offs on the way. Good luck with your travels – I think its wonderful and am very envious. When I was a single Mum with my older kids (now grown and off on their own adventures) I had tickets and a job in Japan but bottled it! Take care x

    • Theodora says:

      That’s $75, not £75. And, yes, it does. You can get decent rooms in Laos with two big beds and Western bathrooms for under $10, as an example. £10k would do a family of four in Asia for six months, easily, especially if you go in and out of KL on AirAsia to keep your flight costs down. Your problem is going to be the Australian end of things, and I think it’s that which you need to look at, though if you’ve got family you can do it. I don’t think there’s a real safety issue in Asia for children. If they’re vaccinated, and you use anti-malarials in malarial areas (Laos, Cambodia, and the border regions in Vietnam and Thailand), I think health should be fine. If you’re on Facebook, come and join the group Families on the Move. It has a bunch of nomadic / longterm travelling families, including an Aussie family of four doing Asia on $75 per day and living like kings. I think you should do the big trip on the way — it would be a loss not to.

  26. Jennifer says:

    You are amazing. I’m a bit of a wandering traveler as well and I always have been told that having kids means staying in one place.

    I want to be like you.

    • Theodora says:

      Aw, thank you! there are a lot of families, of all sorts of shapes and sizes, who travel with their kids — I think, partly because location independent working is increasingly a possibility, it’s less of a leftfield choice than it used to be.

  27. Ratty says:

    I have just come across your wonderful, inspiring blog via Lonely Planet.
    I am a single Mum also and have just brought tickets for our journey to South East Asia with my 5 children, oldest 17 and youngest 6. We leave Australia 31st October, first stop Bali, then Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, china and Tibet…and then who knows
    I am loving your blog it has given me some great “heads up” on alot of things I need to prepare in the nexr coming months before we leave.
    much love to you and your son on your journey.
    Ratty

    • Theodora says:

      Thanks, Ratty! I love the open-ended travel plan. 5 kids? Wow! That’s brave. Though, of course, a 17 year old is basically an adult. So excited for you. Have fun!

  28. Madhu Nair says:

    Hi Guys,
    Excellent blog … Stopped by to say hi.
    I know about the blog name …
    mine is http://10yearitch.com
    It started off as a personal blog of our 10th Anniversary trip … and now we are almost going to hit the 12th year … What do you do? Can’t change the name :) It seemed cool when we started :) LOL

    Anyways … lemme get back to reading your blog.

    Cheers!
    Madhu

    • Theodora says:

      Thanks for your comment — and so glad someone else feels my pain. At least, however, you’re marriage isn’t visibly becoming much older than ten, if that makes sense. There’ll be a new logo and site design coming soon which is going to make this into a positive, I swear. Ahem!

  29. You have one of the more interesting travel blogs that I’ve seen!

  30. Jeff McKinney says:

    Hi, I stumbled upon a photo that originally appears to have come from this site. It was a photo of the Sapa Hills in Vietnam. I would like to use part of that image in a digital artwork I have created and would like permission to use a cropped portion of that image. But I wasn’t sure whom to contact to get permission. The original blog was on LonelyPlanet and was titled “Global Time = Quality Time”. Can you advise by replying with an email?

  31. Galin says:

    I hope one day when I got a kid to be as good parent as you and give him an unique and enriching experience like this. You are awesome !!!

  32. margarita says:

    hello, i just read your blog, i’m traveling alone with my 4 year old daughter.how do you make kids try local food??? i’m finding it hard as she is missing home whenever she is not having fun.we are in cambodia at the moment heading to thailand in two days.any places to suggest on the north of thailand??i love cambodia. reluctant to leave

    • Theodora says:

      Chiang Mai is the obvious base in northern Thailand — it’s a lovely city, and there’s also a lot of longterm travellers there. Z’s always been quite open-minded about food, so I’m probably not the best person to ask here, but I’d start with basics like grilled chicken and rice, or sweet things, or fruit, trade-ups from things she likes already, as it were. I also belong to a Facebook group with a lot of travelling families — it’s called Families on the Move. Apply to join and I’ll recognise you and approve you. Some folk there will almost certainly have more advice than I do.

  33. Michelle says:

    I’ve been following you for about a year now and find you so inspirational to single mothers like us. I have been contemplating doing this as well with my 10 year old daughter, but still trying to figure out if I can make it work money-wise. I guess it’s a leap of faith, but like I said…you inspire me.

    Thanks for sharing your story. I truly believe this is the greatest education your son will ever have.

    • Theodora says:

      I’m really glad you’re thinking of making the leap. The key thing to focus on is that you need much, much less money to travel in most parts of the world than you do to maintain rent or mortgage in a typical Western city.

      I would take the leap, and plan on doing a year. Then you may find opportunities present themselves.

  34. Paige Roan says:

    Hi, I am looking into taking my kids overseas to provide them more opportunity in the global markets and to know there is something other than San Antonio Texas to live! I have been finding no way to get a secure job without a BA and I am just now finishing my Associates at the end of the year. I have lots of job experience and am very able to learn much quickly and looked teaching English abroad with the TEFL but looks like with kids it is slim pickings. I requested to join your group on facebook a few moments ago as well. I already home school my two boys 7 and 15 and they are up for the adventure to be sure! Any advice for my scenario from your experiences?
    Sincerely,
    Paige in Texas

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Paige,

      Thanks for your message, and I’m really glad you’re considering travel. First off, I think you should definitely try to make a go of it if you have any spare cash whatsoever — push comes to shove, you can always return to Port Antonio, and you may well find the world is a bigger place than you think and there are other places you can live.

      Secondly, I think you are right about TEFL. It works well for two adults with no kids — you can have a good standard of living. In your situation, it won’t cover your costs, let alone the costs of childcare while you work, which isn’t to say that you couldn’t supplement your income by informal English conversation classes if you settled somewhere for a period. As a qualified teacher, you might get a job that kept you, but then you’d still be working and you wouldn’t be homeschooling.

      Things I’d look into? WWOOFing — working on organic farms, etc. Virtual assistant roles that you can do online. Other online jobs. I know someone, for example, who’s funding travel by doing medical transcription work. Your challenge is going to be, with two to homeschool, finding the time to work as well as travel.

      What areas of expertise do you have? Let me know and I can see how I can help you. But I really think the important thing is to take the leap, even if it’s a one-way ticket with only $3000 in your pocket.

      Theodora

  35. Aroura says:

    I love love LOVE these kinda blogs… I’m a single mum of 2 (son 4yrs and daughter 6yrs) also from the UK, originally from Manchester.
    My dream has always been to travel but it wasn’t since having my kids that that desire has gotten a million times stronger… I’ve not had much luck money/work/education front as had my kids young and was totally on my own so had to get help from benefits for a.few years… I never felt right about going to uni and leaving my kids either and im new to homeschooling… I have now started out as self employed and finally some independence from benefits! I now believe our travel goal is achievable…
    I’m currently 26 and my goal is to be ready (financially) by my 30th birthday Feb 2016 (seems so far away lol) but I should be able to have raised £15k-£20k by then which I’m hoping will be enough to last us a while… I know you said to the above lady she could do it with $3k in her pocket and see how long it would last but what has been your experience cash flow? Do you think people over estimate the cost or underestimate cost of travel?
    We would be trying to keep costs as low as possible, and staying is each country as long as a visa permits us to, slow travel is what we aspire for.
    In your opinion do you think someone like myself with 2 children (who will be 8 and 10 if we leave in 2016) with no degree could find away to earn somewhere cash along the way? My talents are mostly artistic… I’m not a confident writer (terrible speller lol) but I can paint, make things, and do photography (but I’ve read that photography is the most competitive choice among travelers and the hardest to come by)…
    All advice/suggestions would be greatly appreciated as this is something I’m serious about and wanted for a long time… I had planned to he gone this year but cash was a huge problem… (only just paid my debts off)
    Thank you for sharing your lovely stories, they inspire me so much… Look forward to reading more!
    Peace and love Aroura x

    • Theodora says:

      Thanks for your comment, Aroura. Let’s see what advice I can give…

      1) £15-20k will get you a LONG way if you travel slowly (we wasted a lot of cash on a RTW ticket which we barely used, including internal South America flights), in cheaper destinations, and if you’re not extravagant (I tend to splurge on food, diving, etc, etc).

      I know single parent families who are travelling on c. $1000 per month (that’s a bit over £600). So once you’ve paid your initial flights to where you’re starting, you could certainly reckon on £1000 (unless something odd happens to the pound exchange rate), and look at doing 18 months on that initial capital.

      2) If you’re self-employed anyway and making money at that, then you should be able to bring skills and clients with you as you travel — what exactly is it that you do?

      The key thing, though — and I know how evil this sounds and how unfair it is on a global scale — is to be earning UK levels for your hour’s time while based in a cheaper country.

      So: if you make something or paint something and sell on Etsy or whatever to people in the UK for UK prices, you have more money in your pocket than if you make things and sell them on a Thai beach for Thai beach prices.

      You’re right that photography is a terribly difficult way to make a living. There are many, many more people trying to do it than will ever make it, there’s a high upfront expenditure on lenses and software, and it’s not compatible with looking after kids.

      Landscape photographers will spend days prowling the location to get the light right and the angle right and the shot right, most blog-type photographers also spend aeons processing and post-processing shots, and I don’t think your kids will thank you for dragging them up hill after hill in search of the great shot. You also

      It sounds like you’ve come a long way already, though, so I’m sure you’ll get it together to make your dream become a reality.

  36. astridreza says:

    read your piece in guardian. thank you. was totally inspired to have the same confidence to take four year old son to travel with me. i might start from karimunjawa near summer days. wish to take him to the eastern indonesian area someday. i’m totally falling in love with this part after a work and fun trip from halmahera.

    • Theodora says:

      That’s excellent news, Astrid, and so glad you’re feeling inspired to travel. I think your son would love East Indonesia — as I’m sure you know, having been to Halmahera, which is gorgeous. Did you get to Morotai? That’s pretty fascinating as well, with some gorgeous islands: Dodola is the most beautiful place to stay (they have chalets there and the tourist office has the key, although no electricity or plumbing, so it’s a bit random…

      • astridreza says:

        dodola island is the most beautiful thing on earth kind of place. accept for agas (those little tiny bites smaller than mosquitos) barging you of all hours, i could stay there forever. i miss sleeping at the dock and have a morning dip at sunrise in dodola :)

  37. aysegul says:

    Hi Theodora,
    I just loved your blog!! I must think, you did the right thing and it should be a though but I assume it was worth!

  38. Love it! I have a friend who is American but lived in England for 20 years and man, that woman can whine with the best of them. lol.

  39. Theodora says:

    Does she have a good repertoire when it comes to weather?

    I find we EXCEL at whinging about the weather — this despite the fact that our last remotely extreme weather was in 1987.

  40. Michaela says:

    Well! Your quite amazing :)
    Im 24 and have my five year old daughter Faith and i would absolutely love to take her adventuring with me, i just dont know where to start, I dont finsih my degree for two years and struggling to find work as it is. I have a bit of money saved from my previous job. Your an inspiration and i so want to be doing this :D
    xx

    • Theodora says:

      Thanks, Michaela. The adventuring part is easy, it’s the starting that’s hard. You don’t need that much money set aside, but it is a huge leap into the unknown and the void, even if you’ve done a lot of travelling before. I can’t recommend it highly enough, though, I honestly can’t.

  41. Ali says:

    Just stumbled across your website and was wondering if you can help. I’m thinking about going travelling with my 11 year old daughter (and/or husband!) for about 6 months. I’m just about to finish a primary PGCE teaching course and wanted to know whether it would be easy for me to get work teaching abroad. Also not sure whether to base myself somewhere for a while (month at a time maybe) to get more into the vibe of the place. Have travelled extensively in Asia on next to nothing with my husband for a year, but prior to having our daughter so unsure of best way forward that will benefit us all and give us all the best experience. Any help and websites/contacts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks x

    • Theodora says:

      Hiya,

      Well, if you’re only looking at 6 months, then I wouldn’t look at getting teaching jobs, because they typically want you for longer than that. If you’re looking for a longer-term relocation, then teaching could work for you: teachers in Singapore, for example, make excellent money and have a high standard of living that enables them to travel. Most of the good international schools advertise vacancies in the TES, so that would be a place to start looking, though they’d probably want some previous experience and references. International schools in most countries will pay well enough for you to travel and have holidays. TEFL, unless you’re super-qualified and on the career path, rarely pays enough to support a family.

      I don’t think it should cost you very much more to travel with your daughter than it did to travel just the two of you, depending how shoe-stringy you were. You might want to upgrade from local buses to the tourist “VIP” aircon buses, en suites (for us) are pretty much a must, but, as you know, lots of rooms in Asia come with two big beds. As regards basing yourself somewhere for a month — I think there’s a lot to be said for that. BUT, over a timeframe of six months (because a month invariably means five weeks once you’ve got in somewhere, found somewhere you like for the month, etc) the month base thing might cut down on what you see.

      I’d play it by ear. And don’t book any tickets apart from your flight out and, if you need it for the security, the flight back. Then you can see what suits you best.

      Does that help? Do come back with any more queries…

      Theodora

  42. Ali says:

    Thanks so much for your help. You’ve given me lots to think about. I hope you and your son continue to enjoy your adventures. xxx

  43. linda says:

    Ihave loved reading all the comments!. I would love to do this but scared of selling the house to fund this as we need something to come back too. I think your so brave and an inspiration and wish i had the gut to do this…. keep blogging

    • Theodora says:

      Thanks for your comment, Linda! It’s quite easy to travel longterm on really not very much money at all — is there any way you could sublet the house at a profit and live off that? Just a thought…

  44. Anisha says:

    Hi!

    I stumbled across your blog from Lonely Planet. I love the way you write. I’ve spent an hour on it already! And I am so envious of your son.

    I’m 24 and an Indian and am seriously considering traveling as a living.
    I just requested to join Families on the Move so that I could get an idea of what other families do for money and education.

    How do you go about getting writing assignments?

    Thanks. Happy traveling!

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Anisha,

      Thanks for getting in touch, and so glad you like the site.

      A career as a freelance writer has always been a difficult one to achieve, and is arguably getting more so, though I don’t want to put you off your dream: I first got paid for writing things almost 20 years ago now (eek!). And traveling and living off it is also more difficult than it might appear, particularly when you listen to people with products selling the dream.

      Warnings over. You need to build a portfolio of published work and a contact base, something I’m not particularly good at cultivating, and you need to be persistent and targeted in your approaches. Most publishers want to see previously published work, and some people find selling stories to, for example, Matador Network to be a good route into that, as well as local publications in your home market. Then you can build from there.

      There are also content farm writing jobs which pay even worse than, say, Matador, but I wouldn’t recommend you take that route. I’m going to do a post on this topic, because this is something I get asked a LOT, and it would be good to have something I can direct people to do. So if I don’t put something back on the site over the next 10 days that’s helpful, check back with me and badger me to do it.

      Hope this helps…

      Cheers,

      Theodora

  45. Anisha says:

    Thanks so much, Theodora!

    You were really helpful.
    I’m working on building a portfolio right now! I actually had no idea what I wanted to do in life for a long time and ended up in Software! So i’m trying to get my arse out of it right now. I love animals too, so I’m working towards a career that will help me write and travel and play with animals.

    I’ll definitely come back to see if I have an opportunity to badger you.

    A tip of an old hat,
    Anisha

    • Theodora says:

      Well, if you want to travel, most software work should be portable, right? Anything you can telecommute at will fund your travels. So I’d look at making the software work portable as your first goal, and then building up writing on the side — try and get something set up that you can do at an hourly rate freelance and from home. That should be very achievable. Not saying that writing isn’t, but if the goal is travel, then software should help you get on your way. Good luck!

  46. anisha says:

    That’s a cool idea. Thanks so much for all the suggestions!

  47. Anisha says:

    So this is me starting to badger you to write that article on freelance writing!

  48. Erlinda says:

    Mummy T,
    you are an inspiration.i’ve travelled some but the expensive way.(i’ve workd hard so l can go see places in my younger days). now that l’m retired l’d like to sart travelling again. since l’m on a fixed income now, you’re way of travelling is very appealing. l’d really like to explore southeast asia.how do you deal with the language? what do you do when you ge sick? (hopefully not).you’re a wonderful person and a good mother. experience is the best is the best teacher. your son is so lucky to have you as a mother. good lick to both of you and i’ll be reading your blog. GOD BLESS!!!!!!!!

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Erlinda, thanks for your lovely comment!

      I think retirement is a great age to go travelling. I’d recommend you also check out Barbara Weibel at http://www.holeinthedonut.com and Kate Convissor at http://wanderingnotlost.org, both of whom are solo female travellers of your sort of age, if you don’t already know them.

      As regards your specific queries… In most of South-East Asia, the language barrier is not a huge issue: in obscure parts of East Indonesia and rural Laos or Cambodia there won’t be an English or French speaker in the village (in parts of East Indonesia, there might not even be an Indonesian-speaker in the village). China’s a different story. It’s doable without any Chinese at all — there’ll normally be one person who speaks English at a train station, for example — but it’s a much more pleasant experience if you have a bit of Chinese. I haven’t been to Myanmar, but I know Barbara has.

      You’ll find English language menus in all the restaurants that cater to foreigners, and it’s easy enough to just point and pick if you want to try food at the market (it’s also always handy to have a guidebook with a phrasebook in it — check out Lonely Planet South-East Asia for this). Most of these places also have tourist bus services: so you can buy a ticket at your guesthouse, get picked up from your guesthouse, and get delivered to your next destination. But you’ll also find you pick up the hang of things like sawngthaews, which make a nicer way to travel as you’re more likely to met locals.

      I haven’t been seriously sick in South-East Asia, and where I was wiped out by a flu bug for a couple of days Zac actually did things like going to the shop for water. Our landlord was most insistent we should have gone to him for help, and that his wife would have looked after us, so in your situation, as a solo traveler, I’d always go to the management of where I’m staying, or my landlord, if in a rental, for assistance: I think you’d find they’ll be helpful and supportive.

      We used a local doctor in Dahab, Egypt, when Zac got badly dehydrated by a stomach bug, and a hospital in Indonesia after he got an eye infection and my travel insurance insisted I call them, and we’ve been to pharmacies in South-East Asia. Travelling with a child, I do always carry a medical kit with basic stuff like anti-fever, painkillers, broad spectrum antibiotics for emergencies (we took a tonne of stuff with us to Everest Base Camp, because there are no medical facilities higher up the trail there outside of peak season) and a thermometer.

      The key thing is to have travel insurance that covers medical and evacuation in case of some huge disaster like a bus smash or a medical emergency…

      Hope this helps!

      Theodora

  49. Brilliant photos of Sinai Theodora!

    I’ve written a novel about a photographer in sinai, which you and/or your friends might be interested in…. here’s are a few links to the entire project.:

    http://www.facebook.com/whilethesandswhisper
    http://www.whilethesandswhisper.com
    http://www.pinterest.com/ayishah1

    Best wishes, Linda Horowitz

  50. Eltaz says:

    Hi Theodora
    Just read about about you and Zac in the Guardian. Are you likely to be in Tanzania or near mount Kilimanjaro next week? You did mention going to Ethiopia which is not far from Kili.
    If you are in E Africa( Tanzania) then do contact us. Parents have a beach house.
    Life is too short. I happen to specialize in KS2 English and Maths.
    Take care.

  51. Dr Nicolaas says:

    Hi Theodora and Zach
    I hope you are well.
    It was a pleasure having you both in our clinic.
    Safe travels
    Dr Nicolaas

    • Theodora says:

      Yes, we’re both well! I was about to send Shirley an update — Doctor Wong did a beautiful job and we’re now in Hong Kong, with his father, for a week before most likely being repatriated. Thanks so much for all your help…

  52. Dear Theodora,
     
    Barcelona Province Tourist Board wants to invite you to its blogtrip!
     
    When: 28th – 31st October
    Where: Barcelona Province (yes, there are spectacular mountains and landscapes at less than 1 hour from Barcelona)
    About: Basically nature, although it will be other issues like gastronomy and culture.
     
    Are you interested in participating?
    If so, please confirm it to us before Monday, 7th October and save the date!

    http://www.barcelonaismuchmore.com

  53. Wendy says:

    Hi!
    Love love love this blog!! Been trying to find just this sort of inspiration!!! I live In Australia and was a tour guide for 13 years,until the amazing birth of my two surprise babies !!
    I was always told I was unable to have kids!!
    So miracles do happen. I went completely Gluten free… And hey presto… I’m a Mum!!
    Now a single Mum… And the travel bug is bad!!
    I have also developed Fibromyalgia very badly since the birth of my second baby in 2012.
    So, my plan is to only travel for 5 to 6 months per year..
    When my fibro seems to bad in winter time. I have enrolled to do an interior design course next year for 18 months by then I hope to have realised the dream of being mortgage free finished restoring the house I’m in and be onto the next one in a beautiful seaside town in Victoria!!
    What I’m doing however is.. I’m going to learn to sail and buy myself a boat … So winter 2014 I plan to be my last in Victoria!!!
    That’s my plan.. And u know what Robbie Burns said about the best laid plans for mice and men… But until I had children I really did laugh in the face of adversity… I must of thought I should stop laughing in motherhood!!! How ridiculous .. If anything it’s more important to teach your children to laugh every day to at those nay Sayers!!
    But never Leo Sayer ‘he makes me feel like dancing!’
    Thank you for such a wonderful,inspirational and such helpful helpful informative blog.
    I hope to start one too!!!
    Maybe we might just meet:)
    Thankyou

    • Theodora says:

      Hey Wendy!

      Thanks for your lovely long comment, and I’m so glad you’re feeling inspired. TO GET A BOAT! Yes!

      Mortgage free sounds an eminently sensible way to embark on longterm travel, and I’m sure you’ll manage to find a travel pattern that suits both you and the kids…

      And — do start a blog. They’re immense fun. Although be aware that no one’s going to read it for the first six months minimum, probably including your family and friends ;-)

      Theodora

  54. Nic says:

    You and your boy are certainly living the life Theodora. Twelve years ago my front doorbell rang and my seven year old son Troy was standing there. ‘Mum doesn’t want me any more, can I live with you?’ he asked. Now, as a man who had made a fine art of avoiding responsibility, it was something of a shock and I had no idea if I was equipped for the job. I rummaged through his bag in the hope of finding some kind of owner’s manual but there was only a dirty T-shirt and an odd pair of socks. What to do? It will come as no surprise, since I am writing on this blog, that travel seemed like a big part of the answer. We have spent time exploring South America, North Africa, South East Asia, China and much of Europe together. While we don’t have a single photo from our exploits – the eye is the best camera – we do have some great traveller’s tales to tell and many beautiful memories. Troy never did get to see his mum again but, hopefully, now understands that she is a very small part of a very big world and, for me, raising my son was the biggest adventure of them all. He has headed off to university now and will probably be less keen to team up but, cash allowing, we are planning to take his little brother to Iceland next summer. For anyone fearful of travelling with a young child my advice is go for it. It may sound counter intuitive but children actually make life on the road easier not harder. People are just more open, more trusting and more welcoming. That’s my experience anyway. Just one question Theodora. How on earth did you manage to keep your son’s shirts so white?

    • Theodora says:

      Wow, Nic, what a story. And how brilliant that you’ve both come through it and seen so much of the world — and even added to your family. And that he’s off to university — flying free!

      The white shirts? That’s just the magic of laundries in the developing world — a lot of bleach, I suspect.

  55. Nikki wilkins says:

    Your story is so inspiring. Do you mind if I ask where Z’s dad is and if he is cool with you travelling with Z?
    I have broken up with my little girls dad and I dream if doing what you are doing. I even have the budget to go in place.

    • Theodora says:

      That’s fine. He’s in Australia — he occasionally appears on this blog. And, yes, he’s been cool with us travelling, though it has been difficult for him. If you’re ready to go, I’d say just go — but make sure you’ve got answers to the obvious questions about friends, education, safety &c.

  56. Kerstin says:

    Ciao from the hills of Italy Theodora and Zac!

    I am Kris, mom of three and co-founder of the international community ComeCookAndEat.org which in one month since its start already counts over 220 members in more than 45 countries worldwide, all with one common aim: Eat locally & cook internationally!

    http://www.comecookandeat.org allows our members to host guests from all over the world in their own kitchen (many of us are very conscious eaters), and interested travellers to stop by at locals’ homes, to cook and eat together, all without any money passing, and being open for all different kinds of diets. But this is not all…

    Our website has just been launched and you can be one of the first to get to know, experience and tell& write about us! Let your photos be part of our project and ComeCookAndEat be part of your great photos!

    Please feel free to ask for more information about our project, we would be very happy to have many active& conscious members in your part of the world, too!

    We are happy to anwer your questions at [email protected].

    HAPPY DAYS,
    Kris

  57. Theodora,
    I came across your blog whilst researching the possiblity of travelling with my son, twelve. You mentioned that sometimes an opportunity shows itself…in our case my son is struggling socially, he’s bright, but constantly in the wrong place and wrong friends now. We’ve travelled a lot, he’s moved, too many times too many schools. He’s indifferent and a bit of a loner now. I have the resources to take a year out, my online business will survive, and feel such a journey could teach us so much and bond more. How did you go out planning this? I have travelled a lot but never like this. You’re journey/story has inspired me especially as a single parent. I would welcome any advice on getting this off the ground.

    • Theodora says:

      Hi Shabana,

      I didn’t really plan it, to be honest. I just decided I was going to take off, wasted a tonne of money on round the world flights, and planned for a year, and ended up doing four. The hardest part is deciding to go, but I would do it now, before he hits his teens.

      So: practicalities. You need to work out what you’re doing about your house. You need to establish that your business can keep running with minimal input from you — so that you’re working part-time tops and have time to travel and enjoy your child (the last thing you want to be doing is a full-time job in paradise, with a child neglected). I’d buy a couple of guidebooks to regions you’re interested in, and skim them. Find out from him what he’s interested in seeing/doing and engage him in the planning. If you’re just doing a year out, I wouldn’t sweat schooling at all: if he’s bright, he’ll catch up anything he misses easily.

      I’d plot it out something like “X months in this area, going loosely from A to B to C and making sure not to miss L, M and N”, X months in this area. Don’t try to see or do too much, and allow plenty of flexibility. I cannot speak highly enough of guidebooks at the planning/thinking stage. And make sure he feels interested in it. I’d also start somewhere easy — tropical island that feels like a holiday, just slobbing around on the beach, and then build up…

      Theodora

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