There’s a lot of people who are out traveling at the places we’ve been to so far. Digital nomads that’s been out for two years. People taking time between jobs or educations to explore. And a lot of people that has left their old life and have chosen something completely different. We get a lot of positive reactions when they hear about our adventure and many say they wish they could’ve done something similar when they were ten. They ask where we are going next and what we want to see. They ask what we have learned. Sometimes they ask why we decided to do it but mostly they already recognise something in themselves – the why is obvious and clear, even if it might not be the exact same as theirs.
Back home before leaving the questions often started with “how”. How will you manage school? How are you able to be away so long? Look at the title of this post. Our brains are taught that the how is important, that we need the answers to the how’s. But the thing is that the why is so much more important than the how, even more important than the what. As I see it – first comes the why, then the what and then the how.
I want to give my child opportunities to see different ways of living, give her a sense of choice of how to live her life. That there’s a world outside our box where people think differently and eat different things. And that’s neither right nor wrong, just another way of doing it. I would love for her to feel that she can create the masterpiece of her own life and co-create this world with others. That her choices matters.
So traveling is one way of exploring all that, but there are other ways of doing it without crossing the Atlantic. The what is a form, a manifestation and a way of exploring the why. Traveling was something that was calling me, I felt a strong wanting. Stepping out of our everyday life and routines helps, and experiencing and doing rather than just having philosophical discussions by the kitchen table.
You see? Now we’re down to the really practical stuff which are basically just tools to make the what possible in a practical world. Income, education, accommodation, luggage…
With that said, there’s a very good reason to talk about the how because that’s where most of us get stuck. My mind’s immediate response when I got the thought of going on a long travel with Isa was “that will never work”. Far too often the dream dies in that moment. Because we don’t question that voice of knowledge sounding so authoritative. We agree with all the arguments it’s throwing at us without examine them more closely.
When I now will list some of the how’s of our journey I invite you to listen to that voice in your head telling you it’s not possible. “Oh, I don’t have the opportunity to work remotely, this setup wouldn’t work for us”. Just observe it, and remember that it’s the why that matters. Once the why has grown strong enough, you’ll figure out the what and the how.
How I’m able to travel alone with my daughter in Central and South America for seven months
The answers to the most common how-questions
- How does it work with shared custody?
Isa’s dad and I have been separated since she was two and she has been living every other week with each of us. That he could see the opportunity in this for Isa and agree on it was crucial for it to happen. The importance in doing this travel had to grow so strong that I decided to ask and express what I wanted with sincerity.
- How can you afford it?
I didn’t save a lot of money before going but am keeping my monthly income while out. I’ve cut most of my expenses in Sweden by sub-letting my apartment, selling the car and ending any unnecessary subscriptions or services. The countries we are visiting are often less expensive then Sweden – my income lasts longer. We travel light with one big backpack each and don’t do any shopping except for food, accommodation, traveling and some excursions. I have also done some work trades. Offering my services with photography, digital marketing or business development has gotten us everything from free meals to apartment rentals and classes in aerial acrobatics with a former Cirque de Soleil artist (!).
- How do you work while away?
I run my own business where I work with digital strategies for a number of clients. I love my clients. I have chosen them carefully and we have a mutual trust and want to work with each other. None of them has raised any concerns about me being away, there has just been practicalities to figure out. The everyday production is run by my awesome colleague. I often have phone or video meetings in the morning, which is afternoon in Sweden, over Zoom or WhatsApp. Emails get responded to after breakfast and if I’m working on a project I dig into that after lunch, when it’s nice and quiet from Sweden. I don’t work a “normal” 40 hour work week. I aim for a balance between interesting projects with clients, work trades with local businesses, learning new things and exploring our surroundings with Isa. A Tuesday or a Saturday can just as well be a day “off”. All of it is life.
- How do you manage school while away?
Isa has been signed out of the Swedish school system. According to the regulations you can’t keep a spot in a class when being abroad that long. The plan is to come back to her class in April and be able to continue with them again. Isa’s class teacher has agreed on supporting us and are sending us the weekly and monthly plans so we can follow along and Isa’s focusing on doing Maths from her year. Other than that she is learning so many things from her surroundings. Her English has improved way beyond her age group in Sweden. She is picking up Spanish. I’m supporting her in putting together her own plans for what she wants to learn and how she can do that. This month she has created a map of Lake Atitlan with facts about the volcanoes, villages and how the lake was created from a huge volcanic eruption. We are also taking courses along the way – in everything from understanding your emotions to weaving and natural house building.I believe it’s important to let go of a lot of the control we think we have to manage the learning process with. I’m certain of our inner drive for learning and creating and letting that come out in a more natural way will only make it grow stronger. As parent I need to check in with my expectations of my child – am I supporting her in finding her own passion or do I want her to develop certain interests because I like them or find them valuable.
- How do you pack for a seven months travel?
You don’t. You pack for two weeks and make it work. And come to the insight that you still brought to much. And realize that you can live from far less things than you thought. And you get tired of packing and carrying it and again wish that you had brought less.We are carrying one big and one small backpack each. Since Isa can’t carry that much it becomes a question of limiting it to the bare essentials. And a very good opportunity to question everything you think you totally need to shop along the way. Some key suggestions:
- lots of underwear makes you less vulnerable to lacking laundry options
- things that you can use for more than one thing is golden (our beach blanket is a yoga mat is an extra blanket is a sun cover is a meditation pillow)
- question thoughts about stuff you HAVE to have with you. what can you get along the way?
- going to very different climates will make things much more complicated
Okay, now it’s your turn. Do you have any HOW-questions I haven’t answered? Or any WHAT or WHY for that matter. Then this is the time and place to ask them. Comment away!