The term ‘digital nomads’ have been throwing around in recent years as a sought after lifestyle. In this post, I want to share our experience on what it’s really like to be a full-time travel family while trying to be digital nomads at the same time.
When the media paints the perfect picture of a full-time travel family making an income as digital nomads, I always question how feasible it is to work and travel at the same time. I wonder if those travel families still get to enjoy the freedom and comfort or are they just chasing deadlines at different locations? And what do they sacrifice along the way?
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The perfect travel lifestyle
I don’t doubt that there are families who are truly travelling full-time while earning passive incomes through real estate, established businesses and investments. They spend a couple of hours a week managing their finances and stress very little about running out of money.
This, of course if the ultimate goal for many. This way of travel is sustainable and preserves the essence of travel. However, not many millennials can achieve this level of success and freedom by the age of 35. It requires a tremendous amount of work and time invested in building such money-making machines prior to travelling full-time with kids.
Digital nomads without kids
Then there are the solo travellers or couples that base themselves in Asia and work tirelessly crafting the perfect Instagram feed and reels in hopes of getting some freebies. Or perhaps they’re glued to their laptops meeting the demands of their Fiverr bosses and clients to make ends meet. These types of full-time travellers usually live in shared, budget accommodations in Asia. They stress more about taking the perfect photos and videos at a destination than enjoying the location at the present time.
That may be a lifestyle many young people envy these days, but it’s not a lifestyle a full-time travel family can afford without sacrificing other important things in life, like safety, comfort, freedom and spending time with kids. Afterall, isn’t that why we travel in the first place?
© Photos by Kida
The reality of travelling with a family and working as a digital nomad
Of course, we can’t make such a statement without trying to travel full-time while being digital nomads ourselves. So here’s our experience when we try to combine ‘family travelling full-time’ and ‘digital nomads’ together.
Firstly, when you’re travelling with young kids, your day is divided into halves. From 8am to 8pm, you have about 2x 3-hour slots to enjoy the location during daytime in summer. Most parents can only sit down and have a bit of alone time after the kids go down at night. If you were still living at home and working a full-time job, you can push through and sacrifice your night for side hustles.
© Photos by Kida
However, when you’re travelling full-time with kids, you’ll most likely spend your nights researching on the next family-friendly destination, things to do and travel planning. That is to say if you’re not dead tired after walking 10,000 steps or driving for 2 hours on certain days.
On other nights when you have taken a nap with the kids and still have the energy to work, sorting the photos and videos and bookkeeping your expenses will take up most of your night airway. Then you might need to prepare sandwiches, cut fruits, hand wash some undies and you know, mum duties.
Finally you have a night off, wouldn’t you rather enjoy the night with your partner or use the amenities at your accommodation instead?
Anyhow, I challenged myself to do all of the above and still work on this blog and edit videos. This usually means I only get to sleep around 2am, but as you know, mums don’t get to sleep in the next morning. Try that for a week and you’ll feel burnt out and your travelling won’t feel like a vacation anymore.
We tried thinking outside the box and rented a campervan to ‘save money’. However, after 2 weeks on the road, we realised that it wasn’t that much cheaper than renting a car and living in accommodations afterall.
© Photos by Kida
We probably saved about $1,000 in the time span of 2 weeks, but at the cost of worrying about our hygiene, our safety and getting bitten alive at nighttimes. Then the unpredictable events like catching the heat wave with very limited water supply. Even though we were highly vigilant about hygiene issues, we still couldn’t escape covid along the way.
Is it worth it? Not with 2 kids onboard. We were very relieved that we didn’t go with the original plan of doing the month-long Route 66 drive. Digital nomad travel family in a campervan? No chance. A luxury RV, maybe. But then you won’t be ‘saving money’, would you?
How to travel full-time with kids and still make money?
So the only way to be a full-time travelling digital nomad family is to stop and stay in an affordable accommodation for a period of time, probably somewhere in Asia for 3 months at a time.
Then you’ll need a babysitter, which in most cases would be your partner to help look after the kids while you punch out a blog post or work on a project. But does that still count as full-time travelling? C’mon, you’re either working or travelling.
© Photos by Kida
So here’s our approach. After extensive research on how to travel full-time with kids and be digital nomads, we’ve decided to do either-or.
Either travel full-time with kids, go to whichever continent our hearts (not wallets) desire and travel in comfort to ensure the health and safety of everyone. Chase experiences and try local delicacies. Spend wisely and have a balance. Use our nights to rest, travel plan and enjoy the amenities, the location and each other’s company. We’ll continue to document our travels and work whenever we can, but work will certainly not be a priority.
Or when our wallet runs dry, we’ll stop in Asia, send the kids to a local school and focus on building online businesses that can be automated. Manage and grow our investment portfolios and work on personal growth. Be digital nomads full-time and when we load up, we go again.
Afterall, we’re not stuck to be a full-time travelling family. We can always go back to Australia, slow down, customise our own campervan and explore some of the best parts of the world during school holidays.
What’s your desired travel lifestyle? Are you able to travel with kids and still work as digital nomads? How long have you prepared for prior to travelling full-time with kids?
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