As I mentioned last week, we’re learning so much from these family interviews and hope that you are too! Everyone has a different way of doing things, some travel with RV’s and others with Airbnb’s. Some have seven kids, and some have two, but what they all have in common is their willingness to step out of their comfort zones and live life their very own way.
This week’s family has almost traveled their entire adulthood for work-related reasons. It wasn’t until recently that they began traveling for pleasure. Let’s hear their story.
We are Michael and Katy, Emily (17), Sophie (14) and Sean (13) Jacobi. We have always been traveling! Katy was born and grew up in Ireland and Michael in Germany. We met in 1996 and have lived in 8 countries together since then. (Ireland, Germany, USA, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Georgia, Latvia). The girls were born in Dublin and Sean in Qatar.
What Made You Decide To Travel Full-Time?
Up to now our travel was always work-related. Michael is a hotelier and we lived in all those countries due to his job.
As for this trip… extended travel in South America had always been on our family wish list. The discussions had always come up but we had pushed off the idea due to fears mostly about money and education! This year, our eldest was approaching her last year of school and about to set out on her own independent journey so we felt this was the last chance for us to travel full time as a complete family. Michael was ready for a career break to spend more quality time with the family. We were all keen to experience something new, learn a new language and culture and create some memorable family moments. Stepping out of our comfort zones has always brought the best learning for us and we figured what better opportunity than this. We made the decision last April and started the trip in August.
What Do You Use For Accommodation?
We all agree that experiences are worth more than things, and so rather than purchase a property, we are using our savings to fund this trip instead.
We’ve budgeted Euro 4,000 per month (total for 5 people) to cover accommodation, food, and drink transportation and activities. With the exception of two months, we have always been under budget so far.
Actual spending can vary hugely depending on how you want to travel and which countries you visit. We found Argentina very cost-effective due to the current low valuation of the Peso and Peru as we planned all our trips without involving tour companies. Prices in Uruguay are more like Europe and Chile is also on the higher end.
In addition, we had some larger costs for online schooling, the initial flights to get us here and travel insurance.
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- Include the kids in your budget planning – we rotate monthly with each teen taking responsibility for tracking our spending. It’s been a great lesson for them to learn the value or groceries, activities, accommodation and travel! And they are stricter on us than we would be on ourselves 🙂
- Write down what you’re spending – we have a family what’s app group to track our spending – it’s amazing how this deters from unnecessary purchases.
- Agree your spending plan ahead of time – this also saves stress at all the fun markets you are going to pass on your trip.
- Prepare meals at ‘home’ as much as possible as this is always less expensive than restaurants. Choose local seasonal ingredients and shop at local markets.
- Avail of discounts for longer-term accommodation bookings (eg Airbnb offers lower rates if you stay for a week or month).
- Buses are much cheaper than air travel in South America and as long as you book the ‘cama’ option (sleeper bus with almost fully reclining seats) you should be able to get a good rest while also seeing more of the countryside.
What Do You Do For Health Insurance?
Finding suitable insurance was one of our main concerns before we set off on this journey. We needed a comprehensive policy, but one which didn’t cost thousands to purchase. We chose a travel insurance policy with World Nomads which allows for longer-term travel.
Do you homeschool? What is your style of teaching/curriculum?
Yes, this is our first year of homeschooling. The kids study online with Wolsey Hall Oxford and Interhigh in the mornings. Emily is taking Cambridge A-Level exams in April. The afternoons are free for other learning from the places we visit. We’ve learned about politics by experiencing an uprising in Bolivia, about altitude’s effects on the body and boiling temperature by spending time at high altitudes in the Sacred Valley of Peru. We discovered black sand’s magnetic value by performing a little experiment on a beach in Chile. IT lessons have come in the form of editing Youtube videos and creating and managing our family website www.notinthebooks. We took an art lesson and a family tango class in Buenos Aires and we are all learning Spanish naturally on a daily basis as we travel.
What's Your Favorite Place You've Visited So Far?
This question is too hard! We’ve been asked this so often even before this journey and we always struggle with an answer. Each place has its own unique qualities it’s hard to compare them. I guess if we really have to choose one (or two) on this journey we’d say Machu Picchu for its historical value and Iguazu Falls as a natural wonder.
Is there a place you’ve been to that you consider overrated?
The floating islands at Lake Titicaca – maybe not overrated in terms of their uniqueness, but the number of tourists there was overwhelming and we really felt like we were being herded through a tourist trap. However, if you do visit the lake, the home stay experience with a local family there is absolutely worth the trip!
Is There Anything You Don't Like About Traveling Full-Time?
We don’t love packing…. it’s getting easier now that we have all figured out the best way to squeeze everything into our bags, but packing days are probably our least favorite part of the journey.
There are always opportunities to socialize while you travel you just have to take the opportunities as they come! We have met up with a number of other traveling families who we connected with online. On a daily basis, there are opportunities to speak to locals and travelers alike – these may not always be kids of the same age but it’s a social opportunity nonetheless. If your children have siblings, you will hopefully find their relationship grow far more intensely than at home – what better friends could you ask for?!
Do You Have Any Tips For Traveling With Kids?
Do it! Don’t wait and worry about the decision until it’s too late and your kids have already left home. Don’t let other people’s worries impact your decision. Pack less than you think you will need just make sure you have layers for warmth (it’s a pain to struggle with backpack zippers and you can easily pick up anything you’ve missed on the way). You’ll figure everything else out as you go along!
Where Can We Follow Your Travels?
“Travel is never a matter of money, but of courage.“
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