Just seeing this now, and thought I’d reply. Brace yourselves people, this is a freaking novel… sorry… but Rob raised a lot of misconceptions that I felt I could address…
Nomadding with kids definitely requires more planning. But it can be done.
First, stay put for months at a time - we rent 2-3 bedroom modern western-style condos with kitchens, in safe neighbourhoods, with swimming pools, playgrounds even. Or close to the beach. We’ve also stayed in beautiful villas with our own private pool. Note that staying put for months at a time is vastly different from owning a house and having loads of possessions and “pretending” to be nomadic or whatever.
Hostels are not our style… too cramped and we need our space. Ditto for hotels. Although we occasionally stay in them short term if doing a visa run. But for us, visa runs involve a flight to somewhere we want to vacation… spent a fabulous week in Singapore for example… blew through lots of money, but we all had a blast at the theme parks and sightseeing. Last week we made a visa run from Thailand to Hong Kong and Macau… it was great.
We don’t do the variety of visa runs that equates to hopping on an hours long bus ride to the border, getting our passports stamped or whatever you have to do, then turning around to get back on the bus for another hours-long bus ride to go back where we came from. Sure, that’s a cheaper way to do a visa run, but it’s not practical for most families.
Flying somewhere to have fun is a treat for everyone… that’s a better way to do a visa run with a family.
The amount of time our kids spend “cooped up in airplanes trains and busses” is minimal. Ok, well, it’s more than the average kid back home in suburbia gets, but nowhere nearly as bad as you make it out to be either. Actually, we avoid long-distance trains and buses completely because they take too long, and to be honest, I’m concerned about the safety record of long-distance buses in many of the countries we go to… better to pay a bit more and fly… get the travel over with faster and safer. And since we find a home base for months at a time usually, the travel days are kept to a minimum.
So far any long-haul flights have been in business class, so we’re all quite comfortable. Nope, we’re not rich… we used travel hacking techniques to get enough points to fly in business class for less than the cost of purchasing economy class tickets. My kids will be the first to tell you how much they look forward to our next long-haul flight
That being said, we only do long-haul twice a year (to go home to visit, and to leave again)… so even if our kids did have to deal with long-haul in economy, it’s only 2 days of the year… not the end of the world.
re: “researching the next place to go, basic phrases in the languages spoken, learning how to get around, getting good prices, it requires concentration and is almost like a second smaller job alongside your main work source”
**Again, the solution to that is to stay put for months at a time. ** That way, you spend way less of your life figuring out how to get groceries, how to get around, how to communicate etc. And in most places, English is spoken well-enough by most people so we get by. (Not saying I expect people to speak English, but I do feel lucky that so many people DO speak it in such a wide variety of countries)
re: “Even well behaved kids get frustrated quickly when they have to wait in the blistering heat, or in some boring area of town.”
With proper planning and budgeting, you don’t have to do this. We never get stuck “waiting in the blistering heat”…
re: " Where do you teach them? In cafes? In the hotels (or hostels in the very real likelihood you can’t afford or find hotels all the time)? Can you imagine the nightmare of that?"
See point #1. Living in hotels long-term would be really tough if you have kids. That’s why we don’t do it.
Instead, we budget for renting 2-3 bedroom apartments or houses in family-friendly neighbourhoods. Homeschooling isn’t that hard, in fact, the 1-on-1 teaching they get is far more efficient and productive than having 1 teacher trying to teach 20-30 kids at once.
re: " it’s rude to other digital nomads, you’re taking your screaming kids to places they will be - coworking spaces?"
If you’ve actually seen that happen, that sucks. Who in their right mind would take screaming kids to coworking spaces? LOL There’s no need for it. And second of all, happy kids won’t be screaming all the time. Mine certainly don’t.
And in any case, if we were to use a coworking space, one parent would stay home or go out with the kids, and the other parent would go ALONE to the coworking space.
re: “Maybe you can dump them at a child care or something but is that really what you want? Some unresearched child care in a foreign country you don’t know?”
Nope… didn’t have kids to “dump” them in childcare and have someone else raise them. One of the benefits of this lifestyle is we get to spend more time together. With proper planning, work gets done, homeschooling gets done, play time fits in, sightseeing… it all gets done.
And, although we haven’t used childcare in a foreign country, I don’t see why a family who felt the need for childcare couldn’t just research it before placing their kids there.
re: “There are just some lifestyles that don’t suit families. This is one of them”
Every family is different. My kids would cry if we told them we were going back home and they’d have to go to school and live a normal life. They don’t even like the idea of staying put in one place for 10 months next year (as we are considering doing)… my kids think that’s “boring”. I told them not to worry, that we’d take “vacations” every few months… so it’ll still be exciting and fun.
And in case anyone is wondering, life back home was great by normal people’s standards… so it’s not as if we have some horror story to tell you…
On the flip side, we met up with a traveling family last year whose 7-year old cried all the time for the first 2 months because they missed home and school. The adventure wasn’t worth the trade offs for that kid. So be it. Every kid is different. But that family was only taking a year out to travel, then planning on returning to normal life… so their kid will be fine.
In contrast, my kid was thrilled to not have to go to school anymore. He was perfectly fine in school, had friends, but “not enough time to play” he said.
“What if your kids get sick when you’ve just landed in an area you don’t speak the language, don’t know your way around and don’t even know what the health care is like?”
We don’t go anywhere that we haven’t first researched health care. We carry a rather expensive expat health insurance policy (annoying to have to pay so much, but it’s worth it for peace of mind), and always know where the nearest hospital is that can provide us with Western-quality care if something goes wrong. In other words, we know where to get quality health care help before our plane even lands.
See, you can’t just do things on the fly when you have kids along. You have to research everything ahead of time, have a plan (and back-up plans) etc. But if you do that, it goes surprisingly well.
“And carrying all of the extra prerequisites for children will add to your weight - they sure will refuse to carry it. Toys or video games? They can’t have those. Even a few books are heavy. Kids have and want ‘stuff’, to help them learn plus entertain them, if you travel, they can’t have that stuff.”
We travel with 3 large suitcases that are always checked baggage. Plus our full carry-on allowance. Why? Extra supplies, and yes, much of them because we have kids and don’t want to need something and not be able to get it wherever we happen to be… easier to cart it around.
Our kids each get a carry-on sized suitcase of toys. They’re cool with that. They have iPads (useful for video games, we limit that though, and homeschooling apps). They have colouring/art supplies. They have Play-doh. So while they don’t have a bedroom overflowing with mountains of toys as they would back home, they do have enough to keep them entertained. We even carry boardgames with us… Monopoly, Risk, Life, Battleship…(all condensed into a single board-game’s box) Decks of cards for card games take up almost no space. There’s chess and checkers on the iPad… Easier to pay for checked baggage than to attempt to re-purchase everything in each new country.
And yeah, because they’re young, they can’t be expected to carry all of the stuff that we bring because of them. We help by carrying almost all of it… obviously. Any parent would. You just do what you’ve got to do. It works out though.
If you asked our kids if they want to go home, they’ll tell you “No way!”. (They’re 6 and 8, in case you’re curious.) We had a very nice life back home, but living in the rat race wasn’t ideal. And after enjoying all this travel, our kids say going home would mean living a “boring life.” (Heh… guess they take after their parents lol) But if some day our kids no longer enjoy our travel lifestyle, we’ll go to plan B.
So don’t assume the worst… sure, a travel lifestyle won’t suit all families, but for some, it’s a dream lifestyle. People just have to know themselves and their kids well enough to figure out what will work for them is all.
And the “selfish” thing can be twisted around any which way.
I don’t actually think this, but for argument’s sake…
One might say that parents who “dump” their kids into the school system to spend most of their waking hours with a teacher to “raise” them are selfish for taking the easy way out and not raising their own kids. Maybe they’re just lazy and trying to “get out of” doing their job. Because obviously the poor kid would learn a lot more with the 1-on-1 attention they’d get if their parents would just step up to the plate and homeschool them properly. And, on top of it all, rather than wasting hours and hours each day learning in an inefficient school system, the homeschooled kid gets WAY more time to pursue their own interests which means they have a BETTER childhood. If only so many parents weren’t ruining their childrens childhoods by forcing them to sit at a desk in school all day…
One might say that parents who spend 40 or more hours a week away from their kids just so they can afford to live in a fancy house in suburbia are selfish for not putting their kids first and spending more time with them when they’re growing up.
Again, I don’t actually think life is so black and white… I truly don’t… every family is different. But just as one can frame things such that all nomadic parents are “selfish”, one could also frame things in such a way that paints all parents living a so-called normal life are selfish in their own way too.