Our candid long term family travel story

What do we know about long term family travel?

In January 2019 we left Australia for Bali and beyond with a plan to travel full time with our teen daughters for at least 12 months. We pulled the girls out of school, quit our jobs, locked the house and away went on a family gap year and a bit. Some people thought we were crazy, some people were supportive. Some people asked why did we want to travel long term?

In 2017 we both lost a parent to cancer. The girls lost a beloved Grandpa and Nan. Mark’s Dad died just wanting to go back to his favourite holiday spot just once, just one more time. With this, we realised that it was time we did something we had wanted to do ourselves but never just seemed to have the motivation or self-belief. 

We realised very fast that life is short and time waits for no man. In a world of increasingly less and less family time, where our kids are growing so fast, we viewed this as the perfect opportunity to travel with our family. Unfortunately, it took huge losses for us to find that motivation to find the opportunity to spend time travelling as a family. A time to learn, laugh and enjoy each other before age and time take that away from us.

We managed to stop at 77 different destinations in 22 countries during our 14 months away, on what turned out to be a family trip of a lifetime. During that time we managed to visit the countries below.

With COVID-19 looming on the horizon, we returned to Australia in February 2020.

LaosCambodiaVietnamSouth KoreaChina
EnglandWalesScotlandCzech RepublicPoland

Create your own travel map

What about school when you travel with teenagers?

We were lucky that our schools were supportive of our plans to travel with teens and welcomed the learning experiences that our children would have while travelling long term. While I know in some countries there are financial penalties for taking your children out of school, in Australia, there is no such problem if you leave the country for long term family travel.

Some teachers were forthright in saying the kids will learn more while travelling long term. We are not a family who enjoys lying on the beach, you will find us exploring museums and historical sites, learning about the history and culture of the countries we visit. Below are some of the amazing sites that had great educational value and world schooling opportunities for kids that we visited.

Tirtha Empul – Bali Borobudur – IndonesiaPrambanan – IndonesiaBatu Caves – MalaysiaHellfire Pass – Thailand
Ayutthaya – ThailandAngkor Wat – CambodiaThe Killing Fields – CambodiaChu Chu tunnels – VietnamGyeongju – South Korea
DMZ – South KoreaTerracotta Warriors – ChinaGreat Wall of ChinaWW1 Battlefields – FranceDachau – Germany
Berlin Wall – GermanyAuschwitz – PolandCastles of North WalesCanterbury Cathedral

Images from long term family travel

2 teens standing on the great wall

Great Wall of China

Travelling to the Great Wall early in the morning will help with the experience.

Experiencing Auschwitz

Learning about world history at the Auschwitz Birkenau Memorial site.

riding motorbikes on tour in Chiang Mai

Riding ATV in Chiang Mai

Long term family travel fun in the jungle of Northern Thailand

A gap year budget is important

Unlike a normal holiday, long term family travel requires some real budgeting to succeed. A family gap year is not about doing everything you can, eating out every night and staying in the best hotels. You may need to lower your expectations considerably, long term travel is much like your life at home, just in different locations. It will mean cooking meals, doing laundry, finding free things to do, searching for the best-priced family travel options to stretch your long term travel budget further.

Apartments and Hostels are good options for gap year travel as they provide more space and more facilities for travelling families. Luggage is always a concern because if you plan on flying on budget airlines, you will have to check and pay for anything over the complimentary 7kg carry on limit. Pack light and pack right, there is nothing you can’t buy overseas if needed.

Travel Resources Page

Start planning your gap year travel with the companies we use and trust on our family travel adventures

  • The real truth about gap year travel insurance
    Whether you should get travel insurance for your gap year is a question many families ponder as they start planning long-term travel. Gap year travel insurance is expensive. Will I lose a bag? Will I get sick? Will my plans be interrupted? These are all things that need to be considered when planning family travel … Read the full article here
  • 9 easy ways to keep teens social while travelling long term
    Many parents stress about the amount of social interaction their children will get while they are travelling long-term, whether at home or abroad. This is a worry for everyone, even the kids. So, what are the best ways to keep teens social while travelling long term? It was a discussion that came up many times … Read the full article here
  • How to successfully prepare for long term travel
    Preparing for long term travel can be a daunting prospect. Leaving the life you know with all its comforts and predictabilities for a life on the road. You will need some custom long term travel planning to get everything in order before you leave. Jotting down a long term travel checklist will keep you updated … Read the full article here

Reality versus expectations on long term family travel

One thing we realised quickly during our family gap year was that the reality was very different to the expectations we had. Travel with teens brings a whole new level to family travel. Travelling with young children has just as many issues as travelling with teenagers they are just sometimes harder to navigate.

Staying connected to your young adults when you travel is undeniably the most important thing you can do. Not only is it imperative at the moment it builds a foundation that you can rely on as they transition back into everyday life after your long term family travel.

Our expert family travel advice and family travel tips

We started travelling with kids when they were young but not everyone is able to do that. Travel is not about the length of time you go it is about just travelling with kids. Travel can be anything from tent camping to staying at a friends house in the next town experiencing other places and things. Just start, build your confidence and see where it takes you.

Feel free to reach out to us via email or on our Facebook page. We love to chat about family travel, travel with teenagers, offer travel tips and more. We have a plethora of advice for parents wanting to long term family travel.

Bec and Mark

Wyld Family Travel