We said goodbye many times. Goodbye to kindergarten, to the grandparents, and finally also to the toddler bed and the 1-meter-high stuffed dinosaur, which had to stay at home despite the tears.
And because we still had so much to do before we left, it is actually just now sinking in that we really left our home in Switzerland for six whole months.
I‘m done packing and ready to get nervous. 5 of us, six months. Hope you come along! 😎 Why I didn‘t stop traveling when we had our kids – read about it on the blog, link in bio! 🇺🇸and 🇩🇪 . . #familytravel #takethekids #lovetotravel #somuchstuff #onlyfourshirtsperperson #lotsofcamerastuff #gettingexcited🤩
Wait, what?! Half a year?
Yes, exactly. We are away for a while. Going on a round-the-world trip, following our passion and combining it with the most important things in our life: Family, friends and, yes, work, too – because I will continue to run Any Working Mom while I am travelling.
Originally, we were planning a staycation – shifting our location to somewhere else for a while to live and work as we did in 2013 with our son. He was one at the time and we temporarily made Los Angeles our home.
But then some different ideas and some friends intervened. Our friends are scattered all over the world now, and it’s not easy to see them. So this year, to see our people, we are visiting Bangkok and Bali, Australia, Hawaii Hawaii, L.A. and, last but not least, Music City Nashville, where my godchild lives.
With this decision came many questions from our readers and pretty much everyone who found out about our plans. I am happy to answer the questions most frequently asked – besides the questions about our travel itinerary – here.
What are you doing about kindergarten?
Note: This answer gets a bit technical regarding local regulations in Canton Zurich, Switzerland. You must consult with your local school officials to find out how extended absences can be handled. And if you’re not in Switzerland, feel free to jump to the next question.
We discussed our plans with the relevant officials and, of course, with the kindergarten. For an absence of more than 12 weeks, no matter why, you must withdraw your child from the school (in Canton Zurich) per the law § 28 Abs. 2 Volksschulverordnung from 28.6.06. (VSV) (LS 412.101). This is regardless of whether your child will receive schooling in these 12 weeks or not.
An absence this long only has consequences on the child’s school career if the child will not receive schooling while he’s out. As long as the child continues to receive some kind of schooling, the absence doesn’t really affect anything.
So for a long absence, the canton of Zurich recommends “homeschooling” by the parents or other teachers (more information and forms here). Our municipality also allows an arrangement like “Schule im Koffer.” In both cases it is necessary to provide proof of registration with the municipality (Gemeinde, in German), but you don’t have to deregister (abmelden) at the local registration office.
For an absence of less than 12 weeks, the decision is at the discretion of the municipality.
What are you doing about work?
I am a digital nomad and can set up my office anywhere (if you follow me on Instagram you will see that I like to do that). But of course that also means that I have to create the space for myself to work.
It only works if we stay in some places for a longer stretch and establish a regular daily routine. We also organized additional paid childcare in various destinations. Any Working Dad has unpaid leave.
How do you pay for such a big trip?
With Monopoly money, like everyone else. 😉 We have a budget, which of course has to be pretty generous for a family of five. As mentioned, I am working during our trip, and we are also renting out our apartment and a vacation apartment.
With the blog, it would also be possible to arrange press discounts in many places, or to arrange some sponsored outings, etc. I decided against this for our trip to avoid any sense of obligation to these businesses. But it certainly can be done.
Depending on the destination, the cost of living can also be substantially less than at home – so a lot of factors balance each other out. But no question, travelling with three kids is not cheap.
How do you plan a trip with two toddlers and a baby?
Although we ended up doing a lot at the last minute, I am a big fan of good planning and plenty of research. However, this requires a lot of time, so it’s often neglected when we’re busy with family life.
I think highly of travel blogs that provide current and honest tips (my favorites are, for example, Fernweh mit Kids, Patotra.ch and Jack and Leilah, Travelmadmum. I also like to watch Bucket List Family on Youtube.)
What the Bucket List Family will find out this year thanks to an addition to the family, I, unfortunately, have already discovered the hard way: It’s hard to find a hotel room for a family of five (even if you bring your own travel bed for the baby). So, we mostly stay in Airbnbs or with friends (except in big cities). It’s also painful trying to book flights with a baby (if you want to reserve a seat for a child under two years old, you have to do it by phone, not online). That’s why we decided early on to outsource this tedious task to two travel agencies, one of which, of course, was our excellent AWM partner Webook.ch.
How much luggage did you bring on the trip?
Relatively little, to be honest. Classic Type A that I am, I started packing three weeks before departure and constantly took note of what was still missing – especially when it comes to our travel first-aid kit. I prefer not to leave anything behind, based on painful experience.
I proudly packed everything in two suitcases and two backpacks (Any Working Dad has an entire backpack full of film and camera equipment), only to realize that it was all much too heavy. Note: Always weigh your luggage, and take a travel baggage scale with you. Or else things can get expensive when airlines charge for extra baggage. Now we are travelling with three suitcases and a bit more wiggle room, and one of us carries the travel bed for the littlest one.
What are you doing about your mail?
We registered to receive most bills electronically, and also try to reduce snail mail in general. For everything else, the Swiss Post offers a scanning service that scans mail, then sends an email notification and asks if that item should be opened.
Don’t you have a bad conscience about your carbon footprint?
I struggled with the potential consequences for the environment of our five-headed family flying around the world more than anything else when considering this trip. Of course a trip like this looks selfish and short-sighted at first glance. But not in the big picture. We have paid for carbon offsetting and included it in our budget; however, I hope that the journey will actually have an even greater positive impact, because:
I also believe that we and our children can only make the changes needed in the world if we get to know more about our planet and expand our horizons – see where there are problems, learn what poverty really means, or glimpse an ocean full of plastic. We will also make an effort to dive into local issues or even help make changes for the better whenever possible in our limited time.
We took part in the beach clean up day today at Geger Beach in Bali and started the day picking up plastic and cigarette butts that are littering Bali‘s beaches. However, this was just a small statement and to be continued. There‘s so much more to be done, starting with education not to litter in the first place. And one day is not enough, so we will try to take garbage bags with us to all the beaches we go. . . #oneislandonevoice #wonderfulindonesia #balibeach #noplastic #cleanupday #bali #baliwithkids #balilove
Isn’t it terribly stressful with two little kids and a baby??
Why, yes. It is. Out of respect for my kids, I do not immortalize their tantrums at the gate at the airport with photos, nor the relaxed lunch at the pub on the beach two days ago when all three kids screamed at the same time (and Yours Truly only laughed out loud). But there are plenty of these trying moments, again and again. And although our kids probably inherited the ‘travel bug’ from us, we still need to schedule in downtime for them.
So we are now travelling around the world – not with a backpack, not on a shoestring, and not in 80 days. No, we’re doing it as a family. And that is also a great adventure.
I would be delighted if you all come along on the adventure, too!