A Road Trip of Gigantic Proportions
We are a family who loves to travel. My Canadian-born husband Matt and I met in China and we, along with our kids, Emilia aged 11 and Matthew aged 6, have continued to travel. Home for us has included Melbourne, Australia; Niagara Falls, Swift Current and Cambridge in Canada; Jilin and Changchun in China; and Cusco and Arequipa in Peru. That’s just the norm.
Setting a plan in motion
Over one year ago we made the decision to begin a road trip in a colourfully painted VW Kombi from Cusco, Peru to Niagara Falls, Canada. A brave move seeing as we had never done anything like that before. It has been an adventure, to say the least.
From there to here
We started in Cusco, high in the Andes mountains heading to Puerto Maldonado and the Amazonian jungle. We have crossed the bleak deserts of Nazca through Lima and driven up North into Ecuador. We spent two months living in Puerto Cayo helping out on a couple of beachside properties doing cleaning and odd jobs. We spent eight weeks on rural properties in Colombia assisting on a farm and managing a hostel.
We navigated the shipping of our vehicle over the Darien Gap between Colombia and Panama managing a variety of hostel properties while we were there. We house sat in Costa Rica and Nicaragua and visited the beaches and mountainside towns in El Salvador. We spent a glorious five weeks living in San Marcos, on the shores of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala stopping to visit the ruins of Tikal on the way to Belize. Then we crossed over to Mexico where we have enjoyed a glorious two months in the Yucatan Peninsula, meeting lots of new people and exploring the natural beauty this country has to offer.
How do we make it work?
It’s definitely hard, but extremely rewarding. While many would consider it a holiday – it is more than that. My husband and I work very hard behind the scenes to ensure that we can make the journey happen. And quite often things don’t go to plan. Thankfully we have a very good sense of humour and an ability to work through difficulties when they occur. We work online most days, making time to source fun activities for the kids and the family as a whole. We also attempt to arrange meet ups with other families who are open to the topic of world schooling and educating on the road or in foreign countries.
We have broken down a number of times, visited the centre of the Earth, sampled delicious cuisine from all the various countries, seen an active volcano, volunteered for beach cleans, donated to charities, swam in cenotes, and most importantly have created many new memories and cemented fantastic friendships.
Balance on the road is key
Every destination provides ample opportunities to see and do new things. We don’t attempt to cram everything in. It was never about seeing and doing all. The purpose of the journey was for us to enjoy slow travel from our Peruvian base back to Canada – it provides more value to our children and allows us to work as we travel. We discerningly pick and choose what we do, often seeking company for our children over visits to the museums and hikes in the mountains. But we have done those too. It is all about balance.
We don’t have all the answers. Our kids get tired – they fight. We travel with more than we need just to ensure that the kids have a little bit of home with them on their road. We still step on Lego everywhere we go – we just choose to do it in more than one country.
We are now on the home stretch of our trip currently planning the last leg of our Mexican journey before we drive up the West Coast of the USA into Canada. And even once we return to Canada we have no definitive plan. We have at least 6 more months on the road and aim to enjoy every last second of it.
Looking back, despite the challenges, it was definitely worth it. A once in a lifetime trip for sure!
Michelle Tupy is from Australia and is a content writer – www.michelletupy.com and travel writer who enjoys travelling the globe with her family. She is planning on turning their South American to North American road trip into a book entitled, And Off We Went. You can follow along with their journey on their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/andoffwewent.