I have a confession: I am a glutton for punishment. Ok, so not really, but I do have a track record of diving in without fully thinking things through, just to realize down the line that whatever I have started is going to be way harder than I originally imagined.
A great example of this is the 10-day trip I just returned from, complete with a mix of work and play and a ton of driving (we’re talking 1300+ miles in the car, or to put it another way, more than 30 hours trapped inside a minivan). When it all began I was perky and hopeful and totally sold out on the whole experience. I mean, what could go wrong, especially given the fact that I would be taking 6 of the 10 days solo, since my husband had to head back home for some meetings? The answer is that plenty can go wrong. PLENTY. Including but not limited to getting some bad gasoline and having to figure out what in the world water in my tank meant and how to deal with it, and hitting a stretch of road that had my car thermometer reading 108 degrees which caused my rear bumper light cover to literally melt off of my van. What in the what? How does that even happen. My husband didn’t believe me when I called him. So I texted this photo:
Weird stuff can happen when traveling. I’m telling you what. Needless to say, we emerged on the other side of the trip a little less exuberant than we began, but we survived. And more than that, we had a blast. Traveling with kids can make you crazy, but it is also so incredibly worthwhile.
The way I see it, there are two options: give up traveling and experiencing life fully for 18-25 years while I raise my family, or bring them along for the adventure, be it ever so crazy and wearisome.
I choose adventure.
And I heartily recommend that to you as well.
Our trip had its ups and downs, but it also had these awesome highs:
Re-visiting the ocean beach of my youth on the Washington coast. And seeing my kids play in and explore the same tide pools and waves that I remembered so fondly. It was honestly a dream come true. I dashed off some emails in the morning, and off we went, greeted by this unbelievable view:
And these treasures:
We also spent time in North Spokane, which is BEAUTIFUL.
*I took that photo through the windshield so no, there was not a notebook and a random woman in the cloud formations, lol.
We took a ferry at one point, and I set up shop via my iPad in the parking lot. Talk about telecommuting at its finest!
There was also a ton of eye candy along the drive, including these gorgeous vistas:
Looking back, I can honestly say that fun was had by all. I kept clients happy and my family happy – which for any digital nomad is truly what this lifestyle is all about. I have made the trek across states with my little ones several times, and each time I feel like I learn something new. If you are looking to try this out for yourself, here are some tips and guidelines I definitely recommend:
Traveling when bogged down with a ton of stuff is honestly no fun at all. It makes it hard to be spontaneous and – since kids don’t typically really care about things like clean clothes every day or matching socks or extra toothpaste – it’s a safe bet that erring on the side of not taking too much with you won’t mess with your daily routines much at all.
Keep your first trip short and sweet, so that you can build on early success and not try to fight back from failure.
Take it from me – there’s nothing worse than a trip that epically sucked. Those ventures always end up leaving you drained emotionally and physically, and inevitably they cause you to fall behind on your work, too, since you spend extra energy trying to save the proverbial ship from sinking. It is better to have a couple wins under your belt – even if they are just weekend jaunts to the neighboring town with minimal work/play balance involved – to give you a taste of how you and your family best function in a digital nomad capacity.
Don’t underestimate the power of communication.
If you have never worked remotely before, I recommend taking a hyper-communicative stance and checking in more often and in a more detailed fashion that you would normally do. This can help assure your co-workers or clients that you are still on top of things, and it also forces you to fight the urge to procrastinate. Communicate well, communicate often, and you will find success – I guarantee it.
Remember that work and family are separate.
They are. Even if you work with you spouse. The more you blur that line between work time and family time, the harder it will be to re-draw them when you need to (sorry kids, I know we played cards while I checked emails yesterday, but today I can’t swing that…). You get the picture. If your family is older and better able to understand the varying levels of focus needed for different work tasks, you may find yourself able to blur the line more than if your kids are young, but this is something only you can decide, as each family is totally unique and different in how they best operate.
When possible, stick to a consistent work schedule.
Trust me on this. The siren call of playtime with the family can be tough to resist, especially if you struggle with focus to begin with. Set your planned schedule, engage your family to help keep you on track, and then work like the dickens during your set work hours, knowing you have an awesome reward waiting: time spend adventuring with those you love.
I’d love to hear your tips or your family travel experiences – feel free to share them below in the comments section.