Many people put off big adventures because they have a family and think that their family prevent them from going new places. While researching The Avant-Garde Life, I was lucky enough to speak to Gabi Klaf who travels the world with her husband and three young children, disproving this myth. Here is what she had to say about it all and I find it quite fascinating. It leads me to continue believing what I already believe – that there is no right or wrong way to live your life and that you must do only what is right for you.
Gabi Klaf of The Nomadic Family travels the world with her husband and 3 young children. She writes honestly about the ups, downs, and realities of travelling with a family. I asked Gabi a few questions to get an insight into what it is like to travel the world with young children and why she chose to do it.
Hi Gabi. Tell me about yourself, your family, and the lifestyle that you lead.
“We’ve never been ‘normal,’ always seeking to do what we felt was right for us, even if that was dramatically different from those around us. The five of us believe that the world is too colourful to live in grey; that the options are too endless to live with shutters over our eyes. We love leading the nomadic lifestyle, being free to the wind and whatever inspires us, learning together, being utterly clueless together.”
How long have you been doing this?
“We’re now in year three of non-stop world family travel. We left our really awesome lives in the mountains of Northern Israel on March 16, 2011.” [I posed this question at the time of writing The Avant-Garde Life]
Why did you you choose to do this?
“Because no one can promise me that ‘one day’ when I retire, I will have the money, health, or desire to travel the world with my beloved, and why in the hell would I put this pulsating, effervescent dream on hold for 30-40 years? Also, we can think of no better way to educate our kids and bond our family than taking these years to be fully present in the lives of our children. They would be grown and out of the house by the time we had real time to invest in raising and getting to know them as we do today.”
What do other people think of what you are doing?
“Most assume we’re filthy rich and can afford this lifestyle because we won the lottery. (For the record, I do not believe I currently own an article of clothing without a hole in it.) Many admire us for having the courage to live out our dreams and follow us online in the blog to learn more about how we travel, and how to to laugh and cry with us as we go. Some believe we are abusing our children and selfshly dealing with our own mid-life crisis while dragging our poor kids behind us around the world. We, we, we, yes, we do love them all, and hope all three camps read what we write and learn all the sides of long-term family world travel.”
Do you think that this lifestyle is better for you and your kids?
“For us, 100%. We have time to do what we are passionate about, to pursue hobbies, write books, get in shape, live a fully meaningful, actualised life without having any obligations to any outside institution. That time affords us the gift of being, fully being with our kids without the typical stresses that the rat race puts into everything. We read, walk, talk, discover, and learn together. This time, as a family, is priceless. Sometimes we sigh when we think of the cousins and family back home. We miss that a lot.”
Any regrets? Would you ever go back to your old life?
“My only regret is that I gave my beloved soul-mate cat, Bareket, to the school because I couldn’t fnd anyone to adopt her. She was treated poorly, ran away, maybe to find me, and was never seen again. That is the only regret I have. Yes, we will go back to our old life one day. We loved our life and miss it. But we adore this life too, and will continue being nomadic until we feel it no longer meets the needs of our children. Even when we do return to Israel one day, we hope to develop enough online income that we don’t have to get ‘job’ jobs and we know that we’ll continue traveling.”
How difficult is this life as a family?
“How difficult is life as a family waking up, running, doing, being productive, picking up, running, doing, showering, goodnight-ing, falling into bed exhausted, and ‘copy, paste’ for the next day? Family life is colourful, to put it lightly. That colour, those terrible days, those stressful moments when you want to kill someone, those magical God-kissed minutes that take your breath away, exist wherever you happen to call home. When you remove all those time-constraints, bureaucracies, and social politics, it makes life infinitely easier, but still, life is life, family life is family life, and the roller coaster ride will continue, sometimes making you laugh, sometimes making you cry, but always, always, always unpredictable and full of great learning.”
How do you sustain yourselves while travelling the world?
“We started out with $50,000 in savings. Since then, we’ve figured out how to make a bit of money online so we no longer use the savings. Also, when we travel, we negotiate great deals with hostels and other establishments that give us freebies in exchange for online advertising or in-house work. From them, we don’t get paper money but do remarkably creative exchanges of services that save our family tons and enables us to have awesome experiences we would otherwise not partake in. We’re very grateful.”
Any advice that you would offer to others considering travelling with a family?
“Please don’t wait until things are perfect, for they never will be. Start cutting your spending habits now, push everything you can into savings. Read as much as you can from those a few short steps ahead of you. Staying inspired and keeping your dreams alive can be hard when you’re struggling with regular daily life. Start blogging about your thoughts, fears, preparations now, for you may one day want to use your blog as a source of income and will be very happy you built that foundation way in advance. Get in touch personally with traveling families that inspire you. Most of us are totally amazing, down-to-earth, lovely people who are thrilled to help others in any way imaginable.”
Anything else that you want to add?
“We all need a sexy future, something we squeal with excitement about when we go to bed at night and when we wake up in the morning. Some secret of the soul that makes us drool. Be very quiet and ask yourself, ‘If I had a million dollars and no limits in the world, what would I do?’ That’s your sexy future, and 9/10 I’ll bet you, with a bit of pre-planning, you can make that sexy future your reality. Go for it! Someone cool once said, ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step!’ Take that step. Go, go, go!”
Many thanks to Gabi for sharing her valuable insights into travelling with a family.
For more inspirational advice and hilarious family travel stories, visit The Nomadic Family where Gabi speaks openly and honestly about travelling the world as a family on a long term basis and provides some wonderful resources for families who are considering stepping out into the world. She will help you to learn how very possible it is. You can also follow Gabi and her family on Twitter or Facebook. Gabi also wrote a beautiful article that explains why she chose not to get a ‘real’ job and why instead, she chooses to travel the world with her family.
This interview is taken from The Avant-Garde Life [everything your parents told you not to do: disregarding society in a search for sustainable adventure]. You can download it for free by clicking here. I hope it encourages you to have your own adventure, regardless of your current situation.