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At some point, most of us have considered making a drastic change to our lives. For many people, this would mean throwing in the towel on their current routine and totally changing their path. Some people actually follow this calling.
I caught up with Christina from Live a Wilder Life since she and her family since they are in the middle of taking this leap. They are spending 12 months traveling around the U.S. to find a new place to call home. I asked her 13 questions about her family’s adventure.
Q: Tell us about your family. How old is your child?
A: My husband and I have been together for 12 years and together we take care of our two wild creatures, an ornery cat and our highly active two-year-old son.
Q: What drove you to take the family on the road for a year?
A: We had been living in Los Angeles for over 15 years and the grind of maintaining a life in such an expensive city was starting to really wear us down. There were many weeks where my husband would work 80 hours and we would barely see each other. Even though we were a two-parent household, I often felt like a solo parent shouldering the brunt of raising our child while also working my own digital job from home.
We had become so consumed with paying our mortgage and trying to survive that our zest for life had completely diminished. Becoming parents is what really made us take a cold hard look at our life. The thought of raising our son in a home with two unhappy parents was really frightening for the both of us.
After a lot of back and forth and stressful conversations, we realized that we needed a massive overhaul of our life. We decided to leave our jobs, sell our house, most of our belongings, and travel the U.S. in search for a new city to call home. It sounds crazy, but for us, we were bravely moving towards creating the life we wanted. I’m a writer and my husband is a photographer so the opportunity to write about our life and photograph this journey on our blog Live A Wilder Life was something that creatively inspired and excited us.
Q: Where are you right now?
A: At the moment we are living in Boise, Idaho and riding out the winter months since either one of us want to be road tripping in the snow. After that, we plan to hit up Utah, Colorado, Montana, Northern Idaho, Wyoming, Washington, and New England in the fall.
Q: On your blog you talk about “slow travel”. What do you mean by that?
A: For us, slow travel is spending an extended amount of time in one place, so you can have a deeper and more authentic experience. Before we had our son, we traveled fast and hard because we didn’t have a child to think about when it came to itineraries. We would spend one day in a city and then on to the next place so we could see as much as possible.
Traveling with a young kid forces you to slow down and take it easy. That kind of quick-paced traveling can be rough on a toddler and we knew we needed to put his needs at the forefront. While we had a lot of fun traveling that way before the birth of our son, our travel journey this year is about exploring a areas to see if this is somewhere we would potentially want to live. We’re looking to take our time so we can truly feel the experience of a place as a resident rather than as a tourist. Two very different things!
Q: What is your favorite spot so far? And Wilder?
A: We really enjoyed living in Asheville for a month and doing all the great hiking around there. Asheville is one big natural playground. It’s pretty incredible. One of our favorite memories from then is traveling to the nearby Great Smoky Mountain National Park in late Fall when they had a small snowfall. It was incredible to see the fall colors with a soft coat of white snow. It was truly magical and a sight we’ll never forget.
Q: What did your friends and family think?
A: Our friends were overwhelmingly supportive and happy about our decision to live on the open road for a year. Our family didn’t have quite the same reaction! But it’s understandable, I think no matter how old you are, your parents are always going to be concerned about your wellbeing. They’re not as concerned with you living a life of fulfillment and adventure but more with… how are you going to pay for health insurance? How will you survive?! For the most part though, we always get the same reaction of, “I wish I could do that.”
Q: What has life on the road been like?
A: It’s had its fair share of ups and downs. It was a huge transition and we’re still figuring out how to live our life on the road. If anything, this journey has strengthened our marriage because we have to consistently work as a team. We’re together 24/7 with no outside support nearby so we have learned to let go of things very quickly. In the past, when we would get irritated, we could separate physically and perhaps hold on to resentment. Being in close quarters on the road means there’s no space for holding on to things. We have learned to let it go or everyone will be miserable!
Overall, this journey has helped us to connect to our own gratitude. We’re very aware of how lucky we are to be doing this and every so often we step outside of ourselves and acknowledge how amazing this all is.
Q: Do you have any advice for other people thinking about traveling with kids?
A: Keep it simple and go with the flow. I feel like parenting young kids reminds you to do less and experience more. Plan one activity a day and let that be enough. Get clear on what everyone’s hopes and priorities are for the trip so everyone can get their needs met. My husband loves to take pictures and needs time to do that. Because of that, I’ll hang out with our son while he takes time to set up his shot and do what he loves.
For me, I have to have family time without cell phones making an appearance, so my husband makes sure to dedicate time where we’re phone free. For my son, he needs time to explore without boundaries and time constraints, so if that means stopping for 10 minutes for him to investigate the dirt, we make sure to create time for that. It’s a balancing act, and at the end of the day, my best advice is to let go of expectations about how the trip should unfold.
Q: Are you glad you did this? Do you want to travel in the future or has this experience made you want to settle down?
A: We’re 5 months into our travels and we don’t regret leaving our home at all. It’s really clear to us that it was the right choice to leave Los Angeles and find a new place to live. Ultimately, the nomadic life isn’t for us. It’s an amazing once in a lifetime adventure, but we don’t want to live like this forever.
This trip has really helped us to understand that we’re both homebodies who love to adventure. We still want to travel and see the world, but we want a place to come home to. For us, this adventure was never about becoming full-time travelers, but about finding our home.
Q: Do you have a dream destination you haven’t managed to go to yet?
A: Oh gosh, my two bucket list places are Japan and a safari in Africa. I’d also like to one day experience ultimate luxury with an over the water hut in the Maldives.
Q: Any mistakes you’ve made along the way you care to share? Or mistakes you’ve seen other families make?
A: Since we carry everything we have in our car, it’s essential that we travel light. When we first started, we bought a travel bed for our son that was basically a toddler-sized tent. It’s small, lightweight, and super easy to travel with. We thought it was so fun, it’s like you’re always camping! The only problem… he hated it. We tried to force it and it really wreaked havoc on our sleep. We had weeks of no one getting any sleep.
Finally, after three weeks of trying to make it work, we went out and bought a heavy and not size efficient at all pack ‘n play. We were trying so hard to make it work that we ignored our son’s needs and what would be best for him. Toddlers can have such big personalities that you can forget they’re so young and sensitive. He needed stability and comfort in a time of such a big change. It was a big lesson for us.
Q: Where are you all headed next?
A: Next up is Utah to visit all the National Parks often referred to as the Mighty 5. We are so excited to see them and can’t stop looking at pictures of Zion National Park. We’re hoping to hike the Narrows with our son, but we’ll have to see what conditions are like when we get there. It’s a bucket list hike, so if it doesn’t happen then, you can bet we’ll be back.
Q: How can we follow you on your journey?
A: We have a blog called Live A Wilder Life that focuses on travel for adventurous parents, whether you’re traveling with your kids or traveling without them. We’re also very active on Instagram, where we share our travels about where we are and what we’re learning about each new city. We love to connect with parents and help anyone who needs advice on traveling with kids.
Do you know someone that has taken, is in the middle of, or is planning an extended trip with the fam? Leave a comment and we may feature them in a future post!
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