People ask me all the time if I'd still be a nomad if I had kids, or they say that it's impossible or difficult to be a nomad if you have kids. I want to answer the question, but I think there's something even more important to talk about in relation to this.
The short answer is that yes, I'd still be a nomad if I had kids. A bunch of people travel with their kids, my favorite example being my friend Leo who does long single-backpack trips with all six of his kids all over the world. He's so good at it that I asked him to write a guest chapter about it in my recent travel book, Forever Nomad.
The thinking behind the question bothers me a little bit, though.
When I'm considering doing something, I give no thought to whether other people have done it or not. I don't really think about whether it will be hard or not. I don't think about what random people will think about it.
All I think about is if I want to do it (and packed inside that is whether it's aligned with my principles, a good long-term idea, and high enough priority), and whether it will be good for people I care about. That's it.
And then I make it happen or exhaust every possibility in the process. I assume that I'll have to learn a lot and that I'll probably have to come up with some new ideas to make it happen, but to me that's just par for the course.
I never think about whether something is possible or not, because I don't think I can know that until I start digging in.
Is it possible to travel with kids? That seems like such an obvious yes to me that it wouldn't even cross my mind. I would skip this whole question and decision making process and would instead ask, "how can I make traveling with kids amazing for me and the kids?"
Asking whether it's possible or not is the wrong question. It shouldn't even be asked. Want to do something? Great, make it happen.
One of the negative aspects of the way we raise kids and school them is that they think that we require them to ask permission for everything, and we tell them what is possible and what isn't. There are benefits to this approach as well, but the problem is that we keep that momentum through adulthood and forget that no one is a higher authority on our own abilities and path than we are.
Be your own higher authority. Can you travel with kids? That's totally up to you. Same with everything else.
Picture is a sculpture of Michael Jackson with a monkey. This is how cool I would look if I had a kid.
When I saw the title, I was getting ready to argue against your as I have kids and felt I'd be exhausted to travel with kids.
However, after reading your post, I'm in agreement with you. I was thinking about the constraints and challenges even before I take any action. Instead, you provided a different perspective. Believe you can do it, get it going and figure it out. As someone who is part of the "over educated, over schooled" group, this is a very important perspective to keep in mind. Thanks for the post.
Doesn't the post conflate "traveling with kids" with "living a nomadic life with kids" (which I interpreted as "no primary place of residence")?I agree it's possible (as many things are). Many (most?) people would agree, but say it's a trade-off. I think you acknowledge this yourself when you say ".. whether it will be good for people I care about".
That's why I expected the post to be about: an examination of the trade-offs involved. Do you have an opinion on that?
I agree with most of the posts you write, but this one I disagree with.
Decisions that you can make without much due diligence are those which are low-impact or reversible. For decisions which are neither low-impact nor reversible, you should absorb as much information as possible before you enter the part that becomes irreversible. That includes consulting others - even if their advice is ultimately wrong.
This is why you can never "skip" the decision making process. It's precisely that process that helps you evaluate the consequences of a decision, such as whether it's reversible or not. You may rely on your own opinions rather than those of other people, or use heuristics so that you don't get stuck in analysis paralysis - but these are all parts of the decision-making process. It's not something you skip.
The blanket advice of "just go for it and make it work" is not realistic and is in fact somewhat offputting. I wouldn't do that with flying an airplane. I wouldn't do that with having kids. High-impact, irreversible decisions merit more consideration.
Yes, we need to get our hands dirty and learn from experience. Yes, we can't always second-guess ourselves - just commit and get it done. At the same time, we have to recognize that that is not ALWAYS true. Evaluating decisions for their impact and reversibility is something we should do before we get our hands dirty.
He didn’t say to just go for it and make it work, nor to skip the decision making process. He goes through the process of evaluating the plan based on his principles/ priorities, if it’s good long term for him and his loved ones.
Then he tries hard to make it happen by trying out all existing possibilities and learning new ideas, and even coming up with new ideas to make it happen. What he is saying is he will work his hardest to make it happen, and that responsibility is on the individual making the decision to “just do it”.
A week ago I was rooting through my projects folder and I came across something that I had somehow forgotten: a full length book I wrote about Life Nomadic. I gave it a quick read-through and thought, "man... there's some great stuff in here! Why didn't I release it?"
So, I'm going to release it soon. I've spent a good part of the last week doing some light editing, rearranging, and adding in sections that I hadn't quite finished.
The book has a lot of stories and anecdotes in it, but it's really a manual for the nomad or hardcore traveler. It talks about why to be a nomad, what it's like, what to expect, and how to deal with some of the challenges. About half of the book is dedicated to logistics: how to choose gear, how to pack it, where to stay, how to get there, etc.
Maneesh Sethi was kind enough to write up a guest post for us on striking off internationally and doing the digital nomad thing.
Here's Maneesh -
Every day, someone says to me: “I wish I could travel like you do.”
And every time I respond: “You can too.”
You see, I’ve been traveling for the last three years as a digital nomad, through Asia, South America, Europe. I move to a new city, learn a new language, and do a cool project. I built an online business that is completely outsourced, so now I can work as many---or as few----hours/week as I want.