Leave the Toys at Home

The bags were packed for our weekend of camping but there was one thing purposefully left out……toys.

I intentionally left all of the toys at home for our weekend camping trip with the thought that I would let nature inspire the boys to play instead of having their play revolve around a bunch of plastic crap.

And nature did its job!  The sticks turned into guns, crutches, walking sticks, and swords.

The rocks were stacked, sorted, thrown, skipped, and collected.

They used their hands to make sand castles and tunnels on the river bank and used pebbles, feathers, and leaves to decorate their creations.

Their eyes came alive as the sky became darker and the stars began to twinkle.  And we decided to keep the outer shell of our tent off so we would have a full view of the stars through the roof screen.

Isn’t this what being in the great outdoors is all about?  Connecting with nature, fresh air, hugging trees (yup, we did that too!)

And then on our last day there, after having a fantastic weekend,  I overheard some mothers talking about how their children were playing their hand held video games in their tents.    Three kids in separate tents but playing a video game against each other.  The mothers were marveling at technology and commenting on how much fun the kids were having.  And I don’t mean to judge, but I do, because SERIOUSLY PEOPLE? YOU ARE CAMPING!!!!

I think that too often in our society we value things over experiences.  We try to give our children everything we didn’t have or everything we think they need.  But really, what do they need?  Of course the basic necessities must be met, but after that?  Are we doing them a disservice by turning our homes into mini toy stores and buying the “in” toy because our children’s friends all have them?

And the waste that we are creating as a society in this one area of consumption alone is staggering.  The plastic dollar store toys sent home in goody bags are quickly broken and discarded.  The talking robot that is sitting in the bottom of the closet was sure entertaining for the first half hour or so but now it just represents our obsession with having more things.

Of course some toys are fabulous.  In our house we have a huge box of Lego that gets played with daily.  It teaches building skills, math, patterns, and best of all, creativity.  But now that we are striving to live with less, many of the not so fabulous toys are making their way to the garage sale pile and our house and minds are more clutter free because of it.

And when the time comes and we load our necessities onto our backs I wonder what toys we will be bringing with us?  A small sack of Lego, maybe a few small cars, and I think that is about it.

And its going to feel fabulous!

Feels Like Home

Mike and I have traveled to the Kootenay region of British Columbia many times before.  I have many relatives out there and it is one of our favorite places to camp in BC.  But on our recent trip there for the first time we started to consider living there.  I am not sure if it is because we are in a bit of a still place in our lives right now, waiting for our house to sell so we can travel in Asia with our children (that plan hasn’t changed!) or if we are just in a place where we are craving change, or even if it is because we have been questioning so many of our own imposed paradigms that possibilities are opening up for us that we might not have considered in the past.   What ever the reason or combination thereof on our recent vacation in the Kootenays we kept saying to ourselves “I could live here.” Read the rest of this entry

Unschooling Doesn’t Stop For Summer Vacation

The best way to travel with children is to travel slowly.  We like to break up our journeys into manageable sections with breaks every hour or two.  This way we limit the requisite “Are we there yet?” whining from the back seat.  We love to stop at places of interest and so we can all get out and stretch our legs.  An added benefit of this kind of travel is the learning that happens along the way.  Since our family homeschools with an unschooling philosophy, road trips provide the perfect opportunity for experiential learning. Read the rest of this entry

Decide. Commit.

It is not the decision you make that is most important, it is the degree of commitment with which you make the decision –Bo Barllett

The first and most important step in achieving any goal is making the commitment to it.  That is how every big thing in my life has been accomplished.  I made the decision to do it and then I found the ways to make it happen.

Our family isn’t the only one with big dreams, but there is a difference between those that are satisfied with the dream and those willing to sacrifice to make their dreams a reality.

There are people who put their dreams in a little box and say, ‘Yes, I’ve got dreams, of course I’ve got dreams.’ Then they put the box away and bring it out once in awhile to look in it, and yep, they’re still there. — Emma Bombeck

Every traveling family I know got to where they are in different ways.  There is no one way to make it happen.  But I think I can speak for all of them when I say that our first steps were all the same.  We made the decision and we committed to making it possible. Read the rest of this entry

And What About Retirement?

We’ve all heard this kind of story before and many of us know someone something like this has happened to:

(Wo)man works all their lives, slaving away for a paycheck with the dream of one day being able to retire and finally live their dreams.  Six weeks after retirement they drop dead from a heart attack.

Everyone around them laments over the pity of it all.  These were supposed to be the golden years and they were cut short.  Some people will be greatly affected by the tragedy.  Some may even make changes in their lives.  Most will go back to work on Monday, and the Monday after that, in a job they hate, saving for retirement.

This scenario scares me, I know people it has happened to and its something I think about often. Read the rest of this entry

Hiking McIntyre Bluff

We awoke to Mike’s cheerful singing and the aroma of leftover toasting waffles.  Our plan from the night before was to wake up early and beat the heat to attempt the biggest hike we have done as a family to date.  McIntyre Bluff.

McIntyre Bluff in the background

By the crack of 8:30 we had made it to the trail head.  Not as early as we would have liked but if you have kids you know how hard it is to get out of the house on time!  A fit adult should be able to do this hike in about three hours round trip.  We were cautiously optimistic that our boys would be able to complete the hike and were prepared to turn around if it got too hard on them.  But they were with two of their cousins and all of the kids fed off of one anothers energy, playing imaginary games with sticks all the way to the top. Read the rest of this entry

On the Good Side

I have been thinking a lot lately about living on the sunny side of life.  The glass half full kind of thinking.  And I have come up with a list of positives for this house turned trap situation we have found ourselves in. And although, just like Star Wars, there will always be a Dark Side, I need to keep rolling with the Light Side in order to stay sane.

So, in the unlikely? event that our house does not sell this year, here are some measurable positive outcomes for our family:

  • As long as Mike has steady-ish work we will be paying off $800 per month in debt and that is like money in the bank for our trip.
  • The boys will be that much older and will have a greater understanding of their place in the world, thus getting more and remembering more from our Worldschool Adventure.
  • Summer and fall are my favorite seasons (along with Spring!) and I hope to get out there and enjoy them with my family.  And all though in my books winter SUCKS maybe we can try some new winter-ish things this year and I will be persuaded to dislike winter a little bit less.
  • I have been thinking a lot about experimenting more with a  locavore diet, and now is the perfect time to dip our toes into that kind of challenge.

If I were to make a list of hypothetical reasons the list could go on for ever, but that’s not too shabby for concrete positives right?

And in the meantime, along with my usual long-term family travel related posts, I plan on blogging more about our adventures from the best place on earth…..British Columbia!

Interview – With 2 Kids in Tow

With 2 Kids in Tow is another one of my favorite family travel blogs.  What I love about this blog is that they don’t let having children in tow stop them from having adventures like  hiking rice terraces, checking out hanging coffins, and getting off of the beaten track  AND they do it on a budget.  They are true backpackers in every sense of the word!

Can you tell us a bit about yourselves?

We’re an Aussie/Canadian couple who love backpacking and are good at doing it on a budget.  In 2011, with just 2 backpacks and our 2 pre-schoolers in tow, we are going to SEA, Sri Lanka, India and points in between.

Read the rest of this entry

10 Ways to Save Money to Travel & Save the Planet

Our family is frugal.  Living an inexpensive lifestyle has always been a part of our process for saving money to travel, but over the past year we have taken it to a new level.   Our motivation to save money has now become secondary to our motivation to live a green lifestyle.

10 Ways to Save Money to Travel & Save the Planet

1. Eat lower on the food chain.

The simple fact is, meat production has a huge environmental impact and the average North American eats 2-3 times more protein per day than their body needs.  Our family now only eats meat on special occasions, if we go out for dinner, or if we eat at someone’s house.  Meat is expensive and moving to a plant friendly diet saves us major money on the grocery bill. Read the rest of this entry

The Four Walls That Trap Us

I believe in the power of positive thinking, but I have got to tell you I am starting to get a little depressed.

I honestly thought our house would be sold by now, that by summer we would be gallivanting through China.  But here we are still, trapped by these four walls.

We can’t leave on our adventure until our house sells and our market is really slow.  To make matters worse, we thought we were doing the right thing when we made our house as environmentally friendly as we could afford to but after putting all that extra money into making an amazing home we may have priced ourselves out of the market.  It turns out that people coming to this small town may not see or understand the extra value of a lower impact house.

At the beginning of the year I was full of positivity.  I drew my vision board with a big sold sign in the middle.  I didn’t even consider the prospect of the house not selling.  And now negativity is creeping in.  I am starting to resent the house.  The thought of having to spend another winter in it makes me mope.  I am finding it hard to keep up my positive energy.  I feel stuck, I feel trapped.

And while intellectually I realize that everything is happening for a reason and that the worse case scenario is we have to spend more time than we expected living in a beautiful house, I can’t seem to shake the funk.  I realize that my thoughts are petty and that in the grand scheme of things our family is incredibly lucky.  And I am doing my best to find joy and appreciate every moment but I keep circling back to anxiety.

So, please send some positive energy my way, I could use a pick me up!