Prepping for a Family Gap Year

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We have a big announcement for you all: we’re hitting the road! After months and months of preparation, we will soon be heading out on our big family gap year adventure (or should I say, gap years), spending the next three years traveling long term as a family.

It’s a big step for us. We’re both excited and nervous for what the future holds for us. But we also know that there’s a lot we still need to do.

This post was updated on May 5, 2020.

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Taking a Komodo Island tour in Indonesia (January 2020)

The dream of a family gap year

This has been a long time coming. When I was a student in college, a friend of mine gave me the book, World Stompers by Brad Olsen (which is still surprisingly available on Amazon), and the idea of traveling around the world full time was planted into my head. I immediately began drawing up schemes of how I would backpack around the world, crashing at hostels and living off of street food.

But life doesn’t always turn out the way we plan. I graduated college, I went into the Peace Corps, I returned to the US, and eventually met the love of my life.

Since getting married, we have had two beautiful children together, raised a handsome grown-up son, launched our careers, lived on both coasts of the United States, traveled around three continents, and bought a house together. As the years passed, I began to accept that the dream of a family gap year would remain just a dream.

Ready for take off! (September 2017)

Meeting other families who are taking a family gap year

And then something serendipitous happened. We found ourselves at the Family Adventure Summit in Penticton, BC, surrounded by families who were as passionate about travel as we were. And some of them were even taking their own family gap year!

These families were working remotely and world schooling their kids. They were traveling from place to place, country to country. After several conversations with other families at the conference, my husband and I had an epiphany. Taking a family gap year was actually possible!

Side view mirror of a car taking a family on a family gap year, with wheat fields in the background
Driving on the highway in the US (October 2016)

Can families actually take a gap year?

The concept of taking a gap year, or several years off, to travel is not new. However, people often think that it’s reserved only for 20-somethings, fresh out of college and free of responsibilities.

When kids come into the picture, taking a gap year becomes exponentially more difficult. How does a family even do a gap year when they have to think about school and financing and taking care of little humans?

Fortunately, we’re not the first family to ever go on a gap year. There are plenty of families who have written about their experiences, including Tsh Oxenreider in her book, At Home In The World. And in the book, The Road Taken: How to Dream, Plan, and Live Your Family Adventure Abroad, Michelle Damiani gathers together stories from families who have all taken their own trips around the world. Reading these books gave me so many gap year ideas to do with my own family!

The fact that so many other families have taken this path gives us comfort in know that we can do it too. The scariest part is imagining the possibilities. But once we made the decision to go for it, everything pretty much fell into place.

Terminal at Dulles Airport, where families can transit during a family gap year
Transiting through Dulles Airport (May 2019)

Putting our family gap year plan into action

When we returned to Seattle after the Family Adventure Summit, we immediately put a plan into action. We set a launch date of the end of June or July 2018. Being the project management-minded folks that we are, we used a combination of Google Sheets and online project management applications to organize all the tasks that we needed to complete to get ourselves ready for what our family calls, “The Big Trip.”

The tasks are many. There are so many things to consider for a RTW trip: researching destinations, finding plane tickets, researching visa requirements, deciding what to take with us, and purchasing travel insurance. And there are also tasks associated with moving a family.

We need to think about what we’ll do with our house and where we will store our things. We also need to think about how it’s going to be like being a worldschooling family, how we’ll finalize our will, and what we’re going to do with our car.

Kids in Portland museum
Playing the piano in Portland, Oregon (September 2016)

Sharing our stories from the road

On top of all of that, I will be quitting my full-time job and jumping into scaling up my business. I have several ideas percolating for The Wandering Daughter, including publishing an eBook and engaging in more freelance writing. I can’t wait to start sharing our stories from the road!

A lot has happened in the last eight months, and a lot still needs to happen before we officially leave Seattle at the end of July. But the biggest thing is that we are realizing that a family gap year is indeed possible!

You don’t need to be independently wealthy, and you don’t need to have amassed a huge amount of savings to do it, you just need to be open-minded about how you can earn money while you’re on the road.

Shoes for use during a family gap year
Shoes for our family gap year (May 2018)

Keeping in touch while we travel around the world

If you’re interested in following along on our family gap year adventure, keep reading my stories! I plan to periodically post travel stories from the road, along with my usual family travel content. In addition, my bi-monthly newsletter will also have updates of our travels. Be sure to sign up!

For our Seattle (and our US) friends and family, we will miss you dearly. This city has been our home for the last seven years. It has enriched our lives in so many ways.

This is not a permanent good-bye. We will always come back to you! And to the friends that we will meet as we make our way around the world, get ready, because we’re so excited to get to know you!

Prepping For A Family Gap Year | The Wandering Daughter

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22 Responses

  1. Have so much fun on your trip!! What a HUGE and exciting step! I’ll be following along – when Berty and I have children someday this is definitely something we want to do as well!

    1. Thanks Emily. You should absolutely do it when you guys have kids! Some families start a little earlier, even, when the kids haven’t started school, but it’s really up to each family’s preference.

  2. This is awesome!! Similar to a long-term goal I have. It’s nice to know you can make a plan for a big extended trip like this and really make it happen. I look forward to following along on your adventure 🙂

    1. Thanks Elizabeth. We’re hoping that we’ve planning well for this trip. It’s so much more complicated with kids in tow.

    1. Thanks Leslie. We even had our hesitations at first, but after meeting so many families who have done this before, we feel a lot more confident.

    1. Thanks Meghan. We plan to do a lot of writing about the things we experience on the road, so be sure to check back periodically.

  3. I always knew you guys were cool, but you are now officially the coolest people I know. Congratulations on taking a big leap!

    1. Thanks Gavin! It was so great to see you this past weekend. We will definitely miss Seattle and our friends and family, but really excited for the adventure.

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Hi, I'm Astrid

I'm a full-time traveling mom who's passionate about worldschooling.


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