Hola friends. Wow, what a busy week. Sorry this is so late, but the US called and we answered. Ha!
As most of you know we flew back to the US for six weeks on Wednesday. We had a very complicated morning at the airport when we left Quito, more on this later. Then I apparently ate some bad ceviche the night before we flew out. I am still paying the price today. I will spare you the details, but lets just say I have some pain and frequency that is not pleasant. All this while I am still having chest problems. I know, I am starting to be the annoying blogger who talks about her aches and pains all the time. I apologize, however I am not used to being sick for this long and it is running me down. The good news is that the food poisoning will pass and my chest is mildly better. Can it be the elevation that was causing the nerve in my chest to not heal, who knows. I am just happy that I see some progress. I have so much more to share about the last couple of weeks, but it will have to wait a bit since we are busy adventuring and soaking up family time. Ok, enough of my complaining, lets start the fun stuff.
If you are new here I would like to introduce you to our weekly series “Inside a Traveler’s Walls” where we feature families living in less traditional, unique homes. If you think you might be one of those families and are interested in being profiled please contact me for details.
The first night here I HATED it. No restaurants, no coffee shops, just cow poo and green meadows, but then a funny thing happened, we all fell in love with the village. ~Alyson
Today I would like to introduce you to the Long family! I have known Alyson for several years through our online travel groups and I am honored to have her as part of this series. The Long family currently calls Romania home, although they are continually off traveling the world. When I read Alyson’s story I could not help but think how magical and peaceful life in Romania sounds. I just love the simplicity and back to nature approach their village life offers, plus the traditions and festivals that are specific to Romania. I think it might be time for a visit to that neck of the woods. Anyone with me?
I’m just really surprised how much I enjoy keeping house as people would have done 100 years ago. It’s quite satisfying to wash everything by hand, sweep wooden floors and build fires for warmth. ~ Alyson
You will be surprised to learn what Alyson thinks complicates traveling, what she CAN live without and the beauty she so much loves about life in Romania. Her descriptions truly read like a magical fairytale from a time long, long ago.
I feel strongly that I’m more “me” when I have a backpack on my back, I belong on the backpacker circuit so that has a “home” feel too. ~ Alyson
This family went from high end beach life to the simple life of Romania. In the process they sold all their stuff, traveled the world and started unschooling. Most people would be too fearful to make such drastic changes in their life at this point. This is what I am talking about folks when I say get ready for some inspiration. Could you do this? Would you do this? What is holding you back? People are doing it and the Long family is a perfect example and role model for living our lives to the fullest. I am so honored and humbled to have them on my series.
Ok, enough of my chatter. Grab a cup of coffee, a comfy seat and get ready to be inspired.
Introduce us to the people you live with?
My name is Alyson, I’m an almost 50 year-old menopausal travelling mum, home educator, writer, photographer and blogger. I’m British, from Wales. My husband is James, he’s an Australian top chef. These days he only works a few months of the year, the blogs support us and we travel almost full-time. Our two children are D, 12 and Boo, 9. You couldn’t wish for two better boys but they don’t make my life easy! We asked them where they wanted to live, did they want to carry on travelling? Do they want to return to London? Do they want to go back to Australia? They both picked Romania and gave the travelling a big thumbs up. These days they tend to pick the destinations more than us, but sometimes I’ll bribe them to get them to go where I want them to go. D is coming to Everest Base Camp with me soon, that’s costing me 3 computer games. A return to India will cost me a new laptop.
Where are you in the world and what are you living in?
We travel a lot, in the last 3 years I think we’ve taken the kids to around 35 countries, so we don’t have a house like most normal people. We do own a house, a rather large swanky affair with pool in an up-market resort town, Port Douglas, Australia. But we choose not to live in it. Instead we’ve been renting a traditional 100-year-old home in a remote peasant village in Romania. We absolutely love village life and being surrounded by the most stunning mountains and countryside.
Why did you choose to live in your current arrangement?
We had been travelling full-time with no home base for 2 years when we were invited to this village to help a guy with some promotion. We’re rather a big travel blog, we do a lot of that sort of thing. Initially I said no. Who wants to go to Romania right? But then the Nepal Earthquake happened, the day before we were due to fly to Kathmandu. We had to think fast as we were in India and our visas were all but expired, so we took up Romania-dude on his kind offer. The first night here I HATED it. No restaurants, no coffee shops, just cow poo and green meadows, but then a funny thing happened, we all fell in love with the village. We fell so hard that we bought a house here. Unfortunately the paperwork STILL isn’t complete on “our” house, so for now, we rent from a lovely local family. They really look after us and think we’re a bit clueless. We can’t milk cows, make cheese, grow all our own food, slaughter a pig, build a haystack or cut the grass with a scythe, so they do all that for us and try to show us how things should be done. They’re just the best people!
What do you do to personalize your unique (less traditional) living situation?
We don’t really personalize it. A few trinkets from our travels are building up and the kids toys are everywhere. The house is traditionally decorated throughout, the mud walls are painted and hand decorated with a roller. There are embroidered fabrics, plates and religious paintings on the walls. We’ve just had to add things we’ve needed. Ikea blankets for curtains to help us stay warm, a few rugs on the bare boards. An extra bed for D. Nothing fancy, we’re not really setting up home here. I don’t want to fall into the trap of accumulating “stuff” again, we sold just about all we owned before we left Australia and it feels great to be clutter-free.
Tell us your favorite and least favorite room in your space and why?
We have a little sun room/porch type area. It fills with light in the early mornings and has double doors that we can throw open. In winter it got down to about -15 C in there, it has no heating, so it’s a fair weather only room.
It’s also where our bunnies live in winter, they’d freeze outside.
The second bedroom is my least favourite, it has no heating, in winter we seal it off and hang a rug over the door to keep what heat we have in the first bedroom. We all share 1 bedroom to maximize warmth. To you that may seem odd, but we’ve all been sharing hotel rooms for 3 years, it’s our normal.
The kitchen is where we do everything, eat, cook, hang out, use computers. It’s the only room that’s warm in winter, I try to keep the little wood stove burning round the clock but when temperatures reach -25C it’s pretty chilly! We use the wood stove for heating and cooking, I love the economy of that and the wood oven is a dream for pizza. In summer we use a gas stove.
What is the biggest misconception you had about your current living situation before you started living in it?
I thought it would be harder than it is. The water freezes, I thought that would be more of a hardship. In fact it only froze for a few days and we could still get water from the stream to flush. I’m just really surprised how much I enjoy keeping house as people would have done 100 years ago. It’s quite satisfying to wash everything by hand, sweep wooden floors and build fires for warmth.
What is the one household item you carry with you every time you move or the one item you cannot live without?
My laptop. It’s just our life. My work, my photography, all of our organization and travel plans, entertainment, education, everything. The only “household” item we carry is my Swiss Army Knife. It comes in handy.
What do you miss most about permanent, stationary, traditional living?
Well it would be nice to jump in the pool when it’s as hot as it is today! But really, I don’t miss anything, I’d far rather be here.
What is the one item your children carry with them to make their unique (less traditional) home more comfortable?
Nothing, we have an assortment of Lego, cuddly toys, sonic screwdrivers and Harry Potter wands, but no household furnishings. When you travel with everything on your back you have to be very minimalist.
Do you have a pet joining you in this journey? If so, has this been complicated? Any advice?
We now have 2 bunnies and a guinea pig and yes, they’re a MASSIVE pain. We adore the little baby bunny, she’s a sweetheart, but the big one isn’t very friendly and the guinea pig makes me itch, so Tuft is our favourite. She just hops around outside with us, never runs off. Advice, yes, don’t buy pets, they’re a nuisance. We have to get people to look after them when we’re away and that’s hard. We’re road tripping right across Europe this week, Romania to London, the bunnies are coming too. We have the perfect vehicle for bunny transportation, a 4×4 truck called Sexy (after the TARDIS) otherwise we’d be looking for bunny-sitters again.
What is your best resource to find items you need for your place?
Our nearest Ikea is about 10 hours drive away, but I’m still going to say Ikea, love that place! Local shops are very limited here.
If you could only have one of the following in your home which one would it be and why?
space, natural light, dishwasher or above average internet.
Above average internet! Ours is bad and it makes life hard. I don’t want a dish washer, ever, space isn’t a big deal, but yes, I do need light and to be able to see outside, I hate being boxed in.
If you were to compare your unique (less traditional) home decorating style to a kitchen appliance or gadget what would it be and why?
Sorry, I don’t have a decorating style here, it’s not my house to decorate. But I always go very Asian inspired in our own properties, so I’ll say a Sri Lankan string hopper maker. If you don’t know what one is, you need our Sri Lanka travel blog
How do you keep traditions alive for your family in your unique living situation?
Christmas is our only real “traditional” thing. We don’t celebrate things like Halloween, Mother’s Day, Easter etc.
We’ve been stationary every Christmas so far, that’s important. We always have a tree and Santa comes. Here in the village we’re immersed in their traditions, so it was lovely last year to have small children come carol singing and be gifted with Romanian Christmas food. On 26th December there was a huge festival of tradition, the costumes, the really weird goings on, bears, bells, it was like nothing you can imagine, stunning. We usually pop down to the church for the big events here too, Easter is bigger than Christmas, the villagers all dress up, floral skirts, white blouses, headscarves, waistcoats, hats, sheep coats and fancy embroidery. Actually they dress up every Sunday for Church, but sometimes it’s just bigger, more people, adult kids home from city jobs. The Romanian traditional events are fascinating, I can’t tell you all about them here or I’d be writing a book, but we document a lot of them on our dedicated Romania travel blog
How do you decorate for the holidays in your unique (less traditional) home or do you skip it all together?
As I said above, we have a tree, I bought a real one last year to plant outside. Sadly it died, I have no idea why!
I have a few decorations, we don’t go crazy. In previous years we’ve bought a fake tree and a few baubles that’s gone to the charity shop once we’re done. We had fun last year making natural wreaths for the doors with pieces from the pine trees. Our garden is full of pines and fir cones along with apples, pears, plums and walnuts.
We have fairy lights out on the porch that we use all year round, and Buddhist prayer flags that we just brought back from Nepal. The villagers probably have no idea what they are!
What is your favorite part about this lifestyle choice?
I just love this little house and the village, for me this is paradise. Funny isn’t it? We lived on a beach in Australia and I really didn’t like it much at all, but here, this is my happy place. I think the weather and the seasons are a big part of it, I love watching the village change, the succession of wild flowers in the meadows, the planting and harvesting then the snowy winters. We ski then, just up the road.
The freedom that comes with living here is great too, it’s easy to fly to London, or east to Asia. We can drive all over Europe if we choose. Our living costs are tiny here so we have good financial freedom too.
Many traveling families subscribe to the “house is not a home” theory. What is home to you?
Cities towns, or countries are homes. London is home, so is Wales. Now this village is home too. But we also feel at home in places we visit often, like Bangkok, Sri Lanka or Kathmandu. My favourite place in the world is the high Himalayas, but it’s a bit impractical to live up there!
What makes you love the place you live?
As I mentioned above, the seasons. Of feeling connected to the weather, the soil, the plants and animals.
Being outside surrounded by wild flowers. These incredible, hard-working, generous, resourceful people. The snows that turn the mountain roads into Narnia. I just love it and I love that my kids are getting a chance to experience and observe this lifestyle.
Can home be a person, or an idea?
No, I don’t think so. More of a feeling of belonging. I feel strongly that I’m more “me” when I have a backpack on my back, I belong on the backpacker circuit so that has a “home” feel too.
Words of wisdom to anyone considering venturing out into the world of unique, less traditional homes?
Just do it. If you have a dream, follow it. Live your life your way and ignore the traditionalists. And seriously think about not sending your kids to school!
What is next for you? Will you continue to live in your current home or try something different?
Tomorrow we’re heading to London for a while, in the fall we’re going to do something spectacular for my 50th birthday, we have no other plans. We take life as it comes. I hope we’re here in the village for Christmas and all of the ski season this year, last year we missed a lot of the snow as we were in Sri Lanka, Nepal and Dubai. This year I want the kids to get really polished on the slopes. Maybe our paperwork for the house will come through so we can start building!
How do you educate your children?
We are dedicated to home educating the kids. We were doing this before we started travelling and will continue for as long as it works. I would see school as a total waste of their time, they learn so much more pursuing their own interests and travelling as we do. You can call it worldschooling or maybe unschooling, I don’t mind, I’m not one for labels. In Australia, where we began their education, all forms of home education come under the label “homeschool” for registration purposes and that word has stayed with me. I have a dedicated homeschooling website and I talk about homeschooling on the road on our main family travel blog.
Because we started out as registered homeschoolers, I know the curriculums and system very well, I used to have to submit learning plans and reports. It was a pain having to do all that paperwork, but I’m glad I have that deep knowledge. I feel strongly that education outside school is a brilliant option and I’m dedicated to spreading the word and helping now homeschoolers make the shift.
How do you make a living?
My websites bring in money, at the moment, just about enough to support us, $2000 per month or thereabouts. We can travel and eat, all four of us, on $50-$100 per day, depending on destination. Money comes in through Agoda and Amazon affiliate links, Google Adsense advertising and paid advertorial content. When you have a big social media following, as we do, people will pay you to share their product or service. Sometimes, not very often, we take up free travel and hotel deals in exchange for covering them on the blog. We’re very choosy about the ones we take. Our income is growing but it’s a lot of work and I don’t as yet have any assistants. I’d like to live 100% from the blogs, soon ! I want my husband to be free and to work alongside me, at the moment he hardly contributes, but he’s taken on Snapchat for me at least. My husband works a few months of the year in London as a chef to top up the funds. Our house back in Australia is rented out which more than covers the mortgage. I work as a VA from time to time, mostly on Pinterest, that’s my speciality, we can also do paid travel planning and advice.
Quote to ponder:
If you have a dream, follow it. Live your life your way and ignore the traditionalists.
I have too many websites, I’m going to start merging them.
You Tube World Travel Family TV
Lord Pug ( my 12-year-old!)
Facebook World Travel Family
WOW! RIGHT? I am totally loving this family and I cannot wait to meet them in person one day. By September we will be closer to Romania so hopefully we will be able to connect. Make sure you go and follow them on all of their social media.
Thank you Long family for sharing your amazing, inspirational and heartfelt life. And please come visit us in France.