Are We Ruining Their Childhood by Traveling?

ruining their childhood by traveling

Bonjour friends! Happy Friday! In anticipation of the WorldTowning launch (we are almost there folks) I will be sharing oldies, but goodies from the past several years of blogging.

I can’t wait to share our new adventure with you. If you want to get a jump on the WorldTowning launch you can sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of this post. Early newsletter subscribers will get a special pre-launch goodie. Let’s just say that there will be a drawing (after launch) that will involve time in a country outside the US. And those of you who sign up pre-launch get your name entered three extra times.

Published September 8, 2015

Hola, friends. Happy Tuesday! Hello, new followers, and hello to my regular crew! Welcome! Are you ready to follow our crazy travel journey? You joined us at the right time: we move to country #2 in 20 days. Quito, Ecuador, here we come. Packing. Worldschooling. Designing. Blogging. Oh my! Oops, and parenting. Almost forgot that big one at the end.

The other day, I was asked if I thought we were ruining our kids’ childhood by traveling. Of course, my first smart ass response was to toss the question back in his court, “Do you think you are messing up your kids by staying in one spot?” But I could not do that in good conscience. I just don’t believe a childhood is messed up because some of us choose to travel and others choose to stay in one spot. I see benefits to both traveling and staying put. Neither is the RIGHT answer. Is there really a RIGHT answer to this parenting gig? Isn’t it a bit individualized? Here’s the thing: Will and I are messing something up in their childhood. We all are. Whether we travel or stay home we are going to make mistakes. That’s life. The Sueiro family is just doing it with an ever-changing backdrop. But are we specifically ruining their childhood by traveling? I really don’t think so.

What I can say for certain is that our family goals and values are much more clearly defined now that we are traveling. We have the time to focus on our family and what matters most to us. The following were our five key reasons for traveling with our kiddos when we started out a year ago and they still ring true today:

We want to spend enormous amounts of time with them for
the remainder of their childhood. 

We value education and feel that learning through travel is priceless.

We want them to have an epic, out of the box childhood.

We want to expose them to real world experiences and people
who live different from us.

We want to invest in making memories and building relationships
instead of buying stuff.

Now, if the above reasons for traveling are one day going to screw them up, we’re prepared to take that risk. I can see it now. “Mom, I wish you would have chosen to spend less time with us because it really messed me up.” “Dad, how could you have ever thought that visiting the site of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima would be more educational than reading about it in a textbook.” “I wished I could have seen the world on my dime!” “Why did we have to go white water rafting in Costa Rica instead of buying a new flat screen TV?” Who knows? Maybe they will be messed up by that last one. Now, I’m not trying to say that just because you live your life very differently than we live ours that your kids childhoods will be ruined either. I embrace diversity in our human lifestyles and experiences. But what it comes down to is that ruining a kids childhood goes deeper than the simplicity of traveling with them or staying put. I think we all know that.

Will they be pissed off one day because they missed the prom? Maybe. Will they dream of making that winning goal on a sports team? Maybe. Will some of the pop culture jokes from their home country go over their head? Maybe. On the other side of the coin, will they be disappointed that we never ventured beyond Florida for family vacations? Maybe. Will they wish we had more family time instead of career and personal obligations? Maybe. Will they resent our constant pressure to make them shine in every aspect of their life because our ego needed the fix? Maybe. Can you see how this can go either way? We absolutely can and that’s why we decided the risk of “messing them up” through travel was worth it. There is no secret formula to the perfect childhood.

In the end, this is our journey and our choice. I never presume to know what is best for anyone else’s children and I demand the same respect in return. We are all here on this journey together as parents, right? We all love our kids and we believe we are doing what is in the best interest of their mind, body and spirit. So yes, Will and I are messing up something, for sure. You are too. Our neighbors are as well. And so is the president. If it was not for our mistakes and the ability to learn from them then history would continue to repeat itself.

Time is the greatest gift to share with each other. ~ Quvenzhané Wallis

To the gentlemen who was concerned that we may be messing up our kids’ childhood. Yes, we are messing up something. What we are not messing up is giving them two parents who love them very much. Two parents who have taken great risks to give them a life full of love, dreams and time. Avalon and Largo when you look back on your life and our mistakes (because there will be mistakes) we hope you always remember we gave you the gift of our time and love. And we have never regret it.

Your turn, readers! Whether you are traveling or staying put, do you have concerns about “messing” up their childhood? Do you wish you could travel more? Do you wish you could stay put more? Let’s share. There is such comfort knowing that we all have concerns about “messing” up their childhood. We are all on the same team and the support we can offer each other is priceless. I like to say there is not “team travel” or “team stay put” in our house. There is team “parent” and we must all stick together and be sounding boards for one another.

I hope you are having a fabulous day!

Besos,
Jessica

February 17, 2017Permalink 16 Comments

How We Create HOME While Traveling

create home, travel

Bonjour friends! Happy Thursday! In anticipation of the WorldTowning launch (we are almost there folks) I will be sharing oldies, but goodies from the past several years of blogging.

I can’t wait to share our new adventure with you. If you want to get a jump on the WorldTowning launch you can sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of this post. Early newsletter subscribers will get a special pre-launch goodie. Let’s just say that there will be a drawing (after launch) that will involve time in a country outside the US. And those of you who sign up pre-launch get your name entered three extra times.

Published February 26, 2016

Hola, friends! And just like that, it’s Thursday (oops, Friday now) and the hot Latino is home again. Today was a big day for us at the visa office (after 14 visits locally and one trip to the US) we are finally legal for 6 more months. Yeah! I will be publishing the long-awaited Ecuador visa extension post on SATURDAY (yes tomorrow). I am so excited I can barely contain myself. We celebrated with take-out pizza tonight (last night)! Papa John’s! Today let’s talk about how we create home on the road.

I get a considerable amount of inspiration from many of my FB groups, but especially from the Worldschoolers group. Several weeks ago there was a thread asking how travelers create “HOME” wherever we go. There were so many amazing suggestions on the thread. What a true inspiration these families are. Many of them have put enormous thought into what home means to them and how to create it on the road. Amazing.

AvaLar, Will and I were all born in the US, therefore it will always be some version of home to us, but our true understanding of a home is where the four of us are. We don’t consider home a physical location, but more of a state of mind. Home for us is not something that can be taken away because of lack of funds to finance it or because of a fire, etc. Home travels with us all the time. We are our home.

During World War II, when America was imprisoning Japanese families in camps, a reporter stepped up to a little Japanese-American girl waiting at a train platform. “How does it feel to be without a home?” the reporter asked. “Oh,” replied the girl, “we have a home, we just don’t have a house to put it in.”

Are you still shaking your head saying, “Yeah, but how do you really do it?” Today I would like to offer some suggestions as to how we create home on the road.

  • TRADITIONS: We carry our traditions with us as we travel. Mentally, not physically. And then we find a way to recreate them in our travel location. Thus far this has proved to be far easier than we had anticipated. In addition, we collect traditions from the places we have lived and add them to our bag of tricks. Now I must confess that trying to recreate a tradition in a country that does not celebrate the tradition is not always easy, but in most cases, you can find a way to make it work. We have been known to make our own Christmas tree out of recycled cardboard and eat green eggs on St. Patrick’s Day. It’s not that hard to keep traditions alive, you just need to be flexible, committed and creative.
  • DECORATE + BAKE: We travel with art supplies. And we love to make decorations or cook to celebrate our traditions. It does not cost much to make a piece of artwork for the wall or cook up a dish that relates to the holiday we are celebrating. Since we  cook and bake a lot, I do travel with my spices. I know, weird, but I get really annoyed when I want to make a dish and cannot find the spice I need in the store. I also travel with natural food coloring, some cookie cutters, and cupcake papers. You never know, folks! They take up only a small amount of space, but yield great amounts of happiness for the kids.
  • ROUTINE: This is a pretty easy one for us. Our routine travels with us. We still read to our kids every single night, no matter where we are in the world. We still have our weekly movie night where they get to eat while watching their movie. We still let them take a big, bubbly, leisurely bath (pending our rental has a tub) every Sunday night. We still have dinner together as many evenings as possible. And we still ask them what the “best and worst” parts of each day were. For us, taking our routine on the road has not been very difficult yet and hopefully we will be able to keep this routine as we continue to switch countries.
  • SPECIAL OBJECTS: Our children carry special comfort items with them as we travel. We don’t allow them to bring everything they want, but we are sympathetic to their needs. Some of these special objects have been swapped out over time as they have matured and their needs have changed. Largo still has his blanket made by Billa and Avalon carries Smokey who was given to her by a fireman when our house in LA caught on fire.
  • KEEP IN TOUCH: FaceTime and Skype are our buddies. We keep in touch with family and friends frequently. We also make new friends along the way that we keep in touch with as we travel. The kids love sharing the adventures, trials, and tribulations of our life. Plus, they love hearing about what is happening back in the US and in our old neighborhood.
  • FAMILY MEALS: In Costa Rica, our cook prepared dinner for us five nights a week and we all sat down together as a family. It was lovely. I must confess that meals have been a bit interrupted in Quito considering Will’s travel schedule and the kids’ activities. However, they are still a priority and we fit them in whenever we can.
  • MAKE FRIENDS: If you read this post about culture and language immersion you know that making friends is a big part of our travel life. It is also a big part of how we form a community and create home wherever we land. When we arrive in a new city or town I have already done my research and made an attempt to connect with other travelers who might be living in or passing through the city. I am not shy about suggesting a meetup. You have to be able to step beyond your comfort zone in this lifestyle and aggressively find community. In addition to reaching out to other travelers, I also connect with the families at Largo’s local school. I will either send an email explaining our situation or suggest a meetup. Again, I just jump in and go for it. We have found that families are very welcoming and eager to meet a new family. We also socialize with individuals and families from the various activities the kids are involved in. Basically, we jump into any situation that offers the opportunity to be social and engage in conversation with locals or other travelers. So far our method has proved to be very successful and has helped us to form communities, another small way we create home.
  • ENTERTAIN: This is a been huge one for us. HUGE! We have a lot of parties in Quito. Honestly, I am tired by the end of the work week, but I make the effort because this is another way we form community and home. At our parties, we have had friends from Largo’s school, friends from Avalon’s homeschool group, friends from the French Alliance, friends from activities and new traveler friends we meet online. Plus, it’s always fun to make new friends from different cultures.

All of these suggestions work very well for us, however, they do take dedication and a strong desire to create home in a foreign country. We still miss many parts of our birth home, family, and friends, but with some effort, we have been able to fill the void a bit.

Have a fantastic weekend everyone. Thank you so much for your patience as we navigate this visa approval process, surgery, work travel, schooling and so much more. I know I have been a bit MIA the last couple of weeks, but I do plan to make it up to you.

Besos,
Jessica

How To Make Money And Travel

money and travel

money and travel

money and travel

money and travel

money and travel

make money and travel

make money and travel

make money and travel

Bonjour friends! Happy Wednesday! In anticipation of the WorldTowning launch (we are almost there folks) I will be sharing oldies, but goodies from the past several years of blogging.

I can’t wait to share our new adventure with you. If you want to get a jump on the WorldTowning launch you can sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of this post. Early newsletter subscribers will get a special pre-launch goodie. Let’s just say that there will be a drawing (after launch) that will involve time in a country outside the US. And those of you who sign up pre-launch get your name entered three extra times.

It is interesting to read this post from almost a year ago. Wow has our professional life changed.

Published March 7, 2016

Hola, friends. How was your weekend? Did you adventure or just hang tight at home and soak up the solitude? As most of you know, I had a surprise guest last week and into the weekend. It was so nice to play tourist and catch up with my friend Megan. She had to head back to Boston on Sunday morning. Since she left, I’ve been working my butt off in order to finish up my “to do” list and my final design project before I take off for Mexico on Wednesday. Life is good, but I do miss our little rascals. They’re currently in Florida enjoying both sets of grandparents.

Several weeks ago we did a guest post for Gone with the Wynns “Make Money and Travel series.” I thought I would share it here on my blog since we get asked this question quite often. It was written before I retired from career number 1, but you get the idea. The premise is that where there’s a will (not the hot Latino in this case) there is a way. We are not rich. We’re not trust fund kids. We’re just a family committed to a dream. It’s possible to make money and travel without being wealthy.

Describe your working situation and what line of work you are in?
Hello everyone. We are the Sueiro family, formerly from all over the US, but most recently from Cambridge, Massachusetts. We set out on a one-year adventure to Costa Rica in order to immerse our children in a rich culture and to spend copious amounts of time together. Well, long story short, we loved it. We had always fantasized about switching countries every year or two with our children, but we never thought it was theoretically possible. Finances were our biggest worry, money and travel did not seem hand in hand. But traveling without being financially independent is possible. We did it. It took a lot of blood, sweat, and tears (lots of tears), but the outcome has been a life we thought was only obtainable in our dreams or for the uber wealthy, which we are not. Today we are on our second year of travel and we currently call Quito, Ecuador home.

Since this is a post about making money and travel, let’s just jump right in. My husband Will and I both work online, but this was not always the case. We were once corporate employees engaging in the rat race day in and day out. I have been working remotely for over a decade as a graphic designer, but Will is brand new to this world. When our first child was born I attempted to negotiate an alternative work schedule at my corporate design job, but the company I was working for declined. They said that if they gave me this freedom, they’d have to give it anyone else who asked as well. That’s when I decided it was time to branch out on my own and create a work environment that would allow me to customize my day, but also spend time with my child and future children. Cucumber Design was born that day. It’s still going strong over 10 years later. Several years after opening Cucumber Design, we moved to Boston. At the time, I was petrified that I would lose all of my Los Angeles based clients because of the lack of face time. Instead, my first year in Boston was my busiest year to date! To be honest, it was busier than I preferred, considering that we’d added another child to the family. Work continued, the years passed by, and then one day we had this crazy idea to travel the world with our children. I was not a bit worried about my work because I had a pretty solid track record of retaining clients from another part of the globe, but Will was concerned to say the least. We are just over a year into this digital nomad, location-independent life and the work is still coming in. This career has been really good to me. It’s allowed me the flexibility I wanted to have while raising a family and living internationally. However, I will be officially retiring from as a graphic designer as of January 2016. I have other creative projects that I want to pursue and I’m unable to do this with my current workload. Since we’ve been able to lower our expenses by living outside the US, I have the opportunity to focus my professional aspirations elsewhere. In addition, I’ll be turning our real estate investing hobby into a full-time income stream, if all goes well. These are a few ways that we make money and travel.

My husband is the one with the more interesting story. Will, a CPA, was in Public Accounting for seven years and in corporate accounting for an additional seven years. This is not to mention his days working for cruise lines. He’s been pressed, groomed, and styled to enter the rat race for as far back as I can remember. When we made the decision to pursue this travel life on our own (without a lofty expat package) he was the first to freak out. How would he find work? Did his area of expertise require him to sit in a corporate office forever? Would we be able to eat? Of course, me being the eternal optimist, I assured him that he was smart, experienced, and capable. I knew that he had handfuls of contacts from decades in this industry and once they realized that they could lower their expenses by hiring him from off-site, he would be golden.

Will made the frightening decision to put in his notice almost two years ago. We took off on our adventure 15 months ago and I’m happy to report we can put food on the table, save for retirement, and pay our medical bills. I cannot pretend that the road from “resignation to now” has been bump free, but it has proved to be much more beneficial than we had ever imagined. Money and travel can go hand in hand if you play your cards right. Will found work online almost immediately after we landed in Costa Rica. It’s clearly not as much as he’d been making when we left the US, but we did not need as much considering we had lowered our expenses by almost 75%. As luck or hard work may have it (I tend to believe the latter) former colleagues called him after six months in Costa Rica and asked if he would be interested in working as a contractor with the freedom to work from a country of his choosing. Yippee! He now makes about the equivalent of what he made in the US. It’s not always ideal. The work is project based. He often has to travel to Asia for weeks at a time and frequently has conference calls at 2 am or 11pm. We now have to pay our own medical, we don’t have company profit-sharing, and of course if he is not working then he does not get paid. However, he works from home. We see him a lot, sometimes have lunch together and he can occasionally pick Largo up from school or work on Avalon’s schooling with her. It’s a win-win. The company does not have to pay benefits or worry about office space and we get to live the life we want. It’s a lot of work and there are some downsides, but we do have enough money and travel. This big risk has turned out to provide great rewards. I am grateful that we stepped outside our fear and took this plunge.

At what point did you realized that you could bring in enough income to continually fund a location independent lifestyle?
Both Will and I have been in the same lines of work for several decades now. And as I stated above, I am ready to branch out into other streams of income that I feel align more with my current professional goals.

It depends on who you ask. If you ask Will, he’ll say that we still have not realized that we can bring in enough income to continually fund a location independent lifestyle. We are both contractors and at any point we can lose clients and money. This is always in the back of Will’s mind. As for me, I see us doing it now and I believe we can continue to do it. If a client goes away, we’ll find another one. If an industry or career becomes obsolete, we’ll reinvent. I’m currently in the process of reinventing, due to burn out and other dreams I want to pursue. I know we can and will always make money, but the capacity at which this takes place in may vary. Plus, we always have the option to move to a less expensive country or simplify our life more. For me the question is not about when we realized we could fund this location independent lifestyle, but more about when we realized that we had to find ways to always fund this location independent lifestyle. When you change the way you view the process the options become limitless. This lifestyle really works for our family; therefore I will do whatever it takes (obviously within reason) to make money in order to continue to live it.

Has deciding to travel and work been a good decision for you?  Has it improved your quality of life, added more freedom to your life or has it all stayed the same?
Overwhelmingly, yes! The funny thing is that we truly loved our life in Cambridge, we loved our kids’ school, we loved our family and friends, but we felt a greater calling to travel and that is why we took off on this adventure.

Has it improved our life or added more freedom? It really depends on which day you ask us. Ha!

When we entertained this digital nomad, world traveling, and worldschooling lifestyle, we wanted to get the following out of it:

  • We wanted to spend enormous amounts of time with our childhood.
  • We valued education and we wanted all of us to learn through travel.
  • We wanted the kids to have an epic, out of the box childhood.
  • We wanted to expose them to real world experiences and people 
who lived different from us.
  • We wanted to invest in making memories and building relationships
 instead of buying stuff.

We have accomplished all of the above, plus we have grown a much stronger family bond of teamwork and consideration of each other’s feelings and emotions. We now have the time to take a 10-minute break from work in the middle of the day and entertain the big questions that these little people often have. Hands-down, our quality of life has improved. In regards to our freedom: some days we have a lot and on others we have none. We still need to work and keep our clients happy and sometimes that compromises our freedom, but overall, we feel like we are in the driver’s seat of our lives for the first time. We compromise some freedoms in order to get other freedoms. Some months are crazier work-wise than our life in the US and other months are much quieter, but in the end we are seeing the world with our kids and still able to make a living. We think it’s pretty darn cool.

How many hours do you put in a week and what does a typical workday look like for you?
I put in between 20-25 hours per week with my design work, but I also world school one child, manage our real estate and much more. Some weeks are 60 hours and others are zero. It varies depending on the project and the deadline. There is no typical workday in my life. Since I worldschool one child and the other is in a brick and mortar school here in Quito I juggle my work between their schedules and spend a lot of time working evenings and some weekends. I can often be seen working from coffee shops, outside classrooms, occasionally at home, in airports and once in a while from a bathroom. I have learned to be very flexible and ready to work under any conditions, hence the bathroom. It is not always ideal, my neck and back clearly suffer, but I am able to raise my children, be location independent and make money and travel the world. I have no complaints.

For Will, his hours are still intensive (between 45-60). His typical day revolves around the time zone his project is rolling out in. On most days, he aligns with an EST time zone work day, but he could also have a 2am or 11 pm call with Asia. When he travels, all bets are off, he works in pretty much every time zone.

We both have to be flexible with our vacations and our lunches. We have been known to skip lunch or eat at our desks more often than I care to mention. It is not ideal, but we don’t exactly live a conventional life. We are willing to make these sacrifices in order to have this life we once only dreamed of.

If you are willing to say, what is the average yearly salary for someone in your line of work?
Will makes a comfortable US salary and that is a very good thing because although we’ve lowered our daily expenses, we have had some  unexpected expenses this year. I make a not so comfortable US salary. You all know how art pays. But I’ve been happy in this career and you can’t put a dollar value on that. We don’t live the high life and we try to be fiscally conservative, but we do want to explore the area we are living in as well.

How long did it take you to start earning a comfortable/typical living for this line of work?
Comfortable is an arbitrary term. First of all, we do not need much to be comfortable. In fact, for what we are trying to teach our kids, we want to live like we’re barely scraping by. We are targeting a less comfortable lifestyle (without sacrificing health and safety). If you were to ask Will, comfortable means having 1 year’s expenses in the bank. We are nowhere close to that. In my opinion, we will probably never get there. I have ambitions of further investing in real estate, which will eat into the savings plan. It’ll pay out in the long run and we’re both prepared to take those risks.

What are the most essential pieces of equipment or programs you need for working while traveling?
I need my computer, the Adobe Creative Suite, and an internet connection. I don’t always need an internet connection, it depends on what part of a project I’m currently working on.

Will has a client provided laptop. He logs in via a VPN and therefore needs a reliable, secure, and fast internet connection. He always carries a wifi hotspot with him. Our handy little hotspot has bailed us out more than we can count.

If someone else out there wanted to get into the same line of work, what type of education would they need? College, trade school, nothing?
As a designer, an education is always a plus, but I know many designers who got their degrees in a field other than design, myself included. I do recommend art school or a heavy personal education in art, as well as some business classes. If you are going to run a small business it is always an advantage to have an idea of how this all works.

As for Will’s job, you would need a heavy background in accounting and finance with a college degree.

Who are your clients? Do you find them or do they find you and how? What is your rejection rate?
My clients are all over the US and a couple in Europe. My clients find me through referrals. This was not always the case. I used to do promotions, mailers, and cold calls. Once I hit a point where I was overloaded with work, I started working with referrals only. I have continued on this path for many years now. My clients are a combination of large corporations looking to outsource some of their in-house design work and start-ups. Over the years, my business has changed drastically. Several years ago I created a niche for myself in branding (which I love) and pretty much 90% of my work today is solely in branding. I have seen a greater rejection rate in the last year or so due to the ability to purchase a logo online for $99. Obviously I charge well over that. I bring a lot of experience, research, and much more to the table that cannot be offered for $99. Usually price is the issue with my start-up clients and that is where my rejection numbers are higher. The large corporations have the budgets and want to work with someone with experience. I would say that I get 7 out of 10 clients that I pitch. The 3% that I don’t get always try to get me to lower my price and sometimes I do if they are a start-up or non-profit I believe in. The referrals come to me so by the time I speak with the client they have usually looked at my website, know my work, have researched other designers and are ready to go. I don’t have to do a lot to get the work, but if I wanted to grow the business, I would have to come up with a strategy to solicit new customers. This is how I’ve made money and travel go hand in hand.

Will’s clients are former employers and colleagues. He has spent all of his professional life building his network. Will has always worked hard everywhere he’s been employed and he’s now leveraging his connections for work. His work ethic is second to none and I am glad to say that it’s paying off and allowing him to make money and travel.

What’s the best about working while traveling? Those things that make you think wow, I really am living the dream.
Our three favorite things about working while traveling are the flexibility to work from anywhere, the ability to set our own work hours (me more than Will) and the ability to make a US income while living in a lower cost of living country. It’s actually often cheaper to live internationally, which is one of the ways money and travel work together. As we have traveled about, our office has ranged from a rooftop deck overlooking the ocean to McDonald’s (sometimes you just have no choice).

What’s the worse about working while traveling? Any ways you’ve found to avoid or cope with this frustration?
Our three worst things about working while traveling are the following:

  1. Lack of flexibility. I know I mentioned this above as a favorite, but it deserves to be in both categories. Yes, we may be able to take off on a three-week hike in Peru during the slow work time, but we may have to work over Christmas because a client has a project rolling out. It is truly a double-edged sword, but one that we are willing to play with.
  2. Internet outages. Although it does not happen often, this is definitely the most frustrating for Will. Usually this is when we have to work while on vacations (yes, that still exists in our world). We have taken measures to ensure that any internet outage does not impact us more than momentarily with the internet hotspot, but it is mind-numbingly frustrating nevertheless.
  3. Computer issues and the lack of resources to fix them immediately. I can speak from personal experience when I say that this is a complete nightmare. I had my computer go crazy on me after three weeks into our new life in Costa Rica. There was no Apple store, just an authorized repair shop. I had told all my clients that it would be a seamless transition and bam! The solution is to always have a backup computer and to make sure all of your work is backed up daily, if not hourly.

If you could go back in time and give yourself advice about starting in this line of work, what would it be?
That is a great question. I think my advice would be to find a career that you love, but also to cultivate a passive stream of income as well. I have truly enjoyed being a graphic designer, but I have hit burn out at this point. I am now focusing my efforts on doing work I still love, but work that can generate a passive income as well. Start cultivating passive income at a very young age so if you want to take a year off (and not work) you have that flexibility.

As far a being in accounting, Will’s motto has always been to be an expert in areas no one else wants to, but where there is clearly a need. As much as this would be the description of every accountant in his opinion, he hears that there are depths within accounting that even the accountants do not want to enter. Have a skill that is needed and work hard at honing that skill.

What is one of the most creative ways you’ve heard of someone else funding a location independent lifestyle? The one that made you wish you had thought of it first!
Since we are a traveling family we come in contact with other creative traveling families all the time. I have heard of many interesting ways that people have figured out how to fund their independent lifestyles. I guess my favorite would be buying a boat and then chartering it on weeklong trips with other families. It is not a new concept and clearly something anyone can do. I love the idea of inviting people into our floating home, feeding them delicious meals and taking them on adventures all while making money. Someday.

Questions? Feel free to PM me. I love chatting about travel and work.

Besos,
Jessica

Family Bonding On The Road: Benefits Of Spending Time Together

family bonding on the road

Bonjour friends! Happy Tuesday! In anticipation of the WorldTowning launch (we are almost there folks) I will be sharing oldies, but goodies from the past several years of blogging.

I can’t wait to share our new adventure with you. If you want to get a jump on the WorldTowning launch you can sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of this post. Early newsletter subscribers will get a special pre-launch goodie. Let’s just say that there will be a drawing (after launch) that will involve time in a country outside the US. And those of you who sign up pre-launch get your name entered three extra times.

Published May 31, 2016

Hola, friends. Hello, new followers, and welcome to the adventure! Introduce yourselves, please. I am excited to hear your stories!

Ok, I know I said that today would be a Galapagos cruise post, but I changed my mind. As summer approaches I become quite nostalgic about our time with our children. Are you with me? I am blindingly aware that we only have six summers left with our eldest. Only six summers left! How did this happen? She was just born. Wow, does it go by so incredibly fast. I just blinked. I know I have more time than most people have with their kids since one is worldschooled, the other is out of school by 1pm, and I work from home, but I guess I always want more. We have had some amazing summer adventures void of responsibility and schedules. And we have another epic summer planned this year with trips to three different countries, another move, seeing friends and family, camping and so much more. I CAN’T WAIT! There is positive energy buzzing around this house in anticipation for another amazing summer. Are you ready for summer break and copious amounts of time with your children?

I am not going to pretend that our travel road is always paved or that we are sipping margaritas by the sea. But what this lifestyle has provided us with is a life that we never thought was possible. We are able to intensely immerse ourselves into cultures different from our own, work from home, reduce our living expenses, learn new languages, live more authentically, remove external pressures and much more. However, by far the greatest benefit this lifestyle choice has offered us is the ability to spend copious amounts of time together as a family. Family bonding on the road has been a big benefit of the travel life.

Today I plan to get a bit more specific with the actual benefits of spending extensive amounts of time together. Are you ready?

Family Bonding
I remember a day when we were ships passing in the night, over-scheduled kids and over-worked parents. There was no time for us to bond, we were just trying to survive the day. This cycle would repeat over and over again. Why? Because that is what “good” parents do. They make sure their kids get to try their hand at every activity, they make sure they have an active social life and they make sure they have the childhood that will yield the greatest future professional success (sarcastic undertone here). Family bonding, there was no time for that.

Flash forward 20 months and wow, have we bonded. According to the internet, family bonding is the time the family spends together interacting with each other over a group of activities or a project. It is nothing complicated and yet so many of us forget to make it a priority in our lives. I was guilty, some days we are still guilty, but mostly we are not. Family bonding on the road is easier because you are spending time together naturally.

We now play games, build stuff, volunteer, develop childhood businesses, and so much more as a family. These moments in time give us the ability to get to know each other on a level beyond homework, activities and social engagements. These moments grow family bonding on the road in new areas and bring us to levels I had no idea even existed within families.

In addition to family bonding on the road, I have watched Avalon and Largo build a stronger bond as siblings. Their bond has grown into one of respect, friendship and general care for each other’s well-being. Now, they are still siblings and they do fight, but the change over the last 20 months has been greater than I had every expected.

Teamwork
In our previous lives, we had no time for teamwork. Our family motto was “divide and conquer.” It was the only way we could accomplish everything we needed to accomplish. I always felt like we were four people on four different agendas and that I was required to live in all four worlds. Each night when my head would hit the pillow, I’d convince myself that tomorrow would be easier and we would take the time to smell the roses.

In order for this travel life with digital nomad parents and worldschooled kids to work, we have to have teamwork. Team Sueiro. Our roles are interchangeable and that goes for the children as well. Sometimes Will and I both have calls in the evening, so Avalon reads to Largo and snuggles with him. Sometimes Largo has tons of homework, Avalon has been in activities all day, and I have a deadline. Guess who helps Avalon with her schooling?

I love that our children know they are part of our team and that we need them. Plus, it’s great for them to observe my husband and I stepping outside of traditional roles. I see this as such a gift for them as they enter into adulthood and possibly choose a partner one day.

Understanding
Will and I have been able to develop a deeper understanding of each child and how they function, an important part of family bonding on the road. It is truly a gift to have the time to understand what makes your child tick rather than just pushing them through their emotions to the next task on the list. Plus, it gives them the luxury of time to understand why they feel the way they do.

Being able to understand each child on a deeper level has made us more patient parents because we are able to deduct why something happened and sit with the child while they figure out an alternative solution.

We are by no means perfect and each stage and age offers its own set of challenges. But, we have become much more aware and in tune with our children’s needs through spending copious amounts of time with them and slowing life down a bit.

Emotional
As our children age, their needs change. I am finding that emotionally, they need us to be much more accessible than in previous years. Our lifestyle choice has allowed us to be available for them throughout the day. Yes, we are working, but we can always stop to talk if need be. The more time we spend with our children, the more likely we are to be approached when these topics come up, because they know we are receptive and accessible.

Our daughter is entering an age where she has questions about her body, the opposite sex, and her emotions. I remember when we were in the States, these questions would always come up at the end of the day during snuggle time. Why? Well, that was the only time we had a moment to stop, think and reflect on the day. I was so tired at that point that I was not fully emotionally present. Most days I just wanted to get the kids to bed and sit down for the first time. Now that I am available during the day, these mini chats can take place when the topic arises. We have had some of the best emotional connections over a snack, or on a walk to an activity or during our morning routine.

Present
We get to be there to watch them grow up. The way I see it, we have them for 18 years if we are lucky (some more and some less). Over the course of a lifetime, that’s a small number of years. I want to be present as much as possible during those years because once they fly away, they will be off on their own adventures.

Spending copious amounts of time together affords us the luxury of being present for all of it. We get to see them lose their teeth, discover something about themselves, rejoice in the simple moments, snuggle, read to them and rejoice at the end of each day that we were truly present.

Influence
When we spend loads time with our children, we become the biggest influence on them… not the nanny, the grandparents or the daycare. Of course, we want our children to interact with other adults during their time with us, but we also want them to be raised with our morals and values. Whether they choose to adopt them as they become adults is their choice, but while they are with us we hope to instill many internally motivated characteristics that project kindness. I am not saying that this cannot be done if you have limited time with your children, but it is much harder.

Fun
Well, I think this goes without being said. Kids are fun. Period. When you spend a lot of time with your kids you do get to be there for the fights and emotions, but you also get to be there for the FUN! Kids have energy, they have creativity, they have a zest for life and appreciation for the simple things. I truly believe it is the greatest gift to be chosen as their parents on this amazing journey.

There you have it, my list of benefits for spending copious amounts of time with our children and how we manage family bonding on the road. Let’s grow this list. Tell me your benefits.

Hope you are having a fantastic Tuesday.

I will meet you back here tomorrow for Inside A Traveler’s Walls! Yes, it’s back!!!!

Besos,
Jessica

 

February 14, 2017Permalink 2 Comments

6 Life Lessons In 18 Months of Travel

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Bonjour friends! Happy Monday! I hope you had an adventurous weekend. In anticipation of the WorldTowning launch (we are almost there folks) I will be sharing oldies, but goodies from the past several years of blogging.

I can’t wait to share our new adventure with you. If you want to get a jump on the WorldTowning launch you can sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of this post. Early newsletter subscribers will get a special pre-launch goodie. Let’s just say that there will be a drawing (after launch) that will involve time in a country outside the US. And those of you who sign up pre-launch get your name entered three extra times.

Published March 22, 2016.

Hola, friends. I’ve had this post in my drafts folder for a long time. The title once read, “6 lessons I have learned in 12 months of travel.” I think it’s finally time to give this baby airtime. What do you think?

We’ve learned so many lessons both individually and as a family, I can’t possibly begin to identify all of them here. However, today I’ll share my top personal lessons from our 18 months of travel. I have grown, folks. Ten-fold. Big time! We don’t know what we don’t know, right? Just when we think we cannot possibly stretch ourselves anymore, we’re truly put to the test and enlightened on so many levels.

In no particular order, I introduce you to my lessons from 18 months of travel:

Patience:
When I was created, a very crucial piece was left out: patience. I never really possessed patience in my younger years. Luckily, in my adulthood I was blessed with a very patient husband and two children who showed me how to develop patience rather quickly. I am not perfect; I still have room to grow. However, travel has forced me to develop patience when I might have otherwise given up or freaked out. It’s not going to do any of us any good if I freak out on the immigration lady because I have to return to their office over a dozen times (mostly due to their errors, not mine). Right? Actually, it could very well get my visa denied. It wouldn’t be fun to leave Ecuador under the cover of darkness. Ha!

I find that the areas in our travel life where patience is the most difficult are as follows: Waiting, being understood in a foreign language, and navigating a new city.

Waiting

When traveling, you will end up waiting quite a lot in various scenarios. I’m an American and we’re used to having things operate quickly and efficiently. However, most of the rest of the world places priorities on other parts of life, which can be challenging if you are used to your way. No amount of huffing and puffing or confrontation is going to move the process along faster. Once I learned to breathe and roll with the waiting process, my experiences became much more enriching. I started to see the waiting game as part of the traveling process rather than as an encumbrance. I began to take this “waiting around” time as an opportunity to read to my children, play a game, have deep conversations, chat with my fellow travelers, or to just sit idle and reflect. 18 months into this journey, you can find me patiently waiting with a bag full of tricks, snacks, and a sense of peace that I rarely had when we started this journey.

Communication

I have developed patience in regards to being understood. So far we have done relatively well.  Will is fluent in Spanish, the kids are close to fluent in French, and I can sort of get by. However, there are times when we all fail miserably. It’s humbling to struggle to be understood in a new language. It’s not the recipient’s fault, therefore we’re forced to use extreme patience when communicating our needs. I’ve often had to resort to charades and drawings, but I practice great patience when trying to be understood and miraculously the results are usually positive.

Navigation

I have developed patience when navigating a new city. This is hard and exhausting. Think of any time you’ve moved house. Those first couple of weeks were really tough, weren’t they? Now imagine adding in a language you don’t understand, new schools, a different currency, unfamiliar food, a business and so much more. Sounds fun, right? Now do it every 9-12 months. Bonkers!

As most of you know, our first several months in Costa Rica were incredibly difficult. It’s no joke learning to navigate a new city and all of the aforementioned is also tough. It is often impossible to remain patient when you have a to-do list a mile long and you’ve spent most of your day waiting around or trying to be understood. Oh boy, do I know this well. Remember when I moved to Ecuador with the two kids, seven bags, six carry ons and NO hot Latino? Those two weeks were a true test of my patience in navigating a new city. The bright side is that it took considerably less time the second time around than the first, maybe because I had learned a thing or two about patience. The only way to survive navigating a new city is to breath and practice patience.

Gratitude:
I don’t even know where to start with this one. I can honestly tell you that I wake up each day grateful to be alive, to have a healthy family, to still have all four of our parents with us, to be able to spend copious amounts of time with my children and Will, to be able to dream big and bring those dreams to fruition, to have friends that will go to the ends of the earth for us, to have the freedom to travel almost anyplace we want and so much more. I am grateful and I never, ever take my life for granted.

Even though I consider my home in the spiritual sense to be with Will, Avalon, and Largo, my physical home will always be the USA. I’m grateful for where I come from and the amazing freedoms we have as a country, even in the current state of affairs. I am grateful that I come from a country that fights for women’s rights, affords everyone an education, makes dreams come true and so much more. The more we travel and discover global perspectives, the more I become thankful for things I had never considered before. For example, the freedom to marry whomever I want. While in India, I learned about the caste system in great detail and the powerful role it plays in individuals’ lives. Many countries do not afford women the right to an education, to vote or to choose who they marry.

I am grateful to be able to step outside my comfort zone and continue to grow. Not everyone in this world is allowed the luxury of stepping outside their birth country to challenge themselves, returning whenever they feel necessary. In some parts of the world, when you make a decision to leave your extended family you are never welcomed back. In addition, many countries experience extreme poverty and the citizens have no means to leave the poverty behind. I feel for these people and their circumstances while at the same time I express gratitude for the circumstances I was born into. At the end of the day, it’s just luck that I was born into the family, country, and lifestyle that has afforded me many opportunities that are not enjoyed across the globe. For that I have extreme gratitude.

Simplicity:
I love this one. I have always been a no-frills, simple-living kind of gal. However, once we had kids, “stuff” started to accumulate and life began to stray from simplicity. This “stuff” added chaos to our lives and reaped very few benefits. We went from a four bedroom house, to a two bedroom apartment to two suitcases and two carryons each. And guess what? We are all doing just fine. No one is wandering around pining for their stuff. We are still able to adventure, enjoy our time together and live fully. Plus, we don’t have to spend much time on organizing and cleaning all of our stuff. We now have copious amounts of time to focus on things that matter to each of us.

We have also simplified the “busy” in our lives. If you live in the US, you know about this constant glorification of busyness. We kicked that busy to the curb. Some of the busy we have to keep in regards to work, but overall we lead a very slow life compared to our over scheduled selves in the US. I love it. Although we work hard, I feel less stressed and overwhelmed on most days.

Simplicity also plays a role in the way we adventure. We know how to keep costs down, pack light, and take adventures that meet our simplicity needs, yet yield great rewards. We try to travel during off-season, avoid crowds, touristy adventures and much more. We find that taking a simple approach to our adventures keeps us all balanced, happy, and at peace.

Finally, we made a huge effort to streamline processes for our businesses, personal and investments. We automated as much of our life as possible, only keeping a US PO Box for emergencies (although the junk mail is slowly taking over). We never open a local bank account in the countries we reside, we walk instead of purchasing a car and insurance, buy local, make what we have work, seldom shop and much more. We are continually working on ways to further streamline our life to free up time that we had previously spent with inefficient systems. It feels so good.

Acceptance:
The biggest area of growth I have experienced in regards to acceptance relates to other cultures. Traveling has greatly enhanced my ability to accept differences in opinion (unless, of course, someone is racist, then I have no tolerance), education choices, religious beliefs and so much more. At the end of the day, we are all human beings and must accept each others differences. There is a great education in understanding another culture and how it operates. If I have learned anything from acceptance, it is that people are generally genuinely good and helpful across the planet. Once you open yourself up to accepting differences, you can see the true beauty in our uniqueness. As a result, the realization that we are all doing our best to practice kindness prevails.

I have also learned acceptance where trying new adventures is concerned. We have a “say yes” policy in our home. This means that we accept new experiences and give them a shot before we judge them and say no. I can honestly count on one hand the number of times we’ve declined a new adventure and it’s usually because of money, safety, or logistics with Will’s work travel. We generally feel better about saying yes to a new adventure than we do about turning it down.

Strength:
I have learned that I am stronger than I ever thought I was, physically, mentally, and spiritually.

If someone had told me two years ago that I would be moving to a new country where I did not speak the language with seven bags, six carry ons and two children, I would have laughed. But I did it. I packed up our life in Costa Rica and moved us to Ecuador without Will (who was in Asia for work). We do travel as light as possible, but it was still a task that took a great deal of energy, strength, and commitment, but I (we) did it. The kids were a tremendous help. It was a great lesson in strength that will stay with us forever.

Additionally, I’ve found the strength to adventure alone with my children. I know single parents are doing this every day. You are my heroes. I would never try to compare my life to yours, ever. However, when you’re used to adventuring with a partner and are then suddenly forced to make the decision to stay at home or go without them it can be challenging. The good news is that after the first time, I realized how feasible it was to do this on my own if need be. Of course, I don’t like adventuring without Will, but sometimes it’s necessary. Now I know I’m capable of it.

Dreams do come true:
I know, it sounds corny, but it’s true. Most of you know our story. This journey to a slow travel, digital nomad, worldschooling life took years. Actually, it took close to a decade. We started with a dream to be corporate expats on a cushy company-funded package which would yield little financial stress and risk. After seven years of near misses, we finally gave up. But then we spent a summer in Paris. When we returned we came to the realization that we would need to do this on our own if we really wanted it. We planned hard-core for an entire year. We are now on our second country with our third just around the corner in under 18 months. I am not going to pretend that this life came easily. I am not going to pretend that it is currently easy. We work hard each and every day to keep this dream our reality. Some days are harder than others. We are not one of those stories you read about on the internet where we’re working 20 hours a week. Obviously, we wouldn’t turn that down if it came our way, but presently we work hard for this lifestyle and never take it for granted. And… it has all been worth it.

If you work hard and commit to your dream, it is possible. Don’t let anyone tell you your dream is a joke or unobtainable. I have seen traveling families accomplish amazing goals because they committed and believed that their dream was possible.

Tell me, what lessons have you learned from travel?

Besos,
Jessica

February 12, 2017Permalink 4 Comments

Letting Go and New Beginnings

Bonjour friends. How was your weekend? Did you adventure? I had to hunker down and work on Saturday, but Sunday we went for a fun adventure to meet up with another WorldTowning™ family. I will share their story in the next Inside A Traveler’s Walls (which is on hold until we launch the new site) in just a couple of weeks, almost there. Lets chat today about letting go and new beginnings.

Last week Will and I made the decision to “let go” of something that means a lot to me. Something we worked tremendously hard to obtain, something we sacrificed a lot for and something we were (well, I was) emotionally attached to. Folks, it was hard on me, really hard, but it was necessary in order for us to keep growing and step into the future … WorldTowning the business and our next WorldTowning location!

When I say it was hard for me, I mean I was a mess. I was resistant, I tried to find a way around it and an alternative, in the end the best decision was to let go. But time heals all wounds, this week I have a new attitude and I am on to the next step. Luckily, the Hot Latino is much more of a realist (which often drives me bonkers) than I am and he just laid it all out on the table for me. And you know what is on that table? WorldTowning, the brand, the movement, the key to an authentic travel future and our version of giving back to something we passionately agree with. We believe in this business model so much that we are giving up “things” that would have been unheard of just a couple of years ago. Travel does it, it makes you think, it makes you deal with what you don’t want to deal with, it makes you dream big and commit. And that my friends…is a good thing. A very good thing.

When we make a decision to do something we go all in, if you haven’t noticed yet, and WorldTowning is no exception. What is the exception (at least this time) is my husband. And some say people can’t change, bah! Funny, everyone thinks I am the WorldTowning vision, nope it is Will. He is WorldTowning in more ways than I could ever be. It was my idea, but his vision that brought this to fruition. This was a man who just 2.5 years ago was freaking out about not working in a corporate office and us starving to death. Well, we have not starved to death and now we are starting a business together. Who would have thunk it? “Not me,” said the wife. What a pleasant surprise, but being married to him does not come with a shortage of tough love. I have never started a business with a partner and boy do I love it. When I have bad days (and I do) he is there to kick my ass and get me back on track, in a good way. I don’t always like what he has to say (hence our hard decision last week), but I respect it. He puts thought into every move he/we make.

I have been thinking about the art of letting go a lot, even before last week. I guess I thought our big “letting go” was when we left the US almost three years ago, but what I have learned during this WorldTowning life is that we have had to let go of a lot during the journey.

We have let go of a mainstream version of normal and created our own “new” normal.

We have let go of an education paradigm that did not fit our goals for our children.

We have let go of how we are supposed to look and behave in our 40s.

We have let go of some friends.

We have let go of materialism.

We have let go of doubt.

And most of all we have let go of FEAR!!!

I read something the other day that really resonated with me. A writer said that she was not letting go, but unbecoming what she should have never become to begin with. It is about unbecoming experiences that shaped you in the wrong ways. Can you relate? Are you unbecoming any part of you? Your marriage? Your career? Your parenting? Damn this adulting stuff is hard work! Are you with me?

So as we enter into the final weeks before launching WorldTowning I want to hear your thoughts on letting go and new beginnings and UNBECOMING. I welcome the sharing of stories on this blog. Your words give me pause as we branch into another amazing chapter and change in our life.

And thank you readers for all your support, for sticking around while the blog is in transition and for embracing a life authentic to your dreams. You get one shot at this, unless of course you believe in reincarnation. And if so, I want to come back as a cat.

Bisous,
Jessica

p.s. There is no time like the present to sign up for the WorldTowning newsletter below. I thank you in advance.

 

 

Weekly Update + Hyères, France

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Bonjour friends. Lets wrap up this week and get the weekend party started.

ROUND UP time!
OUR WEEK: I wish I had tons of interesting tidbits to share with you this week, but it has been slow over here. Well, slow with adventure and fast with work, 15 hour days to be exact. We are under two weeks away from launching WorldTowning and the Hot Latino happens to be out-of-town for work again. Hmmm, fishy, right? Today was a good day… the police did not visit (a post for another day), a kid did not go missing and no one threw up. Yep, it has been one of those kinda weeks.

FEAR: Lets chat briefly about fear today. It has been on my mind this week as I am on the cusp of yet another big change. And I do have fears, for sure! Many people we meet are quick to assume that nothing scares me because we travel. Well, travel does not scare me. Safety while traveling does not scare me. Medical care in a foreign country does not scare me. Screwing up my children because we travel does not scare me. But, you know what scares me? Regret! It scares the crap out of me.

I don’t want to be filled with regret because I DID NOT take a chance on the unknown. And that is why we are bringing WorldTowning to all of you. Because we want you all to travel!!! And we are going to help you get there. And I don’t want to have regrets in my elder years about what I could have done.

Today I ask you to please share our story, our blog, our vlog, our Instagram, our Facebook and help us grow this Worldtowning community before we even launch. We need all of you to spread the word, challenge the norm and fight those fears.

 

SHARING TIME!

ONLINE ABUSE OF WOMEN: Are you tired of it? Have you ever been exploited? This Ted Talk piece by Ashley is very powerful. *Graphic language

40 YEAR OLD NOMAD: Has the thought crossed your mind? *Graphic language

LIVING: Janne the poet is calling bullshit. Are you living your dream? Is today the day you make a change?

THIS: Equal pay. I love seeing big companies bringing it!

ANOTHER THIS!

 

NEW VLOGS
PARIS TOURISM – A heartfelt day to give back.

 

HYÈRES OBSERVATIONS + BEYOND!
My plan is to share discoveries, observations and pretty much randomness from days in France. Of course there will be more lengthy posts on the information that deserves more air-time, but so much is happening that it cannot all be in one post.

HYÉRES, FRANCE:
Today I want to share some images from our sweet village in the south of France. There will be a full post one of these days, but for now lets just enjoy the pictures and dream about the weekend.

Have a fabulous day!

Bisous,
Jessica

Factors To Consider When Flying As An Unaccompanied Minor

Bonjour friends! I hope you had a fabulous weekend. Did you go out and adventure, learn about the world, spread kindness or bond with your family? Unfortunately, we said good-bye to the Hot Latino for 12 days as he adventures back to Boston for work. While he was packing up it dawned on me that I have never done a post about factors to consider when flying as an unaccompanied minor.

*Each airline has their own set of standards and age requirements for a minor traveling unaccompanied. Please check with the airline directly to confirm the information in this post as their policies often change. 

As many of you already know our children have been traveling unaccompanied internationally since we left the US almost three years ago. At the time of their first flight (without us) they were ages 7 and 10. They flew to Florida from Costa Rica on a direct flight. The next time they flew unaccompanied they flew from Ecuador to Florida and on the return they did a layover. And the most recent flight was the first time one of them flew without their sibling, with a layover and through the night. If you notice we have done this process by way of baby steps while working towards the end goal of solo travel, unassisted to anywhere in the world.

So, did we just wake up one day and decide to send them on an airplane? Not exactly. See, we have spent the last decade cruising the globe with them, either on vacations or now as full-time, slow travelers. They have been enrolled in our Airport 101 (hands-on) class for years. This basically means they are our eyes and ears anytime we step into an airport. What is involved in our class you ask?

  • Navigation: As far back as I can remember Will and I have encouraged them to lead the way in the airport. This means from the moment we enter the building until we retrieve our bags they are responsible for reading signs, checking us in, getting us to security, finding our gate and much more.
  • Security: They have always carried their own bags, even when they were toddlers. Their job was to remove the appropriate items from their bag and put them on the conveyor belt and then repack the items on the other end.
  • Problem solving: Anytime we have encountered a problem during our airport time we have enlisted the kids help. Most to the time the problem is a delay or seat assignment issue, but there have been times where we have had to decide if we will sleep in an airport or give up our seats for free vouchers. Giving them the liberty to make decisions about travel gives them the confidence they need when the day comes that they will fly completely alone.
  • Paperwork: As soon as they could read and write we had them filling out forms: baggage tags, immigration and custom papers, you name it and they have done it. We have even had them fill out our forms to give them extra practice and give us a break (wink, wink).

When we started to entertain the idea of allowing them to fly internationally (without us) we considered the following:

  • Experience: Will and I discussed whether or not we thought they had enough training (I say this with a bit of sarcasm) and were up for the big challenge. Frankly we only discussed it for about five seconds. Kids are smart and resourceful.
  • Personality: Were their personalities mature enough to be able to handle a change in plans, change of seats or any other disruption that could occur while traveling. Also, would they be able to fly together in a supportive manner or would they fight the entire flight.
  • Self Care: Would they be able to take care of themselves in the event they had a flight attendant that was less than helpful. I have seen this happen on flights before, not often, but it does occur. As a result, a parent needs to be confident a child will ask for help if they are not getting it from the assigned attendant.

Frankly, I don’t think we give our kids enough credit in being able to do hard things. Flying unaccompanied gives them the impression they are doing it alone while still being mildly supervised. I know when we first proposed doing this our kids were super excited, but we did receive some push back from family that was fear based. You now your child best and what they can handle, both Will and I felt confident they would be fine.

GUIDELINES ONBOARD FLIGHT
We always have a conversation with the kids before they fly about what is expected of them inflight. They are a child, but when flying they are expected to behave as an adult. What does this mean exactly?

  • Practice kindness: They are expected to treat fellow passengers with respect, kindness and the same courtesy they would want extended to them.
  • Seat belt: They need to stay seated and keep their seat belts fastened as all times, unless they need to take a bathroom break.
  • Strangers: If anyone makes them feel uncomfortable at any time they should trust their instincts and tell the flight attendant. They should also request to be moved to a different seat.
  • Listen: It is important that they listen to any announcements over the loud-speaker in order to be informed as to what is happening.
  • Bathroom: They should use the bathroom in the center of the airplane, take their money with them and then return to their seat immediately. No loitering.
  • Stay with flight attendant: The flight attendant has been assigned to them. They must stay with him/her at all times unless they are being released to the person authorized to pick them up.

AIRLINE SPECIFICS TO CONSIDER

  • There is a fee, each way for the unaccompanied minor. This fee is for the flight attendant to take care of them. Be sure to send your child with documentation that this has been paid. Often it is not put in the file on the computer and you want to avoid paying twice.
  • They will not put an unaccompanied minor on the last flight out for the day. The reason is that if the flight is cancelled then they would have to arrange accommodations for the minor. However (there is always a however), what I did learn (for this past flight) is that if there is only one flight for the day then the unaccompanied minor can take it, no matter what time it is, but it does need to be in a hub city that has accommodations just in case accommodation is needed. And you ask how I know all this, well, are you ready? Avalon was flying back to Paris from Boston via Philadelphia last week. Her flight in Boston sat at the gate (fully loaded) for so long that she was going to miss her connection in Philly. It was the only flight of the day. Once Will and I (who were in Paris) realized this we called the airline and asked if they could detain her in Boston. Luckily, since she is a seasoned traveler and a great problem solver (oh and a girl who wanted one more night with her friends in Boston) she had already requested that they remove her from the plane in Boston so she would not have to sleep in Philly. What I learned was that had she flown to Philly (and she would have missed her connection) they have special 24 hour surveillance rooms for American Airlines minor passengers (because Philly is a hub) where children can sleep in pods if they are detained. Frankly, I think it would have been an interesting experience if she was with her brother, but I am happy it did not come to this since she was alone.

REMEMBER TO:

  • Make sure you pack snacks. In the event they are stuck on a runway for hours they will need food to keep them going. We all know that when the plane is on the runway for hours they do not deliver snacks and drinks to the passengers.
  • Send them with a bit of money. Again, if their flight is delayed and they are stuck sitting in the airport for hours they may want something to eat or drink.
  • Send them with sufficient clothing. Airports and airplanes can known for being cold.
  • Have them pack items they like to play with, books, games and more to keep them occupied on the flight.
  • Request an aisle seat. The airline will tell you it is their policy to put kids in aisle seats, but there are exceptions to everything. You don’t want your child trapped by a window, unable to get out  often if they need to use the bathroom or stretch their legs.
  • Make sure the person picking them up has all their flight information, a receipt showing payment for the unaccompanied minor, ID and your contact information.
  • Prepare your child for what to expect. Also tell them that the flight attendants have a lot of people to take care of and if they need something they may have to speak up.
  • If they are flying international (and they have never done this before) prepare them for what to expect when going through immigration and customs.
  • Track the flight with an app on your phone. Always be aware of where they are and what is happening. If you need to call the airline to intervene at all you want to have plenty of time. For example, on Avalon’s return flight to Paris there was a delay as I mentioned above. We tracked it diligently, when it got close to a point where it looked like she could miss her connection we called the airline. Even then, it took them 45 minutes to determine if the flight was at the gate still or on the runway and how they would get her off. Luckily, unannounced to us she had already taken care of the issue on her end. Which leads me to the next one.
  • To have or not have a cell phone. We made the decision to send her without a phone. She does not have one currently, we could have sent her with an old one, but we did not feel it was necessary. For a moment when we were trying to logistically figure out where she was with AA I wished she had her phone. The helicopter parenting part of me wanted immediate results, however in hindsight the fact that she did not have the phone gave her the ability to think on her own and problem solve. Otherwise, I would have been asking her to put the flight attendant on the phone, not a good idea.
  • When you drop off your child make sure you meet the flight attendant that will be taking her to the gate. I always say, “thank you for taking care of my child.”
  • Send a sheet with emergency contact numbers and email addresses for your child.
  • Have a back-up plan discussed with your child. And we learned this the hard way as well. We did not discuss what to do in the event Avalon was stranded in Philly. Frankly, it did not cross our minds because we assumed there was another flight out for the day if she was delayed. As I mentioned above we were unaware that children could fly on the last flight out if it was the only flight for the day. Also, it is important to discuss a back-up plan if your child is flying someplace where weather might be an issue. My suggestion is to check with the airline and ask how they would handle it if your child was stranded overnight in an airport.

DON’T DO THIS:

  • Leave the airport. We instructed our friend Megan to leave the airport a bit before Avalon boarded the flight. The weather was fine and all looked good. And guess what? Megan had to return several hours later to retrieve Avalon because the flight was delayed. You don’t want to put someone out by having them go back and forth to the airport.
  • If your child is not feeling well I suggest you do not put them on the flight. If they start to feel unwell once they are on the flight communicate to them that they should notify the flight attendant.

Have you sent your child on a flight as an unaccompanied minor? Do you have any suggestions you would add to this list? What was your experience like? Would you do it again? I welcome negative experiences as well. I think the more informed we are as parents the better we can prepare our children.

Have a fantastic day.

Bisous,
Jessica

Weekly Update + Paris, France

Weekly Update + Paris, France

Bonjour friends! Hello Friday or if you are three weeks away from launching a travel business… Hello another 16 hour day! But we are not complaining over here at casa Sueiro because things are happening.

ROUND UP time!
OUR TEAM: There will be a longer post celebrating the amazing team that has come together to bring WorldTowning to fruition, but for today I want to say thank you to all of them. We have web designers, a developer, a writer, a marketing/social media dude, an SEO lady, filmmakers and we are still adding to the this creative team. It is amazing what you can accomplish when you bring team members on board who have a shared vision to live authentically, seize the day and dream big. I am grateful for all of these hard working folks as we hunker down in the last couple of weeks before the big launch.

PARIS: We went, we saw (very little) and we did (very little). Well, we did very little if we are speaking in terms of quantity, but if we are talking about impact, then we did a lot. As most of you know we went to Paris to put Avalon on a plane to Boston for the Women’s March, we went to volunteer and we went to march ourselves. Even though we spent most of our time inside working on the WorldTowning launch we still managed to sneak away a bit. We made new friends, ate our weight in falafels (yes, I had four in three days), nursed (not literally) a very sick Largo back to health, exercised (if one can call walking up six flights exercise), walked on the wild side with Picasso, had our first veggie burger in France (the land of meat actually has vegetarians, who knew) and paid 6 euros for a coke (no joke). We were a bit bummed we did not get to adventure much, but we will be back in April, plus remember when we spent a summer in Paris? What should we have on our “must do or see” list for April? We missed the Catacombs during our summer visit so I have put that top on my list. Any other suggestions?

BYE, BYE, HOT LATINO: Will has decided that instead of taking off for a “work trip” right before we move to another country he will do it right before we launch a business. Dude? What is up with this guy? Joking aside, he is my business partner in this next chapter and he has definitely been pulling his weight, he might need a vacation. He loves it when I call his “work” trips a vacation. Right? Who doesn’t want to go to Boston in January for some meetings and 12 hour work days?

THE KIDS TRIPS: Next week I will give a full report on each of their World Peace trips. Overall they were a grand success. We are proud of their commitment to stand up for what they believe in. They are growing up so fast, we are giving them wings more often these days and they are doing great things with those wings. Let them fly folks. Tell me, how have you embraced the independence of your child? Do they have causes they are passionate about?

PODCASTS: We will be working all weekend, again. I would love your suggestions for some amazing podcasts. What are you listening to these days? Any suggestions for kids?

 

SHARING TIME!
7 Lessons: As we enter into the unknown with WorldTowning this video really resonates with me. #6 is my favorite and if you get out and travel you will realize this more and more.

HAPPINESS IS HERE: I only read a handful of blogs these days since time is limited, but HIH is one of my favorites. If you are on the cusp of homeschooling or unschooling and you are worried this is a great starter read.

 

NEW VLOGS
WOMEN’S MARCH FOR AMERICA – Avalon’s March for Rights

WOMEN’S MARCH PARIS FRANCE – Equal Rights for all – An American’s experience

 

HYÈRES OBSERVATIONS + BEYOND!
My plan is to share discoveries, observations and pretty much randomness from days in France. Of course there will be more lengthy posts on the information that deserves more air-time, but so much is happening that it cannot all be in one post.

PARIS, FRANCE:
Ah, Paris. It really is a magical city. As I mentioned previously this was a big work trip and less of an adventure trip. However, we did manage to fit in the Picasso museum which was under renovation when we lived in Paris for the summer. We also took yet another trip to the Eiffel Tower. My goal is to visit it in every month of the year. I can tell you that the lines are short in January and the top is cold. Ha! Our main goal was to shoot a video in front of the tower and we did accomplish it, but not without drawing attention from some very kind police officers and some very unfriendly security. Apparently Will and I (with all of our equipment) send up a bit of a red flag. Or it could have been what we were wearing and drinking. Wait until you see the video. Coming to you launch week!

Have a fantastic weekend.

Bisous,
Jessica

January 27, 2017Permalink 4 Comments

Women’s March Paris!

women's march paris

women's march paris

women's march paris

women's march paris

women's march paris

women's march paris

women's march paris

women's march paris

women's march paris

women's march paris

women's march paris

women's march paris

women's march paris

women's march paris

women's march paris

women's march paris

women's march paris

women's march paris

women's march paris

women's march paris

women's march paris

women's march paris

women's march paris

women's march paris

women's march paris

Bonjour, friends! Greetings from the Women’s March Paris! We are here, it is cold, we are working more than adventuring, but we marched. We marched with thousands of other individuals in the Women’s March Paris on Saturday. And it was rock ’em sock ’em amazing!

They said it would be dangerous and vulgar!

They said we should not march with kids!

They said pussy was an inappropriate word for a woman to use!

They told us not to wear the hats!

They said there was no point!

But we marched. 4.8 million of us marched on all seven continents (fist pump). We took our sons, our daughters, our husbands, our moms, our grandmas and many more. We shared stories. We bonded. We marched peacefully with class. We shared tears and laughter with our fellow marchers. We bonded some more. We grew. We concurred. Yes, we concurred. When 4.8 million people can peacefully protest in the name of equal rights there are no losers, just steps in the right direction.

As many of you know we travel the world with our children to learn about all the different people and beliefs in this vast land. As a result, I am sure it was no surprise that we would move mountains to attend a Women’s March. Even though we do not live in the US we continue to fight for our country and equal rights, no matter where we are in the world. We may not be marching in DC, but we are doing our little part every time we exit our home by learning about those different from us. We are on a mission to continue this approach for a very long time, one town at a time. I have never been prouder than I was this weekend to be American. We come together when the going gets tough. We fight and we do it peacefully. And to refine it even more, I am proud to be a feminist woman.

Big ole fist pump to all of you who marched this weekend and those of you who supported us from your homes. Thank you!

I have never protested in another country before. I had no expectations. Facebook expected 600 people at this event, but I assumed it would be more. However I did not think it would be approximately 6,000 more. Have you ever protested in a country other than your birth country? Was it very different from what you expected? How?

Here is what we observed during the Women’s March Paris:

  • The beginning felt like a protest and by the end it resembled a celebration. We left feeling connected to our brothers and sisters around the globe. We are all in this together, to fight for equal rights in our home countries and across the globe. What happens in one country affects us all. We are a team. Team World!
  • The French basically created the protest. They are really good at it. REALLY GOOD! They are articulate, well-educated in the topic they are protesting and amazing global thinkers. They were peaceful because they know this is the best method for success.
  • The shop owners were passing out free cheese and baguettes to protestors. Ok, that was not true, checking to see if you were paying attention. However, it would not have surprised me. Between you and I, I was secretly hoping for it.
  • It was obvious that the police were experienced in facilitating protests here in France. They were professional, approachable and helpful. I have heard the same sentiments regarding the marches in the US. Thank you all for your service.
  • There was no pushing, fighting, vulgar remarks (for the record I don’t consider the word pussy or nasty woman vulgar) or disagreements. There was no one yelling opposing thoughts from the sidelines. It was calm, peaceful and effective.
  • The pink hats did not make it across the ocean. Many of our fellow marchers said they did not even hear about the pink hat phenomenon until days before the march.
  • Almost everyone we interviewed looked at the march from a global standpoint. These are folks that are deeply concerned about history and it repeating itself. They see a trend and they want to fight it before it becomes out of hand.
  • We did not carry signs because we were busy filming and we needed our hands free. However, a friend taped one of her signs to my back. Next time (because we will protest again) we will make signs that we can wear over our coats.
  • There were not a lot of children marching, which surprised me. I cannot even imagine going to a march like this and leaving the kids at home. I am wondering if this is a cultural difference? I would love to hear from our French friends on this matter.
  • The weather was cold, but not unbearable. We were prepared for the Arctic. I don’t know what I was thinking. It is not like this was a two-day protest. I can’t stand to be cold so that always influences my preparations.
  • I would say as a majority there were more 20-30 year olds than any other age group. However, when I spoke with friends and Will they thought that those in their 40s and up were well represented. I know I saw a lot of folks who were well over 60, 70 and a couple that looked to be in their 80s. These folks had the biggest impact on me. You all know how I love millennials, but to be in your 70s and attend a march like this is so damn amazing. These folks left their warm homes, probably with some aliments, maybe with limited mobility and they marched. You seniors make me so proud. I want to be just like you when I grow up. Never stop being you, please! And thank you for remembering history (I know many of you lived it) and fighting to not let it repeat itself.
  • It is now several days after the march and I am starting to see some hate regarding the march online. I cannot speak for all the marches across the globe or even for all of the Paris march, but I can speak for what I experienced. I did not see any signs or altercations that suggested women who were pro-life were unwelcome. Even though I am pro-choice I never once considered this a protest to pit us against each other and it saddens me that some folks felt unwelcome and others are trying to turn this into a pro-life versus pro-choice battle. If I had seen any of this occur on either side the spectrum during my time marching I would have surely stood up to it. Also, I must say that I had friends march on every continent except Antarctica and none of them saw any evidence that pro-life supporters were unwelcome. Of course if you have evidence to the contrary please feel free to share it in the comments.
  • Also on my feed today a friend said that she asked a question about the meaning of one lady’s sign and she was met with animosity. Again, this saddens me. We interviewed close to 30 people at the Paris march. We asked them why they were marching and often what their sign meant (some of them were in French) and not once were we met with any anger or hostility. I think it is important to share these positive experiences because they seem to far outweigh the few negative ones I see circulating online. This event was a grand success. I recently read that there was not one arrest made at the march. That is impressive and should be celebrated. Of course, if you have evidence to the contrary, please feel free to share it in the comments.
  • Finally, I also saw a post about how some women did not feel the NEED to march. And that is ok as well. If marching is not your thing then no problem, however, I do not see why those who chose to march should be put down. In the end we all win when we march for equal rights. Yes there were some protesters who only focused on Trump at our rally (however, they were in the minority), but for our family it was not an anti-Trump protest. Now that is not to say that we are fans, we absolutely are not, but we were there fighting for rights that we feel are necessary for all of our fellow Americans. To make the generalization that this was an anti-Trump protest is grossly inaccurate, at least from my perspective in the Paris march. If you did not march it is probably not a good idea to make such assumptions.

We interviewed a lot of people (sorry we could not use all of them in the video). Everyone was eager to tell us “why” they were marching. We heard amazing stories of what people had overcome in their own lives and what they were willing to keep fighting for. We heard stories of millennials dedicating their youth to volunteering. We heard from families marching with three generations of women. We heard stories of dads marching with their daughters. We saw folks with disabilities marching and fighting for rights beyond their own personal needs. We met a grandfather marching with his 10-year-old granddaughter. We talked with lesbian couples, interracial couples and heterosexual couples all fighting for equal rights together. And the list goes on. But for me, the story that touched me the most was that of a group of millennial girls volunteering in a women’s center in a refugee camp.

The glitter girls (as I will affectionately refer to them as) were one of the last groups of people we spoke with. I was tired and ready to be done, but then Will pointed out this group of gals with glitter all over their faces. Now if you know me well, you know I LOVE glitter. How could I pass up chatting with my sisters from another mother? When we approached them to ask why they were marching and if they wanted to share their story they said “oh yeah” and did they have a story. See, they run a women’s center in a refugee camp in France and someone burned down their center two weeks ago. They had a clear mission for marching. And their story really hit my heart. I admire what they are doing on so many levels. We had an amazing chat with them and I even got glittered! Yesterday morning I woke up with glitter on my pillow for the first time in years, luckily it was Will sleeping beside me (ha). They are looking for long-term volunteers and donations to rebuild if anyone is interested. If you want to help you can click this link.

Lets go out and spread some sparkle, shall we?

Have a fantastic week! We get Avalon back tomorrow. All of us are eager to hear about her experience in the Boston march. Plus, we just miss her terribly.

Bisious,
Jessica

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