Celebrating Luna's 3rd bday at the Château de Versailles in Paris
I got a interesting message from Rachel in Nashville, and I feel like its time to share some of the nitty gritty on what its like to be a single working mom who travels the world with a toddler. I try to ignore the "who's your sugar daddy" type of questions as it's only offensive to assume we "as women" can't make our own dreams happen.
"... I have a few questions that I know myself and fellow followers ponder. I want to know how to make this travel/live abroad dream a reality. I would love to know some of your back story and learn how you got to this amazing life. How did you get started as a world traveler? Do you have a traditional career that keeps you in a certain location most days? What struggles have you found get in the way of your travel goals? $? Time? Day job? Custody? And how have you overcome those obstacles? If speaking from a mentor perspective, what advice can you share for wanna be world travelers and those that want to take the first steps but don't know where to start? ..."
How to make this travel / live abroad dream a reality...
I just want to start by saying I moved abroad for love, and ended up as a single mother, which wasn't really the plan. There are so many advantages to living abroad, but it takes so much work and patience. For example the toilets don't flush the same, there's no family around, the language barriers, how europeans love paper work, customer service is like unicorns (doesn't exist), schools, road signs, even my coffee machine is foreign. If you can make it through these tidious things, you can make it through anything. What I did choose after loosing my brother was to make the best out of these situations, find solutions, and make "memories" a priority, because that's all we have at the end of the day. Life is truely what you make of it. I think the first step to any goal or dream is just having the guts to jump into the unknown and try to make the best out of what could be the worst situation.
How did you get started as a world traveler?
Coming from Nashville I always wanted to be something more than a wife or hang out at the same bar for 30 years earning my name on the chair. But being from a small town there aren't a lot of people interested in discovering the world around them. I got up the courage when I was 19 to apply as a nanny abroad, that was my first adventure beyond the 50 states. After that, it was really hard to come back knowing so many incredible things in the world existed. Once you get that first taste of culture, you are always striving to know and discover more (technically addicted).
Do you have a traditional career that keeps you in a certain location most days?
I have the great privilege to manage a non-profit foundation, for Women in Science here in Switzerland. I get to work with brilliant women who strive to have careers and families, watch their struggles, and help them make their dreams a reality as well as learn from them. One huge reason I chose to stay in Switzerland is for the vacation time. Its a mandatory 4 weeks, and I actually have 5 weeks paid (need I say more?). I work 3 days a week in the office, with a hectic schedule some months, and other months are more relaxed. When I work overtime, I choose vacation instead of pay.
Luna acting as my secretary for the day.
What struggles have you found get in the way of your travel goals? $? Time? Day job?
Funniest part about this question is, I never even thought about having a toddler as an obstacle. Money is definately the thing you must have and time. I think in today's business world most business is done via email or skype, this is an advantage for a virtual workspace anywhere. Talk to your employer for vacation days instead of overtime. For myself, it's important to always have a constant flow of money coming in. If I travel for two weeks, I prefer to airbnb our apartment for two weeks. I try to sell old clothes, do surveys, film jobs, websites, pretty much all kinds of things on the side so I have some kind of extra income coming in. Don't forget to ask for your cut up front. What I mean is, if you hook someone up with a realtor or caterer where they end up doing 10'000.- in benefits (just an example), ask for your cut and you will keep sending them business. I never regret asking and they don't regret getting business.
Well this can be tricky. My advice is you need to know the law FROM A PROFESSIONAL, in any situation where there is a child involved. Don't just listen to what your friend or google says, and get things written, stamped, and signed. Another HUGE ADVICE, is to remind yourselves to never use your child as a tool in battle, not only will it come back at you, this is between adults and not your children (I see it too often). This is what we did, and we have clear communication. He travels as well with Luna and I have a copy of his passport with a letter stating I have his permission to leave the country with our daughter, vice-versa. Sometime's our travels get in the way of "set" custody time, so we work on solutions to make it fair. KEEP THE PEACE whenever possible.
What advice can you share for wanna be world travelers and those that want to take the first steps but don't know where to start?
To be honest, I think what's holding most people back is the anxiety of going into the unknown / traveling, especially with children. We don't have enough examples of people actually doing it, and companies tend to advertise to couples or friends and not to families (except for Disney). I think its a shame, and personally travel is 1020223743 times better sharing it with my child.
You want to travel, you want to have an adventure, then stop being envious.
The first step to your adventure begins when you buy that plane ticket. Buy that plane ticket a few months out, then the next month book the hotel, and for that last month save for your spending money. There are a milion things I could ellaborate on, but once you have bought that plane ticket, its kind of like you are 6 months pregnant and in just a few months- your life is gonna change forever.