Meet: Alyson of World Travel Family | The Expedition

Alyson, the blogger behind World Travel Family, owns a house in Australia. But she, her husband (“Chef”) and their two kids (D and Boo) hate the idea of “living” anywhere. 

For six or seven years before the Covid-19 pandemic, the family traveled full-time. 

“It was an easy decision,” Alyson says. Before taking their family on the road, they lived in far North Queensland, Australia. The nearest museum was six hours away—a big change from when they’d resided in London. “We wanted to show them all the wonderful things in the world and we thought they needed that diversity in their lives to grow up well-rounded.”  

They’re especially fond of Asia, and have been to Thailand alone more than 30 times. Alyson is the family bread-winner, and supports everyone with her travel blogging. The whole family helps at times—her husband with accounting and research, the kids with writing and photography. Because of the pandemic, they’re all parked in Australia. 

“Once borders open I’ll be on the first plane I can find,” she says. 

Alyson shared her family’s essential piece of clothing, her advice for educating kids on the go, and how they decide where to explore. 

In three words, our travel style is… 

Freedom, lifestyle, curious. 

The first big trip we took as a family was…

When D was almost 2 and Boo was a bump, we went from London to Florida for Disney. We’ve been back several times since. Boo’s first big trip, I think, was London to Australia when we moved—he was 11 months. But living in London we were forever hopping over to Europe for shorter trips. Back then we both had normal jobs so time was limited. We started full-time travel when they were 6 and 8 years old, which was a good age; we waited until we thought it would be sensible. I’d actually recommend waiting until they were teens if you’re doing it for educational value.

I’ve had a life-long fascination with…

The world. Particularly Asia. I’m just curious, I want to see and experience things for myself. I don’t think anything in particular triggered it—it’s just the way I am. If I’m not travelling, I’ll be reading travel literature and trying to find out about anything and everything. My husband is the same: he packed his bags and moved to London from Australia as soon as he’d finished his training. It’s just an instinct and a fascination. One of the kids has it; the other I think will be more of a homebody.

Some of our favorite destinations have been…

London, Thailand, Vietnam, Nepal and Romania, I think Vietnam would be the most popular all-round. Mostly because of the food. We’re a family of food-lovers.

My best advice for families who are considering educating their kids on the road is…

Don’t play “teacher.” You’re still mum or dad, or guardian, don’t even think of becoming their teacher. Teachers aren’t necessary at all, just bring them up, love them, stay curious and learn together about all the things in the world. Use YouTube, Google it—you can learn absolutely anything that way. The only thing you can’t learn from real life is how to pass exams. But, should you choose to take that path, those skills are easily acquired in a short time. 

No child needs to spend their entire childhood locked away in a classroom, the real world is way, way more inspiring and fascinating. Also, don’t be scared of technology, great things come to the technically competent and competency comes through use.

When we first left home we had two large…

Adult backpacks and four carry-on-size daypacks. That’s a good amount, but we don’t recommend getting small children their own bags—it makes life harder. Lately, we just take carry-ons. We have a few “bases” and good friends around the world where we’ve been able to stash Lego, ski gear and triathlon bikes. But basically, we carry as little as possible. If we need something for a particular destination or activity, we buy it. At one point we were travelling with all the gear my husband needed for international Ironman events, including his bike, plus four laptops and 16 cuddly toys. That was hard, but it was possible. Usually, now (pre-Covid) we take shorter trips, a few weeks or months. For those, we just take carry-ons and my laptop for work. Everyone else makes do with phones.

We decide where to travel mostly…

Through convenience. What’s cheap, what makes sense, what’s close. We prefer to travel overland wherever possible, and that’s very easy in Asia or Europe. Also, of course, curiosity and interest. We don’t go to countries that don’t interest us and we always stay flexible. We always want to be able to stay an extra week or shoot-through fast. We go back to the same countries over and over again to learn more and discover new places. We’ve been to Thailand maybe 30 times for instance, likewise Kuala Lumpur—not least because they are the huge travel hubs for the region.

Our must-have travel gear is…

Jeans. We wear jeans every day, in every climate. We wear them in the tropics and we’ve worn them at Everest Base Camp. Special travel clothes are just unnecessary. Good backpacks and day packs are essential, decent walking shoes or boots for trekking and rubber flip flops for everything else. Hats and scarves are important too, in every climate. We take minimal toiletries but we swear by solid shampoo bars. 

The tech we carry includes…

Travel-sized laptops, phones, microphones, a gimbal and drone. They’re must-haves for us, but obviously not for everyone. The one item I can’t recommend strongly enough for travelling kids is an e-reader. My boys were huge readers always and books aren’t usually available.

I’d really like people to not use…

Cruise ships and huge resorts. You don’t get a feel for the country you’re visiting that way. I’d also like everyone to think about plastics, emissions, equality, privilege, and the planet.

I didn’t want my kids growing up thinking…

Any one country was better than any other. I also didn’t want them to be nationalists, I wanted them to be responsible global citizens and consider the planet their home and everyone’s home. For sure, it’s worked so far.

My favorite travel app is…

It depends where you are and what you’re doing. Sometimes it’s Uber or Grab, sometimes it’s Google Maps, sometimes it’s a hotel booking app. You need different apps for different destinations and activities.

Other families can learn about us from…

We own several websites but our big travel site is World Travel Family. It’s one of the biggest travel blogs in the world and you can use it to find information on travel to around 50 countries. We also cover food, blogging, and many aspects of homeschooling or worldschooling.

Sara Clemence is a freelance journalist, formerly travel editor for The Wall Street Journal and news director for Travel + Leisure. She's the author of Away & Aware, a guide to mindful travel.

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