If you love to travel and you’re on social media, there’s a good chance you’ve come across the Makepeace family

Caroline (“Caz”) and her husband, Craig, are originally from Australia’s Central Coast, but now call the world their home. Caz first fell in love with traveling when she was 21 years old and backpacking through Indonesia for three months. 

“I couldn’t believe life could be full of so much adventure and discovery,” she says. “I instantly fell in love with the experience and the deeper connection I had with nature, people who were different to me, and to myself. I knew there was no other life for me.”

Since then she’s lived in five countries and has visited more than 50 others—10 with their daughters, Kalyra (13) and Savannah (9). The Makepeaces “life school” the girls while traveling full-time. They’ve worked various jobs along the way—teaching, doing carpentry, working for an airline, and more. Now they can live off their amazing travel blog. 

We caught up with Caz to chat about why you should start traveling while kids are young, one essential you should always pack, and why she’d like to return to a time before social media. 

In three words, our travel style is…

Outdoor, adventure, family

The first trip we took as a complete family was…

To New Zealand (North Island) when Savannah was 8 weeks old and Kalyra 4. 

My best family travel hack is to…

Prepare and start the kids young. 

Get the kids – no matter how young – to help you plan for travel. Even little kids can look at pictures and point to what they want to do. It’s about getting them excited and helping them understand what is coming. If they feel like they own part of the adventure they are more inclined to complain less and enjoy more. Older kids can even help research and plan the trip.

Start traveling with your kids when they are young so it becomes normal for them. Our girls have always loved flying and we’ve never had a stressful situation with it as they have done it since they were just a few weeks old. 

Since they could walk, they have been responsible for handing over their tickets and wheeling their bags onto the plane and finding their seats (with support when needed). 

They have their own entertainment bags, which they have been packing themselves since they were toddlers. Again, with guidance and supervision—but it’s about training them to be independent from an early age. They then become pros and the burden is less on the parents. The travel experience will flow much better and you’re all likely to have a better time. 

We have a family travel planning toolkit here which can help parents implement this. 

Some of our favorite hidden gems are…

Kakadu National Park and Ningaloo Reef in Australia; Sumatra in Indonesia and Idaho in the USA. 

The pandemic hasn’t changed…

Our travels much. We’re just doing it less frequently. We’ve always been a family that has focused on road trips, lesser-known destinations, and outdoor adventures, which is what suits the current pandemic situation well. 

My advice for other families who want to travel the way we do is…

Just do it. Stop putting all your attention on why it’s too hard, what all the potential problems are, and all the worries about how it will mess up your kids. Parenting is hard no matter where you are, so you might as well travel, have fun as a family, and make incredible memories together. It only strengthens your family’s bond and helps your children to grow in confidence and acceptance. 

Start slow. Practice by first traveling locally and getting used to the family dynamics as you travel. Understand the personalities of each family member and what travel style will suit them. 

We quickly learned when our youngest was 17 months that a long-term backpacking trip around South East Asia was not going to work with her personality. She has the highest energy of any person I’ve ever known. Chasing her around the streets of Thailand was the most stressful thing ever. Plus, you couldn’t find a fussier eater. That trip showed us that for her personality and our stress levels, taking a road trip around Australia was much better. That lasted for 18 months and we had a wonderful time. 

Do not go and…

Sell all your possessions before you figure out if a long-term travel approach is something your family WANT to do and can handle personality wise. Make sure you know what the challenges are, and if you think you can handle it, ensure you have plans in place to manage those challenges. 

Look to those who are doing what you want – families who do it for real, not just for the Gram. That’s a whole different style of travel and not reality on the road.  

Our favorite tip for saving money on travel is…

To make it a working adventure—earn money as you travel. Living abroad is our favorite way to travel and is the strategy we have followed since 1997. I’ve lived in London, Dublin, Bangkok, Raleigh, N.C., and various places in Australia. It’s helped me travel deeper and wider, save money, and have the most enriching experiences and memories. 

The various jobs I’ve had in other countries have provided me with benefits such as free airfare, free accommodation, and interest-free relocation loans! Plus, if you live and work in an expensive place like London,it costs you less to explore the region as you are spending local currency – and the pound can go a lot further than other currencies when you travel to neighboring countries (or further). 

Our strategy used to be to live in expensive countries, travel that way, save money, and then travel long-term in cheaper countries in-between living abroad experiences. Now instead of relying on jobs we have our own business, so we can earn money from wherever we like just with our laptops and an internet connection.

Our must-have travel gear…

Has changed as our children have gotten older. For younger kids, I recommend a hiking backpack and a scooter (if you are road tripping). The scooter makes exploring on foot so much easier!! No whining kids wanting to be carried. 

A good pair of waterproof hiking shoes/sandals are also invaluable. Keens are our favorite. They last for years and are good for any outdoor activity. 

What I’d love to change about travel is…

To return to the days before social media when people traveled for the experience and growth opportunities and connection to difference rather than for the perfect staged photo to gain the IG likes and validation.

The most important lesson my kids have learned from traveling is…

To believe in and see possibilities. They think outside the box and have a wide-open lens when thinking about the future. They’ve had such diverse and rich life experiences that have educated them in ways a school classroom could never achieve. It’s given them a huge amount of self-confidence and enhanced their curiosities to keep exploring and pursuing paths of possibilities. 

I just asked my youngest what she thought and she said, “Experiences are the most important things in life.”

As we like to say, “It’s all about the memories!”

Our favorite kinds of destinations are…

Places that have outstanding natural beauty that lend themselves to adventures like hiking, ziplining, kayaking and bike riding. Pair that with beautiful views and you have memories that last forever. 

We also like fun cities that have unique attractions, good food and coffee, and access to natural beauty. 

We’re patiently waiting for COVID to be done so we can start traveling abroad again and seek out destinations that have all of this PLUS cultures that are very different to our own. 

We decide where to travel by…

What is easiest to manage with the kids PLUS running a travel business as we travel. We have chosen destinations such as Australia and the U.S.A. to road trip for long periods of time. Now our girls are older, we’re ready to choose destinations abroad for shorter term trips so we can dive deeper into cultures that are different to ours. 

My bucket list is…

Never ending! Starting next year, we want to start exploring Europe. First up will be a UK & Ireland road trip, Paris, and the Greek Islands. I’m also yearning to return to Vietnam and backpack it with our girls. 

I pack way too…

Much! As a backpacker, pre-kids traveling through countries that experienced only one temperature, my packing style was as little as possible. It was easy to do. As soon as I had kids, it all turned to “better pack this just in case.” This need to be prepared for everything took over me and now I pack way too much. 

And because we travel to areas where you can have four seasons in one day it makes it even more challenging. It’s why I love taking road trips, because I can pack more and be prepared for everything – including an abundance of fun outdoor activities. 

I don’t use many…

Travel apps. It just ends up overwhelming you and giving you more things to maintain and check in on. I like to keep it simple. Google Maps is my favorite. It helps me plan easily, get where I want to go and find cool things near me! My next favorite is the Tripit app. It’s helpful for tracking flights, car rental and accommodation and keeping on top of last-minute flight changes, gates and baggage carousels. 

Families can learn more about us by…

Heading over to yTravelBlog.com and following us on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube

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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