Slow Travel with Children

slow travel with children

Many people are hesitant to travel with children at all, much less undertake slow travel with children. I confess that with my grown children I attempted to undertake a slow travel lifestyle, but chickened out after 6 months. It wasn’t the cost, which was far less than what it was costing us to live in California. Nor was it the stress. I think we all enjoyed the adventure and the closeness. It was simply ignorance. It made my parents uncomfortable and I worried that my ex, the children’s father, would object. In typical me fashion, I let my fears override my feelings and decided we had to put down roots. But I always look back on that time fondly. Great memories.

With my youngest, now 14, we began a full-time rving lifestyle when my mom was dying of leukemia in 2012. We packed up and moved in with my mom and dad for 6 months as she went through the dying process. I helped Dad with the funeral and all the stuff that came after, then we went back to our home base for about a year.

Next, the boy’s dad had to move in with his parents, to provide end-of-life care.  The next three years saw the boy and me traveling between grandparents and our home base in 3 states. In the mean time, my older children married and one moved to Colorado. We averaged about 4-6 weeks each stop in California or Colorado, with varying stays at points in between, including our home-base in Arizona and even the odd vacation to Texas, Oregon, Florida, or elsewhere. As homeschoolers (road-schoolers now) this worked for us. As a location independent crafter and writer, it also worked for me.

Although organized sports was out for us (praise be!), the boy had played ice hockey for a year, non-stop, before we started out and decided that kind of rigor was not for him. Nor for me, as it turns out. Not to mention the expense. That has not prevented us from trying new things. In Colorado, we did Tae-Kwon-Do for 6 weeks. We go shooting (guns) when we visit my daughter and her hubby. We also ride horses with them. We love fishing and hiking. We have a pool in my dad’s backyard (above ground). The boy has a new interest in archery and we have found a couple of great places for drop-in lessons, one for $15, the other $5. Wow. There are several archery ranges we can go to, to practice for free. I have decided to love this sport. And it is another one we can take with us wherever we go. I have transitioned from downhill to cross-country skiing. I much prefer the pace and the cost – free in most areas, if you have your equipment. We also keep our bikes handy, for exercise and transportation.

The boy and I have taken trains since he was an infant. He can probably navigate the Metro better than I can. He keeps in touch with friends online and we try to meet up with friends in whatever area we find ourselves.

Although taking short trips with children can get expensive and tedious, I have to say slow travel is fantastic and no more expensive than staying “home”. Whether you take your home with you, as in rving or living on a boat, or get long-term rentals, as in several weeks at a time, slow travel with children is a great life!

 

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Location Independence – What is it?

There is a phrase being bandied about these days, especially on travel blogs: location independence. But what is location independence, exactly? I submit that that depends entirely upon you. What is location independence to you?

First, let me back up.

The idea of location independence is a combination of freedom to live or travel anywhere independent of the source of your income.

california coast

Now back to our quandary. I love those images of the person sitting on the beach, with their computer (what about the sand?), sipping umbrella drinks. And then moving on to the next beach. In reality, it is more like finding a spot to rent (house or rv space or room), in a place where you can conduct your business, whether it be online, offline, handyman, nurse, craft fair, etc. Making sure you have all the resources you need to live your life and run your business there. Then, finally, finding that beach, or hiking trail or bistro to hang out at in your spare time.

To me, location independence also is the ability to move in with my dad as he ages, to assist him. The ability to home educate my youngest son; help care for my grandkids. To look forward to a time when my responsibilities will be less and my travels will take me farther. And not being locked into a location because I will lose my income if I am not there.

My point here is that location independence is not just about having lots of money and traveling the world. It is about being able to do those things that are important to you. Whether they involve travel, taking care of family, building homes for the poor, learning how to play the piano, or that occasional day on the beach with the umbrella drink. There are many ways to become location independent and not all of them involve working online.

So if this intrigues you, look at your current job and skills. Is there room for location independence there? You may be closer than you think.

I cover lots of ideas for location independence in my new book Escape the City and Thrive Book 3: Paying for the Dream. Hint: it’s not just for homesteaders. Available soon.

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Universal Studios and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

hogwarts express

Our trip to Florida was much too rushed, but we thoroughly enjoyed our day at Universal Studios and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

The rides:

Hogsmeade – The Hogwarts express sits just inside the gates, awaiting passengers to be ferried between Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley (requires a separate ticket or park-to-park admission. We felt the park-to-park admission was worth it for the day).

Tour Hogwarts Castle while you wind through the line for The Forbidden Journey. The Dragon Challenge seemed a bit too extreme for us, but the Flight of the Hippogriff was loads of fun, soaring past the pumpkin patch and Hagrid’s Hut.

Hogsmeade Station experienced a brief shut down as the train underwent some minor difficulties, so we continued to tour the town until we were able to board the Hogwarts Express. We love trains, even if it is just for a 5-minute ride to the other Universal Park.

 

diagon alley

Diagon Alley has quite a bit more shopping and a few more rides than Hogsmeade, but it also closes up earlier, so get there with enough time to enjoy all it has to offer.

 

escape from gringotts          harry potter dragon

Diagon Alley – Escape from Gringotts is rollicking fun. Atop the bank is a fire breathing dragon. Inside is an opulent reconstruction of the movie set, designed to entertain you as you wind through the line for hours awaiting your 2-minute experience. We were lucky. The longest lines we had to wait in were about 30 minutes. Without the express pass.

 

knight bus            grimmauld place

Other fun highlights outside Diagon Alley include the Knight bus (outside only) and 13 Grimmauld Place (outside only).

nine three quarters

Kings Cross Station – entering platform 9 ¾ was not as exciting as we had hoped, but we got over it, as the excitement of boarding the train mounted.

The food:

 

leaky cauldron

In Diagon Alley, traditional pub fare is available at the Leaky Cauldron, along with pumpkin juice and butterbeer. We had lunch at the Leaky Cauldron, with butter beer and pumpkin juice. Altogether too much sugar! I got a tummy ache.

Carts throughout Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley purvey bottles of ice cold pumpkin juice (be ready for the $7.50 price tag) and mugs of butterbeer.

The shopping:

 

magic knitting needles

Ollivander’s wand shop offers instruction in choosing wands – economy or deluxe. The deluxe version allows the wizard to perform magic at several spots in the wizarding world. Got wands for me – Molly Weasley, of course; the boy – Sirius Black (who knew?!), and my daughter – Snape.

Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes offers just about everything it does in the movie and more. We made sure to get a chocolate frog, peppermint toads, and some other delectables. Quite a few visitors toured the park in Madame Malkin’s “bespoke” robes. Luckily for my wallet, I had made us robes a few years ago, which were still quite serviceable. No wonder I identify so closely with Molly Weasley. It was great fun going through the shops and looking at all the wizarding items. Borgin and Burkes’ shop is as creepy as it was in the movie.

The rest:

raptor

Back in Hogsmeade, we decided to explore other areas of the park and made our way to Jurassic Park, where we narrowly escaped being lunch for a “friendly” velociraptor. Jurassic Park was exciting, especially since we had recently seen Jurassic World in the theater.

By the time we made it to Marvel Super Hero Island, it was raining. Not wanting to crush our belongings in ride lockers again, we took turns under the umbrellas with the backpacks.

spidey ride

Adventures of Spider-Man in 3D is thrilling. The close calls really get the adrenaline going. Storm Force Accelatron is a good old fashioned spinning ride.

At the end of the day, it was relaxing just to sit and enjoy the atmosphere of Hogsmeade – something we should also have done in Diagon Alley.

hogwarts castle

Note that Universal does not allow guests to bring in coolers and the lockers are quite small. Certain rides have lockers available for personal items, but they are also very small. Free for the duration of the ride, though.

My notes for future visits – keep backpack light. Just a few snacks and water. Shop just before leaving – your wands will get crushed in the tiny ride lockers. The “all day” lockers are not much bigger than the ride lockers, but if you must bring additional items, they’re a good option. they are located in the Marvel Studios area of Islands of Adventure. Also nearby are the cell phone and tablet charging lockers. This was a new feature to me and seemed like a very good idea. Though I carry my own power pack, there was a time I didn’t, and phone and camera batteries can get used up quickly on trips like these.

 

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How to Travel Full-Time

travel full-time
How to Travel Full-Time, by Colin Wright

I have been RVing full time for over 2 years, now and this book has been on my wish list for longer than that! I finally read How to Travel Full-Time, recently, and I could not put it down.

Written by a full time traveler, Colin Wright tells how he came to the decision to travel full time, how he started out and how he does it now. He addresses relationships, medical care and earning an income. He emphasizes the need to understand that other countries have different cultures and ways of living. The impact of tourism and the ethics of impacting other cultures by the footprint we leave behind.

This is like a handbook for full-time travel, and it’s staying on my shelf (actually, in my kindle) until I’m ready to move on to world travel. Wright shares dozens of tips for downsizing, minimizing and packing light. He details his personal packing list – one carry on bag. He also gives advice for getting from one place to another and finding housing. Also discussed are the importance of planning ahead, getting the appropriate vaccinations, options for getting your mail, and paying taxes.

Personal anecdotes demonstrate the ups and downs of travel and the value of resourcefulness. They also make the book an easy read.  Above all, the author emphasizes exploring and enjoying your new home, making friends and documenting your journey – both as a souvenir, and for future enjoyment.

If you dream of traveling full-time “someday”, I definitely recommend this book. You may decide that “someday” needs to come sooner than you think!

How to Travel Full-Time, by Colin Wright  $.99 as of today.

Available on Amazon as an ebook, 106 pages

Copyright 2011

Disclaimer: I purchased this book on Amazon several months ago. No compensation is being received for this review.

 

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The Church of Itinerant Musicians

itinerant musician
seek ye first

My home church has been welcoming itinerant musicians for as long as I can remember. St. Anne’s is a small mission church, 50 miles from everywhere in Northern Arizona. When I arrived here, there was a choir and an organist. Within a few years, that entire group had moved on and I became the organist and choir director. I was able to recruit a guitar player who handled the Spanish speaking music. We work well together. He holds the music together now, and graciously welcomes me to join him whenever I am back in town. For years, we have welcomed any musicians traveling through to join us. We have been blessed with some beautiful voices and instruments through the years. We are so hungry for beautiful music. Our pastors have graciously smiled upon this. In such a small community, we are totally dependent upon God’s merciful provision for our spiritual needs. There was even a period of a few years that we relied upon visiting priests only, as we didn’t have a pastor assigned to us. Even then, the Sunday without Mass was rare.

I miss my music ministry when I am on the road. So I am eternally grateful to join in whenever I can. And eternally grateful to step back in as though I never left, when I am home. There are times when I need to sit back and soak in the music ministry of others. But a musician sings and plays, a writer writes, an artist creates because they must. We are driven. It is life to us. We must share or die. And if we die sharing, then life has been good.

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