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Travelling with Kids: Meet the Benders!

This month we kick off with a new Travelling with Kids series. Each instalment we chat to some of the world’s top travel bloggers who travel part or full time with their kids and share some of their tips on how to make it work.

We begin with a wonderful couple, Josh and Erin Bender, who happen to be friends of ours and just a talented nomadic team who travel full time with their kids. Here’s how they do it…

Introduce us to you and your family. Who are you, where are you currently based and what do you treasure most as a family?

G’day! We are the Benders! We left our home in Australia in May 2012 and have been travelling the world non-stop ever since. Our kids are now 5 and 6 years old and have visited more then 57 countries.

We don’t have a base, however we are currently on the #motherofallroadtrips across the US and Canada for the next year.

At the moment we treasure memories. They are lighter in a suitcase then any other treasures you can find on vacation.

Describe your travel lifestyle.

We are full time travelers. We have no home base and we work on the road to help keep the journey alive. We just celebrated 3 years since we originally left home.

How do you earn a living on and off the road and support your lifestyle and travelling with kids?

My husband is a web designer and template creater. He also developed a keen interest in photography during our travels and now sells his profesionnal images on the side.

I am a travel writer and online marketing influencer. I write for airline magazines and plenty of other awesome publications.

What are the highlights and challenges of travelling with children?

Highlights – Kids always see places through absolute wonder. It grows in you a sense of wonder and excitement. Kids love the small stuff. A day at the playground or beach is as fun as that day at Disneyland.

Challenges – Potty training was tough! Thank God that is over. Our biggest challenge now is keeping luggage minimal so that you can still carry a sleeping child through the airport as well as all your bags. Styaing in a night can be a drag as well, but it’s actually a great recuperating opportunity now.

How do you think travel benefits your kids?

People are all up in my face, “kids don’t remember.” First: Then why do you send them to school? Two: Well my daughter has a wonderful memory and does remember.

BUT we never did this for a particular destination or experience to stay in their heads always. We did this for their hearts to grow. The opportunities and experiences they are having is changing who they are as people. It’s making them more aware, more globally responsible, more accepting and if they don’t happen to remember I have a great blog they can read!

Do you think there are any disadvantages for kids who travel constantly/often?

For sure. To chose one life is not to chose another and we constantly struggle with the things they miss out on. Packing lunches for school, going to their friends’ birthday parties, having sleep overs with Grandma.

But my kids have celebrated birthdays on deserted islands in Malaysia. They have had grandmother visit them in New York City and well, we haven’t had to pack school lunches, but we do pack lunches.

What I’m saying is the pros outweigh the cons for us at this point in our life.

If you’re nomadic, what is your schooling arrangement?

We never had to think about it before, but all of a sudden three years has passed and I now have a 6 year old!

At the moment the kids are doing unschooling or world schooling. These are the “technical” terms thrown around the web. Basically they have no formal education. They do an online program and they have work books, but the majority of their education comes from travel.

For example – we recently visited the World’s highest tidal system where we explained tidal systems to the kids and then throw mud at each other. The first time my kids saw Sound of Music was in Salzburg the night before we did the tour to visit the film location spots. The information they are absorbing is sticking more then the classroom.

What do you think your kids will have to say about their life on the road one day when they’re older?

“Mum, I’ve seen the world so I’m not going anyway ever again and will live next door to you forever!”

Haha! I am not sure. My hope is that they will be grateful for the bond we made as a family, for the education they received and for the fact that they didn’t have to go to school… even if only in the early years.

Do you foresee a time when you will change your lifestyle and find a more permanent base from which to travel?

I hope so, I’m exhausted. We think about it often and in our travels we are continaully looking for a place that fits our family needs and wants. But at this stage we have no foreseeable future where we are not nomadic.

What do you think parents need to be earning to travel often/full-time with kids?

It really depends on where you are headed. A family of four can live like a king in SE Asia destinations like Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia for $2000 per month. If you plan on travelling around the US and Europe you are probably looking at living more on a budget for around $4000 per month.

We have a great series called Show Me The Money where families, couples and singles reveal their travelling budgets.

Do you have any tips/advice for parents really wanting to travel as a family?

Do it! Save money and travel. Work and travel. However you can make it work. Book that ticket and make it happen. It’s never too late and it’s never too soon.

Would you encourage others to try it?

Nomadic travel is not for everyone. But family travel is. Bonds grow, ediucation is taught and children are given a chance to be something more then another kid in a class at school. I would more then encourage, I would urge. Life doesn’t end when you have kids – it begins!

Follow the adventures of the Benders here: Travel with Bender.

Do you travel with your kids? Any tips on how to make it work?

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