This is the true story of a charming, unique family that wants no more than to travel the world helping out whoever needs an extra pair of hands (or 5).
It is also a story about daring to turn your dreams into reality, no matter if you have to choose the road less traveled, teaching your children about compassion and the joy found in the simple things in life.
Karen was kind enough to put up with us and answer some of our questions:
Who is “Our Travelling Family”?
“Our Travelling Family is a family of 5 (Warren, Karen and our 3 kids Sebastian, 14, Aiden, 13 and Ella, 11) who at this point in time are preparing to travel the world volunteering. In preparation for our journey, we have sold almost all we had and moved the entire family (including our 2 cats and dog) into a 6 berth caravan, which we plan on towing around Europe with us.”
Tell us a bit about your van life project…
“So, our vanlife project…Where do I start?!
I guess we got to a point where life was just about working to pay bills, falling short every month and not really getting time to spend with our family.
We moved to central Portugal for 18 months and met some of the most amazing people you could ever hope to encounter in your life. We were inspired by their slower pace of life, the fact that not everything revolves around material possessions and that they always take time for their family, friends and themselves.
Although we always had those values high on our list, we decided to actually do something about it. That’s when we decided it was time to declutter, to let go of the things that were holding us back and to put everything into making our dream a reality.
We bought a 6 berth caravan for £4000 and plan to save every single penny possible in the next 6-8 months to help fund our journey. Our plan is to slow travel, volunteering wherever we land, helping every day people with whatever they need doing in exchange for learning about their culture, customs and day-to-day life.”
Are your lovely children excited to go on adventure?
“This one is up and down all the time…. As you can imagine having almost 3 teens living in a very small space is no easy feat… Hell, almost 3 teens in a large space is a challenge!
So, we have days where everyone is on board and excited, talking about the Northern lights and all the different foods they are going to try… And then… There are the BAD days… The days where we are the worst parents in the world – ‘why can’t we just live in a normal house? or ‘you’ve ruined my life’ kinda days. Those are tough, because as parents we second guess ourselves all the time, but deep down we know that we’re making the right decision and I believe they do too.
I also must give them credit…. It’s not easy to adapt to living in such close quarters and there are lots of chores that we need help with, a lot of military precision when getting dressed and moving around in the morning, and they are SUPERSTARS! The good days definitely outweigh the bad!”
What has been the most challenging thing yet about van life?
“There have been a lot of challenges, like getting used to emptying the loo, topping up water after each shower or like when you need to wash dishes in the rain, snow and mud and getting used to such a small space… But those are all manageable…
The worst is that, while we are semi-static here in the UK, we have to move every 28 days, which means taking down and reassembling the awning, etc. It’s a long and tedious job and we have to do it tomorrow …”
What kind of work would you do as volunteers? How can people in need reach you?
“Anything and everything!
We have been asked to help on farms; one lady is renovating circus caravans to use as accommodation; another family just needs a hand helping with the kids… We will consider doing anything – no project or person is too small.
We have helped at an assisted living centre here in the UK, got involved in a beach clean and we hope to encourage others to do the same…. Small acts that mean a lot.
We have already had offers in Scotland, Amsterdam, Poland,
Germany, Hungary, Iceland and Thailand…to name but a few.
What would you say to someone who is considering living full-time in a van/caravan, but is having second thoughts?
“What would I say….The same thing we said to ourselves?!
You’ve got one life, so why not go for it…Worst case scenario it doesn’t work, you move back into an apartment/house/your parents home and continue with the 9-5…Or more like 6-8 when you take into account traffic/travel etc….BUT what if it works for you? Imagine the freedom, imagine how liberating it is to get rid of so many unnecessary things …. Imagine the places you’ll go and the people you’ll meet!”
Where can we find and follow ‘Our travelling Family’?