One of my favorite things about social media is meeting other families that love to travel and adventure. I like to dig in and find out what works for them and what draws their family to want to be "on the go" so we started a little series here on the blog where we spotlight other families who love to travel. We hope you will enjoy the next installment of the "Travel Family Spotlight" series.
Vanessa Hunt is the face behind @wanderlust.crew. She is a mom of four, a travel junkie, a lover of food, an awesome photographer, and an expert at finding travel deals. She is currently based in California (although that won't last long) and you can follow her and her crew on Instagram at @wanderlust.crew and on her website www.wanderlustcrew.com. She posts about travel, worldschooling, worldwide families, photography, and finding the best travel deals (check out her Wanderlust Wednesday posts for the latest travel deals!). She is also a founder of @TravelMums, an Instagram account for like-minded mothers who see the importance of travel. Vanessa and her family inspire us with their travels and their perspective on the world. We hope you'll enjoy our interview with the Wanderlust Crew!
Tell us about your family.
Hi there, we are a family of 6. Me (mom) Vanessa, Paul (dad), Abbi (10), Jackson (8), Amelie (6), and Ethan (4) and we absolutely LOVE traveling! I think Paul and I have always had the travel bug, but it wasn't until our youngest was born that we decided that this crazy life was for us! When he was just 2 weeks old we packed up or gave away all our belongings and moved to Hawaii for a year and a half. After that we went to Washington, D.C. for a year, and then took off for a cross country road trip, then all over Europe for a year! We can't seem to stay in one place for long, even though we've tried. We love books, history, music, art and being together as a family.
Where do you live when you aren't traveling?
We really consider wherever we are at the moment to be where we live. We get a little confused when people ask "Where are you from?" But I grew up in California and Paul grew up in Canada, so those are our "original"homes. Right now we are in California for a little while.
Did you have any reservations about traveling full-time as a family?
Honestly, we've had really positive vibes about traveling full-time as a family most of the time. I'm not sure we had reservations about it, more like a few obstacles that we had to overcome to make it happen for us. But in the end we knew it was exactly what we wanted. I guess maybe the only reservation that I had was pulling the kids away from a sense of community and from family, but we have been able to find a sense of community on the road in the places that we go and especially at church. And we've had more visits from family when we are in Europe than we probably would have being in the U.S.
How did you come up with the idea to travel full-time as a family and how's it going now that you've been doing it for a while?
Well, our first thought was that we would move to France for a year and just come back to the U.S. when our year was up, but after looking into visa requirements for 6 of us, we were feeling a little daunted. Then we thought, why not just move around Europe and not have to worry about visas?? So the idea of full-time travel was born. So far (nearly 2 years) it's going really well! There are definitely some days that I want to bag it all and just settle down for good, but I know that lifestyle would never suit us in the end.
What are some unexpected things that you've encountered as you have been traveling full-time with your family?
Definitely a few things. I was really surprised that so many people in Europe speak English. I thought we'd really be practicing our language skills more, but so many people speak English that it's difficult, because they want to practice their English! It's great though! We also made so many unexpected friendships. We are still in touch with many of the people that we've connected with, especially our Airbnb hosts. We have been the recipients of so much kindness and I'm forever grateful for that! Humans are just so amazing!
What's the most memorable travel experience you've had with your family?
Oh, so many, that's a tough one! We have some spiritual memories, scary ones, special ones, funny ones! Our host in France had us over for a real French dinner at her old French Revolution era house, we had 6 courses and the kids had to sit through the whole thing. We had to attempt the whole conversation in French and it was a little scary but so fun and special!
When we arrived in Lake Como, Italy we were taking a train to Venice. I was waiting on the platform with the kids and luggage when the train came and Paul was dropping off a rental car. I loaded everyone and everything on the train, having faith he would make it in time! We watched him running after the train from the window as the train pulled away from the station! The kids were BAWLING! He was able to catch the next train and meet us there. No big deal and it was a really good lesson for the kids that everything works out in the end and we always have a good laugh about that!
While we were in Paris, we had this awful feeling that we should leave. It was the strangest thing! We left and several hours later were bombarded with calls and texts from family members! The Paris attacks were that night! I had chills all over!
While staying in Switzerland, we ended up being there for a huge festival called Herbstmesse where the entire city turns into something resembling a State Fair. It was awesome and so unexpected!
What advice would you give to other families who want to make a change to full-time travel or plan a long term trip?
To families looking to traveling full-time, I would recommend reading my article 5 Steps to Afford Full-Time Travel, which will walk you through how to live a life of full-time travel.
What are you favorite travel resources?
For first hand advice I love Instagram!! I have made so many incredible friends there including Elise! I just don't even know what I'd do without my insta-fam. When you travel full-time you don't really have a lot of friends, so it's nice to have a sense of community on the internet.
The Facebook Group Worldschoolers is also an amazing resource and community full of full-time traveling families.
For housing, hands down Airbnb has been our best friend! We have stayed almost exclusively in Airbnbs around the U.S. and Europe and we've paid less than our rent before we started traveling full-time and met so many incredible people this way!
What are three items you never leave home without?
1. Good Vitamins: Staying healthy on the road is so important! We are exposed to new germs every day, so having a good vitamin for us and the kids has been crucial. I think the whole year we were in Europe we only got one cold and never had to visit a doctor.
2. WiFi! We are both digital nomads so having good WiFi is crucial and sometimes the places we stayed did not have great internet, so we always travel with some type of portable internet like a MiFi. We got ours from Cell Hire in the U.S. for about $100/month.
3. Gum! The gum in Europe is awful, pack your own! haha!
Where are you headed next?!
Oh good question! We are heading to Puerto Rico for a month in April, Canada in the summer to learn how to camp and next year we are headed back to Europe and can't wait!