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.
We started following the Landin Family on Instagram when we heard about their company Around the World Stories (audio stories written for kids between the ages of 5 and 12). This fun family of five travels around the world and creates audio stories to share with other families. We are fascinated by the Landin family's slow, deliberate style of travel and what they've learned about human kindness while traveling. We loved learning more about the Landin family through this interview and know you will too. You can also find them on Instagram at @aroundtheworldstories or on their Around the World Stories website.
1. Tell us about your family.
We’re a family of five - Matt, Tania, Maya (15), Mirabel (11) and Lacey (9). We also have Elsie (4), our sweet labradoodle pup who comes with us everywhere we go. Since June 2016, all six of us have been traveling full-time, mostly around Europe. We homeschool / worldschool our kids and work on the road. We create fun audio stories for kids about other countries around the world. You can find us on Instagram at @aroundtheworldstories.
2. Where do you live when you are not traveling? Has your family moved around at all?
We don’t have a home base right now. Wherever we are is our home. Even before we started full-time traveling, Matt’s former job with the State Department had us moving around every two or three years to a new country. Our favorite kind of travel now is slow-travel - we settle somewhere for two or even three months. We love to meet the locals, get to know our neighbors, visit local festivals and immerse ourselves in the culture.
3. How often do you travel with your family? Is it local travel or international? Where has been your favorite place your family has traveled so far?
Most of our travels have been international, but we recently also spent several months exploring the U.S. There are so many beautiful places in the world to visit! An absolute favorite place is hard to choose, but here’s what we came up with:
My favorite place (Tania): Bavaria, Germany
Matt: Praia das Maçãs, Portugal
Maya: Cornwall, England
Mirabel: Föhr, a tiny German island in the North Sea
Lacey: Efteling, the Netherlands
4. Why do you like to travel with your kids?
I think traveling with kids opens up the world for both them and us. It gives the kids such an incredible perspective on the world. Traveling teaches them to be flexible and to be open to other cultures and ways of life. Worldschooling also gives all of us so many opportunities to learn about history, culture, art and language. And for us, it’s honestly so much fun seeing the world through their eyes. Kids are so good at being present, noticing things we don’t and reminding us to find the fun in situations we might otherwise not.
5. What are some unexpected things that you've encountered as you have been traveling with your family?
I think the most unexpected thing we’ve encountered is the kindness we’ve so often been shown. We met a biker on our recent bike trip in Germany who went an hour out of his way to help us get back on the right trail at night, a shop owner in Portugal brought us firewood from his own apartment because the shop was out of wood and a fellow traveler once paid for us to use the bathrooms because we hadn’t yet exchanged any money in Switzerland. A new neighbor in Austria left freshly picked raspberries on our door step, a family in Denmark let us in and made us tea while we waited out the rain, and countless others have stopped to help us find our way. It’s truly been one of the greatest gifts of traveling - meeting so many beautiful, good, kind people. I think when we are in the safety of our own town, we sometimes just don’t think about helping the new person, the vulnerable person, the traveler, the foreigner, but being shown that kindness has been a wonderful reminder.
6. What's the most memorable travel experience you've had with your family?
The time the monkeys in Gibraltar jumped on my back to open my backpack comes to mind. (He took my passport and ran off with it! Thankfully he dropped it once he found the apple I had.) The time Matt had to jump in a lake and swim across to chase after our pup because she just wouldn’t stop swimming after the ducks also made for a very memorable afternoon. (There were about 15 locals cheering him on by the end of the swim. One of them commented, “Now this show is worth paying my taxes!”) The flamenco show in Spain and having a picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower were moments I will also always treasure.
7. What are the easiest and hardest parts about traveling with kids (for your family)?
Finding opportunities for learning is definitely the easiest part of traveling with kids, whether through art, history, food, or just walking around a small town. The hardest times are certainly the transition days. Packing up and racing to catch a train in the rain is never fun.
8. What are some of your favorite travel resources?
I can’t imagine pre-Internet travels anymore. My favorite resources are often reading reviews from other travelers. Whether it be for a guest house, a class one of my kids is thinking of taking, an event or a restaurant, the reviews always give us a feel for what we’re getting into. Airbnbs have also completely changed travel for us. We can stay in small towns with a yard, castles, apartments in the city, a treehouse or anything in between.
9. What advice would you give to other families who want to start traveling as a family and aren’t sure how?
My biggest advice to anyone would be to stay flexible. Sticking to a rigid schedule or waiting for that perfect age is going to put too much pressure on everyone. I’d even go as far as saying don’t plan too much. Choose a couple of major stops you want to make and then leave time to enjoy the small things. Just walking around a new town, finding a fun cafe or ice cream stand, watching the locals and exploring is how many incredible travel moments come about.
10. Have you had any barriers to traveling as a family, and how have you dealt with those? (i.e. work schedules, finances, school, etc.)
It’s certainly been tougher than we’d expected keeping a good work schedule. We often can’t find Internet or even a quiet place to work. On some days, work has to go out the window; but at the same time, it just has to get done. We’ve recorded stories in bathrooms, cars, basements, a castle and a tent. It’s definitely not easy, but it’s so rewarding when it works out.
11. What are three items you never leave home without?
1. Phone - for taking pictures, for a GPS and also as a way to communicate with each other if separated. (We learned this one the hard way in Paris).
2. Our Kindle
3. A good small backpack for day trips
12. Where are you headed next?
We’re headed to Bavaria next. We’re excited to hike the same mountain we talk about in our first story about Germany. It’s one of my absolute favorite spots in the world.
Don't forget to follow the Landin family on Instagram at @aroundtheworldstories or on their Around the World Stories website.