Parenting is a journey of learning, exploring, growing and making memories. When a family takes those notions literally, they cannot pass unnoticed. This American family of four: Michelle, Jake and their two children, Henley aged 5 and Jagger aged 3, are literally trotting the globe while documenting their journey on the social media under the name of ‘Retired Toddlers’. The Florida couple sold their house, and everything in it, in 2016 to spend their life together on the go.
This family, is exploring the world. They just open the map and wonder where will they be next. And when Egypt was their destination, we were even more keen to hear about their adventures. Let’s join the world of the ‘Retired Tollders’:
Hi. We are really glad that you decided to visit Egypt. How was your experience here so far?
Thank you so much. Egypt has been simply magical for us with never-ending adventures filling up our days along the way.
What was your favorite spot in Egypt?
Egypt has provided us with a nonstop highlight reel of monumental moments, so it really is tough to choose between them all. For Michelle she was enamored when we separated from civilization along the Nile River where we sailed and slept for 24 hours on a private felucca sailboat. For Jagger he could have spent a lifetime aboard the overnight train from Cairo to Aswan and if we had let him he never would have left the donkey he rode through the village outside Luxor. For Henley nothing was better than hearing the fabulous tales of kings and queens and princesses that ruled these lands so long ago. For Jake the most incredible experience was when we had the underground tunnels and hieroglyphic covered tomb chambers of the Pyramid of Teti all to ourselves at the pyramid field at Saqqara. We really could list place after place that we will never forget.
We all know that children function best when they have an expected routine. How do you manage to create a routine when you are always on the go?
Absolutely true! We make it a priority to adhere to a consistent routine no matter where we are or what we’re doing. We do have to be flexible to allow for travel days and tour days that break from our standard eating and sleeping schedule, but we’re usually able to stay pretty close to the daily norm. Even though we may be in a different location each month/week/day, we still greatly value our routine and the kids really thrive when we stick to it.
What inspired you to live your life on the go?
This really happened by accident. We never had a master plan to travel the world endlessly. However, after we sold our home in a step to up-size to a bigger one, we suddenly felt liberated from monthly bills, overflowing toy chests, and expectations that didn’t align with our true dreams. We knew the kids would only be this little for a short time, so we decided to seize our moment to spend every day with them before they grow up.
Children naturally love to explore, how does this lifestyle affect the development of your children?
We are regularly reassured that Henley and Jagger are absorbing so much of the world we are exploring. Many of their “lessons” may be non-traditional since that they don’t come from a text book, but they are learning an appreciation for cultures, religions, cuisines, and customs far from their own. There’s a great moment in our “Retired Toddlers” video of Egypt on YouTube when Henley learns the truth that mummies are NOT white like in books and on television- this type of real world learning happens everywhere we go.
What about education, how to you plan to provide for them a decent education while you are not settled in one place?
When we aren’t actively touring historical or cultural sites, we take some time to teach the kids spelling, counting, basic lessons. We also enrolled the kids in school in Mexico for a couple months earlier this year and we plan to have them attend there again next year since it was such a great scholastic program along with a thorough language immersion.
You are now travel experts. What tips would you give to other parents to help make traveling with kids easier for them?
We certainly have accumulated some lessons from traveling with toddlers full-time for the past two years. First, be sure to tell the kids the schedule for the day along with your expectations for what will happen. This way they aren’t rattled when we board a second plane and we tell them it’s now naptime- instead, they know it’s coming. Be reasonable: traveling with toddlers means you may not be able to see every last detail or every last place. Don’t try to do too much at the ultimate expense of everyone’s experience. And let the kids take in each experience in their own way- this may frustrate you to think they aren’t appreciating the magnitude of the site you’ve trekked to, but they really do absorb and appreciate each place in their own way.
Now that you sold your home, if you want to keep this lifestyle going to have to have a sustainable income. How do you manage to work while your are moving from what place to the other?
We block time each afternoon for the kids to nap. While they nap, we work! We had to be a bit creative to build revenue streams that can be nurtured online from anywhere. Long before we left to travel when Michelle first became pregnant she had immediately become even more aware of every product she used on her skin. In her research she found that most skincare product lines are layered wth hidden ingredients and questionable chemicals. Fortunately she found Beautycounter, a Certified B Corporation focused on safer skincare, cleaner cosmetics, and better beauty. In this product line she also found a rewarding business to build remotely. Beautycounter has enabled her to cover her kids in safer products, to help educate consumers, and to advocate for industry transparency. Even though we don’t work a full-time schedule by U.S. standards, we have found a better work/life balance than we had before we left.
After being exposed to different cultures, what did you learn most from this rich experience?
After driving deep into so many countries throughout the world, we have very much appreciated the distinctness of each people and each place. However, while each culture we encounter is so very different, all of them are also alike in so many ways. The common drive for communities to build shelter, to harvest food, and to secure clean water is so immensely instinctual that it manifests itself in surprisingly universal methods no matter which part of the world we visit. Our admiration and affection for fresh produce and clean drinking water has far outgrown our interest in material possessions that do little to sustain us.
Check out @RetiredToddlers on Instagram & YouTube for more picures and videos, as well as their Website for more information about this full time traveling family!