For years, we'd talked about taking some time out with our family and exploring the world. We whiled away many evenings debating where we would go, imagining what it would be like and dreaming of how we would find the freedom and time to live the life we wanted.

One day we would give up the 9-5, the impossible dash to get everyone out of the house, the daily Northern Line commute and the grey English weather. We'd leave behind the mundane daily grind, the addictive pursuit of buying yet more stuff we don't need and we’d actually spend more time with our daughters than the childminder.

One day we would have a simpler life. We'd enjoy sunshine and time together. We’d swap shovelling spoonfuls of Weetabix for long leisurely breakfasts. Instead of being chained to our desks, we would swim every day, wear flip-flops and watch sunsets. We would have freedom and choices. We would be happier, kinder parents who laughed more and shouted less.

One day, on a day like any other, we decided enough was enough. I was on maternity leave with our second daughter Amelia. The prospect of returning to full-time employment and facing the daily juggles of work, childcare and a dwindling social life was looming large. Don’t get me wrong we were really happy in London, blessed with a beautiful home, wonderful family and friends and successful careers. But the dream of trading it all in and travelling with our young kids just wouldn't go away. We realised that whilst we (well actually me) continued to make excuses about logistics, timings and a whole host of other imagined barriers there was a risk that life was passing us by. Waiting till retirement was simply not an option; having lost my beautiful, courageous Mum to cancer in her mid-forties, who knows what the future holds for any of us. Sometimes in life you just have to take chances, try something new. We had a plan and it felt right.

So that evening we put our two blissfully unaware daughters to bed; got drunk, got brave and took the leap. We did the most exciting yet terrifying thing we have ever done and booked four one-way tickets to Jakarta.

After so long agonising, researching and debating actually booking our tickets was nowhere near as life altering as we'd anticipated. Just one quiet mouse click and whoosh our lives were changed forever. The morning after, I half expected that Mum's at nursery drop-off would look at me differently, they'd nudge each other in the playground and mutter "see her, she's only taking her little ones off around the world". But naturally no one paid me the slightest bit of attention.

Honestly, it all seemed a bit surreal. We didn’t even have a final destination in mind, but we knew for certain it wasn’t Jakarta! Asia had been narrowed down as the right continent to begin our journey; the warmth, the food and the value for money appealed to us. But it was still a bloomin' big place to narrow down. Eventually, we settled on Bali - a beautiful island, tropical enough to offer adventure, developed enough to offer familiarity and varied enough for lots of experiences.

Each morning saw a steady increment in my adrenaline levels as departure date drew closer. Because I'm systematically organised (i.e insane) I had multiple, crossed referenced, colour-coded spreadsheets on the go. I admit it, I became obsessed with lists. The logistics of quitting your job, packing up your life and preparing a family of four to depart needs a lot of lists. On more occasions than I care to admit, Steve would arrive home to find me wild-eyed, pacing the kitchen…”How will we ever be ready to go?” I demanded, “It's impossible we simply can't get it all done” I wailed. Then there was the guilt. With "list-gate" growing daily, I wrestled bewildered Millie into her cot for “controlled napping” whilst Jessica whiled away more afternoons than is strictly healthy transfixed by CBeebies. I muttered about beaches, ice creams and elephants and how I'd make it up to them soon.

We dreaded breaking the news to friends and family. As it turns out we had nothing to fear. Our nearest and dearest were our biggest supporters - greeting our plans with enthusiasm and positivity. Their unfaltering belief in us was a huge boost when we questioning our sanity on a daily basis.

 

 

Then there was the sleepless nights. I’d wake up heart pounding grappling with my fears and questions racing through my brain. Were we crazy throwing away our security and everything we had worked so hard for? Putting our careers on ice, renting out our lovingly renovated home, uprooting our daughters, leaving behind our friends and family, for what? What if the grass wasn't greener on the other side? Was it fair/safe/insane (delete as appropriate) to drag two tiny girls off backpacking to the other side of the world.

So here we are - almost 6 months into our journey, was it worth it? Absolutely yes - there are so many things that are just how we imagined they would be. We live in a villa in Bali, we swim every day and live in our flip flops. We enjoy the sunshine but most of all our time and freedom. We’re embracing new experiences, new foods, new people, cultures and adventures. There are some days I think I am the luckiest person that ever lived. On the flip side, there have been days I've questioned everything we're doing. Rushing Amelia into hospital by ambulance three weeks into our trip rocked our world. We bounced back but are certainly more cautious than we perhaps initially set out to be. But so far it's still absolutely the best decision we ever made. Whatever the future holds and wherever it takes us we know we'll never regret starting our "curious plan".

13 Responses

  1. Char

    Hi there ~ I am Kristen’s Aunt Char and I will be following your adventures. I love what you are doing! You are giving your family the gift of a lifetime. Travel and experiencing life in other countries by actually living there and not just visiting will be an education and benefit to you and your children that will last forever. All too soon they will be grown and gone so having this time with them now and documenting their travels as you are like no other gift you can give your children. You will all cherish these times. Looking forward to followig the adventure…………Aunt Char

    Reply
    • Teamtoms

      Thank you Char – your words sum up exactly why we packed up our lives, quit our jobs and left the security of London. Your encouragement and positivity are hugely appreciated – especially on the days we question our own sanity! So far it has been a wonderful adventure and we’re so happy with our decision. Thank you for your support and enjoy the stories to come and our next chapters in Singapore and Malaysia!

      Reply
    • Teamtoms

      You are such a champion Jane – thanks for all your support and positive enthusiasm about our decisions, travels and blog. You’re feedback on “finding our thing” about being good enough to write stuff spurred me onto publishing my first post this week in Selfish Mother….thanks for the boost of confidence and I’m SO happy I did it!

      Reply
  2. Anna

    Amazing, Go Team Toms! So inspirational in so many ways! can’t wait to follow your progress and please do get Sydney on the list at some point! xxx

    Reply
    • Teamtoms

      Belated reply to say thank you so much for all your support Anna! We didn’t make Sydney on this trip Down Under but we’ll certainly be there at some point in 2016. Keep living the life you love and can’t wait to catch up soon!

      Reply
  3. sasha

    Just a quick message from a random stranger (hi!) to say I am enjoying reading your blog. Wifey and I did the same thing in our mid 20s (sans kids), now in our mid 30s we’re planning to go away again with kids in tow. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Reply
    • Teamtoms

      Hi Sasha, Big apologies for my tardy reply to your lovely message – so sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner! So glad you are enjoying the blog and appreciate your feedback. So exciting that you’re planning another trip with the minis in tow! Let me know if there is any specific stuff you’d find useful as it’s great inspiration for me on what to write about (rather than just blathering about whatever happens to pop into my head that day!) Thanks again

      Reply
  4. Sharon

    I think it is fabulous to be setting your own course and to do whats right for your family. I know when we announced we were going to Asia for 7 weeks last year with our turning 1 year old and 2 year olds that a lot of people were negative and there was certainly some judgement that we were being selfish. However, something I love about blogging is that I think it clearly shows how much was in it for the kids and how much they loved it. It’s hard to read and see all this stuff and think anything else. Thanks to that, no one battered an eyelid when we went away for 10 weeks late last year or when we announced we were moving to Malaysia at the end of this year. I like that we are always changing people’s perceptions of how they could live their lives.

    Reply
  5. Kayleigh Mc

    How bloody inspiring. It’s possible to break the seemingly never-ending cycle of earning to spend and spending to earn. I’ve favourited your site, this is now a goal.

    Reply
    • Teamtoms

      Thanks Kayleigh – I’ll let you in on a secret. I always envied you your freedom, independence and courage when our paths crossed back in London. I thought you were the bees knees freelancing and calling the shots on what you do when and not being chained to one desk and one employer. You inspired me to jump out of corporate life and to back myself. You get one life and you have to grab it by both hands and go for it (cheesy I know but true!) – keep in touch and stop buying crap – you won’t be able to fit it in your backpack anyway! x

      Reply
    • Teamtoms

      Thanks so much for your comments Natalie! There is no doubt travelling with our young family is the best decision we ever made. Some days it can be wonderful, frustrating, miserable and memorable, sometimes all of them, all at once! But we have never looked back and are so glad of this time hopping off the conveyor belt!

      Reply

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