When do you work when you travel full time and have your children 24/7 around? This is the second most asked question (after ‘how do you afford long-term travel?‘) and it is a valid question. If you want to become a digital nomad family, then this is what you’re probably wondering about too. I’ve got good news: I’ll give you five options on how to combine work and travel while living a location independent family lifestyle.
1. You and your partner take turns
Taking turns is the most obvious option. For this, you really need to do slow travel, though. I recommend slow traveling with children anyway, but when you have to combine travel and work, slow travel is inevitable.
It is very convenient if your kids sleep well too. If they nap during the day for a couple of hours, then that’s even better. When they are asleep, you and your partner can work for a few hours.
Nap time equals work time
We worked in turns when we were traveling with our baby boy (before baby two was born). He is an excellent sleeper. At that time, he slept the whole night and 3 to 4 hours in the afternoon. We worked our asses off during his nap time.
Three to four days per week, we took turns during the morning. One of us worked, while the other took care of our baby. We did the sightseeing on the other days. Mostly in the morning, so we could work while he took a nap in the afternoon.
But now our baby is a very busy toddler, and a new baby has arrived. Although both kids are good sleepers, they tend to sleep at different times 😉 We were in Switzerland last month (our first trip as a family of 4, hooray!) and we took turns working. We managed, but it was hard. If we had to balance work and travel like that for a long time, we would both burn out.
Besides working and spending time with our toddler and baby, there wasn’t much time left for sightseeing. And of the reasons for being a digital nomad family is visiting new places, hiking through new sceneries and sightseeing beautiful places.
High hourly income
However, if you and your partner have a high hourly fee, if you can make a reasonable income by, say, working both 15 hours per week, then working turns is perfect. We need to work many more hours to make ends meet, so we’re on our way to find another solution.
2. Local day care
If you travel slow, and I assume you do, you can bring your kids to a local day care center. We haven’t tried this option (yet), but we know of people that travel Europe and manage like this. They stay in the same spot for 4 or 5 months, and their toddler spends three days per week at the local day care.
The advantage is that both you and your partner can work during these hours. Also, your children will truly immerse in the culture and language of that country.
Cute little school
We considered bringing our toddler Roan to a Spanish daycare when we stayed in a little town in Andalusia for ten weeks. We passed this cute little school multiple times and then researched the possibilities to bring him there. We never put it into action because we traveled further after a while, but still, we keep our minds open for this option.
Disadvantages of a local day care
The downside is that you children need to say goodbye after a few months and this can be hard, especially when they are older. As a parent, you know best if your kids can handle this.
Also, it is not always possible to bring your children when you’re not registered in that country or community. A lot of research and maybe even red tape is the consequence. Moreover, it can be expensive.
3. Bring a nanny or au pair
I’m part of many Facebook groups for traveling families, and there are often digital nomad families that are looking for a nanny to take along. Like a high school graduate that want to have a gap year before going to college.
We won’t be considering this option. There is not enough space in our RV for another person, and it is quite an invasion of your privacy. We wouldn’t want that.
But it seems others disagree.
4. Hire a local nanny
Hiring a nanny is a very popular alternative for traveling families that stay for a few months in one place, especially in SEA. Hiring a nanny in Bali, for example, will cost you approximately €40 for a whole day. You can ask a local to do it for less, but I wouldn’t advise that. There are multiple agencies on the island where you can hire a nanny.
In Europe and the US, hiring a nanny is more expensive. So it depends on your income if this is something you can afford.
Advantages of a local nanny
The advantage is its flexibility because you can hire a nanny for a few days or hours, for short or a longer period. She (let’s be honest, a sitter is almost always a female) doesn’t travel along (okay, this can be a disadvantage as well), and it doesn’t require a lot of administration or research (as with the day care option).
There is, however, one option that we think is brilliant:
5. Take the grandparents
When we were traveling with our baby, my parents visited us a few times. They wanted to visit more often and for longer periods, but they were still working. Now they’re retired and have all the time in the world! It was their wish to travel more once they got retired, so it’s perfect timing to go together.
It is a win-win: we all get to travel, my parents see their grandkids and vice versa, and we have two very flexible and outstanding nannies with us. Since our RV is not big enough for the whole family, my parents have their own.
This option is, of course, only a possibility if you have a strong and healthy relationship with your parents (in law).
How do you want to combine work and travel?
Which option suits your family best? Want to become one big digital nomad family with kids ánd grandparents, or do you prefer the local day care for more culture immersion? Or maybe a local nanny? Le me know in the comments!
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