Tell me about yourself.
I’m Maggie Watkins, a mother of 4, world traveler having been to 110 countries and a Canadian currently living in The Netherlands. I love being a Mom and have “adopted” many kids all over the world, who also call me Mom.
Hong Kong, Macau, China, Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, India, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, Ukraine, Poland, Czech, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Jordan, Egypt, Belgium, morocco, Spain, Ireland, Germany, Malta, Mauritania, Mali, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo, DRC, Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Israel, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, East Timor, Australia, Singapore, Thailand, Austria, France, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Vatican, Monaco, Andorra, Sweden, United Kingdom, Dominican Republic, Caribbean, Mexico, Korea & The Netherlands.
How and why did you decide to take your family on a long-term travel experience?
It was a very random, last-minute decision which came about when my husband walked out the door. So while wondering, “what next?” I was strongly inspired to take the kids and see the world with them.
What concerns did you have before your trip?
I really didn’t have any at all. Maybe that is because I always think and expect things to work out.
The kids were all at a perfect age. My daughters were 14 and 17 years old, and my son, 25. They were all old enough to remember and appreciate what they saw and learned along the way.
How was parenting different while on the road?
I think because of their ages, we all became friends and comrades more than the typical parent/child relationship. My son, Ammon, really took on the role of leader and head of the “house”.
Savannah was the only one still in high school at the time. Since we’d initially only planned to go for one year, I told her that she should leave it and catch up later. As it turned out, we were gone for years. When she returned, she was able to skip some grades and graduated within a year. Ammon (who had just graduated university) was able to teach the girls and help with their education along the way, keeping their brains very active. In fact Savannah has since gone on to be an award winning, best-selling author and has just released the second book in her travel memoir series “Sihpromatum” about our world adventures.
If your trip was not fully funded at the beginning, how did you finance your travels?
At first, I figured I had enough money saved to last a year. By being careful and frugal with our money (and learning ways to save along the way), our money lasted for 4 years.
What things do you consider a necessity when traveling with children?
Paper and pen, so they can keep a journal (we didn’t have any computers with us). Also, pick up lots of books to read along the way; while waiting for buses, etc.
Knowing what you know now, would you take your children on a long-term trip again? Why or why not?
Absolutely, yes! It gave them an understanding of the people of the world and a real interest in it. It also taught them to love and appreciate what they have. and ultimately, to realize what they do and don’t need in order to survive and thrive.
Wait until children are old enough to appreciate the experience, interact with the people of the world and remember it clearly. We traveled the USA with the kids when they were young and their memories just weren’t good enough to last a lifetime or have the same impact that a few more years of age would have given them. Of course, do lots of short term trips with them beforehand to get them excited to see new things. I recommend camping trips.
Don’t be afraid to just go. The hardest part is stepping out the door, the rest is easy and exciting. And don’t give up when you think your world has fallen apart. I have two favorite sayings: “life is a journey best done on the road” and “attitude is the difference between an adventure and an ordeal”. Also stay positive; life is great and things always work out somehow.
Would you take your family on the road? Why or why not?
Photo Credit: SIHPROMATUM | I Grew My Boobs in China