1 Year On...

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March 1st 2012
Published: March 1st 2012
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A year on the road today... Quite the milestone!

This is actually the longest Faye and I have ever been away from home, our last travels lasted just less than a year, so this is quite monumental for us.

I'm actually suffering from severe blog lag. We're not in Vietnam as the last published blog suggests, in fact we're not even in SE Asia anymore, we're currently living under canvas, roasting our asses off in a beautiful Western Australia summer. Between then and now, we spent a month in Thailand, a couple of weeks in Malaysia and a month in Java and Bali, these blogs will be written eventually, but for the moment I'm enjoying doing not a lot and will probably continue to do so...

So how has travelling with the children been?

Our biggest challenge is that we're effectively parents 24/7 with no break. We never expected these travels to be anything like our previous travels where we did whatever we liked, whenever we liked without really having to consider anybody but ourselves, but I don't think we realised how hard it would be at times. What we find interesting the boys certainly don't and even if they do, their attention span is so short it doesn't last long and we have to move on. Gone are the days of spending all our time lost in a book, sleeping or just relaxing and with this some of the best parts of travelling as we've experienced in the past.

Of course there is a more positive aspect, especially for me as a father. I've literally watched my children grow and change every moment over the last year, watch them develop into walking talking little people and develop the personalities that will probably shape their future. I love the fact that I’ve actually had a part in that development and not just had a couple of hours a day like most fathers sadly do. This is an experience which will stay with me forever, they may not remember the details of this trip, but I will, hopefully it'll impact them positively in ways that aren't really noticeable at the moment.

One thing we quickly realised is that all the impetus that's put on parents to get their children into a regular routine as quick as possible isn't really for the children's sake at all.... It’s all for the parents! Do my kids care if they're charging round an airport in the middle of the night? Do they act up if they're not tucked up in bed by a certain time? Nope, not at all! Do I wish they were sound asleep on that plane at midnight? Do I feel exasperated that they're not asleep already when we've arrived somewhere new? You bet I do! To be honest, as long as they're kept fed, which we do try to keep roughly at the same times every day and they get the chance to have a good sleep at some point, they're ready for anything....

Have these travels changed us?

This was never planned to be a voyage of self discovery and hasn't turned out to be either. We've always been happy with how life's turned out for us and have been through enough already in our lives to become the people we are. We've dropped a few pounds and gained a bit more ink but we're the same people we were when we left, and we're happy with that.

How much have we spent?

In exactly a year we have spent the grand total of £27912.01, which sounds like a lot, but included in that is £3100.03 in unexpected medical expenses, £1807.06 on Tattoos and £583.55 replacing two iPods (one stolen, one broken) and a camera lens that got scratched. So after those unexpected expenses the end figure isn't actually too bad for a family of four for a year. We'd of certainly spent more than that at home in the UK for a year and as we have our UK home rented out, we do get a small income which offsets that further. We could of done it cheaper if we'd of opted to stay in the cheapest accommodation and also cut back on the types and amount food we ate but we had no intention of doing that as it wouldn't of been fair on the boys, we could of course also done it a lot more expensively....

It’s been an incredible year filled with some amazing moments but of course there have been a few lows. Here's a list of the highs and lows as I think of them, but as there's so many, there will be some I've missed...


Krakow - Beautiful city, good food and cheap.

St Petersburg, Russia - Seriously stunning city that simply blew me away.

Mongolia - Our gateway to Asia, we ate great food and was constantly amazed by the vistas of Gorkhi-Terelj National park. I would love to return here someday.

Beijing - loved China on our first trip in 2006, Beijing reminded us why, another country I could return to again and again.

Vietnam - loved it so much we spent 3 months there on this trip. It's full of scams, it sometimes feels like everybody is out to fleece you but the food, the people, the shopping and above all else the dirt cheap cost of things left us with huge smiles on our faces... Hoi An would be our highlight city of Vietnam and Halong Bay is simply beautiful.

Luang Prabang, Laos - Relaxed and shabbily beautiful. We had an amazing time here.

Temples of Angkor - Third time visiting the temples and still they took my breath away, a highlight of any SE Asian trip I'm sure.

Train travel - travelling long distances with kids can be a nightmare. Train travel reduces the stress a little, there's space to run, they can't go anywhere and delighting the travelling locals with two little white faces always brings a smile.

Western Australian beaches in summer - Vast, empty of people & sparkly clean. Crystal clear blue oceans, sunny skies and warmth always lift the spirit and calm the soul; I'm surprised any Western Australian leaves in summer.... We're currently in Esperance, Google 'Lucky Bay Esperance’; I dare you not to wish you were here!

Our relaxed pace of travel - with no itinerary, no timescales and an open mind we've drifted around at our own pace, sometimes cramming in loads but mostly taking the time to do diddly squat. When sightseeing isn't the purpose of your travels you see things from a completely different perspective.

Christmas in Yogyakarta - put simply, Christmas without family just plain sucks! We however had as best a Christmas as we could; we made tons of decorations for the room, even making a paper Christmas tree and took a horse drawn carriage ride round the city. We topped it off with a Pizza Hut Christmas dinner, unconventional but tasty nonetheless.

Meeting Ali, the creator of Travelblog - The man behind the site. Had a great lunch and a great visit to Travelblog towers, where all the magic happens. Thanks Ali for keeping us connected!

Free stuff - We get given loads of free stuff all the time for the kids. Normally food and most of the time completely inappropriate for the age they are. This I great as it means we get to eat it!!!


Russian costs - Wow, this country is expensive. We ate in McDonald's way more than is healthy.

Getting obliterated on Russian Vodka with locals on the Trans-Siberian - I made a complete ass out of myself, and ruined the ending of the train trip to Irkutsk for pretty much everybody.

Local attention - Specifically China, but the rest of Asia was bad at times. Two adorable western boys get a lot of attention, and I mean A LOT! At times it felt like we were fending off paparazzi from rock stars, most of the time it was fine, but other times it scared the shit out of the boys. Also cheek pinching and groin grabbing in Vietnam, one chap made Nate flinch he pinched him so hard, he soon backed off when he saw I was going to hurt him back. As for groin grabbing, if you want to know the gender of my children (although it’s quite clear from their clothes I think), ask, don't grab their junk as it's just not polite!

Surgery in Vietnam - Faye required two bouts of surgery in Vietnam. As you can imagine this was not a good time. Thankfully the standard of medical care was exceptional.

Bali - What a complete shithole! We enjoyed our time there a few years ago and were actually looking forward to going back. The prices are astronomical for Asia, the beaches are simply disgusting and the locals are out for everything they can get. Ubud was the nicest part for us, but not even that could save the visit. We left at a real low point in our travels but thankfully a few hours later we were standing on a beautiful, empty and most importantly sparkly clean beach in Perth (see highs above).

The cost of things in Western Australia - It’s a good job it's so damn beautiful here in Australia. Our first trip to the supermarket left us stunned. I would go as far as to say it’s more expensive than the UK now.

New Year in Java - After a great Christmas our new year was just lame. Kids in bed by 8, so nothing to do but watch the Sydney fireworks on the TV while they slept.

That's it for now; we do have a rough idea of where we're going from here. After Australia we're heading back to Asia for a very short while and then probably back home but of course nothing is booked so who knows, we always said we'd keep going till either the money ran out or we stopped enjoying it and surprisingly the latter has come first. We are actually loving travelling at the moment (think of those Western Australian beaches again) but as you can imagine, travelling with two young kids is hard, constantly trying to stay 20 minutes ahead of the hunger/tiredness/boredom meltdown curve is draining and we're very tired. Travel with children is as rewarding as it is challenging, sadly though at times it can be a little overwhelming.

I would like to thank my boys though for being the spectacular little people they are. We're lucky enough to have a couple of kids who are more than willing to accept change as a part of regular life and adapt to whatever living/sleeping/travel arrangements they're faced with, as this changes daily. They drive me to the edge of insanity sometimes but with a winning smile and an unprompted hug or “I love you Dad" they can instantly turn me into the happiest man alive. I love you boys!!!!

The photos from this blog are some of my favourites from the trip so far. Enjoy!

Additional photos below
Photos: 73, Displayed: 29


Argghhhh  I'm a bit dirty...Argghhhh  I'm a bit dirty...
Argghhhh I'm a bit dirty...

Mud Baths in Nah Trang.

1st March 2012

Glad you're enjoying Oz
It always seems expensive after SE Asia but, with the Oz $ almost at 70p and $US1.08, it is expensive for everyone these days. If you make it to the east coast and have the time please come and say hello. Sylvia and I live about 1hr south of Newcastle (1.5hr north of Sydney). John
1st March 2012

It was a bit of a shock and we've heard WA is the worst.... We had every intention of heading to the East coast, but sadly the Van we bought is just a little too crappy and we just don't trust it! Still... There's always next time! :)
1st March 2012

What a trip...what a life...you receive what you embrace...and you embraced heaps...best wishes to your family...if you get to Sydney...please contact me...there's also TB's 10th B'day.
1st March 2012

Thanks... Sadly we won't be making it to to the east coast like we originally planned, The van we bought probably won't make it! :) We're currently putting some things together so we might make it to the 10th birthday in KL though! :)
1st March 2012

Travelling with one kid is tough enough. Travelling with two small kids is as challenging as any of the most gruelling off-the-beaten-track adventures I have ever undertaken. I agree with you about certain cultures obsession with "routine", and not having the time to read a book. I also concur with the idea that these experiences will shape the personality of the children, even though - if you haven't already heard this - when you get home people will say "What a shame they won't remember any of this". Kudos for being able to keep up to date with the blog as long as you did, I often wondered how you did it. My own blog lag now stretches back years, yet the pace of life continues to move so fast, we don't even have time to sift through our photos let along blog. I've reached a point of anxiety now that if I don't get it written (for our benefit) I feel I may one day look back at wonderful photos of "this life" and think "shame I don't remember any of this!"
1st March 2012

Ha ha... as each day passes there are moments when I think "I so could of put a few lines together then for my blog" rather than just sat and done nothing.... but then the guilt passes when I realised that after chasing these two around I really enjoyed sitting around doing nothing!!! :) Kids are a benchmark for how fast life flies past.... It seems like yesterday we were kid free, now we're responsible for two walking, talking assertive little people with their own needs and desires.... Maybe we should stop having fun, times sloooows right down then! :)
1st March 2012

Congrats on the anniversary!
Hi guys, Congrats on being on the road for one amazing year - enjoy the rest of your time, and the memories that will be with you forever. Again, amazing photos! Btw, I did google 'Luck Bay, Esperance' and I definitely wish I were there...... :-)
1st March 2012

Thanks Jo... We're putting some stuff together so that hopefully we can make it to KL for the 8th... Fingers crossed it all works out and we'll see you then! :)
1st March 2012

Lovely but sad
Ah hon your year review was lovely but brought a tear to my eye as it sounds like it's all coming to an end. It's like having watched a good film with a voice over at the end with the final details.... We can't wait to have you back though. Enjoy the rest of your time. Love to you all xxx
1st March 2012

1 year!
It seems like only yesterday you were leaving the UK. You have some great pics and fab memories from your year and like you say you will have shaped their personalities and futures. It must be great to see them grow and develop every day. Western Australia looks amazing, the costs are the one thing making us put off Australia for now. Enjoy the rest of your time in Australia, let us know when you are back in Asia and we'll see if we are in the same place at the same time!
1st March 2012

Wow.... I can't even describe how expensive it is... other than as an example. When we arrived we got a room with a queen bed that only just fit in it for £69 a night. It also had SHARED bathroom. Can you believe it! $4 (£2.70) for a loaf of bread!!!!! To be honest though, we're loving being here... after the pace in Asia, to come to western Australia which is the size of Western Europe but with only 2 million people in it, it's a breath of fresh air!! So much space, so clean and the stars, I never realised how much I missed the stars!!! We're actually back in Asia in April. We're trying to organise getting to KL for the 10th birthday party at Ali's then we'll be in Bangkok by the 11th as we're meeting with my parents... How about you?
1st March 2012

£1807.06 on Tattoos???
That is a lot of ink you must have now!! :o) I'm glad to hear from you again, I was wondering if you had gone back home. I really enjoyed this blog and I'm going to make all my friends with kids read it, maybe they'll stop using their children as excuses to do things... I can't tell them anything cause I don't have kids and they always use it 'against' me, but you have 2!!! :o)
1st March 2012

Yup... Slowly getting covered. Wasn't just me though this time, Faye got a pretty big back piece. Actually £1800 is a bargain for the amount of work we had done, I'd hate to imagine how much it would've cost in the UK... Be gentle with your friends... :-p Kids are hard hard work... Maybe we just lucked out with a couple of good ones with open minds that quickly picked up our easy going attitude... Obviously there's a bit of adjustment when they arrive but, In my opinion, kids should complement your life, certainly not restrict it, we're people too, it can't be ALL about them!!!! :)
1st March 2012

An amazing blog
A truely amazing blog Michael.I,m afraid it made me cry as for what you wrote came from the heart.Brilliant
1st March 2012

Great photos!
Hey there, Great to hear from you guys! Love the photos! Enjoy the rest of your trip. We were also super shocked by the cost of things in Australia. What is the price of bananas these days? Our daily budget for Australia ran approximately $250/day, and that was camping and buying all of our food in supermarkets. We kept telling ourself, but in China this would only cost us X amount. Take Care and safe travels. Kathie
1st March 2012

Just take a lot of pictures...
and when you have time to write your blogs, the pictures will trigger your memory. Just don't quit blogging.
2nd March 2012

itchy feet
Your blog is truely inspirational, especially as I have a sixteen month old and another on the way in June! Great blog and some of the best photos I've seen on travelblog. Cheers Paul&Emma
3rd March 2012

Happy Anniversary !
What a fantastic year on the road indeed! Love the "winning smile" and the fact that you guys managed to be on the road full time with your two lovely boys, keeping your heart opened to new discoveries and sharing these with us. Enjoy Australia and hope that this is not a farewell blog ! Take care & should you pop by Jordan, let me know ! Cheers
5th March 2012

Congratulations on 1 year of travel!
Absolutly fantastic stuff as i havent dared do more than about 2 weeks with my two little ones dragged along behind me :) I have loved reading your blogs and knowing youre out there visiting all sorts of strange places and it gives me hope that i can convince my hubby we can do similar travel to unknown places like we did pre-kids.... although yet to win this battle :( If you make it back to Perth and are free for a 'playdate' just inbox me...mine are 16 months and 4 years now. I might be able to help out with some kid park ideas...or google 'perth coffee in the park' and you'll find a great website. Keep up the travel and i hope to read more soon :) tam
15th April 2012

Great to Catch up!
I kept checking your blog to see where you were up to in WA, we haven't made it down to Lucky Bay yet (only 20 days holiday a year here and you have to accrue them first!) so that is on our list. You're our inspiration for travelling with children - although we don't have any yet we think the only time we'll be able to do the RTW thing is once they are here, so it's pleasing to see that it can be done!
5th May 2012

Bit behind...
Hey guys Just caught up on this blog.. it's funny just the other day I was wondering how and where you were and still didn't get round to reading it! So you are back home now? Gosh, like Donna & Neil say it just seems like yesterday you were off and we learnt you had lived just down the road from us all that time!! Are you back there now? Interesting to read about your experiences with the boys, I was most interested to see how this went for you with my (Sophie!) wild ideas that it would be a doddle and one day Dale & I could sail off with a couple of kids in tow to save on nursery fees.. maybe it's not quite as rosy as i'd imagined :o) Glad you had a wonderful (if exhausing) time and look foward to hearing all about all your adventures soon... Sophie :o) ps you must have had a whole lot of work done on tattoos!!
27th February 2014

Travel with kids
Hi, I was just logging onto travelblog to write my latest blog, entitled, "And we said having kids won't change the way we travel..." and saw your blog. When I saw you were travelling with kids, it made me intrigued. We have backpacked around the world three times (a year or so at a time) and after having our first baby we took her backpacking in Indonesia (Bali, Flores, and Sulawesi) for three weeks and it went amazingly well. She was 10 months old at the time. Well, our recent trip was an all-inclusive Club Med resort in Mexico - a serious far cry from anything else we have ever done! We have baby #2 on the way in May and we are constantly walking about trying to squeeze in one more big backpacking trip before they start school... wondering how old your kids were on this trip? Also, did the highs outweigh the lows? I admire you for doing this - great experience for the kids! It is bound the affect them in a positive way.
15th April 2014

Hi, Thanks for the interest. Sorry for the delay... I log on to Travelblog so infrequently now as although it's great to get lost in the memories of previous travels, those same memories make us want to up sticks again which is getting harder and harder to do... :) Before we left on our big trip with the kids we did a few trips here and there with them just to see how viable it was (Japan, Thailand and California), and when we left the UK for the 14 month trip they were aged 1 and 2. everyone said we were mad but we knew we could do it and proved that we could. As for the travelling itself, it's very different from travelling without kids that's for sure. I can't lie, someday's you feel so low you just want to jump on a plane and head home, straight into the arms of waiting family. They have their moments on the road (as do I) where it's just not fun any more. Being a parent 24/7 with no break is exhausting. That being said, the good times DO far outweigh the bad. I spent a couple of years with my children during key developmental changes unhindered by work or home routines, something which isn't normal for Fathers. I've played with them on beaches that inhabit peoples dreams, clambered over monuments and explored ruins that populate most dreamers bucket lists... Sadly they'll remember none of it... But... they're 4 and 5 now and my oldest is in school, I know everyone thinks their own kids are marvellous, but mine do show a level of patience and consideration that blows me away almost weekly. they're also incredibly adaptable, if their routine changes they don't even blink, they just get on with it. I couldn't recommend travel with kids enough, it's incredibly trying at times but having kids at home is too. I'm off to read your blog now... Safe travels.. :)

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