Welcome to the story of why we decided to move abroad with children- 5 of them! 😅 Our friends think we’ve lost it, our family thinks we’re nuts! They’re probably not wrong, but you only live once right?

It’s so interesting looking back and reminiscing on our decision to move abroad with family and start traveling with kids. Especially because when we first started talking about it, family word travel seemed like something you only see people do on TV.

LathropsGoneAWOL family travel to New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

But when you find yourself in your mid-thirties, and a doctor says you HAVE to unload a LOT of stress (like yesterday) or DIE, it kind of makes you want to live a little more.

So why not move your family of seven half-way across the world, to a place you’ve NEVER been? Where they speak a language you DON’T know?? Because…. YOLO?? (Is YOLO a thing, anymore?)

In fact, moving overseas with kids sounded like exactly what the Dr ordered!

Perhaps I should back up a bit…

We were enjoying life as a rapidly growing family of 5, in Jacksonville, Florida, USA.

We had moved to Florida (after spending most of our lives in Colorado) when my husband joined the US Navy wayyyyy back in 2008.

First we were stationed in Pensacola, and then Jacksonville.

Larry served 6 years in the military as active-duty (a full time service member), plus another ~2 years in the Navy Reserves.

We had our share of deployments and many hours of flight training and other military duties which often kept him away from home for big chunks of time. Being a military family was definitely a lifestyle of it’s own.

The experience of missing first steps, major holidays and birthday celebrations (not to mention the general stress of military life) made it very appealing for Larry to switch from full time enlisted to part time reservist. Once we went Reserves, he joined me in my rapidly growing ecommerce business. (That’s a wild story all of it’s own…lol!)

Welcoming Larry back from deployment LathropsGoneAWOL
Welcoming Larry back from deployment!

Overall, life was pretty great- and our military years helped us to fully appreciate our family life and being able to spend the days together.

We loved running our own business. We owned a nice little ranch style home with a killer backyard. And we really enjoyed our proximity to Disney World and their many resorts! (Yay, Florida!)

Most of all, we had amazing friends and family.

We were a pretty typical suburban family. Life definitely had some ups and downs, like most do.

But overall, we were happy and enjoying the beautiful Floridian sunshine! We even decided to add TWO more beautiful babies to our family!

(Actually, we decided to add one baby, which took us a few years to have, and then quickly got pregnant with another rainbow baby right after! That’s a wild and unbelievable story, too!)

When I got pregnant with my youngest (our 5th, & finally a boy!!), everything changed. It turned out that the close pregnancies and outside life stressors were more than my body could handle.

We had just laid our beloved dog, Dakota, to rest after a decade of beautiful life. Plus, business issues and some extended family stuff was adding up to a LOT of stress on my mind and body.

I was also finishing up my master’s thesis in Ancient History. That was a HUGE stressor of its own kind!

Without turning this into a PSA, I’ll give the quick version of the story:

I was 34 weeks pregnant with our sweet SURPRISE baby when I had a very rare type of heart attack known as a SCAD.

I thought I was having heartburn, but all the tums in the kitchen weren’t helping. Nothing seemed to relieve the burning sensation which kept me up all night. In the morning, I started having some shooting pains down my arm and up into my jaw.

With the loving push of my husband and my best friend, I went into the ER just to check things out.

Turns out, they were right! I was having a heart attack!

I needed to have an emergency c-section to deliver the baby as safely (and quickly) as possible before they could do anything to help my heart.

The type of heart attack I had can actually be somewhat COMMON for women under 50. It’s especially common when experiencing hormonal changes (like pregnancy)- and was called Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (or SCAD, for short).

Without getting too scary on the details, SCAD is the No. 1 killer of women under age 50. You should definitely read more about it here and here if you want more info. 😉

(It helps to know the signs, at least! Spread the word to your lady friends & fam! ❤️)

Anyhow, after 6 days in the cardiac intensive care unit (and a baby who spent a few weeks in the NICU), I had a beautiful baby boy; a grim prognosis for surviving the next year; and a sudden yearning to REALLY live life to its fullest.

baby Larry in the NICU LathropsGoneAWOL
Larry feeding our baby in the NICU

My initial outlook from the cardiac doctors was a 42% chance of surviving the first year post heart-attack. That’s not even 50/50 odds!!

I was also told that if I couldn’t reduce my life’s stressors, these odds would be even lower.

I was left feeling like I wanted to spend every moment with my husband and children, experiencing the most beautiful moments of life possible instead of dealing with life’s daily struggles and monotony.

That’s how I got the idea to start travelling abroad for whatever time I might have left to spend with my family.

It truly seemed more important than ever to make the MOST out of every single moment we had together- and moving abroad to embark on family travel (on a budget) seemed like the way to do it!

And our business was fully online, so why not, right?!

(Faint chanting….

….Do it, do it, do it!)

Since I was also, coincidentally, in my last semester of grad school for my Master of Arts degree in Ancient and Classical History with a concentration in Roman and Greek studies (especially women’s studies, because, duh, I have four daughters… 🤪) it just made total sense to me to go SEE these many amazing things I’d been studying.

So considering I had spent 10+ years learning about the ancient scribble scrabble of fascinating cultures from thousands of years past, I decided to take my family to see these fascinating places in person!

There are so many amazing things to see in this world, and I definitely felt a new sort of pressure to start living life to the fullest, ASAP!

Traveling the world sounded like the perfect solution to my problems- because travel with kids is a great way to reduce stress, right?! 🤪

I could just hear the sound of exciting, worldly locations calling my name. Foreign beaches, colorful cuisine, I wanted it all.

But where to start??

There is just WAY too much of the world to see in 180 days- especially when you’re dragging 5 kids, 7 suitcases and 3 bottles of wine (wait…wine isn’t allowed through airport check in?!?) along for the ride. Traveling with family is a unique (but rewarding) challenge- especially with baby gear and angsty teens in tow.

And so our story begins…

The Lathrop Clan began having serious discussions of what it might mean to make a LONG TERM trip to Europe, and quite possibly, even consider moving overseas with kids.

See what happens next in this post about narrowing down our plan to start moving abroad with children!

And if you’ve been considering a move abroad with family, check out our guide to Applying for A Non Lucrative Visa to see what type of documents and requirements are involved for moving abroad with children for easier family travel on a budget!

LathropsGoneAWOL family travels to Rome Italy

Welcome to LathropsGoneAWOL!

We’re a family of 7, and we decided to move abroad with family & start traveling the world when our youngest was just a little over a year old. We’ve learned so much about family travel! Now, we’re on a mission to make moving abroad with kids (and traveling with kids) easier for YOU with our family travel tips & great resources!

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14 Comments

  1. We all have ups and downs! Our family stands strong for more than 20 years with love, communication and prayers, let’s stay strong for that blessing!

  2. thank you for sharing your story! It does take a courage to share it with all the issues and honesty. I am sorry you had to go through this. Hugs!

  3. Thank you for sharing your story. I never heard of SCAD before but now I know. Thanks for letting me learn something new and very important.

  4. This is a great story. I too moved abroad for 9 years, then back to the US, and now preping to move back abroad again. I love living abroad.

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