Now that we’ve told you a little bit about WHY we decided to explore the idea of family world travel, let’s talk about how we narrowed down our plan! (If you didn’t read our ‘why we decided to move abroad with children‘ post, you should check that out for the backstory.)

Actually, the conversation of moving abroad with children to Europe first came up a year earlier. We were going through some super stressful life transitions, and we really just wanted to make some sort of major change. We were feeling stuck in the rut of day-to-day suburban life.

At Wyndham Resort in Orlando Florida LathropsGoneAWOL Family World Travel

But when we first talked about it, it was a pipe dream. Something we joked about doing in that vague time frame called, ‘One Day.’

In fact, family world travel seemed almost magical and surreal!

The idea of actually DOING IT- taking the kids out of their schools, selling our house, and leaving all the people we loved behind and travelling world wide– seemed absolutely bonkers, and (dare I say) reckless! Irresponsible! Downright WILD.

Then to consider the financial aspect of moving overseas with kids and actually traveling with kids? It definitely didn’t seem within our reach. I imagined it to be quite an expensive endeavor, even if we attempted to keep our family travel on a budget.

But after my heart attack, our entire perspective on life shifted. The roadblocks suddenly didn’t seem so big.

The doctors initially told me that SCAD patients have a 42% chance of surviving the first year post heart-attack. And that is only IF they can get their stress down, be really careful not to strain their bodies, etc. etc. etc.

I’ve never been a ‘slow down’ type of person. I’m a full-on, give-it-all-I’ve-got-until-I-drop kinda girl, and rest is not in my vocabulary. We weren’t sure what my life expectancy was, but we knew that my future was going to be scary and required some major changes.

Looking at life through the eyes of potentially having a year (or less) to live was what REALLY pushed us to make the family world travel idea happen, IRL, and stat.

It would be hell’s bells, balls-to-the-wall, no going back. (Like I said, I’m not a slow down type of person.)

Lathrop Halloween family photo before our family's world travel experience
Lathrop Halloween Family Photo

Armed with this new knowledge about our future as a family, I (once again) suggested the idea moving overseas with the kids to Europe so we could travel long term. It was no small ask, considering we’d travel with kids from baby thru teen.

This time, my husband was 100% on board!

(Wow… I definitely wasn’t expecting that!)

When our family looks back on that time, Larry likes to say that I was determined. He knew I was 100% serious about going no matter what.

He told me, “You were going. I could see it in your eyes. So really the question was whether I was going with you- or not. And that wasn’t really a question at all.”

I don’t remember feeling so resolved about it! But before Larry had the chance to chicken out and come to his senses, I knew we had to pick a main location for our family’s home base. ASAP.

We knew that traveling the world with 5 kids would be no easy feat. And we wanted them to still have a sense of ‘home’ and stability, especially since leaving home can be scary for kids.

To make our family travel easier, we decided we needed to have a “home base” to return back to on a consistent basis. Then, every 6-8 weeks we could take a trip to another European country. Essentially, I wanted to go EVERYWHERE we could!

With speed trains on our side, this seemed like the smartest plan. We could see the many wonders of the world, while still providing our kids with a sense of stability and a place to call HOME.

First, we eliminated places using my own personal rubric (in no particular order):

  1. I hate the cold. I can tolerate a visit but I’ve no desire to live in the snow. My childhood in Colorado was more than sufficient on that front.
  2. I love the beach. This one is self-explanatory. I mean, come on! If you could life any lifestyle in the world, daily beach side mojitos should be at the top of the list, right?
  3. It needs to be somewhat affordable, because I have yet to perfect my money-tree seed invention.
  4. It needs to be safe for the kids, with plenty for them to do in their daily lives while we’re local.
  5. It needs to have access (preferably via the Hogwarts Express) to the rest of Europe. Totally stocking up on pumpkin juice for the many train rides! πŸŽƒ
  6. It has to have SOME sort of local, historical interest. We’re history-loving nerds, yo! This was a given.
Lathrop Family Sunset at Cocoa Beach Florida during our family world travels

Using this framework as our guide, we knew what to look for.

So we got started on our search using the most logical way to narrow down dream locations… the YouTube travel channels. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

Without getting too specific, we found a few cities on YouTube that looked absolutely amazing! First, we starting making a list of our top choices. (And thanks for all the awesome family travel tips, youtubers!)

Next stop on our search: popular expat websites, especially ones that narrow down the top places to live.

Some of the prime places we procrastinated working (aka web-surfed) were:

and we probably spent the most time here:

In the end, it was Spain that called to us the strongest. Finally, we decided on a coastal city called Valencia. Your dream city might be somewhere else and that’s totally cool, since your priorities will be different. πŸ₯°

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But in general, this was how we narrowed it down.

Okay, Spain, here we come!!

Oh, wait… we’ve gotta do the whole VISA application thing first. Bummer.

Which brings us to the next part of our story, Preparing For A Move Of EPIC Proportions For Our Family World Travel!

I’ve also put together a pretty in-depth post about Applying for A Non Lucrative Visa, for our non lucrative Spanish visa, if you want to check that out as well.

And if you have any questions about how we moved our family abroad to start traveling with family, please comment below! ;)

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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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11 Comments

  1. So sorry to hear about the heart attack and health issues. But glad you have been able to make traveling abroad long-term a reality for you and your family! I hope you have the best time abroad.

  2. First f al, I am so sorry you got an heart attack and I really wish you to live another 100 years travelling around the world.

    Second, I have been to Valencia a few years ago and I found it amazing. The beach was quite windy but nice and big. The city is wonderful. You will fall in love with it and the food…gnam! Spanish food is absolutely delicious.

    the rail system in Spain works very well so I don’t think you will have any problems to more around.

    A city you cannot miss to visit in Spain is Barcelona. I have been there 3 times so far and I am surely go back again in the future.

    Good luck with your travel, I wish you and your family all the best!

    1. Thank you so much Valentina! πŸ₯° So far we have loved Valencia, but I agree it is quite windy! They’ve made the metro rail free here all summer, so it’s a great time to explore Valencia! ☺️

  3. How interesting to read about the things you considered when planning your long trip. We don’t have to worry about kids but we too hate the cold and love the beaches. Valencia sounds like a great spot to use as a base.

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