Think Becoming A Digital Nomad Is Daunting? Try Doing It With A Partner And Two Young Kids
Sheralyn And Paul Guilleminot rejected the idea of spending the best years of their life working a 9-5, and having little time with their kids, to start a new nomadic life.
Please tell us a little bit about yourselves, your background and what you do for a living?
We are a family of 4 – our kids are aged 6 and 8. We quit our jobs last year and left on July 1st, to travel indefinitely with our kids. Prior to our departure, I worked as a pharmacist, and my husband worked in the accounting field.
How do you primarily make money to support your family and travel, now that you don’t have 9-5 jobs? Do you have any other sources of income?
Since neither of us had jobs that would allow us to work remotely, we’ve had to get creative for funding our travels. I’ve written about some ways that one can fund long-term travel here!
Our long-term plan is to enlarge our travel budget by figuring out a way to earn a living online – although there are decent odds that we can sustain our travel long-term as is, it’ll only work if we stick to a crazy tight budget, and we’d prefer to have the greater flexibility that making money on the road will offer. We’ve had some success in earning money online already (freelance writing for websites, and a little bit from my niche site), but we still have some other ideas that we want to experiment with (writing kindle books, for example) before we decide what to throw all of our efforts into.
What did your family and friends think, when you told them about your nomadic plans? Were they supportive, or did you face a lot of criticism? How are they with your choice now?
Most people were excited for us and very supportive. We did have a couple of family members who were really worried about our decision, but it was all coming from a place of love and concern for us, and now that they see how well things are working out, they have come around.
What was your first destination, why did you choose there and how many places have you visited so far?
We headed for SE Asia due to its low cost of living, a wide choice of safe destinations, and widespread use of English. It’s not that we’re opposed to traveling where English isn’t spoken, but being new to the whole nomad thing, we figured, easing into it by at least being able to easily communicate with people would be a plus.
So far, we’ve spent 24 hours in Narita (Japan) en route to Bali, 2 months in Bali (Indonesia), 19 days in Siem Reap (Cambodia), 1 week in Singapore, and almost 6 months in Penang (Malaysia).
How have you found the experience of homeschooling your children? Especially while traveling?
Homeschooling our kids has gone quite well – there are lots of great options for teaching the core subjects that follow the curriculum of our home country. And best of all, there are digital options, so there’s no need to lug around a suitcase full of books! The rules for homeschooling vary depending on where you’re from. For us, we are legally allowed to teach our kids whatever we please, which is nice. But, that being said, we’re sticking closely to the curriculum for the basics like reading, writing, and math – it’s important to us that if something unexpected happened and we had no choice but to return to normal life, our kids would be able to slide right back into a traditional school without being behind their peers.
You began your nomadic lifestyle in July of last year. What preparations did you undertake before leaving?
We had a long list of things that we needed to take care of before we left. I think having a list is the only way to get it all done without losing your mind! There is just so much to take care of. We found our own tenants for our house, then hired a property manager to oversee things for us.
Although we sold a lot of stuff, we kept enough of it so that if we unexpectedly needed to re-enter normal life, we’d have all the required basics to set up house again (it’s being stored in spare rooms in our house.) Anything really important to us is being stored with family.
We researched the necessary vaccinations via the CDC and Health Canada websites, then went to a local travel health clinic to confirm, and to actually get the shots. There wasn’t anything special to arrange for taxes, other than changing our mailing address.
How did you go about finding tenants?
To find a tenant for our house, we put up an ad online. Once we found people who were interested, we just had to verify that they are who they say they are, confirm their income, check their credit report etc. Basically the same stuff a bank would do when checking to see if they think you can afford to make a mortgage payment, or what a reputable property manager would do prior to agreeing to let you rent a place.
What are your monthly expenses for your family of four, on average, per month? Could you give us a rough breakdown?
Now that we are more confident about our ability to bring in some extra money, we’ve enlarged our budget target to between $2000 and $2500 per month. This figure only includes day-to-day living expenses though (accommodations, food, utilities, entertainment, ground transportation.)
Walk us through a typical day in your life.
5 days a week are work/school days, 2 days a week are our days off to sightsee or just relax at home.
My husband and I are currently taking turns for having a work day.
On our work days, the day is ours to use as we see fit until 4p.m. when we trade off and whoever has been taking care of the kids all day gets to take an hour off to work out or just relax before dinner. Then we eat dinner together, and just hang out until bedtime.
On my work days, I’ll sometimes work from home, or if I’m feeling restless, I might pack up my laptop and do some work from a restaurant overlooking the marina here, then hang out by the pool working after that.
Whoever is on homeschooling duty will usually start off with breakfast, then homeschooling for about 1.5-2 hours, then give the boys a swimming lesson at the pool followed by playtime. We also squeeze lunch and playtime in there!
How do you go about finding accommodation? Do you have a new place lined up before arrival? Do you use sites like Airbnb or ask locals etc?
So far, we’ve preferred to have a place to stay lined up before we arrive – we’ve used points for some short hotel stays, but mostly used Agoda or Airbnb to book accommodations. The only time we haven’t done this, is for our 6-month stay in Penang – for Penang, we booked a short-term rental via Agoda for our first week, then went out with local real estate agents to find a place that we could rent for 6 months.
What advice have you for people thinking about becoming a digital nomad, with children?
It’s doable. Others have done this before us, and so can you! Don’t let homeschooling scare you off either – it’s honestly not nearly as much work as you probably think it is. For us, the key to getting anything done is to schedule work time, school time, and down time. That way everything gets done.
What backpacks do you use?
We currently have 3 checked bags from Pacsafe, 4 carry-ons (2 MEI Silver Streaks, and 2 generic rolling bags), plus 4 daypacks (2 generic no-name ones for our boys, and an MEI one for Paul and I, that came with the Silver Streaks).