Family Work-Travel-Writing-Photography-Homeschooling Adventure

‘Travelling with children is not really a holiday. 

It’s just surviving in a different place for a period of time.’ – Unknown

You have to be slightly mad to spend five months travelling the world with your kids while trying to write a book. But, also, slightly mad not to.

We (my wife, two boys aged 8 & 10, and I) have been on our dream work-travel-writing-photography-homeschooling adventure across Europe, the UK and South-East Asia. In the UK we saw A Midsummer Night’s Dream from the yard of The Globe Theatre in the rain, Arsenal beating Stoke City on home turf, Matilda on the West End, the Roald Dahl Museum and the Harry Potter Studios Tour. We’ve stayed in a London clocktower, a gypsy caravan in the Cotswolds and a beach house in Cornwall and it all sounds extremely civilised. But, of course, it is not. 

Copenhagen street art.

We have discovered that life in Berlin or Prague or Copenhagen is just as mayhem-filled as everyday family life. Only there are more late nights, strange foods, expectations, hungry humans, epic meltdowns (the kids have had a couple, too) and, in the middle of it all, my wife and I trying to equate this rather more expensive, busy and nerve-jangling form of travel with its spontaneous, distant relative of eighteen years ago. But, somehow, it kind of works. 

Florence, Italy.

I’m writing a new children’s book as we travel and the words are emerging. Constant movement frees up word-flow for me. Even at home, I like to walk and write, to shift locations and physically wrestle the ideas out of my gut and onto the page, so writing on the road with fresh inspiration every day works well. Now, instead of shoes off at the beach, it’s scarf and jacket on while walking beside the freezing Seine with thumbs so stiff they can barely tap the iPhone keys.

It is sometimes a feat to carve out time to write but by the time I make it to the page or screen I am so excited to have peace, so filled with fragments of inspiration, that the words come more easily than the straining and wringing and procrastination that often goes on at home.

Shakespeare & Co Bookshop

Here, life seems to be physically happening, sweeping me out of my head and into the world while, at home, the Web is the only thing flowing and I dip my toe into its stream far too many times a day in a desperate attempt to feel alive. Children, too, keep it lifey. They are so excited about everything they see that it brings you back to ‘beginner’s mind’, a good thing for both travel and creativity.

Before you consider an adventure like this, I highly recommend that you marry someone extremely patient and understanding, Saint-like if you will, who is prepared to homeschool the children while you write. Also, try to put aside about nine months of late nights and weekends before the trip to budget, book everything and to read every travel book in the library while whittling your possessions down to two suitcases and four small backpacks.

Long-term family travel is pure madness, but everyday family / creative life is crazy anyway, so I figure you might as well be in Paris. 

Rodin Museum, Paris.



  1. February 4, 2014 / 5:34 am

    Hi Tristan,
    I really enjoyed reading your post. Brings back so many memories for me too.
    We're heading to Provence and Italy in July/August. I'll be following your travelling comments – re trying to write on the move – with interest.
    Best wishes
    Sheryl 🙂

  2. February 5, 2014 / 12:09 am

    Thanks Sheryl. It's been an adventure. The writing on the move just seems to happen. I think I've been more productive than usual. A 30,000 word draft of one thing and another 25000 on another. I don't know that I would have done much more at home.

    Provence and Italy sounds great. We loved immaculate Florence and the north much more than grubby, neglected old Rome.

    Good luck! Look forward to reading of your adventures, too.


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