Are you ready for today’s Travel Ninja? Forget what you’ve heard about single mothers, Libryia is breaking all the stereotypes by living an amazing life with her daughter and doing marvelous things. Read on and prepare to be inspired!
1. How often do you travel with your daughter?
In 2012, we went to Toronto, Canada where she got her first stamp. In 2014, we went to Jamaica. I have to say, I always enjoy spending time with my daughter, but that particular trip solidified that she is one of the most fun people I know. If she were my age, we’d be BFFs.
This year, she’s traveled with me at least once/month. We’ve gone to New Orleans for Easter, Memphis for a fried chicken tour, Chicago for Labor Day, Savannah for Mother’s Day and several other places. This year, she took her annual international trip without me. She spent a month in Brazil with her best friend’s family, That was an amazing experience for her. She and I are traveling to Miami on Wednesday and she’s looking forward to our trip to South Africa in February, which has a day layover in Abu Dhabi!
2. Is traveling with your daughter easy? How do you make it work?
It is for me, she’s 12 so she’s pretty self-sufficient. Additionally, when she was about 8 years old, she would fly to South Florida by herself to see her dad several times a year. She’s a seasoned traveler who, at one point, had been on more flights than I had.
3. You wanted to travel with your daughter and thought you found a way to do it. What happened?
Yes! I’ve been wanting to move out of the country with her for years! I’ve always talked about it with her. In fact, I talked about it so much that 3 years ago started asking me “mommie when are we moving to Spain!?” I decided that now was the time to get moving. Early this year, I decided to move to Abu Dhabi where my friend and fellow single mom, Tanai Benard, was living but had no luck finding a position outside of teaching (I’m a project manager). I had to switch gears and just think about this differently. I stumbled upon Remote Year, which is an amazing program taking 100 people around the world for a full year stopping in a different location each month. I thought YAY!! I CAN DO THIS! Then I realized that I couldn’t. It’s not the type of program that includes people with children. In fact, I had a hard time finding ANY similar program that would include families.
4. Most people would have given up. What made you decide to start your own program?
Honestly, I felt like this was my last shot to fulfill a major life goal. I wanted to live abroad before my daughter started high school and next year she’s in the 8th grade. Actually, I’ve wanted to be an expat since I was 19 and, let’s just say, I’m well past 19. I just had so many reasons to keep moving forward that I was completely oblivious to any reasons not to. I thought, here’s my opportunity to create the life I want. Why should my daughter and I miss out on something this amazing? Furthermore, why should any other parent miss out?
5. How did you start putting My Wander Year together?
I kept it a secret for months. Partially because I didn’t want anyone trying to talk me out of it and partially because I didn’t want to talk myself out of it. Around the time I was starting this, I was also reading One Big Thing. I’m a big picture person. I think of the end game before I even begin. I was that person in school who, if I had to write a story as an assignment, I started with the ending. We call these people visionaries, but when it comes to execution on that end game, it can feel very overwhelming and leave you lost on where to start.
I’m a project manager, so I know how to take a big picture and break it into small plans but it still felt like a lot. The philosophy of the book, One Big Thing was so simple that it was brilliant. Find that ONE thing you need to do such that everything else will be easier. So every day, I woke up and thought what is the ONE thing I can accomplish today that will propel me forward in building out this business? Doing that is actually pretty empowering and proved very effective.
I also wrote a lot. I brainstormed in my journal. One thing I wrote about was participating in a program like this from a consumer standpoint. I considered if someone was asking me to sign up for this program, what would be my questions, my must-haves, nice to haves, barriers? I ended up with a list 5 pages long of questions and concerns. Once I had addressed every single one of them, I knew I had something worth sharing with the people around me.
6. Can you describe what My Wander Year is? Who can apply and how much does it cost?
We are a community of 30 – 50 people who will wander the globe for a full year, creating a life that we don’t need to vacation from. We’ll stay in a different location every 3 months. Anyone over the age of 21 and willing to commit to a full year abroad can apply. What makes this special is you can bring your husband, wife, significant other, or even your children. Applications open on December 1st.
The cost is $2,000 per month for the Participant, $750 per month for the 1st add-on, and $500 per month for each additional add-on. For that cost, we cover your transportation, lodging, a co-workspace, 24-hour wifi access, an excursion every month, and a community service event in each country we visit.
Another feature of the program I love is that from the time you are selected to the time we depart, we will be working hard to make sure you’re prepared for the journey. We will help you find remote work, we will help parents determine how to continue their children’s education, we will help you find health insurance, take care of legal matters, and even help you understand what to pack. We want to do as much as we can to make this an extraordinary experience.
7. What countries will you visit?
We will begin in Prague, Czech Republic August – October, then on to Chiang Mai, Thailand November – January. From there we will go to Africa and then South/Central America. We have not announced those locations but follow me @WanderWomanInc to get those updates this week and next!
8. Where will you live?
The great thing is there are so many housing options. For the most part, we will rent out blocks of family style residences in each city. I’m actually headed to Prague this weekend to look at some residential options.
9. Has putting this together been easy?
Hmmm. I wake up every morning screaming IS THIS SERIOUSLY HAPPENING!?!? in my head. I imagine that means it doesn’t qualify as easy. It’s been easy in that I am truly energized and motivated by the level of enthusiasm the program has garnered and, even more, witnessing the light bulb going off in people’s head that “wait, this IS something that’s possible”. That is really the biggest source of energy – just watching the effect of inspiring people to think differently about the type of life that is available to them. In that regard, it’s been a breeze.
Otherwise, a lot of hard work, late nights and early mornings have gone into and will continue to go into the planning of this. I’m doing this while working a full time job and managing my real job as a single mother. I have recently recruited an incredible team that I believe will help take this farther than I could ever take it on my own. I also have the help of a fantastic mentor, Evita Robinson, and an incredible business coach, Dethra Giles.
I told the team a few days ago, when I think about what we’re doing it seems overwhelming and scary. I realize that means it’s important and worthwhile. But on a daily basis, I have to focus on the rocks and pebbles I need to move and put in place. If I remain diligent at that, I’ll step back one day and see that I’ve built a mountain. I’m looking forward to seeing that mountain, but for now, I’m about these pebbles!
10. What would you say to someone who thinks they can’t travel with their kids?
Shauna Jones, Tanai Benard and I started a Facebook group called Wandering Moms with this as our sole mission – To destroy the myth that we can’t travel once we have children. Children are not a hindrance to our lives, they are an enhancement. We may have to maneuver and sacrifice to make traveling with kids work, but isn’t that what we do as parents on a day to day basis anyway? It is not only possible but highly recommended that you travel with your children (and without them, but that’s another blog topic). The only reason you think you can’t is because you are unaware of the options that prove you can! Take advantage of travel deals, take a road trip, explore your own city like a tourist, hop on a Megabus, anything just go! How many of us parents say we want to give our children the world…you can’t do that from home. Get out there and literally give them the world.