Our 2016 Travel Plans (Plus 50 Reasons to Travel with Kids)




Our decision to give up on our dream of selling up and moving to start a smallholding wasn’t one we took lightly. We worked for many years to turn our dream into a reality, it came to the point that it was about to be made real and then it hit us that actually, our dreams had changed.



As it turned out, we realised that the world is big and there is a lot in it. 


There was more out there – more for us to do and experience that we couldn’t do if we committed ourselves to land and animals and all the work it entails. We had another dream we wanted to realise but the two were not compatible.

One of them had to give.

It seemed silly when, given the flexibility we have of being able to work from anywhere in the world, we were about to tie ourselves down.


We changed our plans. 


We took the house off the market and talked about where we wanted to travel to next. Then we started making our plans. Now it seems 2016 has become pretty packed and we are going to cover quite a few places after all, all with 11 of our 13 children in tow.

So far our plans for the year will be kicking off in March, when we will be camping our way down through Europe. We’ll be staying in Germany, Croatia, Montenegro and Albania. We’ll be revisiting friends we made last year, the Barduca family, the commercial producers of organic salads Barduca Bio. We’ll be spending five weeks discovering history, enjoying food and relishing the sunshine in stunning Greece. We’ll then be camping our way back up again.

Later in the year we will be back in Italy for a month, although this time in the region of Puglia – an area of Italy we have never visited before. A region steeped in history and packed with stunning scenery, we look forward to visiting the trullos of Alberobello, watching dolphins off the coast of Taranto and staying in a cave hotel in the breathtaking region of Matera, Basilicata on the way.

There are also a few other activities and trips in the pipeline which I cannot wait to tell you about but I can’t divulge just yet.

It’s going to be an amazing year.

But why?

Why on earth do we feel so strongly that we want to travel with the children? I mean, surely travelling with 11 children, 10 of whom are under the age of 13, is nothing but madness? Or is it?

Want to travel with kids? Or need to? Here are 50 reasons why we think travelling with kids is a must:


You lose your routine

And that isn’t a bad thing. When you get stuck in the same-old, same-old, you’re just stuck in the same-old, same-old. Unfortunately, we find that when we return back home we return to the usual routines and, quite frankly, we get fed up with them. As a result we get bored, frustrated and fed-up. Travel shakes it up.


To connect

While we live together, work together and learn together, the time we spend isn’t necessarily always quality time. There’s a huge difference in being together and being together. Taking us away from the humdrum of normality we fall into at home gives us the opportunity to reconnect with each other on a qualititatively greater level.


Sullivan family in Venice 2015


To see new places together

Taking children somewhere you’ve been before and already know well is one thing. Discovering somewhere new together is something else entirely.


You learn to discover new places through their eyes

Children see things in a different way than adults do. Not marred by scepticism or cynicism that often affects the way we approach new experiences, they have an open, wide-eyed, innocent way of greeting everything as a new, fascinating opportunity. It’s a shame adults grow up.


Herculaneum 7 May 2013 049


To unplug

When we are home we find ourselves plugging in far more than we do whilst we are on the road. When we’re travelling we are busier doing real things, in real life, rather than through a virtual world of tablets, PCs, mobile phones and TV.


To show them that the world is not a scary place

If you took notice of everything we are bombarded with on the news, through the internet, in the papers and through stories in general, it would be easy to believe that the world is a hideously scary place. It’s not. Bad things happen sometimes. Bad things make the news. But bad things aren’t the norm. For the most part, the world is a beautiful place, with good, hospitable people. Don’t be scared of it.


Herculaneum 7 May 2013 126


To show them that there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with ‘different’

Different people live in different ways. They live in different houses. They wear different clothes. They do different things. They don’t all have what we have. Some have more. Some have less. That’s how the world is. Accept it. Respect it.


To appreciate new things

You can’t appreciate something you have never seen or tried or done. Travel opens up the world to things you wouldn’t otherwise even hear about. Appreciate them.


All aboard the river taxi to Venice
All aboard the river taxi to Venice


To try something you wouldn’t have

We find that we are all more open to trying new things when we are on the road. It might be a new food, a different drink, a place we might not otherwise have considered. Travel provides a good opportunity to try something new.


To learn new things

Every trip we’ve taken has provided numerous opportunities to learn new things. We’ve learnt about the Romans at Herculaneum, we’ve visited the Man in the Iron Mask’s fortress, we’ve learnt what goes into creating gastronomic Italian foods, we found out how grappa is made, we learnt how a working water mill creates electricity. We have all learnt so much more than any book could ever have taught us. So when people ask ‘what about the children’s educations?’ when they hear we’re travelling instead of in the classroom, we say this. 


Wondering who the Man in the Iron Mask actually was, whilst standing in his prison
Wondering who the Man in the Iron Mask actually was, whilst standing in his prison


To reduce fussiness

We don’t do fuss when it comes to food. Travel means we do it even less than normal. Not only that, we get to try things we wouldn’t consider or have the opportunity to at home.


Gastronomia Il Ceppo


To show them what to strive for

Travel isn’t free. You need to earn money in order to do it. You need to learn in order to earn money. Want to travel more, kids? Do your lessons so you can earn enough money to travel more when you’re no longer along for the ride with us.


To teach them what matters

You can’t appreciate things until you have the experience of them yourself. That includes travel. Try it before you decide if you like it or not. If you like it and it makes you happy, do it more. Do the things that matter to you, not the things others tell you that matter.


To appreciate the value of doing rather than the value of having

Or to put it another way, it’s not what you have, it’s what you do. 




To make memories

Travel isn’t about packing as much into every day as you possibly can. Sometimes it’s just about the moments.




To encourage them to do more…

Get out, do things, live life, have fun. Even if you’re climbing a tree, picking fresh figs or chasing lizards. Do it.


sid in tree


…and to want less

The things you enjoy don’t cost much. The things that bring the most pleasures usually need the least money. Look, see, experience, discover. The memories are more valuable than anything you can buy.


To appreciate how others live

It’s not the same as the way we do it. It’s all ‘right’.


To learn new customs

We’re celebrating Easter in Greece this year. It’s a big deal out there. Festivals, traditions and customs around the world are truly something to experience first-hand if you have the chance. We plan to!


To make new friends 

To meet new people and make friends everywhere. You don’t even need to know the other’s language. It’s amazing how far hospitality, arm gestures and a smile can get you. (Google translate is also handy).


sullivans and barducas and valentina


To not be afraid

We don’t want our children to be afraid of the unknown. Not countries, not people, not tradition. It’s back to the ‘scary world’ image we are lambasted with. It’s not. Experience it and you’ll be reassured.


To step out of their comfort zone

Sometimes doing things you wouldn’t normally do opens up the world for you. Step out of your comfort zone and who knows what opportunities and discoveries are out there.


To nip narcissim in the bud

Because the world isn’t about them. It’s not about what’s on their doorstep. There are other people, other places and other issues. Look further than your own nose and realise that the world doesn’t rotate around you and what you do.


Symi small fishing boats


To see how beautiful the world is…

It really is. Seas, mountains, landscapes, volcanoes, lakes… the world is a picture that no book can ever duplicate. You won’t really see it or know it until you experience it. Not through TV, or film or pages of a magazine. Nothing ever can replace the feeling of seeing somewhere stunning for the first time with your own eyes.


…and sometimes how it isn’t

The world isn’t a fluffy, cotton wool land filled with fuzzy pink unicorns. It’s not a scary place as a whole, but bad things do happen sometimes. There is suffering, some people aren’t living well, some places aren’t that nice, trouble happens.  See it, understand it, perhaps make a difference to it but don’t close your eyes to it. This is reality.




To realise there is more than what we see…

What we might see as insignificant, others may regard as important. What we see as simple, others see complicated. What we might see as easy, others might face difficulties achieving. There is more to someone or something than we we might initially see. Travel helps open your eyes to it.


…and we can always learn more than we already think we know

Especially when we see it, talk to them, or experience it for ourselves.


To learn compassion

We are lucky. Choosing not to have things is not the same as not having things. Choosing to live simply is not the same as a life of hardship through no choice. The life we are fortunate to have isn’t one that others necessarily have for themselves. You are lucky. Help those who aren’t as much.


To appreciate small things 

Like fresh fruit from a tree, the sea splashing your skin, the wind in your face. It means you are free.




To enjoy the moment

Even if much isn’t happening.




To learn to be comfortable in your surroundings no matter where they may be

You might be in a different place surrounded by a language you don’t know and by people you don’t understand. Relax, enjoy and discover.


To not be afraid to be different yourself

When other people question the way you have chosen to live your life, asking why you aren’t doing the same as everyone else, think of all the things you’ve done, all the experiences you’ve had and all the things you’ve seen. Then rest assured that it’s okay to be different. You’re the proof.


To learn new ways

Because they might be better. And even if they aren’t, at least you’ve opened your mind to trying or learning something new.


To make memories you’ll cherish

Our children don’t remember what they got for Christmas a year ago. They have a load of memories from the places we travelled to though. Travelling to new places helps ingrain those memories even better, even for the youngest ones.


Pisa 13 May 2013 015


To have had the gift of time with those you love

Because nothing lasts forever. Make the most of now.




To collect stories

The best tales we have are the ones we have collected while travelling and we have found that having travel tales as a common ground is a great way to make new friends. The only problem is, they’re either in other countries or travelling themselves. Thank goodness for social media!


To treasure moments over possessions

We’ve spent hours in old clothes with bare feet picking the ripest, freshest, sweetest fruit from trees. You can’t buy moments like that.




To realise it really is the small things

It’s not about owning the most expensive, having the best, or acquiring the newest. It’s about happiness. The stuff you buy makes you happy until the next ‘want’ comes along. The freedom to do the things you want to do, living the life you want to live, holds a lot more value than the kind of mobile phone in your pocket or the latest gadget you own.




To know that you can do and see rather than just talk about doing and seeing

We want our kids to know that anything is possible if they put their minds to it. Travelling the world isn’t just a dream. They can really do it! So don’t just talk about it, do it!


To know that you can turn a dream into a reality

We want them to know the process that goes behind the previous step. Make your goal then work out a way to realise it. Too many people say ‘I wish I could do that but…’ or ‘I always wanted to do that but…’ and then ended up doing nothing. Their dream stayed that way. Make a goal and find a way to reach it. It’s all possible, the only thing stopping you, is you.


To appreciate freedom…

Because if you suddenly lost the freedom you have, you would regret ever having taken it for granted. You have it. Use it.


Lake Bolsena 30 April 2013 027


…and hard work

You aren’t going to get what you want from life if you don’t put the right things in. Work hard, be compassionate, love people, consider others, be kind. And work hard.


To find out what is important to you…

Travelling allows you to move around with nothing but a few possessions and the people you choose to travel with. What’s important? The stuff you left behind or the people sharing the journey with you?




…and to prioritise those things

It’s usually not things. It’s usually the people. Look after them. Appreciate them. Make memories with them. And let them know they’re important.





They learn to go against the flow and be confident in their own choices

Sometimes people won’t agree with what you want to do or where you want to go. Do your own research, make your own choices, do your own thing. Travel gives you the chance to see the world through different eyes. You realise that the norm in once place isn’t the same somewhere else. Sometimes you need to go against the flow to be true to yourself. Maybe your ‘norm’ is just somewhere else. Find those like-minded people!


Believe in yourself

Travel makes you more confident. It cannot fail to. More confidence results in a greater belief in yourself. Believing in yourself is a wonderful thing.


To be tolerant

Who knows what we would miss out on by being close-minded to countries and cultures and people? You might not like or agree with everything you see, but at least be open-minded and tolerant to others. Ignorance isn’t bliss. It’s just ignorance.


To be curious

We have learnt that people are usually very willing to share their lives with us. They are welcoming and more than happy to share their knowledge with you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and above all, listen. There is no better way to learn a way of life than through the person living it.


To discover more

There is more than our own street, our own village, our own town. Discover it.


To live

To travel is to live. It heightens all the senses – the sights, the sounds, the smells. It creates stories that your memory will hold for years, it brings friends you would never have met, it brings you images that your mind’s eye will cherish forever more. You discover things you never knew of, you experience things you could only dream of. When you travel, you truly live in the moment. Possessions become unimportant when you can’t pack them up and take them with you. You view your life differently. Once you begin to travel, you will find it hard to stop.


sullivan family in Caorle


Do you travel with kids? Do you have more reasons to add to the list? Please do share your thoughts in the comments below!
























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