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February

2017

How We Create HOME While Traveling

COMMUNITY, Ecuador, FAMILY

Hola, friends! And just like that, it’s Thursday (oops, Friday now) and the hot Latino is home again. Today was a big day for us at the visa office (after 14 visits locally and one trip to the US) we are finally legal for 6 more months. Yeah! I will be publishing the long-awaited Ecuador visa extension post on SATURDAY (yes tomorrow). I am so excited I can barely contain myself. We celebrated with take-out pizza tonight (last night)! Papa John’s! Today let’s talk about how we create home on the road.

I get a considerable amount of inspiration from many of my FB groups, but especially from the Worldschoolers group. Several weeks ago there was a thread asking how travelers create “HOME” wherever we go. There were so many amazing suggestions on the thread. What a true inspiration these families are. Many of them have put enormous thought into what home means to them and how to create it on the road. Amazing.

AvaLar, Will and I were all born in the US, therefore it will always be some version of home to us, but our true understanding of a home is where the four of us are. We don’t consider home a physical location, but more of a state of mind. Home for us is not something that can be taken away because of lack of funds to finance it or because of a fire, etc. Home travels with us all the time. We are our home.

During World War II, when America was imprisoning Japanese families in camps, a reporter stepped up to a little Japanese-American girl waiting at a train platform. “How does it feel to be without a home?” the reporter asked. “Oh,” replied the girl, “we have a home, we just don’t have a house to put it in.”

Are you still shaking your head saying, “Yeah, but how do you really do it?” Today I would like to offer some suggestions as to how we create home on the road.

  • TRADITIONS: We carry our traditions with us as we travel. Mentally, not physically. And then we find a way to recreate them in our travel location. Thus far this has proved to be far easier than we had anticipated. In addition, we collect traditions from the places we have lived and add them to our bag of tricks. Now I must confess that trying to recreate a tradition in a country that does not celebrate the tradition is not always easy, but in most cases, you can find a way to make it work. We have been known to make our own Christmas tree out of recycled cardboard and eat green eggs on St. Patrick’s Day. It’s not that hard to keep traditions alive, you just need to be flexible, committed and creative.
  • DECORATE + BAKE: We travel with art supplies. And we love to make decorations or cook to celebrate our traditions. It does not cost much to make a piece of artwork for the wall or cook up a dish that relates to the holiday we are celebrating. Since we  cook and bake a lot, I do travel with my spices. I know, weird, but I get really annoyed when I want to make a dish and cannot find the spice I need in the store. I also travel with natural food coloring, some cookie cutters, and cupcake papers. You never know, folks! They take up only a small amount of space, but yield great amounts of happiness for the kids.
  • ROUTINE: This is a pretty easy one for us. Our routine travels with us. We still read to our kids every single night, no matter where we are in the world. We still have our weekly movie night where they get to eat while watching their movie. We still let them take a big, bubbly, leisurely bath (pending our rental has a tub) every Sunday night. We still have dinner together as many evenings as possible. And we still ask them what the “best and worst” parts of each day were. For us, taking our routine on the road has not been very difficult yet and hopefully we will be able to keep this routine as we continue to switch countries.
  • SPECIAL OBJECTS: Our children carry special comfort items with them as we travel. We don’t allow them to bring everything they want, but we are sympathetic to their needs. Some of these special objects have been swapped out over time as they have matured and their needs have changed. Largo still has his blanket made by Billa and Avalon carries Smokey who was given to her by a fireman when our house in LA caught on fire.
  • KEEP IN TOUCH: FaceTime and Skype are our buddies. We keep in touch with family and friends frequently. We also make new friends along the way that we keep in touch with as we travel. The kids love sharing the adventures, trials, and tribulations of our life. Plus, they love hearing about what is happening back in the US and in our old neighborhood.
  • FAMILY MEALS: In Costa Rica, our cook prepared dinner for us five nights a week and we all sat down together as a family. It was lovely. I must confess that meals have been a bit interrupted in Quito considering Will’s travel schedule and the kids’ activities. However, they are still a priority and we fit them in whenever we can.
  • MAKE FRIENDS: If you read this post about culture and language immersion you know that making friends is a big part of our travel life. It is also a big part of how we form a community and create home wherever we land. When we arrive in a new city or town I have already done my research and made an attempt to connect with other travelers who might be living in or passing through the city. I am not shy about suggesting a meetup. You have to be able to step beyond your comfort zone in this lifestyle and aggressively find community. In addition to reaching out to other travelers, I also connect with the families at Largo’s local school. I will either send an email explaining our situation or suggest a meetup. Again, I just jump in and go for it. We have found that families are very welcoming and eager to meet a new family. We also socialize with individuals and families from the various activities the kids are involved in. Basically, we jump into any situation that offers the opportunity to be social and engage in conversation with locals or other travelers. So far our method has proved to be very successful and has helped us to form communities, another small way we create home.
  • ENTERTAIN: This is a been huge one for us. HUGE! We have a lot of parties in Quito. Honestly, I am tired by the end of the work week, but I make the effort because this is another way we form community and home. At our parties, we have had friends from Largo’s school, friends from Avalon’s homeschool group, friends from the French Alliance, friends from activities and new traveler friends we meet online. Plus, it’s always fun to make new friends from different cultures.

All of these suggestions work very well for us, however, they do take dedication and a strong desire to create home in a foreign country. We still miss many parts of our birth home, family, and friends, but with some effort, we have been able to fill the void a bit.

Have a fantastic weekend everyone. Thank you so much for your patience as we navigate this visa approval process, surgery, work travel, schooling and so much more. I know I have been a bit MIA the last couple of weeks, but I do plan to make it up to you.

Besos,
Jessica

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