Traveling the world full-time with your family is all fine and dandy, until someone starts crying. And, I am not talking about the kids. Emotions when moving can run high when you are on the road, and nowhere can this manifest more than when it comes to your relationships—both inside and outside of the family unit.
Creating a local community is an emotional journey that takes time. It takes commitment, and it takes trust. These things don’t happen overnight. After working incredibly hard to find families that you connect with, it can be challenging to walk away when it is time to move to a new WorldTowning location. Frankly this is the hardest part of our lifestyle choice. Leaving friends back home and new friends along the way never gets easy. I wish I could tell you it does, but that would be a lie.
We leave a piece of our hearts behind in each hometown when we move to the next. I consider this a normal part of life and believe it would happen if we were stationary, as well. The key to making this transition a success is our focus on how best to handle it, rather than to dwell on how difficult it is. It will always be difficult, whether we are travelers or not. Change happens and people move, whether we want them to or not—regardless of the travel lifestyle.
In our experience, we have come to learn that there are eight things that can ease our transition from one WorldTowning location to another a tad easier.
Don’t Deny Emotions
As a family, we never deny or belittle the emotions of any family member, as we prepare to leave friends. Each country presents different opportunities and challenges with regard to relationships. While it might be easy for one family member to leave a hometown, it may be incredibly hard for another. We make sure everyone is sympathetic to one another, and we remain honest about what we are feeling. As a result, we spend a lot of time talking about our emotions and what each of us can do to make the process easier for everyone.
Encourage global friendships
We see our journey as that of “gathering” not “changing” friends. We make sure that the kids know they do not need to leave friends behind and forget them. The idea we present to them is to form a global tribe of people they enjoy along the journey. And, by the time they hit college, they will have friends across the globe with whom they can travel or meet up as they age.
Use technology to maintain friendships
Technology plays a huge part in our WorldTowning life. We use various technological tools to stay connected to friends and clients across the globe. As a result, Avalon, who is now 13, can easily stay in touch with her friends almost as if she is still in the same town. As a note, until our children are 12, we limit their technology exposure considerably. Thus, this presents a problem for Largo, as he is only nine. Luckily, I am friends with many of his friends’ moms, and we socialize often as a family to keep in touch. When, he is old enough to have access to more technology, he can maintain these friendships on his own.
Lead by example
We show our kids that it is possible to sustain long-distance friendships using all the resources we have at our fingertips. If we meet someone we really connect with, distance is not really an issue in today’s world. Plus, we meet up with our friends across the globe as we continue to travel. If they see this as part of our “normal” lifestyle, it will, in theory, become their “normal” lifestyle, as well.
Talk to your friends
Be honest with your friends about how difficult it is to leave them. Explain that you will make every effort possible to stay in touch, because they are important to you. Sometimes, just talking it out makes the emotional aspect of leaving easier. Once we are reassured that we are both committed to staying in touch, it eases our emotions.
In the slow travel life, it is often easy to change plans as you see fit. Remember this when emotions are high. If everyone in the family feels connected to an area, maybe you can decide to stay a bit longer. While this may be delaying the inevitable in a way, it might be the right choice. Difficulty moving on is a part of this WorldTowning journey, but it also may be an indicator that you are just not ready yet.
Plan a Meet-up
We have done this more times than I can count. Plan a meet-up or a future vacation together with friends before you even leave. Get it on the calendar. This will make everyone in the family feel like it is not the end, but just a delay until you see them again. And, it gives you all something to look forward to. We have done this several times with families from varies countries, and the entire family has truly enjoyed it.
Journal or make a scrap-book
Jot down notes about your friends, include photos, special memories and funny stories. Reflect back often to the good times you had, and recall them when you skype of text. Enjoy the stories as a family. Sometimes, it is easy to focus on what is down the road ahead and feel sad about what is left behind. Reminding yourselves of the fun times or having a good laugh over a silly mishap can help to lighten everyone’s mood.
Do we still want to take all of our friends with us on our back (or in our case in our RV) as we travel the world? Yes! Would we like to form our own mobile WorldTowning community with everyone who makes our heart sing? Yes! Can we find ways to ease the pain of moving on? Absolutely!
Don’t let the pain of leaving people you care about keep you from traveling. With technology, the world is becoming a smaller place. There is always a way to work through the emotions of leaving those whom you have grown to love during your WorldTowning adventure.
How do you cope with moving on from friends while WorldTowning? #WTFriends