I was trying to remember how we first met the Harrison family. I think it might have been through YouTube or maybe Instagram, I am not quite sure. Will and I instantly felt a connection with them. They are the real deal travelers, which inspires us deeply. When talking about the lifestyle they’ve chosen, Henry said:
I love how much more present I feel and how much more in control of our own lives I feel.
The Harrison family is spending a month at a time in a location in order to connect on a deeper level. They eat the food, study the history and adventure in nature. And the best part…they document it all on their YouTube channel. When it comes to seeing the world, the Harrison family understands how time is precious:
It’s amazing how short 12 months is when there is so much out in the world to see.
Ok, enough of my chatting, grab your coffee and get comfortable. It’s time to be inspired by this traveling family.
Introduce us to the people you live with
Henry is a filmmaker. We launched on our travels from Livingston, Montana, which we love and were a little sad to leave. But, we felt the need for a bit of adventure. We spent a year preparing and then headed off to tour Europe for a year or so. Montana is one of the most beautiful places in the world and we’ll end up back there eventually. We love getting access to the outdoors and wide open spaces, hiking, skiing, etc.
Melynda is the adventurer, inspiring us to go out and try new things and go new places while Henry is more of a planner (except for meals) who likes to know bus schedules and visa requirements.
Anders will do anything and talk to anyone as long as he’s moving and talking. Finn is a little more tied to structure and Mom and Dad but very observant and chatty when he warms up.
Where are you in the world and what are you living in?
We’re slow traveling. We’re taking advantage of discounts on vacation apartments available when you rent for 30+ days. We then take short trips from that base. So far we’ve stayed in Florence, Italy, Hvar, Croatia, Bayerisch Gmain, Germany, and Ljubljana, Slovenia. Next up is England, Scotland, and then France, but we don’t plan details too far into the future. We want to make sure we have some flexibility to pick destinations as we learn new things and meet new people.
Why did you choose to live in your current arrangement?
We chose apartments because we wanted to get more immersion in a local culture by staying in one place longer and taking time to relax. We also need to work while we’re on the road and to save money. Monthly rentals not only have a discount but also allow us to cook our own meals which is a huge money saver. It gives us room to spread out and have some work space. Some days we just stay in and work all day or most of the day and the boys need to have some space to let off energy and be away from us.
What do you do to personalize your unique (less traditional) living situation?
We spread our selves out and it just seems like home. We packed as light as we could and we still have too much on moving days. We’re trying to downsize even more. Over the holidays we got a puzzle to work on and put up a birthday banner for birthdays. We might move stuff around but generally we’re either inside working or outside experiencing. We don’t need to change much or add much to make it ours.
Tell us your favorite and least favorite room in your space and why?
The least favorite room was in Italy where we had some Dutch college students who partied late and often. Other than that, the rooms change we just adapt to the situation. I’ve noticed that humans, or at least I, can find a comfort level in just about any situation given the basics. Our favorite apartment was in Germany. It was so well laid out and spacious and the area was laced with walking paths and good public transport.
What is the biggest misconception you had about your current living situation before you started living in it?
I thought there would be more cookware and I hoped there would be cheaper options. We could definitely go cheaper but with a family of four and the need to work, we decided our priority was to have a positive experience for everyone. Doing the hostel route and renting individual rooms wasn’t going to work for us. We’d still like to try work-away and house sitting options but we haven’t made those a priority yet. It’s amazing how short 12 months is when there is so much out in the world to see.
What is the one household item you carry with you every time you move or the one item you cannot live without?
Computers and phones without a doubt. Smart phones have transformed travel unlike any other tool and the computers are required for work. A tea strainer for Melynda and a coffee system for Henry are requirements as well. We both need our caffeine. Everything else is pretty much replaceable or provided.
What do you miss most about permanent, stationary, traditional living?
We definitely miss our friends and community but occasionally also the access to a car and a comfort level with the language. Figuring out bus schedules and what to buy at the grocery store can get exhausting sometimes. Travel can be work. And not knowing much of the language in a place leaves us with each other. We love this time together but 24/7 can be taxing sometimes.
What is the one item your children (if you have children) carry with them to make their unique (less traditional) home more comfortable?
Kindles and iPads. They are both voracious readers and love Minecraft and Pokémon games. Since we unschool, the tablets also let them look up things and watch videos about our destinations, and other interests. They carry some Pokémon cards and a few Legos but not many.
Do you have a pet joining you in this journey? If so, has this been complicated? Any advice?
We do not have a pet at this time. We love animals though, and have had a host with a dog and found a cat cafe in Ljubljana.
What is your best resource to find items you need for your place?
This has proved to be a challenge as well. Typically we need something right when we get to a new place and haven’t found our way around yet. We’ve found a chain called Muller in the last two countries we’ve been that carries a wide variety of things we’ve wanted, but it’s surprising how little we really need.
If you could only have one of the following in your home which one would it be and why?
Space, natural light, dishwasher or above average internet.
A space to work comfortably and above average Internet. We are tall people and like a bit of space. We need the Internet for work. We’ve had poor luck with Internet so far. We’ve had two or three nights with great speeds and months of spotty, slow, intermittent service. It’s one of the biggest frustrations for Henry during our travels. That said, SIM cards for our phones are surprisingly cheap compared to what we were paying Verizon in the United States.
If you were to compare your unique (less traditional) home decorating style to a kitchen appliance or gadget what would it be and why?
A tea strainer. It’s essential, basic, and easy to use.
How do you keep traditions alive for your family in your unique living situation?
Most of our traditions revolve around being outside or being with friends. The friends are too far away, so we try to get out for important holidays. Christmas involved a long walk on the paths in Germany, New Year’s Eve (and Melynda’s birthday) was filled with a hike to an Ice Chapel in Berchtesgaden National Park, and New Year’s Day involved climbing a mountain for Melynda and Anders and riding a cable car up said mountain for Henry and Finn. On the other hand, we didn’t do anything on Halloween or American Thanksgiving.
How do you decorate for the holidays in your unique (less traditional) home or do you skip it all together?
We were fortunate that our host in Germany set up a tree and Christmas decorations for us. That was really nice. And Henry bought a little birthday banner for Mel’s birthday, which she saved for the next birthday. That’s about it for holiday decorations.
What is your favorite part about this lifestyle choice?
I love how much more present I feel and how much more in control of our own lives I feel. It’s hard to stress about all the things out of our control while traveling. And it’s so fun to get excited about our next destinations.
Many traveling families subscribe to the “house is not a home” theory. What is home to you?
Home is where we are. In some sense home is Livingston, MT, but for day to day, it’s where we are all together. That sounds trite but it’s true.
What makes you love the place you live?
I love how present I feel most of the time. One of the reasons I wanted to do this trip was the lack of time with my family, especially the kids. I’m still working on being better at being present with them but I have more occasions to interact than when I was going into an office. I feel more free than I have in a long time.
Words of wisdom to anyone considering venturing out into the world of unique, less traditional homes?
Don’t think you’ll miss your things. Don’t live a life of fear of the unknown. You can figure it out if we did. Also, it’s not a vacation, it’s a lifestyle. We still need to work. There are highs and lows. We still get stressed out over things like bills and prices and there’s never enough time in a day but we find it to be worth it. It’s reinvigorating to be in control of our own destinies because we took that control.
What is next for you? Will you continue to live in your current home or try something different?
Our plan is to return to Livingston for at least a little while in October / November. We’re not sure what we’ll do after that but it will probably include a significant amount of travel. And maybe a puppy.
If you have children what are your plans for education? (Again, my readers always ask)
We have two boys, 8 and 10, and we have always unschooled them. They are curious people capable of learning quite a bit given the skills and resources. They don’t do well with lectures from their Dad but they generally tolerate him. They do enjoy going to museums and tours. It’s a pleasure when they occasionally demonstrate that they are soaking in the experience. For example we were taking a walking tour in Munich and our oldest said, that a building reminded him of the Pitti Palace in Florence. Thirty seconds later the tour guide told us the building was modeled after the Pitti Palace in Florence. There have been many similar moments that other children who do not have this opportunity to travel will never get.
How do you make a living?
Melynda is a freelance writer and Henry is a filmmaker. We are living off the sale of our home and supplementing that with some freelance work and residual income we’ve built up over the last several years. We are working hard to build our residual passive income up to a level that is self-sustaining.
Amazing, right? I have said it before and I will say it again. People just like you and me are doing this. And, they live to tell the story.
Inside A Traveler’s Walls is where we feature families living in less traditional and unique homes (tents, boats, camper vans, yurts, flats, etc). If you think you might be one of those families and are interested in being profiled, please contact us for details.