You think you know parenting? You know the struggles of waking up early, dealing with tantrums, and ensuring your children’s needs are met each and every day? Try on the crazy struggles of single parent travel.
You’ll be glad you’re not doing it.
1. There is no such thing as “sleeping in.”
Oh, it’s Saturday and you want to sleep in until 10?
Too bad, you have a child who wakes up with the sunshine, is massively hungry, and won’t stop bouncing on your bed.
Here’s a video of how little space you can have while traveling with your kids:
Thought it was fun to stay up late with a few beers and binge watch Stranger Things?
Sure, Stranger Things is pretty awesome, but now you’re dehydrated, exhausted, and a child just cannon-balled your chest cavity.
2. You have to trust, a lot.
When you grow up hearing the phrase, ‘don’t talk to strangers,’ that really does something awful to your ability to trust people.
And when you’re traveling as a single parent, you have to trust.
You have to trust strangers that don’t speak your language around your children.
You have to trust the world to bring you good luck.
And most importantly, you have to trust yourself to be able to respond to any emergency in an effective way.
Have you ever asked yourself the question, “should I move to Thailand?”
If you have, you’re in the same position I was in a few years ago. I wanted to quit the American rat race to find a better way to live. I felt stuck. Until I found salvation by asking myself one question, “should I move to Thailand?
Moving to Thailand isn’t going to solve your problems in life, but it is a way to live an inexpensive, healthy, and pleasant lifestyle.
So, if you’re considering moving to Thailand, here are my top 9 reasons you should!
1. Moving To Thailand Is Cheap!
When you first get there (you’ll likely land in Bangkok), you’ll see that life isn’t that much different than living in a big city in a Western culture.
There are skyscrapers, noisy streets, and well-maintained roads.
But, you can go out at night with $10 in your pocket, eat a buffet of different street foods, consume colorful drinks, and meet people from all over the world, without running out of money!
Though Thailand has its own style and is not identical to Western comforts. The housing, dining, healthcare, and transportation are all substantially less expensive than what you’ll find in the West.
2. The Food Is Healthy
If you’re not a fan of noodles and rice, you might not enjoy the majority of the cuisine.
But don’t miss the spicy salads, grilled arthropods, and fresh fruit stands all over the place.
Interestingly, while there are popular traditional Thai dishes, each restaurant will offer what they call “same-same, but different.” It’s a common saying that means everyone makes pad thai, but everyone makes it a little bit different, for example.
Did I mention it’s super cheap?
3. You’ll Feel at Home
Spend more than a few weeks in one place and you’ll be recognized by locals who will appreciate you using phrases like sawatdee and khop-khun-kha (hello and thank you).
They’ll wave to you, smile at you, and if you purchase from their food stalls often enough (or have an adorable child like I do), they’ll give you free food with whatever you order (be grateful for this, but don’t expect it, obviously)!
We just returned to the island we love the most for the first time in 1.5 years. Within the first week, several locals have stopped us and told us they remember us, luckily, I’ve remembered (most of) them also!
4. The Weather is Exceptional
Yes, there is a rainy season that drops ungodly amounts of rain on you at certain times, but for most of the year, you’ll be looking at blue skies with (sometimes scorching) sunny days.
Ever heard of Muay Thai? It’s like boxing except their allowed to kick and use elbows.
It’s a brutal sport, but it’s a great method of self-defense to learn in Thailand.
Bonus: some schools will help you get extended, year-long ‘education visas’ just for studying Muay Thai.
And, you don’t have to be kicked in the head to learn how to kick someone else in the head. Awesome!
6. Life is Better, Down Where It’s Wetter, Under the Sea
Yes, that’s another Disney reference (that’s what you get when you read this single parent travel blog!).
Redundancy aside, Thailand is home to some of the best scuba diving in the world, and it’s one of the top places to learn on a budget.
The video below shows my daughter’s first time snorkeling in the open water!
I’m currently living on Koh Tao, and even though I get seasick and don’t enjoy scuba diving that much, I can’t deny the underwater beauty here.
That’s why I live on an island for divers where I don’t dive; I LOVE to snorkel here!
7. You’ll Get Unique Insight into Gender Roles
What you’ll see in Thailand is that there are men, women, and everyone in between, and many times, you can’t tell the difference.
The term ‘ladyboys’ is thrown a lot here, and I’ve met and seen many people who don’t fall into traditional gender norms the way the West sees them.
The image above is pretty obvious, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at cashiers in 7-11 and not been able to decipher their gender for absolute certain.
8. You’ll Meet Insanely Industrious People
Have a problem you think you can’t solve? Thai people can solve it.
You can’t own a tiny motorbike with a family of 5? Thai people can show you how everyone easily fits and rides comfortably.
Do you have a small business idea? Thai people are already doing it. What’s more, they’re doing it with half the resources you grew up with.
9. You’ll Be Safe Even When You’re in Danger
There are many expats that have moved to Thailand for a variety of reasons.
What you’ll find special about Thailand, however, is that the best hospitals, doctors, and dentists are all top-notch.
In fact, many expats that live in the neighboring Southeast Asia countries will fly to Bangkok to get serious medical care. Thailand’s health care system is held in high regards. So no need to worry about moving here with your children.
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I’m feeling more confident today than I was two years ago, and that’s a good feeling.
Not because it’s confidence, but because it’s confidence built off of a long-term dedication to hard work and slogging through the mud.
It’s taken me a long time to finally feel that reward system fire.
It took a commitment.
That’s what I did two years ago, and I’ve been grinding for 24 months.
With my 50th byline, I feel like I’ve taken my first step out of the mud and onto hard land, and now, drenched in the muck of progress, I need to shake it off and start climbing the mountain.
Onward and upward! SUBSCRIBE below if you liked this article and want to be kept up-to-date on my life as a single parent traveling with my awesome daughter! You’ll also receive insider offers on my upcoming books and products!
When we got to Asia one year ago, I was committed to spending at least a year here so Auburn could learn her grandparent’s language. This wasn’t an easy choice; growing up in the countryside of Michigan, I learned to love the fresh air, the space, and the sounds of nature. Hong Kong has nothing of the sort (in most parts, at least).
Moving to Asia with Children
As an asthmatic, I’m not a big fan of living in cities anyway, but one year was enough time for me.
Now, I need to live in the fresh air again for a while.
My lungs and throat got sick 4 or 5 times over the past year and usually, I don’t get really sick like that more than once, maybe twice in a year.
The gymnasium has already been swept up after Pre-K graduation. The teachers are breathing a sigh of relaxation. And I’m reflecting on this last year living in Hong Kong as a single parent.
There’s much to reflect about in terms of my personal growth, business development, and physical fitness and health. But, since this is a single dad blog, I will focus this post on how my little family changed over this past year.
My Relationship With My Daughter Improved
Before we came to Hong Kong, she was struggling with sleeping a full night’s sleep. As a single dad, I was dealing with this by myself and it was really wearing me down.
My muscle tone was depleted, I was always tired, and as a result of my poor physique and tired mind and body, I was short with my daughter when she was whiny or in tantrum mode (which happens often enough that I was feeling like a pretty crappy parent at times).
Now, one of the first things you might notice if you ever move to Hong Kong, is that your living environment is probably going to be much smaller than what you’re used to if you’re coming from the United States like me. Like 1000 times smaller.
And this time, I’ve found that it helped improve my relationship with my daughter.
Our small room in Hong Kong keeps us physically close, but we’ve also grown closer emotionally as she’s had the freedom to wake up in the middle of the night and sneak into my bed without waking me up.
No creaking doors, no squeaky floors, she just shimmies to the foot of her own bed, one-steps the gap to my bed, and crawls up next to me (or so I assume!).
Sometimes she wakes me up by accident, but even so, single parent travel has been awesome with my daughter.
Since I’m physically close to her all the time, I’m also more keenly aware of her emotional state. I’ve been preventing tantrums as a result of seeing their onset early on and guiding her away from them.
If you’re used to living in a big home and having lots of space to separate yourself from people, you might be surprised–like I am–to find that living in a small place can vastly improve the relationships in your life.
My Daughter Speaks a Language I Don’t Understand
Yup, you read that right. I have a 5-year-old who not only speaks a language I don’t understand, she also makes fun of me for not speaking it!
She’s just kidding with me, of course, and I love that she is speaking Cantonese!
Seeing her speak with her Chinese grandma and grandpa–in their language–fills my heart, and I’m so proud of her for wildly exceeding my expectations in her language development.
Living in Hong Kong Has Made Us HUNGRY For More
Auburn and I have lived in Colombia, Thailand, Vietnam, USA, and of course we’ve spent time living in Hong Kong. Each place has given us a new perspective on life and encourages us to keep learning.
Now, after our year in Hong Kong, and despite the awesome outcomes we’ve achieved here, we are ready to escape the noise and hustle of the big city.
We both are yearning for consistently fresh air, easy access to the sea, and cheap, healthy food.
That’s why I am ready to reveal to you where we are headed in just one week: Koh Tao, Thailand !
Of course, we’ve lived there before and it’s part of the reason we are going back. I love it there!
The school she goes to is awesome, the food is incredible, and I feel so healthy while I’m there.
In fact, I’ll take a before and after picture of my body, I won’t change my exercise routine at all, and I guarantee you that I will lose at least 8 pounds of fat–that I’ve gained living in Hong Kong and eating so much oily food–just from the diet we’ll be on.
It’s a wonderful place. And that’s why we’re headed back for the next three months! I’m ready for more of this single-parent adventure travel!
Do you want to travel with your children one day? Let me know in the comments!
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Can a 4-year-old learn a new language within a year? Do children travel well? Let’s examine those questions.
Children are incredibly adaptable to new situations. They quickly learn physical skills, new words, and social behaviors. Take my daughter, for example. She’s grown up speaking English and a little bit of Spanish with me, but we spent this last year in Hong Kong where they speak a form of Chinese called Cantonese.
Accomplishments for my 4-year-old this year include becoming fluent in Chinese, diving down into the pool, dribbling a basketball more than 10 times, but, sadly, she still can’t wipe her own butt very well.
I hope this story inspires you to reconsider how you think about raising children. If you haven’t thought about raising children outside of the United States–or whatever country you’re from–I hope this story encourages you to give it a thought. 🙂
Basketball in Hong Kong
I’m pumped that she enjoys playing basketball with me. I challenge you to play against her in 10 years, she’s gonna be dangerous with her crossover!
It’s been awesome to watch her become more interested in it the more we play. Seeing her grow and develop her skills each time is so much fun to witness! She really gets after it on defense!
In the same way, she’s learned other physical skills this year.
Learning to Swim in Hong Kong
At the start of the school year, Auburn was still very hesitant about swimming. She’d had lessons a little over a year ago, but she did not enjoy them.
Since then, I’ve been trying my best to get her accustomed to swimming not just in the pool but also in the waves in the ocean.
As she’s been slowly exposed to it, she recently had a massive breakthrough! As she would tell you, “I’m not scared anymore,” then quickly dive under the water and come up laughing.
I’m excited to teach her how to snorkel and surf in the future, but I shouldn’t get ahead of myself, we need to work our way up again.
Is Chinese Hard to Learn?
I would say yes; my Chinese is quite awful even after a year here. I can’t get the tones right, I often forget the words, people look at me confusedly no matter what I say.
However, if you ask my 4-year-old, she might tell you it’s not so hard to learn Chinese.
“What are your thoughts on living abroad with children? Let me know in the comments below!”
In fact, she went from understanding zero Chinese last September, to being as fluent in it as she is in English. Furthermore, she’s also a skilled translator–to my advantage!
How did she learn Chinese here in Hong Kong? By attending a local school and spending time with her Chinese family!
A School Year in Hong Kong
So, I would highly encourage anyone who is considering moving abroad with their children to do it. I know that fear of not knowing the language may hold you back, but your kids will manage, I promise you! If you make it a point to get to know the locals, you’ll all learn–but, like me, your children will be better at it.
It took Auburn about 6 months to really start grasping the new language, but once she took hold, it was leaps and bounds after that. The development has been incredible and I’m excited to see the multilingual person she will grow up to be!
When we first got to Hong Kong last year after spending the summer in Michigan, I was again overwhelmed by the noise, the population density, the air quality.
In Hong Kong, I live in a building that has more people than the village I grew up in. True story.
While I was disenchanted at first, it grew into frustration over the first six months. Sometimes at being congested with people, sometimes at having to step over carelessly thrown garbage, other times having to listen to the pounding of pneumatic hammers and plate-sized buzz saws.
Once I quit drinking, I started reading into something I was always superficially interested in: zen philosophy. I think my dive into the subject has helped me learn to deal with the stress and distraction of living in the city.
So, for the past two months, it hasn’t really bothered me at all. I just let it be as a consequence of bringing my daughter to a place where she could learn her grandparent’s language. And she’s succeeded, so, mission accomplished.
I hope you can learn from my experience and see that single parent travel is 100% possible and your whole family will grow and benefit. After talking with many of you on Facebook and Instagram and a little bit on YouTube these days, I realize that there is a lot of mistakes we’ve made, but also successes we’ve had, that you could learn from.
Hopefully, if you’re interested, you can make the jump to a nomadic life one day! You get to travel as a single parent (or with a partner!) and your children will be exposed to new languages and ways of thinking. It’s a win-win!
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Have you recently heard the term ‘digital nomad’ and wondered what it means? I’m one, so let me tell you! It’s a person who works online and isn’t tied to any single location. We are location-independent entrepreneurs, writers, teachers, vloggers, computer scientists, marketers, photographers, musicians, and designers. Some of us are even digital nomad parenting.
Digital nomads take many forms and infiltrate almost every industry. While there are many young digital nomads showing the world the power of the next generation, there are also people like me: single dads raising our children abroad while blogging about our journey.
Do you think you’re ready to buck the system that breaks your soul? There’s another lifestyle out there waiting for you, are you ready for it?
I’m ready for the Digital Nomad Parenting Lifestyle!
Having your children’s birth certificates, passports, and medical records may be necessary to enter a new country. Having multiple copies of each is suggested, and always have a copy on your person. Also, have recent photos of your child on your phone showing your relationship.
If you’re a single parent, you’ll also need one of two things: your divorce decree showing that you have full legal and physical custody with no travel restrictions (like the photo below), or a letter of permission to travel from your child’s other parent.
2. Diversify Your Income
What are you doing now to make money? Are there ways to expand what you’re doing?
Your blog is the base of your mobile life, if you don’t exist on the internet, you’re leaving money on the table. Digital nomad parenting is hard enough without having to worry about cash flow, so up your income and your influence by starting a blog.
If you want to copy the path I’ve been taking and find your way to working as a freelance writer, then check out this course by Elna Cain, she helped me find my way when I was just starting and she will help you, too!
Having multiple streams of income will give you a surer sense of stability as you travel the world. I highly recommend using the programs and tools above!
3. Purchase Travel Insurance
Have you wondered about travel insurance and how it works? Is it reliable? Does it cover emergencies? What if my bags are lost? Is it expensive?
There are lots of questions surrounding travel insurance that need to be answered, but here is the most important: what’s the best company for travel insurance for Americans?
World Nomads is well known for being reliable and covering everything from baggage loss to theft to emergency evacuations.
Travel insurance gives you a peace of mind that is well worth it’s cost and pays for itself when accidents do occur.
With the documents to move your children around legally, a diversified income portfolio, and travel insurance to keep you and your children protected, you’re ready to take the digital nomad lifestyle as a parent!
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Colombia, Vietnam, China. Do these places sound like somewhere you want to raise your child? They do to me! I’m a single dad and my 4-year-old has already lived in these countries and more. Some people ask me how do I–as a single parent digital nomad–raise my daughter?
My response is always the same: how couldn’t I?
Strapped with a mountain of student debt, exhausted from working two jobs morning-to-night, and thoroughly upset to return home only to see my daughter is already asleep, I was surviving in the United States, but not thriving.
That’s when I started reading online and seeing phrases like ‘digital nomad’ and ‘travel family’ and ‘modern nomad’ and ‘location independent’ being thrown about.
Once I started my blog, I was able to fully engage with my choice.
The Choice of Being a Nomad
Let’s start by saying that I love the United States, and if I could afford to live there full-time on the work I do now, I would spend at least half my time there. Probably the summer in Michigan where I’m from, for example.
I’m not to that point yet, so the choice I made was this: if I’m going to live off my writing now, before it’s enough to live in the USA, then I have to find somewhere where I can afford to live.
I felt compelled to live off my writing. Not because it gives me the chance to live nomadically, but because I love writing, and I love the work I write about.
My choice was this: give up a pair of good jobs in the United States that provide economic freedom, or live a life of love and freedom of choice each day.
Both ways of living have their merits, anyone who chooses a good job in the USA is doing okay in my book, but it’s not a life I’m suited towards.
I’m not built for alarm cooks, punch cards, and bosses staring over my shoulder. That kind of stuff drives me spiritually and mentally insane and takes a massive toll on my body.
I’m built to wake up with the sun, and then fall asleep when it does. I thrive under my own direction, and when I fail I have no one else to blame it on.
The integrity the nomadic life–and being a single parent digital nomad–has taught me keeps me driven and engaged in a way that is meaningful to me.
And, as a bonus, I love the freedom to map out each day the way I see fit.
How does a single parent digital nomad raise his children?
I do it only by knowing it’s the best route for my daughter and me.
Her well-being is directly tied to my state-of-mind, and my state-of-mind is best when I am living a life that is self-actualizing.
My daughter is safe, healthy, and learning so much about the world that she could never get out of a textbook in the US.
No, I’m not making nearly as much as I once was, but I worry less about my income level on the road because it’s so much cheaper than living the US.
And I’m able to live a healthy life full of activity, delicious food, and heaps of time with my daughter.
So if you’re curious how a single parent digital nomad can raise their children on the road, I ask you back: how can’t they?
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