Family MattersReal LifeTravel

Maldives on a Budget

Picnic Island Rashdoo Maldives

How to Plan for the Destination of your Dreams.

Make this THE YEAR to head to paradise.

It’s time.

Vision boards, bucket lists, wistful sighs that comes along with every instagram post we see.

There is always that one SPECIAL place in your heart you have always wanted to see. Big travel dreams dance in our head. Oh the places we would go, the sites we would see.

And they get stuck there. They become the “someday” in our sentence. Often times staying on those vision boards without ever actually becoming a reality.

Maldives Picnic island
Our view across from island we stayed on – Rasdhoo

We’re here to show you how to make it a reality

You might need to make some big decisions around determining the “when” this will happen. It might have to become a priority in your life when it comes to budgeting, planning and saving for this adventure of a lifetime.

But we can honestly say, if you are able to find the money to go to an all-inclusive resort down south, you are able to travel to the Maldives as a family.

Our goal on our world trip was to hit every destination we had on our bucket list (& we actually did it). But we were also highly strategic in THE WAY we did it.

Below is the very first dream destination that we opted for when planning our Cuppa Round the World Tour (#CuppaRTW) & one that we managed on budget with a Family of 4.

Trust us, make this the year to follow your dreams.

Truly a highlight of all the paces we saw in the world, the Maldives is near the top.

The Maldives

When to Go: We went in early April when there was a little more availability, flights were a bit cheaper and there were a lot more possibilities in bookings & negotiations.

Weather: Weather was beautiful, wish you were here. Average temp year round 30C/86F. Average water temperature 28C/82F.

Getting there: Search sale flights to get to either Colombo, Sri Lanka or Dubai, United Arab Emirates. There are a significant amount of flights from both locations that can offer up competitive pricing. I often set up a Fare Compare to watch the patterns on how/when different airlines start discounting their fares. We also ALWAYS look at the whole month on SkyScanner to see if there are better/cheaper options on when to fly. These are two of the most inexpensive (& shortest) routes to the Maldives. (I recently found flights for under $950CDN/$800US to Colombo.)

Hopscotching to the Maldives: We managed to find $200US/flight/person from Colombo to get to the Maldives via Emirates Airlines (which on an aside note is probably our family’s absolute favourite airline).

If you didn’t know already, Spencer’s very favourite airline on the entire planet is Emirates. The entire crew were phenomenal to him both legs of our flight.

Sometimes separating flights can make a HUGE difference vs trying to package it all up. If you have time, stay a day in Colombo or Dubai, both are amazing places in their own rights and great places to overcome jet lag before heading onward to the Maldives.

Emirates Flight Attendants & kid world travelers
Emirates is bar none one of the most luxurious airlines we have travelled on. If there is an option to fly with them within our budget, we will always choose Emirates.

Get me to Fantasy Island

Travelling from the airport in Male to your island destination: When we arrived in Male, we caught a speedboat from Airport/Male to Rasdhoo (the island we were staying on). Each guesthouse/location has transport arrangements, our options were to go either morning around 10am or in the afternoon around 4pm, (you catch the boat from Airport or from Male). Cost $40US/person. We took the public ferry on the way back which takes longer but hard to argue when on the ocean surrounded by Maldivian islands.

How you find your resort transfer when you arrive at Male airport in the Maldives
I’m a huge believer in using local SIM where possible. You can find them here at the Male airport or use the wifi at your location.

Show Me the Money (Aka How Much Do I Need To Save)

How to do it on budget: Consider staying locally. We opted to stay at a lovely guesthouse Acqua Blu Rasdoo on a residential island which in itself was a beautifully unique experience. Women were fully dressed in Birkas and we enjoyed the serene beauty of Islamic call to prayer daily. We felt it important to respect the culture on island so were sure to cover arms & legs when walking through town. There is a specific area called Bikini Beach dedicated for tourists who want to wear regular swimwear. Our cost for the guesthouse was $135CDN/$100US per Day and would pay $20US/day to rent kayaks, heading off to picnic at our very own island which sincerely felt like paradise. (We wore our bathing suits on the island).

Walking the island of Rasdhoo
The guest rooms were lovely at the Acqua Blu guesthouse we stayed at.
Respecting cultural & religious values was paramount for us on the road. No one ever insisted that we be covered but we felt it important. Note; it was less of concern for my daughter as other children on the island were dressed similarly in shorts. I simply used two sarongs as we traversed through town.

What to Do: Snorkelling, kayaking, dolphin tours, whale sharks, mantas, chilling by the beach and Diving. We worked with the guest-house to organize a manta excursions, the kayaks and snorkelling and utilized the Rasdhoo Dive Centre on the island for our dives. Honestly (after having experienced many across the globe) feel that the Maldives were one of the very best dives we have ever had. Coral is still alive and colourful, marine life is off the charts and the visibility range was well over 40m.

It was almost impossible to image waters this crystal clear. It made every part of being in the water glorious.

IMPORTANT NOTES: The Maldives are 100% islamic which means no alcohol anywhere apart from international resorts (& no you can’t bring any on island). We felt fine going without for our time in the Maldives. Consider dividing your time between the expense of an oceanfront bungalow & a less expensive option. Find locations nearby. It is not too difficult to make arrangements for either a plane or boat pick-up/drop-off to another island.

The Distance to Kuramanthi (an international resort option) is literally across the bay.

If you follow our path of the North Ari Atoll, there is a beautiful resort called Kuramathi Island across the bay from Rasdhoo, which is significantly more expensive but can provide that luxe Maldives experience you might be looking for. It is ultimately still the same ocean, still the most incredible diving and still the most beautiful beaches. The main difference is the luxe experience if you crave it and alcohol as an option.

Cost for a week in Maldives: $800US in flights, $810US in accommodations, Boat /airport transfers $180US (Boat to island and Ferry back), Food/Snacks $400US, Diving $300US, Excursions $240US, Kayaks $80US.

TOTAL COST: $2810US (with flights from wherever you are coming from)

See. Totally doable. We hope this helps in getting you moving towards your bliss. Stay tuned for more posts on family adventure travel & amazing places around the world.

Put yourself here. This is the private picnic island we would head to daily. Not too hard to see yourself there is it?

TOP TIPS: Arrive in the morning to take advantage of the boats heading out that day (there is usually a restriction that they stop going after a certain time.) If you arrive late, stay in Male overnight, then catch a boat in the am. If you try to bring alcohol into the Maldives, your bag is flagged. (We had bought gin thinking that would be our drink of choice while there.) While initially I was convinced I was about to go to prison, I submitted the alcohol to a customs clerk (as directed) and they simply gave me a claim check to pick up on my way out of the country.

Just cause. These little guys were everywhere so I thought I would give em a shoutout.

Heading to certain destinations on a shoulder season can mean thousands upon thousands of dollars difference, while doing extra research on where flights connect to and from can mean a steal. Skyscanner, Google Flight Matrix, Kayak, and Fare Compare are all your very best friends.

*** Costs are estimates based on our experience. They of course will be subject to research, timing, negotiations and availability. But trust me, if you think you can get there? GO. Definitely GO. It’s so worth it.

To Learn More About Dream Destinations on a Budget:

Maybe check out our post on the Galapagos on a Dime

To check out our Round The World adventures simply search up #CuppaRTW,Follow us on Instagram Or Subscribe to our YouTube Channel.

We are happy to answer any questions you have so hit us up! (& Get Planning).

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Real LifeTravel

Oh the Trouble You Will Go Through To See Angkor Wat

Sunrise at Angor Wat

Hiring a private guide to tour Angkor Wat was one of the best ideas of our whole trip.

I had the salad.

I wasn’t even thinking when I ordered it.

We had just taken the boat from Nice Beach on Koh Rong Island after a few blessed days chilling out.

Nice Beach Bungalows on Koh Rong Island was pure paradise

Nice Beach Koh Song
The soft beauty of a Cambodian sunrise

The island had been perfect. We had needed a small reprieve after a busy 3 weeks in Vietnam and thought a quick jaunt to a Cambodian beach was the antidote to south east asian heat and long bus rides. The water was crystal clear, and delightfully cool.  A wonderful time for all of us as we connected with people from around the world along the way.

Nice Beach Bungalows
Nice Beach Bungalows on Koh Rong give you an option of Bungalow or Tent.

We were starving by the time we got back to the harbour but in relatively good spirits after a harrowing ride in the back of a Cambodian speed boat.  Our plan was to take a flight out that night from Shinoukville to Siem Reap to have a (very quick) stop to see Angkor Wat on our way over to Bangkok.

Our forms of boat transfers were quite unique at times

While we were waiting out our time to head to the airport, we opted to head to an American style pub close by to get wifi, have a bite and book a tour guide for the next day’s adventure.

There on the menu, as I sweltered in 42 degree humidity was an answer to everything I craved in that moment. A crispy, fresh ceasar salad. I desperately something crunchy and delicious in the heaviness of the Cambodian heat. All of my travel street smarts vanishing in an instant in the quest to satisfy that craving.

So I ate the salad.

This was an eclectic mix of part tuk tuk part pimp mobile and park pick up. You just never know…

We got on the flight to Siem Reap without problems, and headed to our room for that evening to find relief from the heat.  We had coordinated via Trip Advisor & Facebook with a local recommended guide who was going to take us on a private tour to all of the key temples in Siem Reap. This had been one of MY destinations on our dream itinerary and I was counting the hours before we would go see such beautiful and spiritual architecture.

Angkor Thom (the wider city around Angkor Wat) has been on my bucket list for many years

Then midnight hit and something, (everything) suddenly didn’t feel right. I will save you the sordid details barring that I had never been so violently ill in all my life. I silently thanked god more than once that the plastic bags in Cambodia weren’t as crappy as Canadian ones that tend to have a hole in the bottom. These grocery bags were important containment units throughout the night as I wished upon death to stop every part of me responding with such malice.

We were getting picked up at 7am and I was determined that I was going to go see Angkor Wat. It was our only chance as we were heading to the airport the next afternoon. On this trip we all got to pick 3 gotta see things, and this was one of mine.

In that moment, it was everything to me.

So after popping a few Imodium, Gravol, Ibuprofen and a super antibiotic we met up with our driver to take us on this journey. He was unbelievably kind. He had packed ice cold towels and water which I gladly accepted as I hung my head out the side of the tuk tuk.

My forever protector

The intricacy and detail on the temple carvings were stunning

The heat was the most challenging. I was running a cold sweat fever as we walked in 40+ weather. I got very weak. Sometimes it became so much that I would sit in on the steps of the temple and ask Lauren to take photos for me (Spencer was half disinterested and half too worried about me to go) So we hung out at the base while the other two ventured up to the tops of the tomb raider temples.

When we stopped for lunch I felt hungry enough to have a Sprite, knowing that I needed some sort of sugar and hydration in order to keep going. Our last stop was Angkor Wat. I had to be well enough to get there.  I was near delirium as I got to a pillar in the main temple, sliding down to the floor and opting to watch monks giving blessings over climbing steps to the top.

Peaceful blessings in Angkor Wat

On the way out, we had a miscommunication on where we were meeting up with the kids so Chris went to find Spencer, while I was on the hunt for Lauren.  Yes, at the entrance to Angkor Wat (which is similar to the entrance of Disney World) we lost our children.

As I was walking to the end of the entrance steps, a wave hit me again and I ran to the nearest tree to throw up the Sprite from lunch. And as I retched, I peed my pants. Yep. Right there. At the front of Angkor Wat.

In that moment, 2 security guards came up to see if I was OK and if they were going to have to deal with some international incident. Chris came up beside me and told them I was fine as I said, “Oh my god Chris. I peed my pants. And I can’t stop because it happens every time a wave hits me”.

You know what he says?

“Listen, how many OTHER people can say they peed their pants at a Unesco World Heritage Site? That’s gotta be something special”.

And in the middle of foreign country, on a crazy adventure around the world, I started to laugh so hard that I peed my pants.

God, I love my husband.

And our guide.

Yes, we of course ended up finding Lauren. She was being taken care of by the sweetest Cambodian woman who had given her ice water and shade to sit close to where we were. I stand by that in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand, I had never seen such an extraordinary example of “it takes a village” and couldn’t be more grateful in this moment that it was extended so kindly to us. 


TOP TRAVEL TIP: It important to note that I am a firm believer in taking Dukoral (the traveller’s diarrhea oral vaccine) before heading to a developing country. We were fine for the most part for the first 6 months of our trip until we should have taken a booster. That was when all hell broke loose. This isn’t sponsored. I just believe in the product.

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Real LifeTravel

Why We All Need to Watch This Movie About Cambodia


First They Killed My Father deepens understanding and helps bring compassion to the connected world in which we live.

**Trigger warning: This talks honestly about what we came to learn and witnessed in Cambodia. There are some heartbreaking and ugly facts but ones you should know more about. 

Mom Says

Do me a favour.

Open your hand up and run your fingers over your palm.

What do you feel?

Are they soft and smooth? Are your nail beds clean and well groomed? Manicured even?

Or are they rough? Do they feel worn and full of callouses? Have they been working  all day & showing signs of it?

If they are smooth, and if you were living a regular life in Cambodia in the seventies, there was a high probability you would have been killed.

It’s hard to believe that Pol Pot and the Killing Fields happened in our lifetime. The Khmer Rouge took over Phnom Penh in April of 1975 after an on-going civil war between them and the Nol government. The U.S. (on the support side of Nol & involved in the Vietnam War) were carpet bombing villages throughout Cambodia trying to eliminate Vietnamese bases and the Khmer Rouge. Civilians (confused by the reasoning behind the bombings) joined & accepted the Khmer Rouge radical beliefs because they were so angry with the Americans. When the Nol government and the US evacuated, the capital was immediately overtaken with Khmer Rouge guerillas & Pol Pot’s regime. They forced you to leave your house, your money and all your possessions without question.

How quickly life changed in an instant for those in Phnom Penh. Photo credit: Netflix

Pol Pot wanted to create a communist society in Cambodia in which money was gone, personal possessions were a sin and the hierarchy of society was destroyed.

If you were educated and a professional, you were either killed instantly, tortured or sent out into the fields to work under threats of violence, machine guns and rebel forces everywhere.

Did you know that a population the same size as Toronto (2 Million people) were killed during his regime? 2 Million people.

Blunt force was promoted over bullets in order to save money. Children were beaten against trees, their skulls smashed. People were thrown (still alive) into pits to suffocate from the weight of dead bodies that followed.

It was a horror of horrors.

The dark shadow that remains

As we travelled around the world this past year, we gave a word to every country we visited. A word that described (to us) the pulse, or the feeling we got when we immersed ourselves in that country’s culture and energy.

Cambodia’s word was hard to define as we could only describe it as a Shadow.

I couldn’t pick out initially what felt odd about Phnom Penh but I could feel it.

And then you started realizing what was wrong. As you look around, there is nobody old. Hardly anyone over the age of fifty. A generation almost entirely lost.

Many buddhist monks were killed in the genocide.

A heaviness comes with such a violent act of genocide that brings with it an unhealthy aftermath. Orphans or child soldiers who were taught to fight, and kill at young ages now had to move on to living out life in Cambodia or as refugees, from a place where the value of human life had been reduced to nothing. There wasn’t any PTSD counselling in the years following. There is a scar there that remains, raw and red. Human trafficking is still a huge issue and we saw more than we wanted to of incidents of dirty old men taking advantage of sex tourism with young Cambodian girls & boys. It felt disgusting and still a reality there.

Why it is important to watch First They Killed My Father

In the world of over-saturated information, we have become de-sensitized to the atrocities that play out elsewhere.

This film (originally a book by Loung Ung & now available on Netflix) is worth watching because it gives you greater insight into how something so horrific could happen so quickly. It helps you see the way in which the Khmer used confusion, starvation, and fear to gain authority in the country. It shows how people living normal everyday lives suddenly lost everything for no reason except geography.

It also sheds light on the trauma that the Cambodian people must deal with as they move on with their lives. The people we met were so kind but carry with them heartbreak that we can’t even comprehend.

Compassion needs to lead the way

You never know anyone else’s story, especially in the case of refugees coming from war torn countries. We truly have NO idea what they witnessed or experienced in their home country.

Too often commentary is on refugees and what they are taking. What about what they have lost?

The next time you hear someone referring to refugees in a negative light, say something. Let compassion lead the way over judgement. Nobody wants to leave their home. Take a moment to imagine what life was like before they lost everything.

What if this was you?

Humanity needs a shift & we are the ones to be part of that. Will you be one to help point it in the right direction?

Corruption still exists in Cambodia, it is something we all witnessed as we paid additional fees to cross the border

Dad Says

There is an extraordinary aftermath of a generation obliterated. As a traveller, you hear that everyone gets sick in Cambodia.  Why?  Because there are no elders  teaching the next generation to value of washing their hands.  There is a vacuum where traditional music would be played, but nobody knows the songs anymore.  Mass gaps in learning because by removing a generation, you lose everything they could pass along; knowledge, stories, love, pastimes.

There are great films that tell this story, first and foremost was The Killing Fields, released in 1984.  A powerful piece that stands the test of time and was well deserving of the awards it won shining a light on these atrocities.  The Missing Picture and S-21 are documentaries that are powerful in their own way. And now First They Killed My Father. What Angelina Jolie does is First They Killed My Father is brings to life a story that needs to be told, forcing people to stare ugly in the face and realize that these acts of warfare are happening in the same world which we live in.  ln our lifetime, the killing fields happened.  Rwanda, Bosnia, the Kurds, and now the Rohingya in Myanmar.

We are proving that, as a species, we are capable of such great highs but we can also stoop so very low, more barbaric and savage than any who have come before.  We can stop it by realizing it, facing it, and fighting it.  We cannot pretend it isn’t happening there, or it could very well happen here. Talk about it with your children, and stop with the ‘poor souls wouldn’t understand’ garbage.  Bambi’s mom died and we made it through.


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Galapagos on a Dime: Family Travel on a Budget

Arriving in the Galapagos

Travelling to your dream destination without breaking the bank.

I want to tell you this but I kind of don’t.

Of the entire list of destinations we travelled to around the world (20+ countries in 8 months), the Galapagos islands reigns as THE top destination for our entire family.

We started off considering it our “special treat” on the trip, believing that it would have a pretty serious impact on our wallet.

It absolutely can be that. There can be some pretty hefty price tags on cruises that navigate the islands but there is also a number of ways to do Galapagos on a budget. In fact, our budget for one of the most beautiful places on earth came in below what it would have cost us to do an all-inclusive for 4 for a week down south. I will base our budget in US considering that is the currency Ecuador deals in.

Here is how we made our dream a reality.

When to go to the Galapagos

If budget is a concern, considering shoulder season is an opportunity to get a bigger bang for your buck. Venturing to the Galapagos in late October/November allowed us to negotiate and find open tours much easier than the full tourist season of December, January & February. The tours were still full but not insanely busy. The sun was beautifully hot, the water cool but refreshing and the wildlife was truly amazing.

Things to do on a budget in Galapagos
Seeing giant tortoises at the Reserva El Chato

Fish market Puerto Ayora
The proximity to wildlife at the fish market was an experience our son will never forget

iguana galapagos food
All the wildlife is interconnected on the islands, and the prickly pear cactus helps them all survive

How to get to the Galapagos

I can’t recommend highly enough the use of a travel agent if you can. Ruth, our amazing agent at Goliger’s Travel was able to find flight for 4 of us from Toronto to Quito for $1300 CDN/$1000 US. Yes that was for all 4 of us.

An alternative option we use often is Skyscanner as a way to see the best prices offered on flights. Searching from a destination to “everywhere” shows you the cheapest flights around the world in those time frames. For us, we kept watch on flights from Toronto to Quito and ended up getting great prices to head there in October.

A great start to your planning is to set up a Fare Compare to get to Quito or Guayaquil, Ecuador and from there keep watch on one to the Galapagos. We saw a trend that ultimately showed weekly when and how far out from departure dates airlines were discounting their flights.

Farecompare example
Keeping watch for deals was one of our greatest strengths on the trip.

Where to stay for cheap in the Galapagos

By far choosing a land stay on one of the islands is a more budget-friendly plan than a cruise. It’s up to you in what you are looking for in the Galapagos. For us, it was as much exposure to wildlife and nature as possible. We chose to stay in Puerto Ayora, the main town on Santa Cruz Island. The entire town is quite easily walked across in less than 30 minutes so really anywhere you stay is an easy jaunt down to the harbour and beaches. Not only that but there are white pick-up trucks constantly roaming around the town that you can pick up and go anywhere for typically $1US/trip.

We stayed at the Hostel Azul Verde and can’t recommend it enough for a clean, well-priced hostel on the island. Breakfast was included and it was a fabulous space for down time during the hot afternoons when we got back.

Finches on Puerto Ahora
These guys would join us at breakfast, making Darwin’s theory of evolution up close and personal

Things to do for free or almost free in the Galapagos

Charles Darwin Research Station – Great for teaching kids evolution, invasive species, repatriation of the giant tortoises and our involvement in carrying & nurturing the environment. FREE (Suggested donation)

Mass amount of Marine Iguanas – If you want to delight your kids, take them down the beach path at the Research station. There you will come across dozens and dozens of marine iguanas sunning themselves and ever so cutely sneezing salt water while they relax. FREE

Reserva El Chato – Take a full tour or alternatively negotiate with one of the white pick up truck taxi drivers to take you up to the giant tortoise reserve and wait for you. A fantastic place that allows you to get within metres of giant tortoises and has you exploring the intriguing design of Lava tunnels on the reserve as well. FREE (suggested donation). Cost of taxi $30US return, your driver will wait for you there.

Fish Market – The kids could have hung out here every day. It is sheer joy watching pelicans and sea lions mischievously attempting to steal fish from the stands. FREE

Las Grietas – Take a ferry across the harbour for $0.75 and spend the day adventuring around German beach and Los Grietas (a Grotto to snorkel in). Bring snorkel equipment with you or rent along the main strip for $3/day.

Tortuga Bay – A short 2km walk in to Tortuga Bay and you enter upon one of the most stunning sandy beaches you have ever seen. Hang with marine iguanas, sea turtles and enjoy the opportunity to see a bevy of fish in a perfect clear water environment – FREE

Art Walk- The main strip along Puerto Ayora has a few art galleries and garden that make for a fun afternoon of getting your creative juices flowing.

free stuff galapagos
Snorkeling in the brackish water of Las Grietas, where fresh and saltwater meet.

Lava tunnels Galapagos
The underground lave caves are an added bonus at the Tortoise Conservation area.

Local artists show there work through the streets of Puerto Ayora

Two full day excursions booked:

Isla Isabella – Two hour boat ride over to the island, exploring a turtle hatchery and flamingo lagoon, local lunch, sunning shark islands and snorkelling with (are you ready for this?) manta rays, sea turtles, penguins, sea lions and incredible varieties of the most colourful fish. $350US for 4 of us including transport there and back, lunch and snorkelling gear. In hindsight, we would have enjoyed staying overnight here. Leave your main bags at the check-in of your hotel/hostel and jaunt there for a night in paradise. Something to consider when booking your accommodations.

isabella galapagos
Your standard beach experience on Isabella Island

South Plaza Island – Nicer boat, luxury lunch, snorkelling with sharks, eagle rays, manta rays, sea lions, sea turtles and again fish that defies your expectations. Stop at South Plaza to explore a sea lion and boobies colony. The frigate birds that catch the wind current will make you believe you are in a scene from Jurassic Park. $800US

South plaza galapagos tour
The view from the remote and amazing South Plaza Island adventure

If we were booking a mid-range all-inclusive in the Caribbean, it would easily cost us $1500-2000/person which nets out to $6000-8000 for the week at your standard resort.

Instead we followed our hearts and spent the below *

Getting to Quito $1000 US

Quito to Galapagos $1000 US

Hostel Stay for 8 days $1000 US

Big Excursions $1150 US

Food – Average spend $20-40 for lunches/dinner $700 US

Miscellaneous (Taxi’s, beer, donations, entrance fees) $300

TOTAL $5,150 US

(*Prices based on US exchange price at the time we travelled)

Travelling to the the Galapagos Islands feels like a dream and it most definitely is. To visit a place that is still relatively untouched by the throes of tourism is special. To connect and observe animals and nature in a way that feels so organic feels kind of magical. So yes, I want you to know it’s possible and affordable to go but I also want you to consider how to help preserve this precious eco-system as best as we can.

beaches galapagos
Beaches like this are common, close and uncrowded throughout Santa Cruz

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Real LifeTravel

What It Feels Like To Be Home

Bolivian Salt Flats

Learning to let it flow after travelling the world

I am sitting at the dining room table in our friend’s house soaking in the silence.


For the first time in 240 days.

It’s quiet. So quiet. Almost too quiet after months of being surrounded by family, crowing roosters, honking horns, feuding cats or yelling neighbours.

Trekking through the Sahara Desert was a surreal and serene experience

Getting up close and personal feeding and bathing elephants in Kanchanaburi, Thailand.

Discovering paradise in the Maldives

Sunrise at Angor Wat, Cambodia

Oh. Canada.

I don’t quite know what to make of it to be honest. It feels a bit like a dream. I sit here a bit flummoxed as I try to process the fact that we are actually back in Canada after an amazing adventure around the world. It was incredible. One I look back at with zero regrets. We pushed ourselves, we explored, we had fun and we, as a family, connected deeper than I would ever possibly hope for.

We were warned that re-entry would be hard and I really did believe I was prepared for it.

Being coy in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam

A dream come true. Trying the Airbus A380 Flight Simulator in Dubai.

What it feels like to be home.

In some ways, it feels really really good. We missed our friends and family. We missed Canada. Our appreciation for mother nature’s magic is far greater than before we left. Our gratitude in the freedom we have to live our lives here unsurmountable. Democracy, rights & freedoms, heath care, clean water, recycling, and our opportunity for choice in so many arenas has rendered us forever thankful for the country we live in.

Galapagos was like nothing else on the planet as marine iguanas, sea turtles and sea lions swam alongside you on any given day.

We pushed ourselves often to face our fears. Ziplining in Banos, Ecuador.

Does it feel strange?

Yes. Everything is the same, I am the same, and I am different. It feels a bit awkward. Like a 13 year old boy who’s not sure where to put his hands at a dance. I get upset at the wastefulness here. I get frustrated at anyone using #firstworldproblems. I look up often into the sky and gaze at the clouds. I am not sure where to go or what I want but I certainly know what I don’t.

I know I don’t want to go back to being the “busy” person, wearing exhaustion like a badge of honour. I know I don’t want to get sucked back into social media so much that I miss being present, as in really and truly present for my family. I know I don’t want to be caught in the need for stuff, we have zero requirement for anything, in fact I would like to get rid of more.

No. I have zero interest in buying a ticket for that train.

Releasing baby turtles back into the ocean- Anawanatuna, Sri Lanka

Learning to make chocolate in Lima, Peru was schooling for all of us

Watching a healthy glacier calving in El Calafate, Argentina was an extraordinary experience.

A special moment was participating in the Women’s March in New Zealand. It created a lot of dialogue around equity within our family.

Oh My Aching Heart

My heart hurt a lot on this trip but it also nearly burst dozens of times from sheer joy. My intention has always been towards fostering relationships but now more than ever it’s how I can provide value outwards and into the world. To help contribute to making it a better place in as little or as large of a way I can.

We are all connected. That connection point means that whatever you feed and water on a daily basis has a ripple affect on others in your sphere. My heart aches when I see so many people on social media constantly in a state of complaint, anger or disgust. When did it become the norm to be so negative?

You can choose every day which seeds you will water.  Water the negative seeds, and you will watch a plant wither and die. Water the positive seeds and you will see a plant flourish and grow. *

We all have a responsibility to be kinder. THAT is the kind of ripple effect we need to keep creating in ourselves and in our children.

Learning to Tango in Buenos Aires, Argentina made this dancer mom a happy gal

Visiting Hobbiton (Lord of the Rings) in New Zealand had us all geeked out

Swimming with 100+ wild dolphins in Kaikoura, New Zealand was pure magic

One of my biggest colour inspirations were the lanterns at the night market in Hoi An

Keep Calm, Let it Go and Flow

So now what? Good question.

The answer is we don’t know yet. In the past, this would have sent me into a massive anxiety attack. But the world showed us that even without any kind of definitive plan that everything will end up working out.

We don’t yet have a home, our village kindly sheltering us as we seek out a place to “settle” for the moment. The desire to put down some roots, (even temporary ones) has gotten hold and now its a matter of simply trust.  Spending energy on worrying about what might or might not happen does none of us any good.

So now we let go and let it flow.

And maybe just enjoy the silence.

*This philosophy stems from the writings of Thich Nhat Hanh. A philosopher and monk who does a beautiful job of teaching the importance of being present. 

Meeting wallabies in Australia convinced Lauren that she wants to care for animals

Worldschooling about Ancient Greece by being at the Olympic stadium and the Parthenon

Marrakech stole my heart.

A few domino moments led to making a decision that changed their family’s life. The loss of 2 dear friends and a keen awareness that their kids were falling down a path of first world privilege prompted the Powells to sell their house and head into the world to teach their children the importance of Global Citizenship. Their #Familygoals focused on teaching compassion, community and to always live big.
After 8 months, 6 continents, 21 countries, and travelling with a child with special needs, the Powell’s discovered so much more than simply how much they love to travel. They discovered gratitude in mother nature and joy in each other. Lessons they never realized (until now) were the lessons they needed the most.


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Family MattersTravel

Last Night I Cried…


Not ready to head home from a life-changing trip around the world.

Last night I cried.

For a person who is quite synonymous with tears, I think my track record over these last many months has been pretty good. There have been only a few crying moments on this trip.

Apart from tears of joy.

My Happiness is all about being around these majestic animals

We knew at the beginning of this adventure that it would change all of us one way or another. Shifted perspectives, maturity/growth in the kids, a deeper understanding of how our world works.

What we didn’t know was exactly how or when we would start to notice that change. If I am being honest, I kept searching for it in the beginning months. I was waiting to be enlightened. Waiting to “feel” different or suddenly have that moment of clarity of where our life would lead. I thought FOR SURE it would be revealed as I sat on the beach and gazed out at the sunset.

You have to admit this sunset IS pretty inspiring. Taken on Koh Lanta, Thailand

Admittedly, I MIGHT be a bit of a hopeless romantic.

The truth is, it didn’t quite happen like that.

What happened instead was the realization that we actually had to go THROUGH this entire journey before we could figure out what it was all about.

Along the way I had the deepest desire to write. To share the experiences we have had with you at home. Hopefully as a source of encouragement, inspiration or to satisfy that travel bug for you in the midst of those bleary winter months. I wanted to write countless tips & travel hacks that we have learned along the way. And post more videos. And pictures.

And we will. Just not yet.

You see one of the biggest a-ha’s we have had on this trip is the difference when we are fully and totally present. We are practicing mindfulness in the moments and with that comes a delay of sharing all the things. I felt guilty for awhile, for not sharing enough. Now? Now I’m good because I believe BEING PRESENT is a big part of our story.

The real reason I started crying last night is because we started planning on when we were going to come home.

Granted, it is almost exactly to the day from our third version of our adventure timeline (initially we were going for 3 months, then 6 months and now it will be closer to 9 months). But we actually started talking and PLANNING how we were going to get home. Yuck.

Our kids (actually, our whole family) have thrived in this choice.

We are healthier. An easy task when your daily dose of Vitamin D goes from the trip between house and car to the entire day outside.

We are happier. Again, when your daily activity surrounds physical activity, laughter and exploration, life feels all together simpler. To watch our kids try new things, to be adventurous, to overcome their fears? God! That makes me happiest of all.

Most importantly, we are so much more connected that we ever could have asked for. Can I say (without judgement) that I believe I love both my kids and my husband more or maybe deeper?

Having had the chance to spend so much quality time together, we have more consideration and respect for one another than we did when we were full of busy.

I believe they in return love me more as well.

I know, I know. Life isn’t over. We still have a couple months to go and trust me, in those months we will be soaking up every moment we can.

I just don’t want it to end. 

Just not yet.

Dad Says:

Yup. She cried.  It has been few and far between, but this was a doozy.  Recognition that we were going to wind up returning home hit hard.  It took a bit to get past the inevitable and realize that our future was still unwritten. That what we take from the trip will no doubt determine what we become in the future.

And then she cried again.

Jenn holds the value of being respectful to the core. Yet at the entrance to the Grand Palace she was rejected by some overbearing guard, who decided that she wasn’t properly covered in her overwhelmingly hot capris and would need to purchase a skirt and top to shroud herself in penitent fabric.  This, as others strode by in skirts and bare legs.

Oh well, off to a rather shrewdly located shop that sold just the thing.  And as you might expect with such a captive audience of cast-offs searching for coverage, big markups and rude service.  Can I try this on? NO. CASH ONLY.  Tears in eyes she emerged, and covered herself in a blouse that, for all intents  and purposes, is not the best look ever.  I mean ever.  But it got her passed the gate, and, wiping the tears away, we went on to sweat our bits off admiring Bangkok’s best.

And if we are being truthful, she cried one more time.

At the Grand Palace in Thailand, home of the Jade buddha and where the king is laid to rest. The ornate decoration took your breath away. It was awesome, some would say even overwhelming. For Jenn, who feels deeply in every moment, too overwhelming. For her, it was that beautiful.

Sure, a few small occasions of tears but in the end (as it always will), everything worked out fine. Just like us heading home. Whatever happens, it will all work out fine.

Just saying…


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