7 Countries, 7 Months, 3 Kids - A Search for a Simpler Life

After working hard for a while, being smart with our money, and investing time into building a strong family, we can now embark on a seven-country, seven-month trip to a new continent. It's time for us to do something we love with the people we love.
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We are not your normal 21st century family: work-at-home dad, stay-at-home mom, homeschooled children, conservative savers, believers in reality over shelter, and faith above all else. We don't care about having the best car or the biggest house, our focus is on each other as husband and wife, raising our three boys (currently four years, two years, and six months old), and our dreams of travel. We wanted to break away from the daily grind and struggle for things we didn't actually need and walk a path less traveled. As a family, we decided to leave the Marine Corps after seven years and two deployments because we had spent enough time apart. We were tired of letting separation and fear keep us from taking charge of the things we value most. So, after working hard for a while, being smart with our money, and investing time into building a strong family, we can now embark on a seven-country, seven-month trip to a new continent.

The Clan

Our dreams have always involved travel and just because we also have a big family doesn't mean we have to choose one over the other. In the last 12 years, we've traveled to 20 countries and 38 states, but neither of us ever imagined the trip we're about to take. This undertaking is an opportunity we can't pass up, no matter how many kids we have. We want to experience the culture and people of the world around us and hopefully even find a place to lay down some new roots. Our boys won't remember every place or encounter, but we will. As a couple, we will remember the good times as well as the bad, and it is these experiences that will grow our faith, strengthen our character, and build our resolve.

It's time for us to do something we love with the people we love. We're tired of hearing your professional passion and your family can't be a part of the same pursuit. With an agricultural engineering degree from Texas A&M and years of leadership experience as a Marine infantry officer, I want to put all this knowledge to use to open an eco-tourism business or manage a working farm. I want to work outside with my hands, creating experiences for ourselves and others. As a travel writer, I can write from anywhere in the world with my family by my side. My wife, an amateur chef and food blogger, is thrilled about tasting and creating the foods of South and Central America. As the matriarch, her role is to shape the family and nurture the people in it, but that doesn't mean she can't explore her passion for food as we travel together. The culture of American society is growing increasingly fast-paced and materialistic. The rising number of expats suggests there is a search for meaning and opportunity outside the U.S. This quest is about a simpler and more pure lifestyle. It's about living both the dream of travel and raising a family.

This trip is as much for our kids as it is for us. Children don't have to be the end of a dream or a burden to adventure, rather, they should be the beginning of a new dream and enrich the adventure. We want our boys to experience the world's cultures and creatures through the eyes of the indigenous. Many of these experiences won't come in neatly presented situations that are simple to explain, but that's okay. In fact, that's part of the point. Through experience and education comes the strongest foundation in which to build well-rounded and knowledgeable people. Instill values as their foundation, give meaning to their education, and empower them with enough real world experience to put all of it to good use. This is our passion, for each other and for our children.

The Route

In a few short weeks, our family will leave everything behind but our backpacks. Our adventure begins with friends in Ecuador, then continues all over South and Central America. We have no set plan outside the countries we want to visit. New discoveries and the desire to remain flexible will determine the details. The low cost of living, opportunities for investment, and undiscovered beauty are what makes these places so attractive to us. We plan to blog about all aspects of our temporary home-away-from-home, such as a menu from a neighborhood hangout, photos of the costumes from a local festival, and an experience from an international border crossing in the middle of the night. An understanding of the culture around us is our focus, not from behind the glass of a tour bus window, but from the spires of colonial architecture or dirt fields of working farms. Whatever we find, we want to share this experience with as many people as possible to show others that travel can truly be a family affair.

I mean, what's the worst that could happen, right?

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