As a father of six adult children and two grandchildren, I want to be physically close to them.
Last year, my wife and I sold everything to travel full time in our empty-nest years.
Here’s what it’s like traveling full time while struggling with the feeling I’m abandoning my kids.
My wife and I are full-time travelers. We sold all our material possession to live a fully location-independent life. We decided we wanted to spend our empty-nest years traveling the world and having unique experiences.
I spent most of my adult life being within close proximity to my children; being so far away now sometimes feels like I’m abandoning them.
I feel grateful that I get to travel to exciting countries, sad that my children aren’t with me, and amazed by new experiences every day. But I often feel like I’m doing something wrong by not being readily available for anything my children might need.
I’ve also felt shame and have compared myself to other parents and grandparents who have decided to stay close to their children.
Despite these mixed feelings, I will continue to travel full time and embrace the kind of life I want to live outside of being a parent. I’ve learned that I can be a great parent while not being physically close and “on call” for my children.
I had to give myself permission to live my best life as a parent
I started going to therapy a few years ago, and one of the areas we worked on was the feeling of obligation as a parent. Even after my children became adults, I felt I could only make limited changes because I was responsible for putting their needs first.
Working through long-held programmed parenting beliefs helped me explore what feels good and aligns with how I want to spend my golden years. I acknowledged that travel is essential for my soul and my happiness.
I’ve come to understand there’s no law that says I have to be physically close to my children to be a good parent. I want to be the best father I can while also living a free life full of the things that make me happy.
I use technology to stay in touch and communicate frequently
We have biweekly FaceTime calls to catch up, offer advice, and plan anything that’s relevant to our family.
These frequent check-ins are not as great as physically hugging our kids, but the ability to be connected has relieved a lot of stress. We’re in the loop and there for our kids in a different way.
The connection through technology has helped take the edge off of those feelings of abandonment.
I want my children to see that it’s essential to live and not just exist
One of the best things I can do for my children is lead by example. Selling everything to travel full time and living a life free of consumerism is an example I hope they take to heart.
My children may not want to travel the way we do, but I want them to question what feels good to them as individuals. I want them to see that life is meant to be lived and they don’t have to take a path that feels like simply existing.
Modeling a well-lived life has helped me get over the feeling that I’m abandoning my children, because I’m showing them they don’t have to follow or accept societal norms in their lives.
I don’t know if we’ll travel for the rest of our lives, but I have come to understand that not being physically close to my children is OK. It is possible to be a good parent and live your best life — it’s not an either-or decision.
My children have plans to join us in various countries, and having an untethered life means we can surprise visit them whenever we want.
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