Welcome to August’s monthly update, a month in which we visited 7 countries as a working, travelling, family. How did we survive?
July was a taster, but August was when we took this show on the road. Flash has her first long haul flight – two of them really, from Brisbane to Amsterdam via Abu Dhabi (and, actually, via Paris – see below), and since then has been travelling Europe with her mama and dada.
Is this selfish? We now have photos of her … sleeping … in front of places like the Eiffel Tower. In years to come she’s going to look back on these and surely wonder just what we were doing, taking her to places she won’t remember and wasn’t even awake for.
In the context of this ~4 month trip being a test case for future travels in the years to come, of course it’s important for her future and ours. We hope to raise a worldly child with some global perspective, and in many ways that starts now.
Is there a risk that changing apartments (and languages!) every week means we’re not providing sufficient routine (we’re now talking about a 5-month-old baby)? This depends on which parts of a home-life you see as being important: is home a building, ‘my’ bed, a wardrobe full of clothes and a box full of toys? Or is it consistent and regular engagement with those you love? Obviously we have our opinion!
We’re finding extra challenge in the basic routines of being new parents – sourcing formula and nappies in different cities, washing bottles and cooking in different kitchens, and so on. But we’re also focused on delivering a routine that supports Flash, especially as she grows into solids and her sleeping habits change. So far, that seems to be working.
There are choices and tradeoffs, and we’ll never know if we’re making the right decisions. When we’re taking Flash around all those cities and experiences, are we failing her by not providing enough tummy time … or are we being awesome parents because of the sheer volume of skin-to-skin time we’re providing carrying her around?
Call it post hoc rationlisation: I think there’s something to be said for having both parents around holding you through seven days a week. And Flash seems to be loving it!
When we left you last month I had just returned from the USA, and we were days away from flying to Europe. To increase our odds of Business Class, we ended up flying into Paris a day earlier than scheduled and catching the train to Amsterdam via a spontaneous night in Delft with a friend.
Since then August was filled with Amsterdam (Netherlands), Bruges (Belgium), Paris (France, not Texas), Luzern (Switzerland), and then Tremezzo (Lake Como in Italy).
Our itinerary is largely a ‘greatest hits’ of our previous travels, taking my lovely in-laws around Europe. And so everyone else on this trip is here for a holiday, which means moving around more than we would if we were more focused on business.
Not so much a highlight, but a memorable moment was the 20 minutes stuck in a lift at Brussels-Midi train station (a reminder: this is with a 5-month-old baby, plus both my inlaws!).
Actual highlights from each place so far:
- Amsterdam gave us lads (me and my father-in-law) the chance to bond, so we headed up to the Heineken Experience for rooftop beers as the sun went down, followed by one of the best burgers (and, in the Leffe Tripel, best beers) I’ve ever had
- Bruges was a little more relaxed, and the #3Drifters had some time to wander on our own including a peaceful wander through the Minnewater Park
- The highlight of our week in Paris was undoubtedly the day trip to tour the Ruinart Crayeres in Reims (and I should disclose that we visited as their guest). I knew that Ruinart’s Blanc de Blancs was our favourite Champagne … who knew I would actually prefer it over their Dom Ruinart vintage champagne as well?! Look forward to some articles about Ruinart’s history and business model in the future, as I think there are some lessons there for all of us
- For something actually in Paris, I’ll point to many of the things I hadn’t done here last time (Harmony having now visited four times, to one of her favourite cities): the Musay D’Orsay for its Cezannes (definitely my favourite painter), Napoleon’s tomb (way bigger than I expected), and walking past the Pompidou Centre (I’ve loved that design since learning about it in French class as a kid, and finally got to see it up close)
- Luzern – It’s not all a repeat of places we’ve been, and in Luzern we had the chance to head out of the city to climb Mount Pilatus. And by climb I mean ‘Catch the bus to the Cable Car to the Gondola to the top, where we had ice-cream then caught the Cog Railway to the Lake Cruise home‘.
- The jewel of the trip so far is of course Lake Como, my favourite place in the world. We spent four glorious nights at Hotel La Darsena in Tremezzo, a hotel literally on top of the middle of the lake and where we started our Honeymoon some 11 years ago. This is now our third visit, and their breakfast while the sun rises over the lake continues to be my ideal way to start the day
Travel is amazing. And it continues: September will include five more Italian destinations, some chill time on the Greek island of Santorini, a detour for me to speak at a conference in Toronto, and then ending the month by sneaking over the border into Monaco and the French Riviera.
Income and Equity
If you’re new, every month I share some of our progress in regards to income (yes, I make a great income working while travelling) and equity (as we build towards our Financial Independence).
August’s income ($16,520) was always going to be a drop from July’s inflated figures. It’s still above our targets, though with one project (see below) ending in October I suspect the final quarter of the year will be down a little. Equity-wise, we hit a new milestone at 45% of our target … but with a lot of travel expenses still to come, our cash situation and therefore overall net worth may dip back below next month before settling above that figure.
For what it’s worth, if we were able to liquidate all of our holdings (and, with things like Superannuation preserved until we’re approaching 70, this is a hypothetical) then we would have enough money to travel the world permanently for at least a decade.
Unfortunately, in that scenario, Year 11 would suck!
Activity: Clients / Marketing / Businesses
Speaking of things that suck: my marketing and sales while on the road. Based on my income numbers, I do have some spare capacity – though I’ve decided to use that to get involved with SpeakableYOU’s ‘Hot Speaker Track’ training program.
(Yes, I am a hot speaker. If you want to see me in person, put November 8 in your diary and grab your ticket (compliments of me) using this link.)
Given one of my client projects ends in October, I would normally be using my time to maintain my marketing and sales activity. Consciously, to keep enjoying this holiday, I am not. And I know from experience that there is a three month lag … that no activity now will mean no (fewer) new clients next quarter. I’m OK with that … but definitely expect that the three weeks I’m back ‘home’ in Brisbane in November will be chockers with activity.
The people who said life on the road with a baby is easy were right! The people who said it would be difficult … well, that’s probably true for them. Your reality is what you choose.
The power of being present and focused. When you’re working as … little … as I am, then you can’t spread 2 hours work over a whole day. And with the alternative being some relaxing time with my wonderful family or a day exploring Paris et cetera, why would you want to spread it out anyway?
The more we are present, the more we enjoy, the more we achieve. My theme for 2019 is ‘Be More, Do Less’ – so even though all this travel looks like I’m doing a ridiculous amount of stuff, in many ways I’m allowing it to flow and enjoying just being.
See you next month.