Round the world with eight kids: A Kiwi Family’s journey

A Kiwi Family is preparing to embark on a round-the-world journey, with eight kids in tow. How does one prepare to bring eight children around the world? How does one even begin to compile a packing list? Vagablogging interviewed Rachael, the matriarch of the Kiwi Family, to find out.

The family has eight children (four boys and four girls), ranging in age from 11 months to 12 years. The details are still being worked out, but the journey could begin as early as January of 2008. They plan on traveling to Malaysia (visiting family and volunteering), China, Mongolia (living in a ger, volunteering with a prison project), Tanzania (volunteering), Great Britain (meeting up with Grandpa), and Poland. Rob, father of the Kiwi Family, is in the process of lining up jobs in China and Poland.

The family’s Pilgrims’ Progress blog is not yet live, however Rachael’s blog Intricate Simplicity covers some of the travel preparations and will inform readers when Pilgrims’ Progress is live.

How do you prepare and organize to move 10 people around the world?

When it was just two of us, we had two packs, a tent and a thumb to hitch a ride! It’s not quite so easy with eight kids in tow. But that just means a bigger adventure! When the two of us travelled the world, we made a few lists. Now we make whole spreadsheets!

This week children are playing with nothing but the toys they are thinking of taking – two tennis balls, paper-n-pens-n-watercolours, a pack of cards, a set of travel games, some letter dice, a compass and a penknife.

Having to carry everything makes you think twice about what you want to take. We have a 39-piece wardrobe list. The clothes for the children will be made like in the olden days – with seams to be let out and down so that they grow with them rather than having to buy a complete set of new clothes each year.

One hurdle was money. We have spent the last fourteen years working our butts off, sticking to a strict budget, going without, buying second-hand, if at all. We have paid off the mortgage on our house and if we are lucky, while we’re away the rent from it will cover insurances, taxes, rates, maintenance, and other miscellaneous expenses we cannot imagine.

Have your children done much traveling before?

No! Three of them have travelled to Malaysia, one has been to Christchurch on a plane, three have driven to Wellington and back, and we’ve all been camping. Travelling for us so far has mainly meant driving to a friend’s holiday home for a weekend at the beach! But we live life fully, wherever we are, so in that sense we are prepared. We walk a lot, we visit museums and art galleries, we go for bush wanders, we climb (little) mountains, we draw and write and blog about what we see and do. This style of living can continue on the road and even give a degree of security, because it’s a lifestyle they are used to.

What about schooling on the road? Will they be enrolled in local schools or home school?

Here in NZ they “learn from life”; none of them have ever been to school and we can’t see ourselves changing that. This seems to be more of an issue for other people we come across than it is for us! We don’t follow a set curriculum so the children won’t ever be “behind or ahead”.

The children are maintaining a blog and each child will keep an illustrated journal. We embrace learning wherever we are. We love history; we can’t wait to tread the paths our heroes have trodden, climb turrets of castles and sing a hymn at the graves of our favourite hymnwriters. We can live out the object lesson of aliens in a foreign land, pilgrims and ambassadors!

Why this trip? Why now?

Instilling gratitude in our children is one of the jobs we have so far been quite successful at. All the same, we think they could benefit from understanding a little more fully exactly how rich they are. In New Zealand access to running water, education and medical care are taken for granted. If you don’t have a roof over your head and food in your tummy the state gives it to you.

Although we talk about the conditions most people live in today, our children do not understand “hunger” or “orphan” or “naked” or “homeless” or “war”. We want to open their eyes. We want to bring to our kids’ attention the needs of the world. Of course we don’t need to look past our own street to find people we can serve, and our children do engage with us in meeting the needs we come across. But there is also a bigger picture. And while you can see some of that bigger picture on a television screen, there is something about smelling the smells, seeing the sights, hearing the noises and actually interacting with real people that we hope will plant seeds in their lives that grow with them and help lead them to a life-purpose outside of themselves.

There is great freedom in only having one backpack’s worth of gear to look after! We want the kids to experience this freedom by physically taking away the “stuff” of our materialistic, consumeristic, individualistic, disposable society and living another way. Actually, it is easier to do on the road, than to be constantly swimming upstream when settled in that societal sea.

Plus, we were born with travelling adventure in our blood. This is something, which is hard to articulate – it’s just there. It’s not entirely rational or logical or explainable. It just is. We have come to realise that not everybody is like this – it is a gift we have been given and we want to use this gift to influence our children. Not everyone wants to love others in the global village – we do and we want to go and firsthand discover effective ways to do this.

I suspect no time is ever ideal. For us, there is a tension with Rob leaving a perfectly good job, which is full of good things, noble causes and needy people (not to mention a pay packet each week!) – in some ways it seems selfish to leave the people he is serving, but there’s nothing to stop him going back to it later. And in the meantime we get the advantage of Dadda being more intricately involved in his children’s lives. There are worlds in which we can live together instead of being apart for the bulk of the day, so we are choosing those paths for now. The work-world will wait, but the kids don’t stop growing.

Posted by | Comments (8)  | May 24, 2007
Category: Notes from the collective travel mind

8 Responses to “Round the world with eight kids: A Kiwi Family’s journey”

  1. Paul Says:

    Great stuff!! I am also planning a RTW with my family (3 kids)in about 5 years if all goes well, so I am looking forward to following the progress of this kiwi family adventure.

    Will you be adding a link to there blog when it is up and running?

  2. kzainul Says:

    I never though of that before.. really interesting though.. even with two sons now, I feel that there are so much to prepare for a simple trip to shopping mall.. can’t imagine if we are going to travel

  3. Cherri LeBlanc Says:

    Please keep us updated on your trip. This is awesome and you have inspried my husband and I. We also have eight children. The oldest just turned 13, then we have 11, 6, 5, 3, 2, 1 and a baby due in May. I will keep your family in my prayers while you are traveling. I know it will be challenging but I know it will be the most unforgetable experience ever. Good Luck and May God Bless You.

  4. Cherri LeBlanc Says:

    Please keep us updated on your trip. This is awesome and you have inspried my husband and I. We also have eight children. The oldest just turned 13, then we have 11, 6, 5, 3, 2, 1 and a baby due in May. I will keep your family in my prayers while you are traveling. I know it will be challenging but I know it will be the most unforgetable experience ever. Good Luck and May God Bless You.

  5. Marion Keeton Says:

    Good luck! I came across your story whilst researching for a trip for my 8 year old son and I. We plan to leave London in May 2010 and are saving hard.We both wish you the best of health and luck on your journey.

  6. Tracy Says:

    Did your family ever plan on going? I work for a Canadian production company that is looking to find a unique family going on an Around the World trip.

    please email me at

  7. » Catching up with the Kiwi family (on the road with 8 kids) :: Vagablogging :: Rolf Potts Vagabonding Blog Says:

    […] two years ago, we first interviewed the Kiwi family about to embark on a round-the-world journey with eight kids, one grandpa, mom Rachael and dad Rob. […]