How The Millers Lost Their Money And Still Travel The World With Kids

By Annie André

edventureproject Travel The World With Kids
What if you and your spouse spent years saving and planning for THE trip of a lifetime which involved taking the kids to travel through Europe for a year and during that year-long trip, THE STOCK MARKET CRASHED, and you LOST ALL YOUR  MONEY?

This isn’t hypothetical. This is what happened to the Millers, A Family of 6 from the U.S. and Canada.

I bet the last thing you would do is travel the world with your kids after this catastrophic loss, right? Not the Millers. Find out how the Millers used this terrifying experience as a Catalyst to create an extraordinary lifestyle, travelling and experiencing the world together as a family for almost five years straight.

SnapShot: The Millers of www.EdventureProject.com

  • Number Of Kids: 4 kids  (16- Hannah, 14- Gabriel, 12- Elisha, 10- Ezra) this was back in 2012.
  • Educating Kids: Home-school
  • Type Of Travel: Long Term, Slow Travel, Semi-Nomadic, International
  • Length Of Travel: Since 2008, 4 + Years
  • Where They’ve Travelled:
    Europe:—> UK, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Italy, France.
    Africa:—>Tunisia,
    N.America: –> Canada, USA (45 States),
    Mexico—> ( All but 4 states),
    Central America:—> Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, Guatemala for 6 months,
    Asia:—> Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos (so far!).
  • Challenges: Finding freelance clients to fund their lives. (who doesn’t though right?)
  • Finances: Online workshops to help would-be travellers, kindle ebooks, Freelance clients: Filemaker database developer designer, freelance writing.
  • Budget: $100 / day or $16.60 per person per day
  • Where To Find Them Online: Twitter: Mom@edventuremama, Dad @edventuredad, Hannah @edventuregirl ,Gabe @edventuredude
  • Kids Blogs:  http://www.edventuregirl.com (Hannah’s blog) ttp://www.havebrotherswilltravel.com

WHERE

Since 2008, the Millers have travelled to over 20 countries and counting: including almost one year of cycling over 9,000 KM through parts of Europe. They have visited almost every state in the US, almost every Province in Canada, and all but four states in Mexico. They visited temples in Asia, rode elephants and camels, and they did this with four kids in tow who were all under the age of 12 when they started their adventure.

The Millers are what you would call long term travellers because they travel for long periods.  They are also known as slow travellers. Slow travellers can spend up to a few months in one spot before moving on to their next destination.  To date, they’re the longest stint in one place has been three months in Tunisia and six months in Guatemala.

You might think that the Millers did a lot of pre-planning for this whirlwind five-year adventure, but they didn’t. It was by some pretty horrific and financially traumatic circumstances that they ended up travelling the way they do.

The One Year Cycling Across Europe Plan

In 2006, Tony and Jenn Miller started planning what would be a one-year family gap year.

Not just any family gap year. A cycling gap year which involved cycling over 9,000 Kilometers across Europe to places like the UK, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic …….with their four kids who were between the ages of 6 and 12 at the time.

By 2008, after two years of prudent budgeting and planning, they were finally ready to start moving slowly through Europe.

  • They had sold their house.
  • Sold or gave away most of their stuff and put what precious little things they wanted to keep in a small 8 x 10 storage unit somewhere in the U.S.
  • They also did a bunch of other logistical things for their trip.

They thought they had it all figured out, but the Millers didn’t plan for everything.

To be fair, they couldn’t have planned for what was about to happen.

Around the end of 2007, jobs were slowly disappearing.

The economy was about to tank.

People would have a hard time finding jobs, and the unemployment rate would reach record highs.

No one, including the Miller’s, knew this was happening YET.

As far as the Millers were concerned, all was good and going as planned.

They left for their trip and then one day during their journey, in October of 2008, the stock market crashed, and with the exception of a few thousand dollars in various checking accounts and their retirement funds, they lost all the money they had saved up and were supposed to live off of during the trip.

They lost all of their money.

Most people would be devastated by this, but a funny thing happens to some people. They either shrivel up defeated, or it brings out this internal tiger that wants to beat the odds and make you fight.

Time In Tunisia To Make A New Game Plan

The Millers didn’t run back to the United States to lick their wounds and rebuild their old lives. Instead, they settled in Tunisia for the winter to regroup. They knew they didn’t want their adventure to end, but they needed money to continue, so they used their time in Tunisia to figure out how to make money remotely and continue their family travel adventures.

MONEY How Much Do They Spend?

You might be surprised to learn that it costs the Millers less than ,000 per year to travel the world with kids as they do.

That breaks down to about $100 a day, $3000 a month or $16.60 per day per person. They are almost always under that regardless of continent.  That’s less than most people spend in the U.S. who stay put in one place. This surprises most people because they think it’s expensive to travel.

I think the main reason people believe travelling must be expensive is that their only point of reference is from taking expensive vacations. Vacations are only expensive because it involves staying in fancy hotels, eating out every night and paying top dollar for costly tourist and site seeing activities in a short amount of time. But that’s a post for another day.

So how exactly do the Millers support themselves?

You could say that losing all that money in the stock market crash was pivotal for them because it forced them to create a location independent income stream that they didn’t have before.

Jenn and Tony said that they see that market crash as a blessing in disguise because it pushed them outside of their comfort zone and forced them to evaluate what they wanted to do with their lives. During their three months stay in Tunisia to regroup, Tony and Jenn decided to turn the skills they had acquired from their former professions into a portable income that they could earn from anywhere in the world.

The Solution To Their Money Problems: It’s a team effort

The majority of their income comes from Tony’s work as a Filemaker Database developer and designer. He has contracts with big companies you’ve heard of, and little ones you haven’t. He also creates iOS and Android Apps for small companies.

Jennifer’s work converted nicely to travelling too.  She is a teacher by training but has done educational consulting and curriculum design for the alternative schooling market for over a decade.

BAGGAGE

Hannah-Beach

No surprise, the Millers have to travel light. No bags with wheels for the Miller’s.

They each have their proper travelling backpack and a smaller day-pack for the buses, ferries, trains and planes.

In their packs, they each have three outfits, two swimsuits, a jacket and a raincoat. Computers for work and school. Toys for the kids, knitting for Jenn, a hand coffee grinder and press for Tony.

OH, I almost forgot, Hannah, their daughter plays multiple instruments. They carry a guitar, a mandolin and a fiddle which she practices daily.

What About The Kids?

edventurekids

The main goal of travelling with their kids was EDUCATION and to introduce their kids to the world. They want to make the most of every second they have with their kids because as Jenn sais “childhood evaporates at an alarming rate,” and they don’t want to miss it. They want to walk the world with their kids and create memories together that will change lives.

Still not convinced?  Here is what the Millers had to say about home-schooling on the road.

“I think, if there’s one thing I’d like to say to parents who have the dream of traveling with their kids but are afraid to for some reason (education, socialization, relationship issues, whatever) it’s that they should step back from the fears and walk forward toward their dreams.

I was raised travelling and building log cabins and eating turtle and porcupine and black bear as a tiny child. My parents took me out of school as a little kid and again as a teen to travel extensively and it is the BEST thing they could ever have done for me. Your kids will LOVE you for the experiences the world gives them and THANK YOU for being brave enough to swim against the tide.

My teenagers love their life and already have the perspective to realize what a gift their uncommon childhood is. It’s hard when the whole world is doing “one thing” and your heart is pulling you in a totally different direction, but those dreams are inborn and unique and meant to be chased. Life is meant to be an epic Technicolor adventure, not a greyscale photocopy.
If my life broadcasts one message, I hope that’s it: Don’t be afraid, LIVE your dreams.”

Hannah and the boys each have their individual blogs which you can visit.

http://www.edventuregirl.com (Hannah’s blog) ttp://www.havebrotherswilltravel.com (the boys’ blog)

Here is an excellent article that Jenn wrote, which I think says it all about homeschooling.  http://www.vagabondfamily.org/blog/road-schooling/roadschooling-highschool/

When Will Their EdVenture (educational adventure) End?

According to Jenn, they plan to travel full-time for at least another two years.

After that, they plan on building a house in Canada on some property Jenn’s family has there. They even have their eye on a boat in Canada that the boys would like to spend some of their teen years sailing down into the Caribbean, perhaps.

What Will They Do After Their Travelling Adventure Is Over?

Jenn says that they may never work “real jobs” or live a “normal life, nor do they have the desire to live the status quo.

I love this attitude myself. I think living the status quo is perfectly fine if that is what you want. But more often than not, we follow the status quo because that is what we think we MUST follow.

Want To Slow Travel Around The World Like the Millers?

I asked Jenn to give me her top tips for families who wanted to travel like they are and here is what she said.

  1. Stop making excuses for why you can’t do it, and DO IT. Don’t waste time; live your dreams.
  2. Create an independent location career or income streams. Funding is the most significant ongoing challenge; once you get that sorted, it’s easy.
  3. Surround yourself with the “right” people. Seek out people who are doing what you want to be doing and bravely introduce yourself and ask for help. You’ll be amazed at how many people will move mountains to help you forward on your dream. (I will. Ask me!)

The Miller’s are also very evangelical about encouraging other people to live their dreams and create a passion-driven life for their families.

They spend a lot of time helping people forward on their dreams for free.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Millers, you can visit their blog  www.EdventureProject.com.  It is a good read full of fascinating stories about their family and the lessons they learn on the road.

What Do You Think?

Personally, I love the Millers story because they are yet ANOTHER excellent example of what the human spirit can accomplish when you put your mind to it.


Here are more stories of families and couples who are travelling full time or extended periods.

 

Boring Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you use them to buy something, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you which helps me buy more croissants. Merci for your support.

  1. Wow, that’s an amazing story. I think that we all have a choice to see our situation as a blessing. I’m in the UK right now working for my kids in the Philippines and I choose to believe that I’m here for a reason, and that reason is a successful one.

  2. I love reading stories like these that inspire others to do the same thing — pr at least see there’s another way. Excuses are so easy to come up with but so hard to get past and for that, people just keep on doing the same old thing day in and day out. And that’s fine for many people. They’re satisfied. But for those who are not (myself included), it’s important to read success stories and to know you’ll have the support of others when/if you make a change.

  3. Truly an amazing and incredible story, I think you must be very special and to have special relationship with your significant other to overcome this kind of an unusual situation. Most people relationships would have never survived this kind of a test.

    I wish all the best,
    Mark

    1. Hello Mark,
      The Millers are very strong. I like to believe what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I’m sure the Millers went through a lot of stress and worry but somehow they worked together to make it all work out. As Jennifer said in the interview, it was the catalyst for them thinking outside the box and in creating the life that they now live.

  4. What an inspiring story. They seem to really be on an incredible journey…one I think their kids will get a lot out of the whole experience.

    It’s crazy how cheap you can live abroad. You can’t live on $16.60 a day in the US. Well, at least not usually. I know that in some spots, I’ve found good accomodations at reduced prices and ended up getting a good place for just a couple of dollars. If you choose the right country and know how to find the right places, you can really travel cheaply.

    1. Hi Steve, I’m not really sure where in the US a family could live for $16.60 a day for an entire family. I’ve never heard of a place or at least any place that I would want to live in with modern amenities.
      And you are so right that with a little research you can find the right country and the right places to live rather cheaply. What’s great about living in some places abroad is not only that it’s cheap that it’s also a wonderful learning experience that you can experience with your family and children. Or if you travel alone, it’s still wonderful from a personal development point of view too.

  5. Such an inspirational story! Just goes to show that all our reasons not to do things are really just…excuses. I held off on travel when my kids were little because I felt like it would be too hard, the kids would complain, too expensive, etc. etc. Reading stories like this makes me kick myself because I see that this can actually be the most awesome education for kids. Thanks Annie for sharing these great stories!

  6. Wow, can I live vicariously through you guys for awhile? :) You’re living my dream – and maybe someday when the logistics don’t involve two only children caring for three aging parents, we’ll find a way to take the plunge. :)

    Question for all of you travelers – what do you do for medical care / medications? I have one child on lifelong meds, and that’s always been a big question in my mind.

    1. I can’t answer for the Millers but for me and my family we have insurance through an insurance carrier in the U.S. But.. we usually pay cash for all our doctors appointments. In France a doctor visit costs 24 euros or 30 bucks. It’s super affordable and so are medication. We are thinking of dropping our insurance in lieu of emergency insurance in case of an emergency.

    2. Hi Shannon… there are seasons for all things, I admire very much people who use their lives to serve the ones they love. We’ll do the same when the time comes.

      Medical care… like Annie, we carry health insurance while we travel. We pay for most things out of pocket because it’s so affordable to do so elsewhere, but we have filed claims a couple of times and been glad to have it!

  7. Excellent and inspiring story – and we’ve been travelling with two children for two-and-a-half years. It’s definitely a major plus if you can find a way to earn while you travel. We haven’t figured that out and it’s not a great feeling when money is always leaving your account. I think Jen’s tips apply not just to travelling families but to anyone with a dream. Thanks for sharing their story.

    1. Yes I know what you mean Claude about it not being a good feeling. Earning a living while on the road was one of the catalysts that set our own family on this journey and it certainly isn’t a good feeling seeing your bank account go down and down. But you could start now, it’s never too late to start trying to earn while on the road, if that’s what your heart desires.

  8. Hey Annie

    The Miller’s are on an incredible journey and I know their kids will be getting so much from it. Life’s an education after all and the more you live it, the more you will learn.

    For me, my wife’s teaching post gives us the wonderful opportunity of giving our 2 kids a private education and for me to be a stay at home dad, and I wouldn’t want to take that away from them. The thought of home schooling them freaks me out!

    Thanks so much for sharing this incredible story Annie.

    Tim

    1. Tim,
      You are so right. Homeschooling is terrifying. I tried it for a year and it was really tough on me. But i think with the internet and so many distance and correspondence classes online, it could be done for people like you and i who are “freaked out” by it. LOL.

    2. The most beautiful thing about life and raising/educating kids is that there isn’t just one way to do it!! The main thing is to do the thing that inspires you and to live your dreams, no matter what they are! Thanks for your kind words!

  9. What a great interview of a great and inspirational family! I wasn’t aware of their crisis in middle of traveling–wow! What a game-changer, and then it’s fantastic that they decided to change their traveling plans and work opportunities into more long-term goals!

    1. I know what you mean. “what a game-changer”. It’s one of the reasons why i think their story is so special. I was totally motivated by their story.

    2. LOL… yeah, inspiring as hell, waking up with no money! hehe. ;) It was a game-changer alright! Thanks for your encouragement… we’ve all gotta keep moving forward!

  10. Love love this!! What a great story of perseverance, and determination. Thank you Miller family! I have to check out your daughters blog. I am very excited to read it.

    1. Thanks Paz! I’m sure Hannah will be delighted to have another subscriber! She’s working hard to learn to make money online so that she can be funding her own adventures soon! We appreciate your support!

  11. This is wonderful. It’s nice when families can learn what works best for them, and not everyone around them. They figured it out. I give them props too, full time travel is not easy. David and I thought we were doing well on a $25 per person budget a day. I can’t imagine cutting it down and adding more people in the mix.

    1. Hi Meg,
      In terms of daily budget. There is a certain economies of scale when you have more than 2 people who are travelling. In other words, incrementally it doesn’t cost much for each additional person for certain things
      At least that is how it is for our family.
      Also, you could be travelling to more expensive areas than the Millers.. Didn’t i just see photos of you and David in Paris having caviar and champagne? :) :) :) :)

  12. Wow Annie, thanks for sharing this story with us and I love hearing how they’ve stepped outside what people consider the “norm” and gone for their dreams.

    I love that the kids are also having a great time and I can’t wait to check out their blogs. I wish my parents had done that with us when we were young. I would have loved to see the world at a young age and I know it would have totally changed my life.

    See, anything is possible when you put your mind to is and if they are living (and you guys too) on that much money a year, I would be half that traveling by myself. Some day I intend to do just that after my Mom is gone. For now, I’m staying put.

    Have a fabulous weekend and thanks again.

    ~Adrienne

    1. Oh Adrienne,
      I think you would be a hoot to travel with. I can just see you as a location independent problogger dotting the map and seeing the world while spreading good cheer.

    2. Adrienne…. Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. I have to say that I admire MUCH people who are care givers and realign their lives to serve family members when it’s needed. There are seasons to life. When the time comes, I will do as you are.

  13. Hey Annie, Tony, Jennifer,

    thanks for sharing this story – it’s really nice to see and combines three things I’m personally very interested in: living life on your own terms (which I do), travel (which I don’t do enough of but by choice) and self-schooling (which is a hugely interesting topic in itself).

    One thing that this story doesn’t explain – there was a stock market crash and they lost all of their money – was all of the money in financial contracts (shares/bonds/funds etc)?

    Annie – are you back in France yet?

    1. Hello Alan,
      I don’t know their exact portfolio and I didn’t ask so i’ll have to Let Jenn or tony respond. They’re travelling and will respond as soon as they can. I’m sure of it.

      as for me. No i’m not in France yet. I’m in Berlin until September 1st. We fly to Marseille then drive to La Garde…

    2. Great question Alan,

      All is a slight exaggeration. We had a couple of thousand bucks left in various checking accounts. What we lost was all of the money that we’d saved for our trip and everything we were living off of. (Which did not include our retirement funds… those took a nose dive too, but we’ve never counted those in “our money” for now). They’ve slowly worked their way back, as the economy has. Basically we were left with no money for daily living, four mouths to feed and no job, because we’d quit that to take the year to travel… it was an adventure… but it was also the ass kick we needed to redefine our priorities and reinvent ourselves! Needless to say, we learned a few things about diversification! ;)

  14. What an amazing adventure. Yes, most people would have been devasted losing all their money and cry and call it quit, but those people are some tuff cookies. I am so glad that they didn’t gave in.

    1. So true Sylviane. Sometimes it takes getting dangerously close to the bottom to force you to do things that you would not have otherwise. Although i think the Millers might have ended up doing this trip no matter what.

    2. Me too! Giving in would have been easier in some ways. But when your dream is big enough, you find a way. That’s been proven over and over in the lives of people we know who are doing amazing things.

  15. Now this is inspiring. It’s refreshing to see an otherwise normal family doing something so simple and beautiful. And their kids are getting quite the world education!

    1. it is refreshing isn’t it. So often we see the typical family which is great but it’s nice to see people doing differnt things living differently.
      Plus everyone i’ve talked to who travels long term with kids has the “most amazing children”. That’s the best part of travelling with a family. Even if the kids don’t always appreciate it.

    2. He he. “otherwise normal family” that is a HUGE compliment!! :) We’re doing our best and we do feel quite “normal” inspire of our number of kids and our gypsy existence. You hit it on the head… we want to do something simple and beautiful with this life and it’s ALL about the kids’ educations. :)

  16. Hi Annie,

    wow, this is wonderful, thanks for sharing this awe-inspiring story. You right that most people are kind of thought in their comfort zones of mostly self-imposed obligations and limitations although I found that it is not very comfortable in the comfort zone, is it ?

    There are always ways and sometimes negative events can be a blessing, no doubt about that.

    Take care

    Oliver

    1. You’re so right… there are always ways and negative events are often blessings in the long run. The thing we came to realize was that we were LUCKY because we’d already sold our house, when the market was good, and we had no overhead or other obligations… so many people we knew lost “all their money” but were also upside down in mortgages and out of jobs when they still had all the “stuff” to pay for. Our situation was much simpler, for which we will always be grateful!

  17. Your post makes me think of a Vince Lombardi quote I used earlier today:

    “Once you agree upon the price you and your family must pay for success,
    it enables you to ignore the minor hurts, the opponent’s pressure, and
    the temporary failures.”

    The point is that when people really want to do something they figure out how to make it happen.

  18. Incredible story Annie!

    The Miller family is truly inspirational and motivates us to take something from all that they have undergone. :)

    It surely must not have been easy to be without any money – all of a sudden, and then to follow your dreams by slowing budgeting your daily needs.

    Yes, all of us do have our fears where money is concerned and we earn for the present and try saving for the future. In-between all this, we fail to really live our lives to the fullest, which is what the Miller’s have done.

    And they rightly mentioned, you shouldn’t really think about why and how where the kids are concerned, and just go ahead and DO IT – if you are wanting it.

    Oh yes – kids will always welcome such a change, though I wonder if they don’t ever miss school and the life normal kids lead or their friends etc. But yes, they have one another and nothing can be better than that and the family bonding that they are able to accomplish through this ways.

    Thanks for sharing and making all of us re-think about our lives. :)

    1. Hi Harleena,

      Thanks for the encouragement and affirmation. Our kids do sometimes miss their friends (thank goodness for Skype!) although they’ve never been to school, so they don’t miss a thing on that front! We look for opportunities to make new friends wherever we go and one of the very best parts of this travel life are the amazing people who teach our kids things that they could never learn any other way! We’re so thankful for the time, health and opportunity to “do it our way” while our kids are still with us!

    2. Hello Harleena,
      You raise some valid points but as being someone who grew up travelling i can say that yes i missed friends and i complained about travelling. But i also complained about having to play the violin or studying, or eating healthy. All things that i’m so grateful that my parents pushed me to do and many other things.

      People can live the way they want but the one thing about living unconventionally is that it teaches our kids that it’s ok to want something different. Frankly it’s can be hard to go against the flow and raise your hand to say you want to do and live differently. By living the way the Millers do and the way i do is one way to show and lead by example.

  19. Wow talk about inspirational and here I am complaining about spending $50 on gas in California at $4.40 a gallon. Where there is will there is always a way when people need to make it happen.

    Their story is incredible and the best part, they are all together. While people sit and complain about their lives in doing that every day hustle, they hustle to live free and see the world. Now, that’s what I am talking about. Thanks Annie for sharing their story.

    1. Hi Sonia,

      Thanks for the kind words! Funny, I don’t feel like we’re that inspirational, we’re just doing our thing, living our lives… it’s not that glamorous or incredible to us! California is an EXPENSIVE place to live, Thailand… not so much! :) And you’re right, being together IS the best part!

    2. Oh Sonia,
      That is expensive by US standards but still much cheaper than many other countriess. Not owning a car abroad has contributed to much more family time and much less stress and money spent on cars and insurances.

      Your take on the Millers story was the same as mine. I hope this story gets at least one person to hustle and just go for it.

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