Hi, fellow readers and welcome back to our Interview with the blogger!
This time, my guest is Michelle Tupy from And off we went (andoffwewent.com): not only a travel blogger but also a wife and a mom who started a trip with all her family, from Cusco in Peru to Canada, only with a Volkswagen van!
So, let’s start with her and… off we go!
Hi Michelle, happy to have you here. As always, the first is not a real question: please present yourself and your family to our readers!
My family and I consist of myself, a content writer and blogger; Matt my wonderful husband – my partner in crime who also happens to be an experienced hotel manager and English teacher; Emilia, my creative 11-year-old daughter; and Matthew, my sociable 6-year-old son.
Traveling with the family can be engaging for sure but I guess it brings more problems than traveling alone. Which are the main issues you have to deal with when you travel the world with your partner and your children?
We always make sure that all interests are met. Emilia has different interests to Matthew so we have to take them into account. Matt and I enjoy going out for coffee but that can bore the kids unless there is chocolate cake involved. We also have to ensure that we have enough money in the budget to cover 4 travelers – it can quickly add up when there is more than one or two people particularly when it comes to accommodation and charges per head.
We also try not to cram too much into one day. Travelers without kids can do more than one or two tourists sites in one day. From our perspective, we never try to do too much as the kids will be too tired and grumpy (and so will the parents!). I guess that is the reason we partake in slow travel – staying in one destination for a lengthy period of time so we can really get to know an area.
The most challenging moment so far since you left Cusco on your trip?
By far the most challenging moments for us are to do with our van breaking down again and again. We have a very temperamental Volkswagen Kombi which causes us a lot of difficulties. At this point in time we have invested too much in getting rid of it so hopefully, it will be able to last the distance back to Canada. Just recently we had to spend $750 on unexpected repairs and that does not count the thousands of dollars that have already gone into it. But for the most part, we make do.
How do you combine the school for your kids with traveling?
We change our method of schooling as we travel. Since we have been traveling – we have opted for traditional schooling, home schooling, online schooling, world schooling and unschooling – so extremely varied as you can tell. Matthew attended a school in Peru for a period and Emilia did some modern dance lessons while we were there and got to perform on stage. It depends on how long we are at a particular destination, how busy our workload is or what else we are doing at the time. Kids learn naturally from the environment around them – they soak stuff up like a sponge. It is amazing to see.
Speaking about the trip you’re doing, I read on your site: ‘“Why not”, we thought. It probably wasn’t the most ridiculous idea we had come up with in our 10 years together. So, which one is the most ridiculous idea you came up with?!?
We have a tendency to make life changing decisions on a whim and while in hindsight they may not look ridiculous, we do put a lot of faith into the unknown at any given time. We decided that we wanted to spend as much of our time together as we possibly could not long after meeting each other; as strange as it may have seemed at the time, when you know, you know! We were also at one stage planning to stay in China for an extended period as we had set up an English school, but a local businessman robbed us of the opportunity and we had to leave before we could even open the doors. Our life definitely has a lot of exciting twists and turns.
You traveled for sure more than your children did and obviously saw more places and countries. What could be another destination you’d really like to bring Emilia and Matthew into, maybe for another road trip?
My husband and I are definitely both fairly well traveled but there are a lot of places we have not been to yet. On this journey, we started in Peru and have driven up through Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua. We still have El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and the US to go. Maybe we could plan somewhere in Europe – it has been a while since both myself and Matt have been in that part of the world so it would be a lot of fun. Anywhere new is always an adventure. Germany might be nice. Matt lived there for a number of years prior to meeting me so it would be great to explore it with the kids and travel around as a family. We might have to leave the Kombi behind unless we ship it over.
You are from Canada, a country I really love since I lived there for 18 months! People are great and the quality of life is really good, even in Quebec where they discriminate you if you don’t speak (their) French. But when it comes to travel… how they relate to cross their borders and see something else than North America?
My husband is Canadian and I am Australian – we have spent many years in Canada – more than we have in Australia together, that much is certain. Canadians are open to travel particularly to places like the US and Mexico – it is part of their nature. As an Australian, travel comes from a slightly different perspective. We are so far away from other countries that we have a tendency to go to places for a longer period to really explore – we can’t just pop to the US for a week as an example. New Zealand, perhaps, as it is closer but I think you get the general idea. We went to Cusco for 3 months and stayed over 2 years and in that time we decided to take up every opportunity which came our way including running a hostel for 12 months. It was definitely an adventure, one which we will never forget.[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#65bb46″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]“Why not”, we thought. It probably wasn’t the most ridiculous idea we had come up with in our 10 years together.[/mks_pullquote]
I see you’re writing a book out of this experience. Can we have some hints on what we’re going to read? Will it be a sort of travel journal, following your stops from South to North, or something more narrative?
Yes, I plan to finish it 2017/2018 depending on how our adventure plays out. It is not so much a travel journal or a guide but rather highlights, short stories or snippets focusing on interesting things and people we did along the way. We want our book to encourage other families to do a similar thing despite the setbacks we faced. Travel is great for all ages and leads the way for new perspectives and ideas. We have met amazing people in every country we have visited and realised we don’t have to be limited by our country’s borders.
Who did that amazing cartoon-style image of your family for your site? I really adore it!!!
Isn’t it great? Nathasha Padrón from The Helium Whale – we met her and her business and life partner Aender Lara in Puerto Cayo in Ecuador. We love it too. I wrote a post for their website and they surprised us with this beautiful image. We are going to use it for the cover of our book. See what I mean about meeting amazing people – we didn’t even ask for it and they surprised us with this beautiful gift.
This last one is not really a question, but rather a free space for you, and then you’re free to go: tell our readers why they should bookmark your site and follow the adventures of your family!
Why? We got lost often. We break down often. We travel with two crazy kids and are open to adventures and meeting people along the way. Quite simply, we never know what is around the corner and neither do our readers. That keeps everyone, including us on our toes.