How this family is doing a one year around the world trip pursuing their dreams
It’s been over 2 months already since the Durand family – Guillaume, Gaëlle and their 3 kids, Yohan , 8, Chloé, 4 and Eléonore, 1 – left their farm in the Ariège in southern France.
After Latvia, Turkey and Jordan, their next destination is… Sri Lanka! And their travels won’t stop there as they plan to do a lot more Workaways during a whole year away. They plan to go around Asia, stopping in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Philippines, China and Japan.
What drove this apparently sane family to set off to the other side of the world with 3 young children? We were intrigued. We had questions. And they were kind enough to answer them.
Can you tell us more about your project? How did it germinate? What was the purpose of it?
We’ve always wanted to travel the world and discover other cultures. But we did not know how. During our previous journeys we always had the feeling we were only seeing the tip of the iceberg, not succeeding to go deeper than the usual superficial human exchanges. We had to find another way. Beyond our wanderlust we had a dream in common: to build a self-sufficient farm with a bakery at its heart. The aim of our journey with Workaway is to gain the knowledge needed to build our dream farm when we get back home.
Travelling with 3 young kids, has it been a driving force or a constraint? Doesn’t it complicate things a bit?
Travelling with 3 children changes things a bit, no doubt. Tiredness, heat and transport, these kind of things can make it really tough on a family. But these tricky situations are well offset by the wealth of exchange and moments shared.
Though it’s been on our mind for a long time before children were even here, their presence made us even more focussed to do it. At their age, there’s no barrier between people yet. Children’s games are universal. Language is secondary. They will be able to create strong bonds with people of all backgrounds.
It will also allow them to see the world differently, away from statistics and television. A world where a family can go and pursue their dreams knowing there will always be someone somewhere in the world who will open their door just for the pleasure of sharing.
How did you prepare for your trip?
At the beginning we were concerned about not finding farms willing to host a whole family of 5. So we sent some emails to hosts in Turkey, a country we knew for sure we’d have to cross. And then surprise! We received 5 positive answers showing so much enthusiasm about us staying at their farm that we knew we were on the right track. Our project was feasible!
During the 12 month-long preparation of our journey we followed a geographical logic. To choose our farms we mainly trusted our feelings regarding the listing and the email communication we had with potential hosts. The farm’s location and their uniqueness were also important to us.
Working on an eco construction
You’ve already helped in 4 different farms, how did it go?
Although each experience has been unique, they all had 2 things in common: our hosts welcomed us with open arms and we all, kids included, learned heaps staying with them!
In Latvia, with Thomas, Liga and their 3 kids, we helped with permaculture, built an outside wooden kitchen, milked the goats and made cheese. An awsome experience!
In Turkey, at Nyhal, Ceyhal and their 2 kids’ place, we learnt about homeopathy, eco-building and permaculture. They’ve been like their country: generous and big-hearted.
At July and Jafar’s, in the desert of the Wadi Rum, we helped build an irrigation dyke and slept under the stars.
In the North of Jordan, at Mohammad’s, we could gaze at the lights of Jericho and Jerusalem from our rooftop. We created a relaxing area and looked after date palms.
In each farm, we organised bakery and natural yeast creation workshops.
We also took 2 kg of ancient non hybrid and non sterile seeds with us on our travels to distribute each time we stopped.
“In the Wadi Rum desert I liked it a lot, it was great… I learned how to bake bread in the sand, I’m going to try it at home!” Yohan
Have the experiences you had met your expectations?
In terms of human exchanges and learning, yes, absolutely!
As well as bonding with our hosts, with whom we’ll stay in touch, we also got close to other volunteers, some of whom have already reserved their place to come and help us to build our farm when we’re back home!
What are the lessons learned so far?
At first, we came to our hosts with preconceptions about the program, daily routines… but we changed attitude when we realised that nothing is that predictable! Now, we arrive, ready to let go and improvise according to the situation.
The main lesson though is that it’s not all down to money! Following people who, despite their lack of money, decided to fulfil their dreams comforts us in the idea of pursuing ours. We will take all these inspiring ideas back home!
Helping out as a family
What advise would you give families who’d like to travel the world like you?
First and foremost, take all the time you need to thoroughly prepare your trip.
Before you leave, it’s important to have real honest exchanges with the hosts by e-mail so that you are as sure as can be that you’ll get along fine once there. It’s also important to take the children into account to choose the right hosts for them too.
Personally, we preferred hosts in not so remote locations.
Last piece of advice : volunteering is better than being a tourist.
But this is our experience. Every family is different.
As the saying goes, “You reap what you sow.”
And with such an uplifting attitude the odds are pretty good their future farm will fulfil this family’s dreams.