How a Full-Time Traveling Family Balances Travel, Family, and Faith
Our family has been traveling the world full-time since January 2018. As our originally planned 6-months of traveling is nearing its end, we have felt impressed to continue our traveling, end date to still be determined. As a former Bishop in Phoenix and a Relief Society President in New Zealand, we have a strong testimony of service in the Church. We love learning from, serving beside, and teaching the good members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. But how can we still serve without having callings as we travel? How can we maintain strong testimonies and remain faithful as we are constantly on the go? This is how a full-time traveling family balances travel, family, and faith.
We told our kids from Day 1 that every Sunday, no matter where in the world we are that week, we plan on attending all three hours of church. Not just hitting up Sacrament meeting and jetting so we can site-see for the rest of the day. Sunday would be a day where we would commit to drive however far to get to church and stay there to enjoy the Sacrament, Sunday School, Primary, Young Men, Priesthood, and Relief Society meetings. We’ve driven as far as 2 hours to attend a small branch in Phucket, Thailand and as close as 10 minutes to attend church in Seville, Spain. We’ve taken taxis, trains, and cars to make it to church. And it is always worth the sacrifice.
We’ve attended Church where they speak Balinese, Thai, Italian, Spanish, and English with an accent. And we’ve stayed all three hours regardless of language. Sometimes we’re blessed with members or missionaries who translate the meeting for us. Sometimes we get to sit and listen to a beautiful new language and feel the members’ spirits as they learn from each other. Whether we understand what is being said or not, we are always left uplifted and with a stronger testimony that the Church is the same all around the world.
We continue to pay our tithing in our “home” ward. We don’t really have a home anymore, but our Church records are left in our last place of residence.
We pay our monthly Fast Offerings in whatever ward we attend on Fast Sunday each month. It is such a sweet experience to be able to hand over an envelope with a small amount of money for us, but potentially a large amount of money to the country that we’re visiting.
We made a commitment to try to provide service in every country we visit. We ask the missionaries in the branches we attend if there is anyone in need, we look around us to see for ourselves if we can lend a hand somewhere, or we pray to see who we can help. We’ve weeded a woman’s yard in Australia, planted rice in Bali, cleaned up trash on the beach in Thailand, taught at a Myanmar refugee school in Kuala Lumpur, given away meal vouchers in Singapore, made treats to share with people we made friends with in Italy, donated money to the less fortunate in London, and put together meals to give to poor families in Dominican Republic.
We don’t tell you this to toot our own horn, but we tell you this because you can find service opportunities anywhere in the world. We have made our kids a big part of our service and they help give us ideas and carry out the service. We pray as a family to see who we can help. It always leaves us closer as a family and we always have a stronger love for the people we serve.
Family Scriptures and Prayer
Just because we don’t have a place we call home, doesn’t mean we let the little things go. We continue to have daily family scripture study and family prayers. Some in our family may think we even pray too much ;) It is so important to maintain these simple practices so we stay close as a family and stay close to our Heavenly Father.
Family Home Evening
FHE may look a little differently for our family than yours. We don’t have the cute props or the homemade treats, but we try to have a formal sit down as a family each week and have a song, announcements, lesson, and prayer. We’re definitely not perfect and miss some weeks since we’re together basically 24/7, but we know it’s an important sacrifice to make and we try to implement it as often as possible.
Unfortunately, we aren’t just a 30-minute drive to 3 different temples like we were in Phoenix or even a 2 hour drive to the Hamilton temple in New Zealand. But whenever we visit a country that has a temple, we commit to getting there. We’ve only been to the Brisbane, Australia, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and Madrid, Spain temples. The London temple was closed when we were passing through and many of the other countries don’t have temples….yet. But it is always worth the effort getting there and making arrangements to take care of our littles while we're inside.
Since we don’t currently hold church callings, we try to work on Family History often. Sometimes it’s as simple as doing Indexing online, calling a family member and asking questions and recording their answers about themselves, calling family members more to strengthen relationships, watching family history videos, reading talks on family history, writing in our journals, creating individual family trees in Canva, or researching our family history online.
But our absolute favorite and most rewarding family history experience we’ve had so far is our time we spent in Italy. We visited plenty of touristy Italian sites for the first 2 weeks of our time in Italy and then devoted our last 2 weeks to family history. We visited the quaint towns of my ancestors from Picerno and Ruoti in Southern Italy. We talked with Family History Consultants, members of the branches, missionaries, Priests, and cemetery workers. These angels all helped us find family names. We spent hours in an old freezing cold Catholic church scouring the delicate pages of handprinted records from the 1600s. Our family in the States fasted and prayed for us as we searched, and we saw miracle after miracle unfold as we worked.
At first, we felt guilty for not holding normal church callings with the lifestyle we’re currently living. But we have made concerted efforts and made commitments and sacrifices that we feel are just as important and rewarding as if we did hold a calling in a ward. It takes dedication to stick to these goals. But as we serve in unique ways and as we work together as a family, we see that our family relationships are strengthening, our testimonies are strengthening, and our love for people all over the world is strengthening.
We may not be living the “normal” Mormon lifestyle. But we sure are building a strong family bond, our faith is increasing, and we are growing closer to Christ everyday through these amazing experiences around the world. So, you may ask, can you balance travel, family, and faith? The answer is, yes, it can be done. Is it easy? Definitely not. But it’s worth it.
Want to learn more about what we believe? Click HERE.