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I had the pleasure of meeting Crystal Phipps via a Facebook group when we both were launching our websites and taking a course to learn how to do so. She had the coolest story about being a nomad family — or gnomad family, as she likes to spell it! — and of traveling the country and the world with her husband and two children.
And they didn’t just travel. They sold their house and lived in various places at length.
You can check out more of their story on her website, The Gnomad Family. There, she offers tips and stories about family travel for lengthy periods of time. The family recently bought a house in Oregon to stay put during the school year, but as Crystal points out, that still leaves summers for adventure!
Enjoy this interview where Crystal tells us about her family and how she does what she does!
Tell us a little about yourself and why you decided to become a nomad family
Hello! My name is Crystal and I am part of the gnomadfamily! My husband, 2 kids and I lived in Los Angeles where we both worked full-time and had our kids in daycare full-time.
We realized if we lived somewhere cheaper I could stay home with the kids. Since we had been stuck in Los Angeles tied to our home, it was really freeing to feel like we could go wherever we wanted! It was like the world was our oyster!
So rather than just moving permanently anywhere we decided to travel for awhile before finding our permanent home.
We started to look into moving and at one point one of us made a joke: “Well, if we are going to move we should go somewhere tropical!”
So my husband — the researcher — started to look into cheap places to live with good health care and a safe location. Since our kids were only 4 and 1.5 at the time, school wasn’t an immediate necessity.
This led us to search cheap places to retire since our needs were similar to retirees! Panama came up over and over so we decided it would be a good start! We had been to Costa Rica about 10 years previous so we really wanted our kids to see that too!
That is how the gnomadfamily was started!
What are a few of your favorite trips?
I love to cruise because you can see many places on one trip! We haven’t had a chance to take the kids on one yet but it’s on my list!!
However, the drawback to cruises is that there is the disconnect with locals. It’s just a flood of people in the various ports. But it’s great to get an idea if you like the area enough to go back in the future!
One of our favorite places to go with the kids is Tamarindo, Costa Rica. It’s a small beach town on the Pacific ocean. The people are laid-back and friendly. It’s a walkable town so you feel like part of the community right away by seeing the same people daily.
My husband loves to surf and it’s a great surf spot — Endless Summer was filmed there! We have been there 3 times with the kids and it’s amazing how many people remember us!
What’s still on your list of places to visit?
We were just discussing this the other day. Right now we are loving the tropical locations! We really want to check out Asia next. Thailand or Indonesia would be awesome! Australia is also on our bucket list. We love animals so kangaroos and koalas would be amazing to see in nature!
How do you afford to travel like this?
This is a popular question! My husband works for a company based out of New York City but works from home. So when we travel he still works.
One of our most important criteria is good internet access and reliable electricity. The other reason is we can afford this lifestyle is that we don’t travel extravagantly and we cook a lot at home and only do tours every once in awhile.
When we do go out I always try to figure out the cheapest way to eat out like have the kids share a meal or use happy hours to cut costs etc.
Can you narrow it down to your Top 2 tips on how people can travel full-time? (Or even just travel more!)
Most importantly would be to know how you can afford to live this lifestyle. Whether it be working while you travel or saving enough money to go for extended travels!
There are lots of ways to earn money online now as you have mentioned in 2 Favorite Parts! (Thanks for the shout-out, Crystal! Here’s a roundup on side hustles.)
Before a 3-month trip to Costa Rica I loaded up my Amazon store and was able to make income (by the end it was much less money but I never lost money!) the whole time!
People also talk about teaching English, being an online assistant, and I have met a few people who are accountants.
Finally, have an open mind and try to live like a local. If you go to Central America, don’t continue to eat Cheerios for breakfast at $6 a box. Eat beans and rice — a staple food — for pennies!
Be adaptable to the location because if you go somewhere and try to do everything as if you were back home 1) you don’t get the full experience of the location and 2) it’s much cheaper (typically).
Thanks so much to Crystal for sharing her story and some great photos! If you’d like to learn more about ways you can make extra money to do something similar, check out this post on side hustles you can start right away. If you want to learn about selling on Amazon in particular, the best person to connect with is Jessica Larrew of The Selling Family. And please share any tips you have as well!
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