World travel as a single mum

SEP 29 2014

Four years ago I sat exhausted as a single mum at the end of a long, hard and horrible day. I was working full-time and not enjoying it, and then I would collect my son from after-school care, and go home to my own business.

Bills mounted. My house needed repairs. The mortgage was all-consuming. And this was not a fun life.

So I had a very adult-like conversation with my then five-year-old.

Our life had to change

Life had to change, and I wanted it to change, and my son wanted it to change, so the first thing on the list was already ticked off - the DESIRE to CHANGE.

Exploramum (a single travelling mum) with son and friend in Peru

Next came the hard part. The HOW to change.

So as our conversation unfolded, we decided that as the house was consuming all of our money, and therefore paying off the house was taking all of my time, the house needed to be sold. And that meant it needed to be fixed up to do so.

Then WHAT to do? We decided on travel. We had been to Fiji and loved it, and so as that was familiar to my son, we decided that would be our starting point.

Our new purpose in life

What unfolded next amazed me.

We discussed the PURPOSE, and my son said he would like to help the poor kids.

Exploramum and Explorason making friends on their travels

So from this conversation birthed a whole new direction in life.

We would sell off most of our possessions, so we could afford to do up the house and then sell it. Then we would pack up our remaining 'treasured things', and we would head off to Fiji.

Getting started in house-sitting

I had read about house-sitting, so we started to do some of that in preparation. First for family and friends to build references.

Just as the house sold, we picked up our first 'official gig' - a house-sit in Fiji. This then went back-to-back with a house-sit offered to me by a neighbour, whilst we packed up and cleaned up the house.


Exploramum in London with her son - travelling the world as a single mum

Now we have been travelling for two years and are starting our third year.

Living like a local

Travelling as a single mum has a lot of challenges and isn't always easy. House-sitting offers us to absorb the local culture. To shop and eat and live with the locals. We experience life and make new friends and live in a completely different way. It also gives me the chance to cook nutritiously.

Exploramum and her son enjoying a picnic at the Eiffel Tower on their world travels

My son now world-schools, where part of his education is a living classroom.

  • He has painted and drawn with artists at Montmartre in Paris
  • He has toasted marshmallows on a volcano in Guatemala
  • He has been on a floating island and played with the kids in Peru
  • Eaten llama and alpaca in Bolivia
  • Canoed down the Amazon
  • Caught piranhas and swum with pink dolphin in Ecuador
  • Held baby alligators, and walked amongst caiman in Brazil
  • Sand-boarded down the slopes of an oasis in South America
  • Ridden horses bareback in Cuba
  • Been to school in Fiji

To name a few of his adventures - and to think he is only nine years old!

A single mum from Australia visits the salt flats with her son - Exploramum and Explorason

Our life is never dull. So far we've manage to explore 29 countries over the past 2 years.

Where we stay

We have stayed at:

  • Missions
  • Hotels
  • Couch-surfed
  • Slept in a rooftop room in a zoo-like hostel
  • Slept for 30 hours on a bus
  • Enjoyed resorts, cruises and boats
  • Froze in a wood bed on an island with Peruvian families
  • Lived amongst local Fijians
  • Slept in a treehouse
  • Slept in a cargo van
  • Camped in a yurt
  • Cared for a farm with animals
  • House-sat in several countries

Exploramum and Explorason at Machu Picchu in Peru, travelling the world as a single mum

Guess what - you can do this too!

I firmly believe anyone can travel.

That the lack of funds should not be your obstacle.

That whatever you dream can become reality. 

I hope our journey inspires others to take the challenge and to go and live their dreams.

We only get one life. It is not a test run. This is the real thing. What is stopping you? Go on.

You have "one chance; one life; and you should have No Regrets".

Exploramum and Explorason at the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio, Brazil

This is a guest post from Ruth Johnston, an Australian single mum and house-sitter, who runs the blog You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.