‘We spent £85k and took our kids out of school to go travelling for a year’

A couple has revealed how they flogged their house and car to take off travelling for a year with their two children. They spent a whopping £85,000 on the round-the-world journey with their kids to Australia, the United States, Taiwan and more.

Dennis Horstman Maassen, 51, and wife, Sheila, 45, de-registered as citizens of the Netherlands to legally remove children, Oz, eight, and Zola, six, from school. They then used every mode of transport including trains, hire cars, boats, buses and planes through 14 countries from Japan to Ireland, New Zealand and Hawaii.

However with the children still needing to do schoolwork and the adults wanting to see different things it wasn't without its challenges. Plus, as Sheila was suffering with long Covid some aspects had to be slowed down.

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Dennis, a production company owner, from Arnhem, the Netherlands, said: "When we thought it was an option, we made the decision to do it quite quickly. I had some job opportunities with my creative production and we thought it would be nice to travel with the kids and school them as we go.

"We had to rent out our house and sell the car, but the house had tenants within a week and it was a nice way of making passive income whilst we were away for the year. I budgeted about €100k for the trip. We didn't have that in the beginning but doing some of my production work along the way helped with costs."

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The dad added: "In general we paid around [£85.83] for accommodation a night, 3k-a-month [£2,575] for car rental and the around-the-world travel ticket was 15k euros [£12,875]. For some it's a lot of money but in general I think we did it pretty well and if you look at your costs in general for a family-of-four for a year I don't think it's too much."

While Sheila suffered with the effects of Covid-19 they still chose to embark on their journey. He said: "Because of my wife's long-covid she's not as physically capable but because we are seasoned travellers, we knew we'd be able to make it work. We knew what it'd be like and knew what we'd encounter."

They also made sure Oz and Zola had time to complete their school work, from wherever they were in the world. They don't think the kids lagged behind.

Dennis said: "We contacted the school before we left and they were very supportive with our plans.

"They did some online bits and every two months we would contact the school to check-in and make sure they're keeping up with their studies. They did bits of work on their experiences of travelling too.

"But it does change your way of travelling. They needed time to adjust and have time to work without being on the move all the time.

"In Australia they were able to work in the car on the long car journeys. It does take an effort and you have to keep up with it – it's not just a holiday for a year."

The pair rented out their home and sold their car and then jet off on the trip of a lifetime. They opted to travel west around the globe and aimed to follow the warm season so they could pack lightly.

Dennis said: "Every country has its beauty and New Zealand is always the country we come back to as it's wide open and you have the vast remoteness. But we loved the US as well because of the national parks.

"Every national park had assignments that you could do for kids and badges they could collect – that was amazing.

"Eight days of theme parks in Florida for the kids was great as well. The Hawaiian culture was great.

"Japan was very beautiful for us as adults, perhaps a bit less for the kids as it has a very structured culture. But Australia the kids loved because of all the wild animals, the wallabies, the crocodiles, snakes, they loved that and found it so interesting.

"We had two weeks in Taiwan and there was so many parts that weren't frequented by tourists so that was really nice. We had an amazing time in the Philippines as well, which was beautiful – we rented a motorbike and just being with the kids on this small island was amazing."

He continued: "We roughly wanted to spend a few weeks or months in each place." But, they do admit that travelling with kids in tow was tricky.

He explained: "It can be very challenging and you need to set proper rules and be flexible – every now and then you need some time off. We knew we needed to be close to playgrounds and theme parks and activities that the kids could do.

"Every other day we'd make it a 'kids day' so we could find that balance. Also with my wife being sick meant we had to keep in constant conversation to make sure everyone was happy.

"You need to be able to enjoy a holiday on your travels too. Every two months we would plan a 'holiday' week where the kids wouldn't do any school work and enjoy some down time."

The family's travel itinerary:

  • Germany – two days
  • Ireland – three weeks
  • Canada – four or five weeks
  • US – six weeks total
  • Hawaii (US) – three weeks
  • New Zealand – two months
  • Australia – two months
  • Asia – three months total including: Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, Philippines, Indonesia (Bali), Dubai

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