BY: SAMANTHA TAPP
Everyday we see people break out of the mould society tries and shapes around us: go to university, get a degree, move into your first apartment, get a steady job, and start a family. More and more we’re seeing people say “fuck that,” and opt instead to travel the world, to choose experiences over material items. To pursue these enviable dreams, there are plenty of companies that will help people leave the 9-5 life to become a digital nomad, work remotely unbound by location. A common factor of many of these businesses is that they are often directed towards young, single, childless travellers. The problem there? The desire and need to travel doesn’t fizzle out when your first born is welcomed to the family.
Unsettled, a new startup that organizes work retreats for travelling digital nomads, realized the amount of people that were being forgotten and is now opening their doors to the travellers with kids. Co-founders Jonathan Kalan and Michael Youngblood, were inspired to welcome full families on the Unsettled retreats during a week-long sailing trip with other like-minded entrepreneurs. They realized they actually could stay on the road longer than a week, as all they needed was their laptops and good company. They found they were able to connect with other travellers over similar interests and passions: work, relationships, goals and values.
According to Fast Co Exist, the men realized without the travelling experience and meeting other travellers, they wouldn’t be able to make the same connections by sitting in an office. “What is it that meets our philosophy of life, a movement we could believe in, and an experience we could help curate,” Kalan says they asked themselves.
Their conclusion: Unsettled. It offers the same attractive qualities of any digital nomad company to young, single freelancers, but the difference is that those are not the only travellers Unsettled is looking for. They want parents that hold the same passion for travel and new experiences, they want to offer education to the kids, while offering the entire family an experience of working, living and learning abroad together.
“Life’s a process; there’s no destination. And it’s the constant journey of growth and discovery that keeps us venturing on,” reads the website. “Don’t fear the unknown. Embrace it.”
That’s basically what it’s all about. Calling the trips “work retreats,” between 30-40 people spend a month together in a foreign place (Colombia, Indonesia, New Zealand, Japan, etc.). Unsettled gives you everything you need to stay comfortable and connected: private rooms and bathrooms, shared workspace, local guides, events, and obviously wifi. They take care of the logistics and the travellers take care of the overall feel of the trip.
The men’s idea to extend the program to include families simply came from demand. According to Youngblood, the site was receiving an email about every 48 hours from a traveller with a kid who wanted to join. These emails started the process of figuring out what actually a family retreat would entail; think cribs, babysitters and teachers.
These are merely logistics The men found that the common interest came from the parents’ desire for the kids to have a unique learning experience, a sense of connection and a feeling of belonging. Sometimes working remotely can be lonely, add a kid to that mix, and it can be just stressful.
“How do we build these experiences around families? We want to create shared experiences for the parents and also how they’re raising their children,” said Youngblood.
Just like the program does with single travellers, the men want the families to shape their Unsettled experience, while they just work out the behind-the-scenes work. Looking into homeschooling and educational trips are top on the priority list for Unsettled, as the rest will come with experience. But, none of the planning it will take to bring families into the mix will stop Unsettled from bringing kids on the retreats. The main goal is to ensure that travel doesn’t end with kids.