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I'm a millennial mom who's visited 57 countries with my kids thanks to many income streams, including $4,000 a month blogging and extra cash from flipping homes

Alcynna Lloyd   

I'm a millennial mom who's visited 57 countries with my kids thanks to many income streams, including $4,000 a month blogging and extra cash from flipping homes
  • Karen Edwards has traveled to or lived in 57 countries with her husband and four children.
  • To fund their nomadic lifestyle, the couple run a travel blog and have flipped homes for profit.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Karen Edwards, who blogs about her family's life abroad. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

I'm originally from Dublin. I left when I was 18 and moved to London. I attended university in the country and stayed there for a long time after graduating.

In 2010, I met my husband, and by 2014 we had our first child. Today, we have four in total, and they're all under the age of 10.

Before we had kids, we traveled a lot. It's something that we wanted to continue doing with our children. To date, I've visited 93 countries — and 57 of them have been with my kids.

I've always had this idea in my mind that I need to have a really diversified financial situation.

I am a nurse by background, but I have been blogging about traveling with my family since 2014. I have also set up a media company in Abu Dhabi. My husband and I still own property that is being rented out in London, and we are also opening a villa in Sri Lanka.

At this point in our lives, we have three revenue streams coming in from different places. It's been a long game — over 10 years — to get where we are today.

We're making money from blogging about our travels

On our family travel blog, I share practical tips for parents about traveling with children, whether it's on a plane, in a car, or on a train. I also provide information and itineraries for different family-friendly destinations.

I make money from the blog through ad and affiliate revenue. We earn anywhere between $4,000 to $8,000 a month. It's usually closer to $4,000, but during Christmas and Thanksgiving, it goes up because companies spend a lot of money on ads.

After leaving the UK in 2021, we thought moving to the Middle East would be a great opportunity to save money.

My husband intended to set up another blog about Abu Dhabi. But we realized that we couldn't earn money in the country the same way we could with our other blog. We instead pivoted and positioned ourselves as a media company there.

My brother, who we co-own the media company with, is on the ground in Abu Dhabi. We make money from that website by listing outlets such as restaurants and hotels in listing-style posts. For example, the best brunches in Abu Dhabi — and seasonal posts like the best things to do on Valentine's Day in Abu Dhabi.

Fix-and-flipping homes has boosted our income

My husband is a builder, and in the UK, flipping properties is quite a big thing.

In 2013, we began buying real estate in London. We would live in the property, renovate it to a high standard, sell it, and then move on to another one. We did three of those in total.

The first home we bought cost us £193,000 ($247,376) and we spent £20,000 ($25,635) renovating the home. It was a two-bedroom, but we converted it to a three-bedroom by completely changing the footprint of the house. My husband did all the work himself. We sold it for £365,000 ($467,835).

In 2016, we bought and moved into the next place. We purchased the two-bedroom home for about £465,000 ($596,009) and sold it for £575,000 ($737,001). We invested about £50,000 ($64,087) into that home. It wasn't as big of a profit, but still, it went into the pot to buy the next property.

The last property we purchased in 2020 cost us about £285,000 ($365,296). We almost managed to buy it outright, but then COVID hit and it really messed up our online salaries from our travel blog. We had to take a small mortgage at that point, about £50,000 ($64,087).

At the time of our purchase, no one was living in London. Everyone was moving out of the city and working remotely. So we were a bit stuck. We decided to give the property to the council of the London Borough of Croydon, which is an arm of the government that looks after people who need housing.

Each month, they pay us about £1,700 ($2,1789) to have somebody rent our home. If things were to go wrong while being on the road, we have confidence knowing we have that guaranteed income.

We're building a villa in Southeast Asia to rent out

Last year, we also decided to build a villa in Sri Lanka. It's just always been a dream that my husband has wanted to fulfill. We were drawn to the country by its amazing surfing, beautiful beaches, abundant nature, and wildlife.

Buying land in Sri Lanka is difficult. There is a lot of family involvement, especially if the land has been passed down throughout generations. We actually went through three or four deeds before we found one that was legitimately okay for us to buy.

We purchased about an acre of land for about £45,000 ($57,655). We had to partner with a local who could purchase the land on our behalf, which is pretty standard in Asian countries. The Sri Lankan shareholder doesn't own the business but does own 51% of the land.

We've invested maybe £70,000 so far ($89,685), but the whole thing including the land will be about £140,000 pounds ($179,370).

We're about three-quarters of the way through building the villa. When completed, it will have three bedrooms with a swimming pool. We are still calculating how much we'll charge visitors.

Living abroad is both adventurous and costly

We took our first trip with our first baby in 2014. We went backpacking around Southeast Asia: Vietnam, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore.

We returned to live in London for a while because you get a very long maternity leave in the UK: one year. We used that time to travel because it was basically paid time off work.

We did the same thing with our second baby and took another year off to travel the Pan-American highway from Canada to Argentina by land. We visited Canada, the US, Mexico, the Bahamas, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Belize, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombo, Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina.

We absolutely loved Peru. We loved the culture and all of the hikes. The really wild beaches were amazing. My kids played with Peruvian children — it was really, really special.

In Canada, we had some crazy experiences with bears. We went hiking one day and saw grizzly babies. Everyone thought they were lambs. I was like, "There are no lambs here, and Mom must be nearby somewhere."

As we tried to get away quickly, we bumped into a black bear. I had a newborn baby with me, and a toddler holding my hand. So that was interesting.

In 2017, we renovated a camper van and planned to drive it across Europe and through Central Asia, but COVID hit. We ended up living in it for one year and then decided to move to the Middle East.

When I arrived there I realized I was pregnant with twins. That obviously changed everything, because maternity leave in the Middle East is like in the US — very short.

It's very costly to travel with four children. For example, six seats on a plane is a lot of money. Even though we're blogging about traveling, most of the time our flights aren't covered. Sometimes we might partner with a local hotel, but they never really cover the full trip.

We're trying to build different assets. With four children, I feel we really need to ensure that they're safe and that we can support them through university — if that is something they want to pursue when they're older.

The difficult part about raising your children abroad is that we don't have the help of family nearby, which can sometimes lead to burnout.

In terms of friendships, it's not the nicest thing always having to move. As a parent, you feel guilty. But I think the positives outweigh the negatives.

⁠I was an avid backpacker before having children and didn't want to give it up, so we just continued with kids. Although travel has changed a bit, as we generally look for comfort and safety with the kids. We love the outdoors, seeing different landscapes, and going for hikes, but, most of all, we love seeing how different people live.

My children have become flexible. I would say they're cultured; they've learned so much along the way, like new languages, and know so many facts that I had no idea of at that age.

Even though we'll have the villa, we still plan to keep traveling. I believe it's essential to establish multiple revenue streams to support the lifestyle we envision, and I'll continue to build different assets as my kids grow older.

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