Although I discuss Chiang Mai, Thailand in this and many of our other digital nomad articles, this one has something for every nomad family–regardless of where you’re headed.
We recently became a digital nomad family ourselves –Meet Hendrik (Hank), born in Palawan, Philippines during the tail end of the pandemic lockdown.
Although we wrote the article below years before Hank was a sparkle in our eye, stay tuned for our own original tips and advice for travel with kids.
Digital Nomad Family with Kids? You bet.
The digital nomad lifestyle is not exclusive to risk-taking young single folks, and I’m pleased to report that parents of little humans have options, too.
Chiang Mai is incredibly nomad family-friendly and there are a number of young families thriving here. Every digital nomad family you will encounter will all sing the same song; it has a positive effect on family relationships and nomad kids turn out to be well rounded and able to adapt to change easily.
In other words, it enhances their development —it isn’t detrimental.
Related: How to Become a Digital Nomad, Step-by-Step.
The concept of “home” is transferred from a brick and mortar building to “home is where the Teddy Bear is”, or “where mommy and daddy are”.
One particular nomad family blog post that stands out to me in terms of mindset is from the Upwork blog entitled “How to Be a Digital Nomad When You Have Family“. We’re not fans of Upwork and their 20% take, but they give good blog.
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Advice from a Digital Nomad Mom
Canadian digital nomad family matriarch Liisa Vexler had this advice to give to parents considering the leap into living life as a digital nomad with kids;
For nomad kids: Many countries have schools that will accept children of expats. You can easily seek out areas in the country of your choice that will accept kids for shorter periods of time.
Don’t over-think it: There’s no point in sitting around and thinking about becoming a digital nomad for too long. You just need to do it. Make a list of what you need to do to get to that point of freedom.
Live your life on your own terms: As far as work goes, you can be whatever you want to be if you believe that’s what you are. “I did that with medical writing,” Liisa says. “You have a lot of skills you don’t know you have —you have to identify those skills and make yourself an expert.”
When Liisa was asked about how supportive her extended family was about her lifestyle, she told Upwork blog writer Brennan Gamwell; “When we talk, they tell me, ‘You guys are really living life to the fullest'”. You can find the full blog post here.
Travel Insurance, Simplified
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Find out, read our side-by-side comparison.
Health and Safety
Tropical MBA also has a great Podcast episode entitled “TMBA 277: How Does Location Independence Affect Relationships and Families?” and it is a solid 40-minute interview with Becky and Paul who are parents of a nomad family with 3 young kids.
In this podcast, Becky describes a time while living in Chiang Mai where her son required a medical procedure. She speaks highly of the care her son received from Chiang Mai Ram Hospital and discusses the experience at length. You can find that episode here.
Another podcast episode on the same blog is an interview with David and Carrie to learn how they’ve managed the nomadic family lifestyle with two young boys. This episode is entitled “TMBA 183: What is the Best Place for Location Independent Families?”.
Their interview discusses insurance and health care for nomad families, in addition to mindset, costs, and a number of tips for parents ranging from what to take with you to how they found reliable babysitters. At around 30:00 they talk about their medical experience in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Related: Nomad Family Travel Insurance Guide
“It’s like a four-star hotel, and they happen to be treating you for something”
– Carrie McKeegan
You can find that podcast here.
In that TMBA podcast, Carrie McKeegan from Greenback Tax Services says she welcomes questions about bringing a family to Asia, and you can find her contact information within the podcast episode.
Earning Money While Living a Nomadic Family Life
Earning money online is obviously a key factor of great importance for a digital nomad family. Running out of money unexpectedly far from home is every parent’s worst nightmare, and mitigating risk when it comes to your online employment is a must.
In our experience, getting online jobs from reputable businesses you’ve probably already heard of are the best and most reliable way to go for nomad families to make ends meet.
Related: I Need Money Now!
To get a online job from a trusted company, you’re going to have to opt for a remote job site that screens out deadbeat employers.
As in, they have actual humans vetting all employers that make remote job postings for a small fee.
We compiled a list of legitimate work from home jobs hiring now that you may find helpful if you’re still in the planning phase.
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The sooner you get to know your employers or clients, the better. It takes time to build trust in your working relationship, and to figure out which ones will be ideal when you embark on your nomad family adventure!
Some Tips for Digital Nomad Families in Chiang Mai
Here are a few key tips from a spread of digital nomad family moms and dads that I’ve encountered along in Chiang Mai, Thailand;
- It’s common for digital nomad families to use Airbnb or get free accommodation via Trusted Housesitters because home-style amenities are a lot more kid-friendly than hotels and guest houses
- Buy any plastic items which come into contact with food or children’s mouths (like baby bottles, soothers, certain toys, plastic containers) in your home country; Many plastic items for sale in Asia contain traces of lead and/or leech harmful chemicals
- Don’t over pack; there are a lot of safe ways to entertain your kids wherever you are, and over time your kids won’t need to be coddled or constantly entertained like they may have back home
- Scope out Chiang Mai Ram Hospital immediately, don’t wait for an emergency – Make sure they carry all of the medications your child needs, ask about vaccinations, etc. so your child can stay on cycle with kids back home in developed countries, while staying current with whatever additional vaccinations they need to live safely in Asia
- International schools can be quite costly while local bilingual schools can also provide excellent education and care for your children at a greatly reduced cost
- Bring one central “comfort item” for your child, instead of the whole toy box (and don’t lose it!)
- Kids don’t have life expectations; Don’t worry, they won’t feel like they’re missing anything and you shouldn’t either
Schools in Chiang Mai
Here are a handful of schools to get you started; the one at the top of the list is a school that a personal friend of mine took his children to. It’s a quality school and is much more affordable than the international schools I list after it.
Wichai Wittaya Bilingual School
264/1, Chang Klan Road, Nong Hoi, Mueang Chiang Mai
You can view information on Thai Visa here.
American Pacific International School
158/1 Moo 3 Hangdong-Samoeng Rd., T. Banpong, A. Hang Dong, Chiang Mai
You can find more information here.
Prem Tinsulanonda International School
234 Moo 3, T. Huay Sai, A. Mae Rim, Chiang Mai
You can find more information here.
Any Tips and Advice You’d Like to Share?
Let everyone know in the comments; your contribution will help to enrich the digital nomad parental experience for thousands of our monthly readers!
And while you’re at it –stick around; there’s plenty of actionable advice on Hobo with a Laptop for nomad families, too. It won’t be too long before we have a nomad kid of our own!
We’ve got more Chiang Mai digital nomad posts, check ’em out!