Fourteen months ago Kiwi mum and dad duo, Bill and Aimee Alefaio sold or gave away all their material possessions, packed their lives into suitcases and embarked on an open-ended world journey with their twin boys.
Dubbing themselves the "PolyAsiaNZ" on social media — Bill, originally from Tuvalu and Aimee from Laos — the family have now travelled across seven countries in an attempt to teach their 11-year-old twin boys about the richness of a simpler way of life.
Bill, who worked as a carpenter for 17 years and Aimee, who worked in finance for 14 years, described themselves and their previous life as that of "your typical Kiwi family".
"Because we were living a pretty standard good life, we were pretty much settled in our safe little nest home that we had created in Auckland," Aimee told the Herald.
Desperate to teach their kids something different, the family looked to "unusual" travel destinations and experiences to guide them on their journey.
No tuktuks or motorbikes in Myanmar Just these 3 wheeled tricycles. We've rode with 3 people on a motorbike in Vietnam but 5 people on a bicycle/tricycle was a totally cool experience!! Gave this guy a good workout today. How cool would it be to ride around in one of these in NZ. It'd keep us fit, can fit family of 5 and won't cost a thing!! 😁👊 #winninginmyanmar #myanmartravels #ecofriendly #yangon #visitmyanmar #simpleliving #sustainable #ecotravel #tricycle #ecotransport #travellingfamily #journey #chasingthesun18
"We felt the urge to get outside our comforts and really challenge ourselves to immerse in different cultures to learn and grow as much as we could about each other and the countries we'd visit.
"Being on this journey we realise how uncomfortable it was to be so comfortable," Aimee explained.
"We're gonna do something a bit more purposeful and meaningful with our lives."
A philosophy which Bill said was triggered by the death of a beloved family member.
"At the start of the year , we lost our nana and that was a bit of a wake-up call for me," he admitted.
However, the lifestyle change wasn't all done at the drop of the hat, as Aimee set off planning and saving while utilising her working background as a self-confessed "finance guru".
"I had always believed in saving. We had dreamt of a big family overseas holiday when the boys were born, so I set up a holiday account and started saving $50 per week towards it when the boys were about two," Aimee admitted.
Day 350 Travelling full-time Treasuring simple moments like these.... No special scenery, picturesque view, or special filters. Just a bed of 4 Tears, laughter and family bonding. When you have no one else to talk to except each other.. We found ourselves lost in the deepest heartfelt conversations we've ever had till early hours in the morning. Bed time conversations are the best times to get kids to share their deepest thoughts. #travelstories #travelwithkids #bondingwithkids #familytravels #familygoals #travelmore #familybonding #parenting #heartfelt #myanmartravels #rtwwithkids #livelovelearn #treasuremoments #grateful
"We'd accrued about $30K for 'holidays' so we decided instead of the resort experience we'd trade it in for more enriching immersions, which would also mean we could travel longer.
"So far to date we've spent just over $21K - so we're under budget again. That's including flights, travel costs, medical, insurance."
As for the boys' schooling, the family believe in the philosophy of taking the kids out of the traditional classroom and letting them learn in the "world class".
"They do their core studies like maths, English and Pixar on the Khan Academy website. Nowadays with the internet, there are so many different options to get educated," Aimee shared.
"Then we have a lot of my own created programmes based on what I see as needed. [For example] they're our finance controllers where they keep a reconciliation of our expenses, and they research and book our flights and accommodation.
"[We are] trying to teach them all the things I wish I knew or was taught when I was younger. Eg, how to have a conversation with different people from all different ages. How to believe and have more confidence in themselves and self-expression."
The 14-month world journey has put things in perspective for the family, who Aimee says are now focused on the legacy they are going to one day leave behind for their children.
"It has really cemented our realisation that the most important legacy we want to leave is not our material or physical assets.
"It's the comfort in knowing that we've taught them well enough that they'll be able to be resilient and will have the basic skills and tools to overcome any challenges they may face in life."
Well Okayama, Japan your weather's been shocking lately! 2 earthquakes, horrific flooding, mudslides and many injuries and deaths here in Okayama city within a space of 3wks! Hopefully you remain calm now and the worst is over!! Still in love with this city despite the weather. Friendly meticulous people, minimalist style living in a modern world and such a polite and thoughtful culture! Bring on Japanese immersion! Already learning so much! Our calm after the storm @okayamacastle Have you seen the chaos? Check out video on our story now #japantravels #traveltojapan #travelingfamily #fulltimetravel #okayamacastle #okayamacity #okayamaflooding #culturetrip #japaneseimmersion #travelgram #instatraveling #familytravel #travelers #travelmore #travelfurther #staypositive #calmafterthestorm #cantcontroltheweather #naturaldisaster #mothernature
When it comes to home comforts, "PolyAsiaNZ" claim although they initially thought they would miss their own beds, they only really miss the comfort of being close to family and friends.
"The thing we miss the most is to be able to just drive down the road to eat and hang with mum, or call our friends and family over for a feed."
As for how long they plan on being overseas, and where the journey will take them next - savvy mum Aimee says the world is truly their oyster.
"We've got options to possibly keep travelling for another year to do Europe and maybe more of Asia but at this stage, they're all just options. We're waiting to see where the wind blows us - literally."