“Life is a great adventure or nothing at all.” These inspiring words by Helen Keller capture the true essence of the Poole family. Mum Kirianna and dad Lachlan have been on the road almost entirely full time since the birth of their sweet son Riley. We had the opportunity to catch up with the DockATot loving mama and ask her about her family’s travels and adventures, some of their most memorable moments, and her tips for keeping a routine with an almost 2 year old on the go!
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.
We are the Poole family, consisting of dad Lachlan, who is a pilot based in Tokyo, mum Kirianna, a once-upon-a-time flight attendant, and Riley, our 22-month-old professional sleeper. We have been travelling the world and our own countries. I say countries because Lachlan and Riley are Australian passport holders and I am a New Zealander.
What are your must-haves for mama and baby when you're on the road?
Having a first aid kit helps my anxiety. A decent travel stroller or baby carrier can save your arms and back. And the DockATot to provide a consistent and familiar spot when there is literally nothing else consistent when you’re traveling. We used the smaller Deluxe DockATot when Riley was a baby and have graduated to the toddler sized Grand DockATot when Riley was about 7-8 mths old. He just loves it! It's his cosy spot to rest and snuggle wherever we are. And because it's so easy to remove the cover and wash it, we can keep it fresh and clean on the road.
We think Riley lives an extraordinary life! That’s what our good friend and life mentor calls it when you step outside the “norm” and live the life you love with passion. Riley has … well, challenged us as his parents to a world exploration face-off. We’ve visited 33 countries with him and that’s not just quick stops. He has hiked and swum in these countries, and played in all of their sandpits and swung on their local swings.
Now, only months before his second birthday, he can add crossing the Nullarbor in a split-screen kombi to his little traveler's resume. We think he is an impressive little guy! And we are proud as punch to be his parents! Some days Riley has entertained himself for hours in the back seat of the kombi with his own mini toy kombi and a few LEGO pieces, chatting away with brrrrms and mooos after seeing the occasional roadside cow – and, yes, eating many ‘Natural’ snake lollies ... you only live once, right? ;) He has happily played at beaches and used his imagination under the campsite trees. His little smile is extended to anyone who comes his way, and every car that passes receives a giant queen-like wave; it’s clear our lifestyle fits him well.
I’ve contemplated a more routine life, with daycare and structuring his life with planned dinner times and scheduled play dates. But then I see his face as dad approaches in Izzie (our kombi). His eagerness for our next adventure is clear to see, and I realize we only get one life and one childhood, and these moments are exactly what we are supposed to be doing together.
We are stumped when people ask ‘Why?’. Why not see all you can possibly see, drive endless roads with seaside views, sleep under the stars, explore your homeland and eat where and when you choose. There is no greater feeling than freedom.
Our motivation is Riley. Before Riley, we would sleep in, stay up late ... now, with an energetic boy, we are up at the crack of dawn. He bounces into a new day and, as parents, we want each day to be fun and exciting, even on those travel days.
Sounds you guys live an extraordinary life on the go! Does your family travel full time?
I would say Riley and I are full-time travellers with dad heading to work in Tokyo. We are based in Japan and, to be fair, it’s our only home address where we can unpack and where Riley has all his toys. When we are home, we soak up the days with friends, lots of home cooking and playtime with friends.
What was it like the first time you travelled with Riley?
Riley was 4 weeks old when we first travelled internationally. We were heading to New Zealand for my grandfather’s 80th birthday; we were sooo excited, especially to meet everyone. It went perfectly. I guess that’s why we were so crazy to keep going. I can say the outbound flight was a little more stressful, especially with a nappy explosion to deal with 💥 and a lot of excess baggage. Knowing what I know now, I would certainly reduce the luggage. I thought I needed everything but I really only used a quarter of what I packed.
How do you maintain a routine with Riley on the road?
It’s crazy to think we even have a routine, but we do, just like any other family. During our current trip in the kombi, we wake up around 6:45, and start with coffee. Always coffee! Then we pack up Izzie, have breakfast as we go, and by the time we are ready, Riley is keen for his nap 💤. It’s always timed perfectly so that, while we are driving to our next destination, he is fast asleep and re-energising. We only drive 2-3 hours a day and always first thing in the morning so we can make full use of the day.
Tell us about the adventure you're on now.
We are so excited to be travelling the Great Australian Lap around the country in our 1962 split-screen kombi. We have no real deadline, but we’re hoping to make it all the way around by the end of the year. So far, we’ve done 7,000 kms from the Sunshine Coast of Queensland to the island of Tasmania, then crossing the famous Nullarbor – yup, camping in our 56-year-old lemon sorbet coloured vintage camper.
We packed lite to begin with; our biggest asset being our DockATot for Riley’s comfort and independence.
What's one of your best memories from your adventures?
There’s no doubt, it’s the moment Riley danced with us at sunrise in Goreme, the historic city in Turkey, a few days before his 1st birthday. And then he took his first step!
What have been the biggest challenges?
Food. It sounds crazy but my hardest battle is Riley’s palate. I know toddlers are generally picky, but it is still the most frustrating thing for me. Getting him to eat is a massive ordeal. Send help!
What an adventure you’re on, what’s next after the Great Australian Lap?
Mauritius! In need of some tropical weather, we park the camper and take to the skies. We literally just touched down in Mauritius, and it’s a destination that has been a long time coming.
The photos of your travels are unreal! What tips can you offer on capture great travel photos with kids?
I am so lucky to have a husband who is really talented at capturing candid photos of Riley and me doing authentic activities. If you do fun and interesting activities that the whole family enjoys, the photos just seem to naturally come out beautifully.
What advice would you give parents that want to travel more with kids?
I would always be honest in saying it has its hard days, but don’t sweat the small stuff. Celebrate the good times … and sleep through the bad! You don’t have to see it all; just spend those quality moments with each other doing something or anything you love.
Fun facts about you:
We are 90% winging it! Never organised.
We all share a love for ear cleaning!
And we’re massive over packers – still.
Live in (technically speaking): Tokyo, Japan
Guilty pleasure: Riley’s guilty pleasure would certainly be Nutella. For me, I cannot resist cheese and dad loves ice cream.
Favorite place you've ever visited: Bahamas, by far! Loved the clear water, the seafood … and we all loved the famous swimming pigs!
Favorite cuisine: Mexican!!! Tacos have my heart.
Place you're dying to go: Africa – I love elephants.
Can't stand: China
Camera: Canon 5D mark iii
Favorite photo editing app: Adobe Photoshop is unbeatable
While traveling, I can't live without: Moisturizer and cotton buds
Go to outfit: shorts and tee-shirt
When there's no WiFi: Saved Netflix
Mantra: Give your energy to those who dance with you. Always, always, choose kindness.
All photos c/o the Poole Family.