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Hitting the Road With Young Ones, a Global Ramble

Clif Kid believes that there is a whole world out there meant for the exploration of curious minds of kids. The outdoors are not only the best place for fun adventures and to let imaginations run wild, but it is also a place to discover, learn and grow. We partnered with the Cole family during their year of travel, or ‘global ramble’ as they like to call it, to share their experiences and advice as inspiration to embrace the outdoor classroom on your next family adventure – whether it be a road trip, simple family outing or extended international travel. Words and photos by Bryan Cole, former Clif employee and outdoor enthusiast.

After traveling back to the U.S. from Mexico on a test run family ramble one day, we drew a line in the sand for ourselves and set our sights to see the world and change things up. On or before December 2018 had been decided, and the planning had begun, with every move we made motivated by the excitement to journey into an unknown adventure.

With a firm focus on kid-friendly family adventures, we started our road trip in California and Oregon, hitting state and national parks and visiting family and friends. Because building out our van was taking longer than was anticipated, we cashed in some flight miles and made our way to Nepal for six weeks.

In true international-adventure style, we had little more than our backpacks and some basic trekking gear. We experienced incredible cultural immersion, multiday treks, mountain biking, river rafting, jungle exploration, and some solid advocacy work giving bikes and changing lives with Wheels 4 Life (a Hans Rey nonprofit). Late November, we officially moved into our van, T1NY, and headed south to Latin America. Two months in Baja, a ferry crossing of the Sea of Cortez, and now we find ourselves making our way deeper into Mexico. Starting coastal and then going colonial, our sights are set on the southern reaches of Oaxaca, Chiapas, Guatemala, and possibly beyond.

So who are we anyway?

We are the Coles: Allison, Bryan, and Fisher. We love to travel, and we love adventures and learning through new shared experiences. In many cases, our rambles are planned, but just like real life, the best ones come when we least expect them!

Allison (aka Mama)

Allison is a family practice nurse, a former flower grower/shop owner, and one heck of a mom and wife. She loves to travel and see new places, and she also enjoys keeping an organized, tidy life and living space to maximize her personal enjoyment. Easygoing, up for adventure, and sometimes a little slower to step out of her comfort zone (but almost always glad that she did), Allison often represents the voice of reason, chooses less over more, and is largely responsible for keeping the wheels on the bus and her boys in line.

Bryan (aka Papi)

Bryan is an outdoor enthusiast, born and raised in California, who revels in taking in new locales, meeting new people, and gaining new experiences. As a former CLIF Bar adventure sport and environmental marketing manager, Bryan lives, breathes, and dreams adventure and advocacy, and he fully brings this to his vision of how sees the world.

Fisher (aka The Bear)

Fisher is a curious, fun-loving seven-year-old who has been sleeping under the stars since he was six months old. Happiest when he is outdoors and on the go (like most kids), he has an incredible sense of awe and delights in the seemingly accidental education of the traveling life. And because of him, we are on this journey.

Why in the world would you want to do this?

Perhaps a better question is why not? Life is short, and this is the one we’ve got, so it made sense to go for it. Motivated by the opportunity to learn and grow as a family along the way, we knew this was something we wanted to do — sooner rather than later. Looking back at all the details to get here, we realize that it was nothing more than a decision. The rest is planning and action. Lists upon lists, “what if?” scenarios, sleepless nights, and creeping fears around finances, failure, and finding ourselves back “home” after a year or less totally broke and unemployed. And though the end is yet to be realized, so far it seems to work.

Is it easy?

The quick answer is “not even close.” Most of the time this is harder than “real life,” but “easy” is not the reason we chose this. We wanted to be stretched, pulled, and plucked from our comfortable lives in order to live it to our fullest again. While this isn’t an easy life to choose, you can do it! Ask yourself the hard questions before you decide to go, so you’ll be prepared for the speed bumps and the wishes that you could just go home or go to work to escape it all. When you choose this path, remember that you are “home” and the “work” is all here for you to do! Ready? Inspired? Scared to death? Perfect! The world is waiting for you and the only thing between your current reality and your future is the decision to go for it. Have your family meeting over dinner tonight!