By Alyce Collins
THIS FAMILY-OF-THREE has travelled to ONE-HUNDRED-AND-NINETY-TWO countries in the last four years and they recently spent TWENTY-THOUSAND POUNDS on converting an old minibus to take them round the world.
Digital advertiser, Jonathan Axworthy and teacher, Megan Axworthy (43 and 35 respectively), from Buckinghamshire, UK and Ohio, USA, met while they were both working in Shanghai in 2010 and by their third date, Jonathan convinced Megan to take part in the Mongol Rally, driving from London to Mongolia in a Citroen ‘Saxo’.
The duo returned to their jobs but met up for a few driving trips, including a month driving round China. By 2014, the couple knew they wanted to see each other more and decided to go travelling full-time. In January 2015 they rented an RV and explored North, Central and South America before returning to Europe in 2017.
After two years, Jonathan and Megan paused their travels to start a family. The couple’s son was born in May 2017, and they opted for the name Atlas to encompass their love for travel. However, at just a few months old, the family spent a month in Scotland to test the waters and to feel assured that they would still be able to travel as a family.
As a result, the couple purchased an ex-mobility minibus which they named Midas for approximately £10K, before spending another £10K on the renovations until it became their travelling home which even their dog Gogi, gets to enjoy.
Jonathan has visited 91 countries, including many in Africa and smaller Pacific Islands, Megan has been to 64 countries, Atlas has seen 11 already and Gogi has been to 26 countries. The family’s total number of countries they’ve visited goes beyond 190, with many more to come.
Despite travelling the world in their converted bus, Jonathan and Megan uphold an important routine for Atlas, as they highlight the significance of Atlas’ daily naps and regulated bedtimes which give him consistency, despite the everchanging surroundings.
“Jonathan worked in London for seven years in digital advertising before moving to Sydney in 2007 followed by Shanghai in 2010,” Megan said.
“I came from the other end of the spectrum, growing up in a small town in the middle of nowhere. After finishing university, I didn’t know what to do with myself until I got a job teaching English in China.
“We were both working in Shanghai and on our third date Jonathan mentioned taking part in the Mongol Rally to me. This trip took six weeks and we managed to survive in a tiny car, driving for 10 hours a day. We realised that this is what we’d rather spend our time doing.
“We naturally saw each other during the next few years but didn’t decide we wanted to live together and go travelling full-time until the middle of 2014. We agreed that we would do a couple of years in North, Central and South America to begin with.
“During that trip, we got married in San Francisco and decided we wanted to start a family. Unfortunately, it was the height of the Zika virus outbreak, so we felt it best to come back to Europe which we explored for a year before settling back into the UK.
“Atlas was born in May 2017 so during my pregnancy we paused our travels. When Atlas was a few months old, we did a small test trip for a month in Scotland. This gave us confidence that we could get back on the road full time which led to the purchase of our current vehicle, Midas.
“After our RV experience in America and Mexico, we wanted another one which was a bit stealthier, which blended into traffic so we could spend the night on the roads without being too obvious.
“We settled on an ex-mobility minibus which has the same height as a high-top van so we can easily stand up in it, but it has a bit more width than a standard van. It has a side entry door as well as double back doors, plus it’s an automatic so it’s a bonus when crawling through cities.”
Two-year-old Atlas has already visited France, Switzerland, Italy, Albania, Greece, Tukey and parts of the US, and Jonathan and Megan believe he’ll have seen at least 10 more countries within the next six months.
Travelling has helped the family appreciate every moment spent with each other and they get to experience things they might never see otherwise. However, part of their success on the road stems from the strict schedule they maintain when it comes to Atlas’ naps and bedtimes.
“Four beings in a cramped space is difficult, but when we’re inside and parked up, everyone has their spot to ensure peace,” Jonathan said.
“We have a convertible bed that can push into a U-shaped sofa, with space for a table in the middle. As Atlas is still a bit of a messy eater, he tends to eat at the front – he has a small collapsible seat he sits in.
“Bedtimes and mornings are when it’s most challenging. As Atlas’ bed is so close to our bed, he can take a while settling down. As such, we usually have to sit in the dark for 30 minutes to an hour until he falls asleep, before we can turn the light on. The hour between seven thirty and eight thirty is usually spent in silence.
“We try to avoid spending too much time indoors, to escape any potential cabin fever that can lead to tantrums. We’re always on the lookout for a play area or beach so we can let Atlas run about first, before we then do any sightseeing or drive any distances.
“Although, Megan and I run a tight ship in terms of Atlas’ sleep pattern. We’re always back for his naps in the afternoon and in time for his bedtime routine each night. We still try to make sure he has consistency and routine as that’s how children thrive.
“He’s probably too young to appreciate the extent of our travels, but we hope it’s having a positive influence on him. We want him to appreciate how lucky he is and to understand that the world is an amazing place, with so much to see.
“Megan was a teacher in China for five years so we’re confident we can give Atlas an early schooling, but it’s the interaction with other children that we feel is most important for his development. We feel he will get more of an education on the road, but we also don’t want to deny him the social element of going to school.
“Being on the road has a calming effect, as just looking out of the windows of the van, whether over a beach, a mountain or a supermarket, we can take a minute to appreciate how fortunate we are.
“It’s easy to get caught up doing something you don’t enjoy, simply because society tells you that’s the norm. Then the years just slip by.
“We don’t need many material possessions, a fancy car or a big house. When we lived in our house when Atlas was first born, an Amazon package would arrive every day, with some unnecessary gadget or junk that we felt we needed. Living in a small space, quickly makes you realise how little you need in life.”