My family are nomads, the 4 of us were born in 4 different countries and with our daughters having been born in China and the United Arab Emirates they’ve been travelling since birth to places as wide ranging as Cambodia, India, Syria and Cuba. In 2014 we took a one year long, 60,000km road trip where we drove our family car (which is so old it still has a tape deck!) from our home in the Middle East, through Iran, Armenia, Georgia and Turkey to Europe, before spending time in Morocco and then driving through Russia and along the Silk Route through the Stans of Central Asia to get back home again – it was the adventure of a lifetime. Our daughters, who were 6 and 8 at the time we started, completely loved it and embraced life on the road! This summer we are taking a very long train trip from Hong Kong to England via the Trans Siberian Railway which should be a completely different type of adventure!
When we travel we like to stay with local people – be that Casa Particulares in Cuba, or homestays in India or traditional roundhouses in China. Long term travel requires low budget options so we also camp a lot! When travelling under our own steam we tend to cook for ourselves using locally sourced vegetables and staples, but when using public transport we are huge fans of street food, especially when cooked right in front of us and washed down with a cold beer – for the parents, not the kids! ;)
Travelling the Silk Route is a long held dream of mine, and from the wild mountains and lakes of Kyrgyzstan, to the incredible architecture of Uzbekistan, to the wonderful hospitality of the people of Iran, the diversity of this ancient trading route held me enthralled constantly. We stayed in yurts, camped on the bed of the Aral Sea, were invited into people's homes, slept in caves and traditional courtyard houses. We travelled from lush green pastures, through snow-capped mountains and frozen lakes, past desert fortresses, to blue tiled mosques and spice infused bazaars. Our girls hung out with the kids of nomads and yak farmers, and other travelling families, and children where they had no shared language but the one of childhood, of playing with dolls, or a ball or lying on their tummies drawing together. We were lucky enough to spend a month each in Iran, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey and 2 in Morocco and we loved them all.
Our car broke down in Iran, outside a church, up a mountain, in a closed border area, guarded by the military, and 20km from the nearest town. It was late one afternoon as we were on our way to the border on the day our visas expired! It makes my stomach lurch thinking about all the factors that combined there to make this a truly horrible situation to find ourselves in - but people stopped to help us, they called friends, they fed us, they drove us back to the town, they found us a mechanic who then drove us an hour to another town, and back, to get a car part, then fed us again, and then ultimately, 6 hours later fixed it in the dark on what was by then a freezing cold mountain side... we made it out of the Iranian border with 15 minutes to go before our visas expired, and all because of the truly amazing generosity and help of so many wonderful people - a horrible situation became one of the most humbling reminders of how wonderful people are of our whole trip.
In terms of tips, don’t ever think that you can’t travel because you have children – kids open up so many doors for you and whilst not everyone might be crazy enough to throw their kids in the back of their car and set off driving, there are different levels of comfort so just get out there and meet the people of the world and see that everywhere you go people want to love their kids and give them a good life, just as we do.
When we stay somewhere longer term we want to see the sights and explore the backstreets and the hidden bits off the beaten track. We always want to try the local food, and often take a cooking class, especially because we’re a vegetarian family it allows us to make sure we get some authentic cuisine. And although I’m not a shopper I do love locally sourced textiles and art. We have carpets in our home from around the world, all overlapping and weaving their stories together, along with a wall of photos and souvenirs ranging from a treasured blue glazed tile from Syria, to a puppet the kids bought in Sri Lanka to a whole series of hanging evil eye charms.
Kirsty Larmour is a British lifestyle photographer based out of Abu Dhabi in the UAE. She is a nomad at heart and can be found documenting both her clients’ lives, and her own family when they are at home in the Middle East and further afield while globe trotting through places from Uzbekistan to Cambodia, and many lands in between. Her photography often involves taking pictures of her own daughters’ backs as they adventure through life (and temples, souks and rice paddies or over sand dunes). Kirsty’s approach to photography is to be present in real life moments and capture them with a little sparkle on top fueled by her obsession with pretty light.