Category Archives: Travels

How to Rent Your Home When Traveling

Traveling with kids is WAY more comfortable when you have separate bedrooms, a real kitchen and a living room. I am amazed that people even attempt to book hotel rooms for more than 2 nights. Yuck!

I have been traveling internationally for almost 30 years now. At one point, I sold timeshare. And I met the people who LOVED it. Each family member had their own bedroom and together they had a beautiful living room in which  to gather during the evenings. Plus, a refrigerator full of snacks, drinks, easy breakfasts for sleeping in and more!

I also met people who told me they would never buy timeshare because they could easily rent someone else’s property online – for cheap! That grabbed my attention.

So when my husband and I started traveling together I started searching for such luxurious accommodations. It wasn’t hard to find. Besides timeshares for rent, I also stumbled upon vacation homes for rent by owners and such. We spent our honeymoon in Mexico at a beautiful apartment with a jacuzzi on the beach for less than $80/night. I was hooked.

When we started traveling with 3+ children, a hotel did not sound like a vacation!

Our first big challenge was to complete a 6 week road trip through New Zealand with kids! Every step of the way, we stayed in homes! And as a bonus, we met fantastic people in the process!

We now also rent our home when we travel.

Sound scary? Not at all.

In fact, it helps pay for our vacations!

It all began when we moved to Costa Rica. We put our home up for rent for the year.

In preparation, we did the following:

  1. We renovated our attic so that it now has drop-down stairs, a solid floor for storage and automatic ventilation/fans to prevent mold.
  2. We put additional closets in our garage for winter jackets and sports items to create more free storage space in the house for our renters.
  3. We calculated roughly how much electricity and water would cost in our absence and included this in the rental fee to keep things simple.
  4. We downloaded a rental agreement with which we felt confident.
  5. We created a House Manual to describe everything about our home, town, neighbors, etc.
  6. We determined who we wanted to rent our home and then we searched for them.

Really, it was just a matter of making space by moving our personal items to storage.

We were very fortunate to find a family to rent our home. This meant that we could leave all the toys, games, books, potties, high chairs, etc. out for their convenience and use. For us this meant less packing! Win-win!

Many students wanted to rent our home. However, we did not want to sign multiple contracts, manage various people coming and going, or rely on one student to do this over an entire year. Plus, we did not want to have to pack away more stuff…books, toys, games, potties, high chairs, etc….

We advertised online with the local eBay and Craig’s list. We had a response very quickly as we included photos we uploaded on a website.

If you would like to rent your home, I recommend you check out the following websites:

It is easy to open an account, upload photos, manage the calendar and write your own descriptions. These are simply the online tools to help you find a renter.  Yes, they take a cut for this service. But it is definitely worth it!

Now, we are doing short-term rentals for when we travel during school vacations, ski holidays, summer break, winter holidays and more. After all, that is when other families are also traveling. So it is a fantastic opportunity to help cover our own expenses.





Sending a gift to China…

Adoption giftTwo days after our approval for adoption, I learned to crochet. Ironically, I have watched my grandmother do this for at least 35 years of my life. And not once have I learned how to do this.

So now it is time!

And wouldn’t you know – that of all the crazy things in the world – I am actually very good at it. I learned the basics quickly and was learning a new pattern by my 3rd meeting.

Yep, a little blanket completed in less than 2 weeks. Amazing! Especially as I am not crafty. Not. At. All.

So we placed this little blanket with a soft rabbit toy, a wooden car and a photo album of us into a box and shipped it to Ming.

I truly hope that he receives it soon and that it brings some comfort and familiarity to him during this upcoming time of transition. It breaks my heart how much he will have to lose before he can gain his new family.

But we are a family that understands loss, grief, healing and love. It all takes time. That’s what we are planning – to simply be parents for the rest of our lives. To walk through this and much, much more.

It’s a very exciting and overwhelming time here. We are taking many small steps to prepare. Steps to towards hope and discovery. It’s been a very long road. And now the journey truly begins…


Officially waiting!

Today our adoption file was officially submitted to the National Adoption Committee in Kenya.

The news from Little Angels Network is, “The file will be submitted tomorrow (Friday). A lot of our files were still pending at the committee and we did not want to submit more before the backlog was dealt with.  Now that they have dealt with most of the back log from last year, we feel more confident submitting the files.”

So that is good news!

Back to packing so we can go to Germany and then Costa Rica…

Starting a new chapter…

We are moving to Costa Rica!

We are starting yet another new chapter in life. A chapter that will simply unfold as we travel the path and create the story. Life truly is that way – it’s just that right now we are setting our compass in a whole new direction.

Personally, I feel the need for space – a huge pause – from Sweden. This little bubble of “perfection” (The Borg as I like to call it when in a funk) has me way too confused and frustrated. I need to escape. I need to see a more diverse world with a variety of people, interests, and real adversity. I am tired of hearing luxury problems (of which I am jealous) and kitchen renovations. I want Astrid to live in a world where an iPad and mobile phone are not on her very sincere 4 year-old wish list. There are so many things from which I simply need a break. So back out into a more real world…

Now we have officially booked our new home in COSTA RICA! Check out our new home HERE! After you take a look, let us know when you are coming to visit! We will stay in this home all of Sept and Oct.

Nordström Family Update:

We have enrolled Astrid in school at Guanacaste International Academy.  Here she will attend school in both English and Spanish. Plus, they have a half-hour of combined German and French Daily. (Why not!?) She will learn chess on Fridays. A fantastic environmental and experiential education. Woohoo!

Jonas has researched volunteer work in the region. We hope to see plenty of sea turtles and other wildlife.

JoEllen has found both a surf school and yoga center. It is TIME! Time to be strong and get back to the ocean! Time to focus energy on the inner and less on the outer world… Time to rebuild from within…

Gunnar is flying to Nairobi independently to attend school at the Nairobi Svenskaskolan. We are sooooo proud of him. He has decided to journey out into to the world on his first big adventure – SOLO! We hope to catch up with him soon as a family. Until then – “Good job, Gunnar!!!” As my first adventure was at 17 to Sweden and the USSR, I know how amazingly eye-opening and life-changing this can be. His determination and independence really shines! He is becoming such an amazing young man.

Ragna is also off on her first big solo adventure. She will volunteer with PeaceWorks. She will spend 9 months traveling around the world volunteering. Currently, Ragna is considering Costa Rica (so we can meet her there!), Tanzania (not far from Kenya!) and another program in Asia. WOW! How fantastic for her. It feels like this is the independence that she so needs and desires in life. I am sure she will shine.

Sigrid has just returned from her own big adventure to Australia with her boyfriend Fredrik. You can read a bit on Sigrid’s blog as she continues to add travel writing to her repertoire. Now she creates her next chapter in life. We don’t know if that is school, work or more travel…or a combination of all 3. All is yet to be determined. It just feels as though she got a much needed break. And that is great! Now, I am waiting for all the fantastic stories and pictures from Oz!

Kenya adoption remains on hold. No news. Meetings from the National Adoption Committee (NAC) are unannounced and unconfirmed. We think our papers are in the hands of the appropriate people but we have no confirmation. Barnens Vänner’s phone calls and emails are supposedly unanswered when/if made to Little Angels Network (LAN). Who knows what is going on? We don’t.

What we do know is that families are slowly being approved and this past month we have seen several Swedish families get their referral. We hope to join that group within the next year.

However, we have decided not to simply sit in limbo.

We choose to set sail on a new adventure.

We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails. – Bertha Calloway

Jumping Off…

ChimpWe have decided to “jump ship.”

We’re gonna go AWOL. That is, we are going to jump off our standard “life” path for awhile.

Our house is rented as of August 10 and Gunnar flies on the 15th to Nairobi to start school.

Meanwhile, the girls are adults and creating their own ways in life…

Soooo we (JoEllen, Jonas and Astrid) are going to simply run away for awhile!

And now we have a luxury problem – WHERE?

We realize that we CAN actually try to physically run away from it all (ha ha! I wish…) which is how I have been feeling for the last year and a half.

But more importantly and realistically, we can run TOWARDS a new life chapter. To consciously choose a new unknown path in life. And that is what we have decided to do!

Germany, Czech Republic, France, Greece and then – who knows! Perhaps South or Central America…South Pacific…Southeast Asia…Tanzania…? We haven’t decided, but we will keep you posted.

If you have a wonderful suggestion – send it. We will do some adventurous travel and then find a homebase with preschool for Astrid. I am thinking it would be great to learn Spanish while doing some yoga, surfing and diving… That’s my dream life.

KENYAN ADOPTION UPDATE:  As of right now, we have been told it is best to wait until we are officially approved for adoption by the NAC before we come to Kenya. Gunnar has decided to go ahead with our previous plan to arrive in August. He will live on campus in a spare room while we seek approval. So we are following the rules and waiting (patiently – ha!) to have the adoption chapter of our family life begin. IF it does… (Cross your fingers / Håller tummarna!)

Life has no guarantees. We have laid the best of plans, but…

“The best laid schemes of mice and men / Often go awry.”

Murphy’s Law.


It’s a fact.

KENYAN ADOPTION STATUS:  The adoption process in Kenya is starting up again. There are still numerous families whose lives have been on hold for over a year now. Sad and scary, especially when we think of the children’s lives that are also in limbo during this time… However, there are also those adoption applicants whom I call the “lottery winners.” These families applied in January and March of this year and have already been approved and referred at lightning speed to their child. They will leave this month for their adoption adventure and family connection. Which is wonderful!

Takes your breath away!

And makes everyone in the adoption line green with envy…

As I continue to lurk with many others in the online adoption forums and addictively check my emails or others’ post updates for news, I realize that I am wasting time and energy. My life has already been on hold and “paused” for too long now. It is best for me, my family and my child(ren) that I invest this energy elsewhere.

Find passion again.

Create a spark in life.

Inspire myself and others (especially those most important to me).

Wow – A huge, vague goal! Something that I hate to hear from others and rarely allow myself to indulge in. So it’s best I fix this. Take some time defining this goal so it is real, tangible, measurable and achievable. I seem to excel with this type of process – at least historically.

Time to do it again.

So – we’re packing our bags and jumping off for awhile…

Well, about a year or two…

Stay tuned.


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