GTPulse: Trading in Exploring the World For Exploring Home

The Lutz's spent most of their time as a young family travelling the world. Last year posed a challenge to their calendar, but they made do in the place they call home.

After a long day grinding away at their fast-paced jobs, Ben and Kelly Lutz would find themselves sitting in busy San Francisco traffic, daydreaming about their new, little daughter Liesel who awaited them at home. 

“Liesel was born in 2016. We had a little bit of maternity leave for Ben and a maternity leave for me. I went back to work when she was about four and a half, five months old. And right before I went back to work, we went on our first trip as a family to Hawaii, which was wonderful,” Kelly said.

But returning to work still led to daydreams of a different life. The days spent away from Liesel became the catalyst for upheaving their lives in favor of a way of living that would afford them more time with her. So, they ditched their jobs and started traveling the world.

Photo by Ben Lutz

“We had moved out to California, so it was expensive. And we were both working long hours.  Daycare costs are just astronomical and our mortgage was astronomical,” Ben said. “So all that put together, it felt like we were working our life away. She’s growing up so fast, and we’re paying a bunch of money for other people to watch that happen, and we were far away from her grandparents. So at that point in time, we said, ‘Okay, we just need to reevaluate our lives and reset what’s important.’ We knew that we were going to eventually move back to Michigan to be closer to the family. But in the meantime, we had this weird opportunity where we’re in between jobs in between homes, and we love to travel. You know, let’s reward ourselves for the hard work we’ve done the last 15 years, take a little break, and then reset for the next chapter of our lives.”

Photo by Ben Lutz

So for a full year, the trio traveled across the world. Together they saw 22 countries and gained a fanbase on social media. People who were living similarly, or had dreams to, started following along with the Lutz’s journey through Instagram, YouTube and Facebook. International travel may sound intimidating to new parents, but for Kelly and Ben, they found it surprisingly easy. So easy, that they’ve traveled more internationally than domestically.

“It’s a lot harder than air travel,” Kelly said.  “Because when you’re in a car, she’s just kind of stuck in a car seat all day. So honestly, for us, airplane travel we found to be a little bit easier because she can get up and walk through the cabin as long as it’s safe to and she just really behaves well on the airplane.”

The family welcomed baby Mason last year in March. They celebrated beforehand with a babymoon in January to Jamaica just before the rest of their travel plans would be canceled. A month-long euro trip in May was postponed, as well as an autumn trip to Southeast Asia. With much of Liesel’s early life surrounded by travel and adventure, Ben and Kelly aren’t the only ones who have felt the difference.

“She doesn’t really ask us why we’re not traveling. But it’s funny because she’ll put on her backpack sometimes and run across the house. So she still does like funny little things that she picked up from our travel days. One of the things that we’ve actually got criticisms for traveling so much when she was younger because people will say, ‘Well, she can’t remember it,’ But she’ll bring up things and people that she met when she was only like two years old once in a while or she’ll talk about certain things in certain places and ask do we remember that?”

Photo by Ben Lutz

A new baby has been a blessing for the Lutz family and a happy distraction for Liesel. For a family that’s always on the go, 2020 could have been a dull year. Instead of letting the gray doldrums get to them, they made their own fun right here at home.

Ben owns his own photography and videography studio. Part of what drew their large social media following was some of the travel photography that he displayed through the Funemployed social channels. Their followers didn’t miss out on inspiring views, however. He focused his lens on Northern Michigan and his family and showcased the beauty of lakes, peninsulas, beaches, nature, and his little family. Followers from across the world were introduced to the beauty and fun that can be found in Northern Michigan, even during a pandemic.

With a new home in Traverse City, they spent many of their 2020 days at the beach taking in the sky and lake blues. They made trips to visit grandparents down in Grand Haven, and Liesel got on a balance bike for the first time. Even in a quiet year at home, big little moments were still enjoyed.

“Making sandcastles, coloring, playing games, interacting together, it’s fun to do those things while you can before they get too cool for you,” Kelly laughed. “It’s really great that we’ve been able to spend this much time together as a family.”

Their plans may have changed, but the Lutz’s have shown that they know how to make anywhere feel like a vacation, including the place they call home. Follow them on Instagram at thefunemployedfamily, and to learn even more about their adventure, watch their interview here.


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Categories: GTPulse