Clayburn Chronicles: A Family’s Global Journey

07 May, 2024 | Blog, Interviews

Meet the Clayburn family: A clan of global explorers from the United States with a passion for adventure and discovery.

The Clayburn family main photo

From Ryan, the adventurous dad with a knack for seeking out extreme experiences, to Jennifer, the savvy mom who turned her love for travel into a successful business, each member brings their own unique flair to the family dynamic.

With teens Camden and Kingston, and London adding zest and laughter to their journeys, the Clayburn family have embarked on a remarkable worldwide odyssey, spanning four continents and countless memories on their quest to visit every country and beyond.

We spoke with Jennifer and her family about their journey. Join us as we dive into their inspiring tale of exploration and family bonds.


Tell us a bit about yourself and your family.

On the surface, we probably come across as the typical 1950’s version of an American television family… until someone asks us where our 40’ container full of everything we own is being shipped to or where we are going on an upcoming holiday.

Ryan: Hard working 9 to 5er, supportive husband/father… whose job has moved us to four continents and is the first person to request something extreme to do on holiday!

Jennifer: Stay at home mum with a “hobby” to keep her occupied outside of family life. Her hobby is actually as a small business owner of a boutique travel and event planning company with skills honed from years of being on the opposite side of the table in the hotel industry and personal traveling with kids from ages 3 to 17.

The Clayburns in Egypt

Camden, 17: Eldest son who is family-focused, nostalgic for tradition, and task oriented… growing up as an expat on the road, he is happily paving the road to his future with travel at the moment.

Kingston, 16: The middle child, the fulcrum, and best go-with-the-flow son/brother you could hope for… with an adventurous spirit that is usually the first to climb to the top of the nearest hill, mountain, or other peak. Self-described: “always the adventurous kid”. Fuelled by both my passion for physical activities and the pursuit of novel experiences, I continue to embrace travel while seizing the moment.

London, 14: The youngest and only girl with enough spice to stand up to her brothers but lots of sugar to go around too. She keeps us laughing along our travels.


How did your love for travel emerge? 

Our travel path has been quite organic as our family has grown, relocated, and changed.

Ryan is the original driving force of our international travel. I wanted to laze on the beaches in Pacific Ocean while Ryan suggested a more adventurous honeymoon – spending two weeks with an actual paperback guide book and the help of actual tourist offices, catching the next train to anywhere between London and Rome. 

Just after we were married and coinciding with Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, we moved away from our hometown and family for my work in Atlanta (our first relocation). In a span of three years we had three babies and we were always on the road to visit family or the kids tagged along for domestic work trips for both of our jobs. With our home base in Atlanta GA, we explored the US East Coast from Key West to Bar Harbor. 

The Clayburn kids

Ryan’s work was the reason for our next move to Tulsa OK (Relocation No. 2). We made amazing friends that we still have today, many of them in a similar situation as transplants away from family. With those amazing friends came fun group vacations together.

With our family still nearby, extended family trips were also a constant. The kids used their first passports for a trip to Canada, followed by an Alaskan cruise with our extended family. These passports were then used for our next move to Switzerland (Relocation No. 3). At ages 3, 5, and 6, this is where the kids truly began consistent international travels.

Clayburns with an elephant

Camden feels that his love of travel developed from the love of domestic trips as a child. “The hotel, beautiful scenery, and the feelings created. The sense of calm, excitement, amazement. In the future, those same feelings have been felt through international culture, food, and landscapes.”


What is the secret to maintaining a work/life balance while also travelling with your children?

With Ryan’s work relocations, we have had the opportunity to explore the US and the world one region at a time… excluding Africa and Middle East which have been sprinkled in and will be a focus of our upcoming 6-month plan. Both of our works have included their own travel schedules so it is also easy to occasionally add on a weekend for the family.

While living in Switzerland and working in Liechtenstein, we had a couple years to focus on Europe. I had left the hotel industry by this time. With my travel company in its infancy, I could focus on the family’s first international transition from mere transplants to global expats.

Clayburn family


We were immersed in a new language and culture, embraced hiking and snowboarding, celebrated Swiss National Day, took scenic trains, etc. Every school and work holiday was a chance to take a train, flight, or road trip outside of Switzerland to neighbouring countries. It was culturally appropriate to not bring work home and your out of office message was taken seriously. The number of public holidays is also a positive influence on everyone’s work/life balance in many parts of Europe. 

A move back to the US, this time to Dallas (Relocation No. 4, if you’re still counting) was just far enough west for us to explore all the way to the Pacific Coast. Ryan had to readjust to the US work culture of longer work hours, bringing home work, and fewer public holidays.


The family vacation was occasionally cut short with Ryan returning to work while the kids and I continued until the last day of school holidays. During one summer national park trip, we left our cute covered wagon early and dutifully dropped Ryan off at the tiny airport of St George, Utah to get back to work while we continued on through Nevada before reuniting for our final weekend in California.

Clayburn family in Uzbekistan

While working and living in Singapore (Relocation No. 5), we focused our travels in Southeast Asia. We found it fascinating that every flight from our new home country was an international one. Singapore’s Changi Airport is still number one in our opinion. Every city, state, country in the region are unique but this felt the furthest from home both geographically and culturally. Ryan’s initial business travel in the region helped us navigate more confidently when traveling as a family. 

When we moved to Australia in 2020 (Relocation No. 6, Continent No. 4, and current home), we were excited about Oceania. I would finally get to my chosen honeymoon spot. Within three months of arrival, we were in COVID lockdown for 18 months. We thought Singapore was far from home, but Australia truly feels like a world away when you consider the number of hours you spend on a plane to get anywhere.


It is possible that Australians are the absolute best at combining public holidays with personal and vacation days. Ryan follows their lead and combines his holiday weeks to overlap school holidays for our international trips.

Clayburn family in a market

Daily balance of travel and work for Ryan has been developed through working in different countries and multi-cultural teams. It’s no secret that some countries and cultures value office presence and being available 24-7, while other countries and cultures close their computers at 5pm on a Friday and don’t discuss work until 8am on Monday.

There are times when you find him on his laptop for entire flights working while the rest of us binge movies and television, or he may be up at odd hours in a virtual meeting while we sleep. He has also found the the only quiet spot in DisneyWorld for a conference call. He is the chameleon of international office culture and has found a happy balance of being available to work then completely immersed in our family travels. 


I have chosen an industry that travels with her and her company grows with our travels. I specialize in family and multi-generational travel. I prefer to only book destinations that we have personally experienced and tailoring holidays to each client and their family.

I think this question is actually about the balance of life and travel. This would include work, family, friends, interests outside of travel, and especially school when children are included. 

The Clayburn kids in Dubai

School: Our children are in traditional school settings and we travel exclusively during school holidays. To ensure we didn’t miss domestic travel in the US while living there, we were rebels when they were young and in primary school and stretched beyond school holidays. We actually received a letter from the district attorney while living in Tulsa about our Kindergartner’s absences. In the final stretch of Years 9 through the 11, the scale leans towards school and exams, which means we have to truly maximize time in each destination.


Family: To ensure we remain connected to family, they are a part of our travels. While we lived in the US, most of our trips were multi-generational road trips. In Atlanta and Dallas, we were only a six to eight hour drive from them and saw them often. Even after moving overseas, our family visited us for International holidays so we were able to keep strong connections and the group travel spirit alive. Grandparents, aunts, and uncles in tow was so normal for us, they have been noticeably missed since we moved the furthest away from the US.

During COVID, our extended family further settled into their own rhythm of life including retirement and we remained locked inside Australia. Ryan’s sister still travels with us to the farther-flung locations and we have been home to see our family. We are grateful that we maintained such a strong connection through travel that after nine years of leaving our hometown we only just now understand what it means to truly miss them. 

The extended Clayburn family

Friends, Interests, and FOMO: Making new, lasting connections while constantly traveling can be difficult. Thankfully we have a home base to nurture friendships and interests. Both Camden and Kingston have played football (soccer) since they could walk. Maximising their sports potential and being present for their teams while traveling frequently isn’t easy.

London doesn’t always want to leave her boxing gym or friends to travel to the more difficult countries. FOMO is real. Fear of missing out on what’s happening at home. Fear of missing out on what happens during travel. Now that the boys are older they choose to prioritise travel while not losing the love of the sport. London now recognises that our travels have steered her character to include openness and resilience.

The Clayburns in Moscow

Kingston summarises it best: Maintaining a well-rounded life is important to me, encompassing school, soccer, friendships, and travel. It is important to communicate with my coaches regarding holiday departures, in turn they give me workout plans for the duration of my holiday, often consisting of bodyweight training and running exercises. I make use of hotel gyms whenever available, but staying fit isn’t a challenge with the abundance of hikes and walks during vacations.

Balancing schoolwork and travel demand foresight; I aim to complete assignments before departure or bring them along, stored on my iPad or phone. This not only occupies me during flights but also ensures I stay on track academically. As for friends, they understand my holiday commitments, and I catch up with them upon my return, often managing to meet friends in different states during layovers, like a recent stop in Brisbane between Nauru and Papua New Guinea.


Are your children actively involved in the travel planning process? To what extent would you say your itineraries are child-based or adult-based and why?

I do think that children can be involved in the planing process by initially giving them options to choose from and eventually doing their own research on a destination as they get older. 

For us, the family has always trusted the trip will cover all the highlights while considering our individual desires. I do the majority of the planning. Everyone’s style travel can evolve so having one person looking after activities, rest days, etc takes the stress out of discussing every decision.

Now that they are older and have their own opinions of what they want to see and experience, they do provide input and suggestions. By involving them in the planning (no matter how small) they feel included from the beginning, understand the expense of choices, and are put on a path to plan their own trips later in life. We have a goal that each child will plan a family trip for us as a celebration for an upcoming milestone – Sweet 16, High School Graduation, or Turning 18. Camden is already planning Iceland for 2025.


I think all travel with children is at least minimally driven by their needs. Pretending they are adults and not considering their needs or wants will only lead to tears for everyone. You have to consider the availability of diapers for babies, playgrounds to release the energy of toddlers, and wifi for teens. We have always wanted our family’s travels to be balanced: experiencing new places and cultures in age appropriate ways.

Jennifer Clayburn and her children

In practice, our children will probably say our itineraries skew towards the educational, adult-end but we really have sprinkled in amusement parks, left the dinner table to play soccer with the locals, and started a tradition (when we realised how expensive McDonald’s was in Switzerland) to have one meal at McDonald’s in each new country as a break from escargot or crickets.

They understand that we are balancing educational value and the availability of fun activities. While most of our activities now lean more towards what adults typically enjoy, it’s because they are treated as young adults, recognizing that they are all teens now and can appreciate a broader range of experiences.


Can you tell us a couple of funny stories involving your travels which you always remember.

A lot of family travel involves inside jokes, moments where “you had to be there”, or potentially embarrassing moments “never to be mentioned again”. We are always quoting our extended family from previous trips or reminiscing about silly moments.

Clayburns at Mt Rushmore

Two baby stories come to mind and names have been changed to protect the guilty parties.

Lesson learned: ALWAYS change diapers before setting out on a hike. You never know how long you will actually be exploring and your sweet baby, safely traveling in their carrier may turn your white shirt yellow.

On another trip when they were young, for some reason, we wound up on separate flights home – each adult with one or two children. Ryan and one of the kiddos was upgraded to business class (gosh we miss domestic US flights that upgrade based on status alone). They had trouble getting the jetway connected upon landing and our little waited too long to get to the bathroom. Their first business class experience will forever be peeing their pants.


Did you know The Netherlands has ninjas? We drove from Switzerland to The Netherlands over Easter week when the kids were around 4, 5, and 6. When we were visiting Amsterdam, our car was broken into overnight. Luckily not much was taken and the hotel was really great about helping us tape up the window for before driving home. The kids convinced each other that ninjas broke into the car since they like the dark. Amsterdam is now know as the city of ninjas.

A more recent story is about our incredibly dedicated guide in Japan. We scheduled a guide for multiple days in Tokyo. Some of us weren’t feeling well so we cancelled one of the days at the last minute. While we mulled over who was staying and who was heading out on their own, the guide stopped by the hotel with some vitamins and juice. Later as some of were out, we ran into our guide again outside of a sumo stable. We were telekinetically linked. There was no escaping her, nor her us.


In terms of destinations, we assume you may not always agree. So why doesn’t every Clayburn family member tell us one of their favourites and why they liked it.

It’s incredibly difficult to focus in on ONE favourite. Luckily, and not surprisingly, none of us have chosen the same place.

London: One of my favourite countries is Japan. I love the food there and walking around each city exploring includes a lot of fun surprises, both historical and modern. Going from city to city on the Japanese train lines was really cool too. We were there around Christmas time with extended family which enhanced the experience. One of the Christmas traditions in Japan is to get KFC for Christmas dinner/turned Valentine’s date. I was a little shocked when I found this out but also wanted to live the culture while there. It really was busy at KFC so went went with takeaway KFC for Christmas dinner.

The Clayburn family

Kingston: It would be too hard to pick one favourite although there is one I would consider towards the top of my list, Morocco. Morocco is one of my favourites for a variety of reasons including food, vibe and the hotel we stayed in. While in Morocco we stayed in Marrakech, we arrived late and got to where we were staying, which was a riad. This hotel felt like a home away from home. We each got to pick our own room which was nice since I volunteer to sleep on the couch to give the family space in normal hotel rooms.

Then we had a cultural dinner made by the owners of the riad, which was pleasantly flavourful. As for the city itself it has a very nice vibe to it, with a very active and eventful population. While the architecture is very aesthetically pleasing with its arches spread throughout the city and nice tilework, Marrakech’s medina, with its labyrinthine streets and centuries-old structures, is a treasure trove of architectural wonders, featuring mosques, madrasas, and traditional riads with tranquil interior courtyards.

The city’s colour palette, ranging from warm terracotta to vibrant blues and greens, adds to its visual allure and blends seamlessly with the surrounding desert landscape


Camden: After narrowing it down to Norway or Egypt, I’ve chosen Egypt because I really wanted to visit and it lived up to all expectations. Seeing the history in the pyramids and temples and experiencing their culture during Ramadan was really great. While many find it touristy, we found a lot of authenticity. Tips and touts are part of Egyptian tourism so we took that part in stride. We took a small dahabiya along the Nile. The crew were a big part of the positive experience – jumping into the Nile while we were tiptoeing in the freezing water, our dinner and their Iftar at the same time with the most amazing food.

 Clayburns in England

Jennifer: I can’t stop thinking about Mongolia. It is 100% authentic. It is one of the few places we didn’t see another tourist the entire time. We are occasionally guilty of only experiencing big cities when we are pressed for time. Outside of Ulaanbataar is simply amazing. Nomadic families sharing their goat feast with us, practicing with the bow and arrow, and finding time to kick around the soccer ball when we stop for a roadside lunch.

Ryan: Czech Republic is my favourite. Whether a business trip or Christmas with the extended family, Prague is captivating on every level. The people, food, nightlife, and architecture leave a lasting memory.



What would you say are the greatest challenges of travelling as a family that may not be there if you travel solo or as a couple?

I think many of our challenges are similar: cost/financing, life/travel balance, priorities, and criticism/ misunderstanding from others 

A simple challenge for our family is the need for larger vehicles. If we are planning something outside of public transport, we are constantly on the look out for a giant van to pull up.

The Clayburn parents, Ryan and Jennifer

I should add larger accommodation to this list, especially for five of us. We prefer hotels to airbnbs and four is usually the magic number for a hotel room. In some destinations, the max number is 2! Airbnbs are a good option but we usually only choose them for longer stays so we aren’t a burden because on a short turnover. It’s only in recent years as teens that we have spread into two hotel rooms.

Kingston also mentioned: Recently, health and physicality have emerged as significant challenges for both my father and me, with sustained injuries such as fractured bones and torn ligaments – all from soccer. These obstacles have necessitated adjustments to our itinerary, sometimes even omitting physically demanding activities altogether.

For instance, during our trip to Micronesia, we had to forgo a waterfall hike due to the rugged terrain posing risks to our healing injuries. While solo traveler’s injury or illness can derail their plans, they only need to consider the limits of themselves, not how to alter the trip for the many based on the needs of the few.


There is an extra layer of logistical complexity when obtaining visas or booking with smaller airlines. We had to cancel a trip to Papua New Guinea because we only received four out of five visas on time. Despite lots of follow up attempts, the fifth one showed up five days after we were supposed to leave.

Clayburns on the go!

We more recently found ourselves in the Maldives airport trying to book five airline tickets with poor Internet and the station manager counting down the minutes before they closed check-in and left us behind. We were on a journey from the Maldives to Bhutan with a transit in India. Our airline insisted our onward flight had to be through them or one of their partners so it could be verified.

Our printed tickets on another airline were not sufficient. We found ourselves in a two-hour ordeal at the Maldives airport, eventually necessitating the purchase of five new plane tickets to proceed with our journey. Negotiating one exception may have been possible, but not five. So the station manager started the countdown, gave us some “better” airline desk internet, and we raced to book tickets that we weren’t going to use.

Clayburns waiting

Ryan is up early, up late, and wants to be on the go all day, every day! I am a bit of a drill sergeant about the itinerary. I have an amazing skill for ignoring everyone’s complaints when I gets everyone the airport gate three hours early. Camden is our speed walker and must see the all of the culturally iconic places. Kingston enjoys adventurous activities but equally appreciates a late start or easy day. London appreciates a temple or two but also likes to get in some shopping.

Managing our different personalities, can be stressful and there is rarely an opportunity to step away for a prolonged. Either despite this or because of this, we are still an extremely close family unit.


How do locals react to you as a family of travellers. Any good (and bad) stories to share?

Jennifer: Locals can be surprised to see children, but children are magnets for social interaction. Children seem more approachable so locals are open to us. Children are also curious and seek out connections through conversation or play without thinking much about it first. Nothing opens up a conversation like a curious child.

Clayburn kids snowboarding

Older kids lose this sheen and start to be treated like adults but there are still grey areas of greatness. The boys joined in on a soccer training of younger boys in Timor Leste and it was fun to see them included while also also being respected and appreciated as the older ones. Older kids can partake in more adult conversations – one recent conversation was with some elder men in an African village that gave us each a Ghanaian name.

Regardless of age, as parents we are constantly aware and on guard of anything that may be stressful or threatening. There is a need for balance of friendliness and over-interaction.


London: When we travel to less touristy countries people are more interested in us. They want to know more about us. I remember in Saudi Arabia, we were walking on a pier on a tour, and someone came up to my dad and the tour guide and asked to take a picture. The guy took a picture with my dad and then one with my whole family in it. Suddenly there was a short line for photos with us. Not everyone walks up and takes a picture with us, sometimes its a hidden snap from a distance. For me being so young I was really interested in why they would stare and take pictures of or with us, now I know why and I find it quite interesting and cool. 


Have you met other travelling families on the road? 

Thankfully because our travels originate with relocation, we have met some amazing families in our relocations. They are all fish out of water (outside of their hometown or home country) and most of them are taking advantage of their new home to explore the area. A fond memory comes to mind of two families with a combined number of seven children on a road trip to a waterpark, all the kids under ten years old… and later doing it over again when the kids were teens.

Another one is of two moms, escaping to an Italian lake together, each with their own three kids stacked in the van (yes, that is eight of us in all), ending the evening with gelato. We are also grateful for friends that prioritise adult time on family vacations during an escape to Mexico with three families.

The Clayburn kids in Corsica

For a while, outside of relocation connections, we felt alone in the world of constant, prolonged, or extreme travel as a family with children. 

While I don’t deem myself fit to homeschool, the world-schooling community feels familiar. They have a lovely online Facebook group that normalise extensive travel with children as a source of education. They have been a resource for educational or service aspects for our own itineraries. 


And more broadly, are you in contact with other families and what have you learned from them? (and perhaps are there online resources you consult on this theme?)

We follow other traveling families on Instagram. Most recently, I found GrowingUpWithoutBorders who have similar aged children and similar, extreme destinations as us. If we aren’t learning from other traveling families, I hope by following them we are at least showing support of the idea of family travel.

A female-driven platform is MOMs (Girls LOVE Travel) on Facebook that help each other with all aspect of family travel.

Clayburn kids on the road

The main takeaway here is that we aren’t alone in our desire to travel the world as a family with children. By reaching out and asking questions or helping with answers when we can, we stay connected to like-minded people.

Outside of these groups, when we see other families with children (especially in extreme locations) we usually just find ourselves staring in amazement. We need to take a lesson from our own desires and say hello.



What are your plans in terms of online presence and how you present your travels to the world?

I remember when Lexie Alford achieved the Guinness Record for youngest person to visit every country. I combed through her socials and website wondering how she managed the more extreme destinations as a young, often solo, US citizen. She didn’t have any how-to videos of her travels and I was a little upset that she didn’t just have a written list of instructions for us to follow. I have now realised that travel requirements, contacts, restrictions, and experiences are ever-changing. As soon as you write a blog post or post a video, it could be out of date. To avoid spreading disinformation, we have decided to only provide inspiration. 

Ryan and Jennifer Clayburn

During our first international relocation, we had lofty goals a while ago to start a photography blog of our travels so our friends and family could keep track of where we are in the world. As we got busy with life, they had to settle being bombarded by our private social accounts with travel pics.

I spent a long time mulling over a public family account for a few reasons. A faceless commenter online can be bold in their criticism. I wasn’t sure if we wanted to open ourselves up to that or how we would respond. With the idea that our children would actually be producing some of our content, would others remember that they aren’t professional content creators? 

London Clayburn rock climbing

Will our travel memories age gracefully? Would the kids look back at what we put out there and see their growth or see embarrassment? While the well-meaning travel aesthetic social post is beautiful and it can inspire travel, it can also provide an incomplete narrative and create false expectations. How do we document our journey honestly?

For now, we do have public Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok accounts to share our adventures. I am the photographer so some of the content may be the same on all platforms. Camden presents content on our family Instagram, with London in charge of TikTok. It’s all about new skills for them to develop while figuring out how they want the world to see them and us.


What is on your travel bucket list for the next six months or so?

We are all hoping to get to every UN country together before our kids start university.  Camden was hoping to get there by age 18 but that is in August and we still have 45 to go while only traveling during school holidays. He has settled on achieving it before graduating high school. 

The young Clayburn boys

Our remaining countries are spread across five continents so our list is quite varied. North Korea is on Camden and Ryan’s lists, but we will have to become citizens of another country before booking that tour. Ryan always loves a return to Europe and we will be in Malta at the end of the year. Camden is especially looking forward to Madagascar and Iceland. London has Seychelles high on her list. Kingston is excited about Southern Africa. I am most curious about Pakistan.



Finally, we have a signature question – if you could invite one person (fictional or historical can count too) to dinner, who would you invite and why? If you all have a go at an answer, there will be seven for dinner!

Ryan: I chose a being, but not a person. Imagine inviting an alien to dinner. If they show up, you have proven intelligent life beyond Earth. Getting close to visiting every country in the world usually begs the question “What next?” Our new alien friend might be able to help us answer that question. Imagine being a tourist on another planet!

Jennifer: I am having a hard time choosing between my maternal and paternal grandfathers. My maternal grandfather was the smartest man I knew as I was growing up. I’d love to share what we have seen in our travels and have some conversations with him about where we have been. My paternal grandfather was stationed in the Pacific Theatre during WWII. Our travels have focused extensively in this area in the past couple years and I still feel like I know too little about him and the war in the Pacific.

The Clayburn kids in Cyprus

London: I would invite Sofia Vergara because I think she would have a lot of good stories to tell from her past. As the storyteller of our family, I also think she would be really interested in the stories I have to tell. Perhaps our stories from our long trip to Central and South America last year would connect with her too. I made some good friends that helped me with my Spanish so I could practice some with her as well.

Kingston: If I could invite one person to dinner it would be Percy Jackson. From a young age, I have taken an interest in both Roman and Greek mythology, including the Percy Jackson books by Rick Riordan. As a demigod who has faced gods, monsters, and Titans, his stories would be very exciting. There would be exciting discussions on mythology, history, and contemporary issues. Percy’s unique personality would also allow for exciting conversation as he is very witty and humorous.

Camden: Loki might just be the ultimate traveler – World traveling, Planet traveling Universe traveling, Time traveling, Multiverse traveling, God that can shape-shift into anyone and experience the world from their shoes. Have a seat, tell us your stories.

The Clayburn family at the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia

You can follow the incredible travels of the Clayburn family across social media on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.



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