Long Term Family Travel = Homeschool Roadschool World School
March 30, 2010
London Apple Store Oxford Circus
Long term travel, digital nomad, location independent, lifestyle design, 4-Hour Workweek, round-the-world trip, extended travel, perpetual travelers, mini-retirement, sabbatical, permanent vacation, year off ...no matter the term, if you do it as a family, education will be of primary importance. More so if you do it with children in the primary years, tweens or teens.
"Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind." Seneca
"Experience, travel - these are as education in themselves" Euripedes
"An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest" Benjamin Franklin
"I never let schooling get in the way of my education" Mark Twain
"We are educating children to have safe secure jobs in 1950.” Kiyosaki
Pink fairy doing math and Greek Myth roadschool on pink ferry between Turkey and Greece.
World travel in itself can't help but enrich and educate, but as a parent, one wants to think of the big picture and how to meet all the needs of a child, while living a free, adventurous life. We are monolinguals raising a trilingual from birth and non-musicians raising a child who plays violin and piano as we roam the world, so we have learned a few things along the way that we want to share.
I'm a life longer learner who has always had great passion for, and iconoclastic ideas about education. The lead photo may be misleading because we do not own an iphone, ipod, Nintendo DS, ipad, Kindle or Wii, and we believe in strongly monitoring and limiting our child's time online and screen time, making sure most of her time is in nature, playing and unplugged. Meanwhile, she is still years ahead of age peers in academic learning, partly because she is allowed to go at her own pace.
Writing seven chapter books at a farm stay in Verona, Italy as self led passion
It is a fine line today because of the amazing technology and 60% of all schools will be virtual by the end of the decade, so being tech savvy should be a part of the curriculum for these digital natives, but one must also educate about the addictive nature and harms. We're apple fans and love their slogan "Think Differently" thus we own two Mac laptops & one PC (and may own some of the others down the line) but we like how that gives us some boundaries to our time online as we do not want to be virtually connected 24/7 even though we live a digital nomadic life with that as our lifeline to the world in many ways.
Mozart reading books from our local library in California while on the road in Spain
I've promised you a series about education on the road, so this is the first and I plan to make an e-book with even more details (as well as one on raising a bilingual or trilingual child from birth even if you are monolingual parents). I am also working on putting all my posts on homeschooling, going to a local school in foreign country, online options. worldschooling and roadschooling under the heading of "education", so that they will be easier to find.
I'm going to start with an interview that I did for Nunomad (with a few changes) so I have that basic information on this site. We repeatedly get asked these kinds of questions so good to have them all together and easier to find.
Doing an art project in Kilkenny, Ireland with a Russian/Korean bilingual friend from North Korea
What was your initial goal for your children and family when you chose to take on a traveling/nomadic lifestyle?
Our primary goal for our opened ended world tour that began in 2006
was to educate our child and have more time together as we explored the
This is how we answered the why question on our website before we left in 2006:
“To see the world and know it more deeply, connect deeper with
ourselves as individuals, as a family and with others and experience
freedom, bliss and peace in new and profound ways with time to bask in
it and breathe it all in and serve the Lord with every step.”
It still remains just as true today!
Meeting some of the disadvantaged school kids in Harlem that world toured with us virtually
Do you feel you have achieved or that you are in the process of achieving your goal?
Absolutely! We had very high expectations, but the reality has far
surpassed anything we could have dreamed about. My daughter was 5 when
we started (but reading well at a Harry Potter level and doing school
work many years ahead of age peers in every area) and just turned 9 and
we feel she has gotten the best possible education through our travel,
homeschooling, web connections and deep immersion in her second
language, literature and culture by attending a local school in Spain
for five months every winter since 2006. It became clear before she was 5 that even
great public or private schools would not meet her needs, so our
journey was/is an out of the box way to handle that challenge.
The incredible family bonding and such rich shared experiences
through the travel has been a priceless blessing beyond words. We have
been to 4 continents, 32 countries, traveled over 175,000 miles (most
overland) and used every mode of transportation from cargo ships to
camels, stayed in a Berber tent in the Sahara, 5000 year old cave in
Cappadocia, Turkey as well as luxury hotels in Provence and Salzburg
etc. One can not experience so much together without it affecting you
We have found it such a rewarding and life-enriching family
lifestyle that we have no plans on stopping and know that it will
continue to awe us and enhance her education like nothing else could.
We are really honored that we have been chosen as a featured case study
for the new edition of the 4Hour Work Week and hope we can encourage
others to find there own way to do family extended travel!
Roadschooling at it's finest as we RV between countries in Europe
How did you deal with educating your children while you were traveling?
Books are and always have been the mainstay of our homeschool. Raise
a reader and life becomes easy because they learn so much on their own
just having fun! We bring more books on our travels than anything else
and many are geared to our travel. We are bookaholics and started
reading to her in two languages daily starting in the womb!
Recently we toured Melk Abbey and the tour guide was astounded that
our 8 year old knew so much about Austrian history. When we were
touring ancient ruins in Greece and Turkey, an American teacher that
sailed with us aboard the gulet sailboat along Turkey’s Turquoise
Coast, said our then 6 year old knew more about Greek Myths than he
did! The secret? Just feeding great books before, during and after
Our basics for on the road homeschool is Singapore Math (our 8 yo is
doing 6/7th grade math), books geared to the travel like historical
fiction, Core Knowlege series (our 8yo is doing 5th grade), Brain pop,
Educational CD’s like Zoombini’s, Mathra, Zoo Tycoon,Storybook Weaver
plus journal-ing every day, book reports, lots of discussion, games,
violin & piano practice, story of the world at bedtime…plus legos
& snap circuit!
We homeschool all year and almost every day in English, so do not
have to put much time into formal schooling. We usually get it done
quickly after breakfast. Most of the school work is self directed and
my child doesn’t even think of it as school, yet when she recently took
an achievement test before turning eight, she scored well above grade
level with some areas at high school level (which confirmed that our
homeschool method was working).
We also do some online things like John Hopkin’s University’s CTY program and
Teddybears around the world , MIT’s scratch, e-libraries etc. She takes violin and piano over Skype webcam's from two amazing teachers from another continent and they use email or google wave to send us material. We will start wintering in Asia so that she can become very fluent in Mandarin Chinese starting this fall, so she has been working online with teachers over Skype to support her reading, writing, talking and numbers in that, her third language. (Funnily, while she is going to school entirely in her second language in Spain).
We also have done many service projects like the disadvantaged
school kids from Harlem, south bronx etc that come with us virtually. I
think teaching service is important!
One of our many long stops at libraries and bookstores as we roam, this library is in Finland
Do you have an opinion about the age of children and doing
extended travel? In other words, do you think there is a particular
age group that benefits most from experiencing the world?
I think that a child that is reading well is most important …more so
than age. We did lots of traveling with our child since she was 2 weeks
old, but we wanted to have a very stable environment for her first five
years so that she had a real sense of home. She still remembers that
home well and keeps in regular touch with family and friends there.
Because we tend to spend a long time in each area that we visit, we
have been delighted that our child has very clear and sharp memories of
all the places that we have been, Most of the places are not just
places for a fleeting vacation, but places that she has actually lived,
grocery shopped, befriended locals etc. We love laughing, talking about
the places we have been together and going down memory lane looking at
all our photos (75K) and videos (over 200 hours so far!!) I am grateful
that they will be past on for generations, especially when I read that
some will no longer exist in the future!
We wanted to do our serious, extended educational travel at an age
when our child would consciously remember it forever…where it would
always be a vivid part of her. Our extended travel is focused primarily
on her education, like life as a world field trip, so for our purposes,
it did not make sense to do extended travel if she did not remember it
and learn/experience in very concrete/deep ways.
Thus the ideal age depends on your reasons for doing the extended
travel. For some folks it is parent led, but ours is definitely child’s
education led. I do think that kid’s that are reading well will benefit
the most from extended travel and be able to participate much more in
the whole experience from reading menus, to reading in museums and helping out
with subway maps, guide books etc (besides books).
Lost in a book about Poland on the long train ride to Krakow, Poland
What are the most difficult aspects of extended travel with kids?
The biggest challenge for us has been books and music lessons. Our
child is a voracious reader who also plays both violin and piano. We
use to bring bag fulls home from the library every week, had a huge
home library and spent many hours every week since birth in book shops
reading and buying more books, We were also spoiled by a fantastic
musical community with superb teachers,
We have found ways around that and still spend considerable time in
book stores and libraries where ever we roam, but the opportunities are
quite different with this lifestyle. I am a big believer in “if there
is a will there is a way” so we do our best to make the most of what we
do have and stay open to out of the box solutions. Now that we have found a great violin teacher online, that has helped a lot and there are no shortages of free books online or great libraries online like our home libraries in Santa Cruz & San Jose.
Perhaps one of the most important skills needed for the future 21st
century global citizens is adaptibility, flexibility and creativity and
one learns that in spades on an extended world tour as a family!
Enjoying time in a bookstore in the UK & opportunities to find books popular in other cultures
What have been the greatest joys?
All of it! Just seeing & experiencing this beautiful planet
together as a family and meeting amazing people is incredibly life
affirming! Having the time that we have together just having fun in awe
inspiring places is perhaps the greatest dream come true.
Finding five frogs in a pond with a new friend in Vienna
Taking tennis lessons from a great pro at bargain prices in Portugal
Making art and crafts at a kid's club with friends from many nations
Making a fun club house in Spain out of a found cardboard box
Learning up close and swimming with dolphins in Portugal
Watching live performances like two operas in a Roman coliseum in Verona, Italy