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Can Globe Trotting Location Independent Kids Have Friends?

May 18, 2010

hugging girls spain, globe trotting, location independent, global nomad kids! TCK,


One of the big concerns about long term family travel, location independent living as a family, extended family sabbaticals abroad or round-the-world trips with kids seems to be a worry about how that will affect their friendships and the social life of both the kids and the parents. So far, this has not been a problem for us and in fact, we find our global nomad lifestyle enhances all of our relationships. We see it as a great advantage to us as a family and for our child. Vagabonding with kids rocks!

"Travel, particularly international travel, exposes families to different lifestyles that, intrinsically bring families together" Dr. Nicholas Levy M.D.

Being a global nomad family DOES take a different perspective about life than the typical status quo, but if you are a natural non-conformist, you will embrace it all and see the many advantages for your kids. It is really about choosing freedom and understanding time is wealth. I love this old quote by Paul Terhorst, author of Cashing Out on the American Dream,  who has been a permanent traveler for over twenty five years.

In summary: if you distrust government and other institutions, can live without lots of stuff, and like the freedom of E-mail and the internet, you may well be a candidate for PT ( Perpetual Travel).

Today's world is very different than the so called  "third culture kid's" that was coined by a woman who raised kids in India in the fifties. Technology makes things very different today when even very young kids can webcam-call relatives and friends around the world  for free from their laptops or smart phone and ubiquitous worldwide pop culture permeates even remote areas of the globe. Many global nomad travelers and expats today are not just military, wealthy business people, or missionaries (who usually stayed quite separate from the cultures they lived in), but a whole new breed who are finding new ways to live abroad!

Cute BFF! Spain, globe trotting, location independent, global nomad kids! TCK,

PJ party Spain, globe trotting, location independent, global nomad kids! TCK, 


2 cute kids in white village Spain, globe trotting, location independent, global nomad kids! TCK,

Some people commenting on the New York Times ' Frugal Traveler's article about us wondered if Mozart had any friends and some parents think you can't do extended travel unless you go to an expensive international schools, spend a fortune and basically try to recreate the exact same life that you had at home.

Really? If I wanted to create the exact same life that I had at home, why would I travel abroad? It's funny because I see a "normal life" as a much bigger threat to my child in today's world. There are just so many different ways to view life and what is best.

Do you think after waiting nine long years to have a miraculous child and choosing this lifestyle primarily for her benefit, that we would continue this lifestyle if it wasn't amazing for all of us? Why? We can live anywhere and being together, as well as her education are the primary reasons why we do this. For us, it's co-creating heaven on earth together. We are thrilled that we can also live large on just 23 dollars a day while we do this and add to our nest egg as we roam. We're thrilled that it has been even better at educating her than we expected and awesome for her social life.  I liked Amy's wise comment:

"I expect she's got playmates and penpals all over the world.I really can't say I see any terrific advantage to what my daughter's got, which is the oppressive Hannah-Montana-flavored pecking-order of a midwestern elementary school, with all the popularity contests and the drama of suburban kids who are your friends one day and mean the next. They don't teach her to behave brilliantly, either. Frankly, I think my daughter might well prefer the serial friendships of new playmates. I can't think of anyone from childhood I'm still tight with either."


GetAttachment-5
She Skyped Grandma in California to send Best Friends Forever bracelets to Spain and together they created a special ceremony at a sleep over in Spain with UK friend who has also lived in South Africa.

GetAttachment-1

Deciding to make their hair like twins to fool people into thinking that they are sisters

Sheep, young girls, horses in Spain, globe trotting, location independent, global nomad kids! TCK,
Walking home from school in Spain, you never know what you will see.

"In today’s busy world, days can go by without the entire family sitting down together. Mom and Dad are working, there’s play rehearsal, soccer practice, doctor appointments—and we lose touch. Traveling together gives everyone a chance to get reacquainted." Cynthia Harriman

I think schools are in trouble today and we wanted an alternative lifestyle and education with all the advantages of a fluent multilingual & multi-cultural childhood education and greater bonding time. I  have some real fears about the over consumption, non-connected Hannah-Montana-flavored-pecking-order no-time culture and what it does to kids and families. I think schools tend to breed mediocrity and teach compliance. I agree with Seth Godin's posts about schools, like "It's easier to teach compliance than initiative".  We study trends and try to stay ahead of the curve and prepare for the future.

"The future belongs to a very different kind of mind--creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers, and meaning makers. These people--artists, inventors, designers, storytellers, caregivers, consolers, big picture thinkers--will now reap societies richest rewards and share it's greatest joys." Daniel Pink

Interestingly, as I was writing this, my Facebook friend Abby sent me a video link and said, "This movie trailer makes me wish every child could have a Mozart-style education." This is an important video "Race to No Where" made by many experts on education and this is exactly what I do NOT want for my child and one of the reasons we left and purposely choose to do things differently.

 

 

    3 kings festival Spain, globe trotting, location independent, global nomad kids! TCK,

Celebrating and participating in festivals with school mates in Spain is multi-cultural lessons at it's best!

 

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Teaching her English best friend about American girl dolls at one of many sleep overs in Spain.

GetAttachment-3 

Making art for their Best Friends Forever ceremony. Yes, that is a world map on our unwatched TV. 

 

Can a child who lives a travel lifestyle still have friends and a stable life?? Of course!  

It is truly a false fear and totally absurd to think there is only one way to raise a child or that you must live in one place forever. Some people do that and enjoy it which is perfectly fine too, but not everyone thrives on the Hannah-Montana-Little-League-soccer-mom-mini-van-fast-food-iphone  existence. We wanted to escape the downsides of such a life and to choose freedom and more time to experience the joys of life together while exploring the world.

You don't have to do global travel to move around, many American's do that and still have friends and a stable life. I moved around when I was growing up, often after just six months or a year in one place and I really thrived on it and enjoyed that. All four of us kids really liked the moving and feel it was a positive influence in our lives and made us all more independent, adventurous and contrarian thinkers. Hard to tell what is nurture and what is nature, but my lifestyle growing up helped me be a bigger risk taker and adaptable which have served me well in life.

On the other hand DaVinci grew up in one place his whole life and went to school with the same kids from first grade through senior year at a parochial school. He was very active in sports from five on ( lettered as a freshman and has gobs of medals and trophies), in his community and with his big extended family. Nevertheless, he could not wait to get out and dreamed about it since early childhood, then left as soon as he finished high school, never to return, except for family visits. He has dear friends that go back to early childhood, but they have played no significant role in his life in the twenty years that I have known him.

I think it can become a harder choice for some as children get older and more addicted to the peer-oriented school & always busy life ( that Dr. Neufeld talked about in the book Hold Onto Your Kids) but we are attachment & unschool parents, so don't think it will challenge us in the future. I moved out of state myself in October of my senior year of high school after living four years in one place.That was devastating at first, but turned out to be the best possible opportunity that greatly strengthened me and added to my life. Challenges do not necessarily have to be a bad thing. I had been very popular in high school, but felt my early jolt into reality through the move, freed me in ways from my limited high school thinking, and pushed me ahead of peers into life which was a great advantage.

When we began, I thought we might settle down in one place when Mozart hits her teen years, but now I'm not so sure as I think the whole middle school and high school years are the biggest waste for most and socially dangerous. To me, most schools looks like the worst possible choice for a bright 21st century global citizen. There are tons of expensive programs that parents pay a fortune for to give travel education to their teens or tweens and we can have all those advantages without the costs or separation.

"Interestingly, home-schoolers are now the favored applicants of some big-name universities. According to Jon Reider, admissions official at Stanford University in California, they are desirable applicants because "home-schoolers bring certain skills - motivation, curiosity, the capacity to be responsible for their education - that high school don't induce very well." Dr. Gordon Neurfeld

Maya Frost traveled and moved abroad with four teenage daughters and despite having some challenges, it turned out to have had spectacular results for each child and the whole family that led her to write the fabulous book, " The New Global Student- Skip the SAT, Save Thousands on Tuition, and Get a Truly International Education". I also really like Blake Boles ideas and experiences in "College without High School" and think Mozart will do well designing her own educational journey. Friendships never seemed to be a problem with all of the out-of-the-box teens that I have known or studied. I think Mozart learns MORE about friendships and relationships in our travel lifestyle than she would have if we stayed home and she also gets to do it in several languages!

"Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people." George Bernard Shaw


 

GetAttachment

Nail painting time and giggles!

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Two best friends forever who both play the violin!

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Playing at the Koi pond fountain on the playful walk home from school, the highlight of my day!

music, piano, violin, 2 girls, Spain, globe trotting, location independent, global nomad kids! TCK, 

Playing a duet for fun!


"The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence; it is to act with yesterday's logic" Drucker

We had no idea how all of this would play out when we left in 2006, but I did lots of research and tried to make a plan that would best serve Mozart's ( and all of ours) needs in every way. We did consider friendships and consistency and that's why we chose to have a "base" for part of the year that we would return to for several years. It's worked great in our little village in Spain, better than we ever imagined. I also had the advantage that I had lived in Europe before for a year in my twenties ( when I modeled for Ford Models while living in Italy) so had personal experience of the pros and cons like the cold, rainy winters in northern Europe that I wanted to avoid this time.

The school hours are short, the community is welcoming and small and there are a few other expats  in the school which turns out to be a good thing because they share a common bond of being from somewhere else ( England, Scotland, Italy, Morocco, Denmark, Netherlands). It would have worked fine with out any expats, but this way she gets to see kids who come to school knowing none of the language and witnessing their progress seems quite normal to her now.

There is just one expat in her grade who happens to be a boy, but  at first I did not like the idea of ANY expats, yet now I see it has been a positive. She has bonded deeply with the Spanish kids as well as the few expat families. It has been good for her to know other multi-lingual kids and she has learned about other cultures through them along with the Spanish culture.

I've heard of some families doing one year around-the-world trips who almost never ran into other kids, which always seems so odd to me. Since we mostly use our RV for travel, we always meet LOTS of kids where ever we go and Mozart really enjoys those friendships too. This experience has taught her really great skills of going up to strangers to connect, even with no language in common and letting go easily when it is time to go, whether that is after an hour, a day or weeks or months. Playing with kids from many different countries that speak many different languages in many diverse locations  over the last four years has enriched her life and global understanding immensely. Her connections also help us meet others, as families tend to connect through their kids.

IMG_3239 

GetAttachment-2

They happily made "twin" pony tail hair do all by themselves.

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"The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart." Elisabeth Foley 

Mozart has had several best friends since we have been on our world tour. Sometimes, they happen very quickly, like she is still very fond of the friend she met in Denver, even though they had just a few days together. I was surprised that on the very first day of school in Spain that she met a best friend and had her first playdate the first week. Soon she had another best friend and her first sleep over. She has met some really fantastic friends along the way, although I rarely write all the travel friendship stories, there are just too many.

Sadly, her two best friends moved away, which is the way of the world no matter where you live, although other kids come and go and I can't always keep up with the latest best friend or mean kid. She has had both Spanish best friends and expat best friends from several countries. She does a ton of sleep overs and birthday parties in Spain and on the road. She has enjoyed some after school classes like flamenco, horseback riding and ceramics with other kids, but I think family time and time for her to play on her own should be a priority, so gear our life in that way.We prefer an un-busy balanced life and also teach her skills like meditating, mindfulness and the value of NOT following the pack, but listening closely to one's own inner wisdom.

A few years ago, Mozart met a special friend in the park before she moved here and she has been her best friend ever sense and they do really enjoy each other's company.They even made a little ceremony to celebrate and cement their Best Friends Forever status.They both have other friends, but really enjoy their special bond. She lives on the other side of this village, so already they do some of their communication online or on the phone via Skype.

Just as we have nurtured her best relationships back in California, we hope to continue to nurture this relationship via webcam calls, emails and yearly visits. Will they be Best Friends Forever? We'll see. She might even come visit us in Malaysia.

Mozart is excited about going to Malaysia and starting a new school in a new language. I wonder if it will be harder this time because she is older. We will just have to see how that unfolds. If the school doesn't work out, we will just get a private Chinese tutor and connect with the homeshool group and after-school things for other kids to play with. When there are less kids around, we play with her more, so that is always nice as well. We're all pretty flexible and this lifestyle as made us even more so.

GetAttachment-4

 

 

Four years into this global nomad lifestyle and my verdict for my child is super positive, as far as  friendships and the lessons she has learned about them and relationships in our travels. They are FAR superior to what I think she would have had if we stayed at home. It is a different life, but in many ways, not so different in basic ways because we travel as a family and families take a certain grounding and routine. Sometimes I wish that I had never put her in any schools, but they have also given us some benefits, especially with the language immersion and an easy way to connect deeply to a community.

My hope is that she retains all the best things of a life in one place, few of the less good things and is enriched tremendously forever by this worldly lifestyle. So far so good ( and we do work at this goal every day) but who knows what the future brings. I believe strongly in "if there is a will,there is a way", so I think we will find a way.

 

What are your thoughts or experiences?

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Enjoying  a friends Karoke birthday party

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Participating in this year's Carnival in our village where a whole group of school mates dressed as Indians.

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Last year's going away/early birthday/pool party for Mozart with two best friends

 


 

 

 


 

 




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Susan

This post could not have come at a better time. My husband and I were just talking this morning about WHY we want to embark on a similar journey with our children. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and the quotes. Love it.

Adventurous Kate

Thanks for posting this -- I have to admit, I often wondered about how Mozart and other globe-trotting kids maintain friendships on the road, but I didn’t want to ask for fear of seeming rude. (I'm sure you get that question as often as I get "Wow, you're about to travel the world -- how rich are your parents?" I'd never want them to pay for anything!!)

I never thought about the Mean Girls/girl drama angle. I don't know if you've been following the Phoebe Prince case in the States -- here in Massachusetts (where I live), a teenage girl was harassed Mean Girls-style until she committed suicide.

It's SO HARD for girls here in the states, especially. I think that avoiding that toxic environment is one of the best unexpected benefits for your daughter. And that's in addition to the wonderful education you all get abroad!

soultravelers3

Susan- I appreciate your input, thanks! Yes, knowing WHY you are going is very important as is preparing the whole family for a new and improved way of being. Despite the high tech advantage, it is also a way back to old fashion basics in some ways for us. Happy planning & happy travels soon!

soultravelers3

Kate- Never be afraid to ask a question & I know you would never be rude. It's an important topic that I've been meaning to write about for some time from our vast experience.

It's easy to assume false things about lifestyles and areas if a person has no experience....as you have found out! ;)

I agree that one has to be extra careful with girls because of the MEAN Girls/bullying type things tween girls & teens have to deal with. SHAMEFUL & sooo sad that they can lead to suicide.

If you go to a school or even after school class for kids, you don't 100% avoid it, but being in a very small village where most parents are very actively involved with their kids helps tremendously to nip any bullying in the bud.

Most parents walk to school with their kids here, so immediately you can talk to the parents or teachers and solve any problems before they begin.

I think keeping attached to your kids and protecting them from any bullying is so important as it can leave scars for life.

I thought this would be great for us, but of course you never know for sure until you do it. We're thrilled it's been better than we even expected!

You will love your world tour!

Kerry

I love this blog post! Glad we met and have life long friends - even if at a distance, with the internet to connect us - in the Soul Travelers 3. We will meet again!

soultravelers3

Kerry- So glad we met with you too and your 3 amazing kids! Wasn't that a perfect example of kids connecting & having a ball together over a short time period? All of you will ALWAYS be in our hearts and a special part of our experience. I still smile when I look at those pictures & must blog about it one of these days.

I love how you are also using the mix of homeschool and local school for language in Austria!

Yes we will meet again!

Marlana

I do not have a tenth of Mozart's experiences, but I have lived in England and Thailand as well experienced both private, public, and homeschool. These experiences have shaped my culture and world view just as my experiences with being an employee and the experience of running a business have given me a new perspective of making money.

So when people say to me, "Did you learn social skills?" or "how do you fit in with American culture?" I usually grin. I am very socialized, and I intermingle with American culture extremely well.

However, I will never think in the box because I have been bred to do my own thinking. I will never just think, "go to school, and work up the corporate ladder" because I have seen more freedom and ability to make more money outside the corporate ladder. I will never love technology or the mindless American teenage lifestyle because I have seen the value of community. I will never believe in the normal values of society and see politics from the mainstream perspectives because I have too many experiences to draw upon.

And that's okay! I'm glad I can think on my own. I'm glad I can make money outside just being an employee. I'm glad I have tools and answers to help a dying world. I am glad that I socialize with people of all ages and cultures and am not peer dependent.

But I always do tell people: not thinking like the rest of culture does come at a price. Its a lot easier (in one sense) to just follow the crowds and believe the lies everyone else believes because that way I wouldn't have to bulk the system all the time.

Leigh Shulman

I think people often like to cite their children as a reason they can't travel. Education and friends probably top the list.

And I completely agree with you. There are so many children traveling these days and so many communities out there that allow for kids to get together, meet and stay connected.

We've also been traveling for three years and recently chose to settle in Salta, Argentina while working on a project here.

As we've moved around, we decided not to home school, but instead Lila attends local schools. She may only be in them for a short amount of time, but she develops friendships. She also understands that moving on is a part of travel and learns how to stay connected with her friends. (Obviously, e-mail, skype and the rest are of enormous help).

You've also cited here many resources I have yet to explore.

Thanks for that!

soultravelers3

Marlana - So nice to hear from someone who has used the homeschool, private school, public school method as well as traveled. I love your comment! "I am glad that I socialize with people of all ages and cultures and am not peer dependent. " I think that advantage & the other ones trump your last sentence "price". I think think out-of-the box thinkers have an easier & easier time as they get older...or at least that has been my experience. ;)

Leigh- Nice to see you here! Yes, I think it is hard for people who do not travel with their children to understand how easy and rewarding it is. You are another good example of what is possible by thinking differently!

I'm not that crazy about some of the problems with schools, but they can be great for deeply immersing in a second language and connecting with a community in a foreign land.

Schools are made for masses & kids are individual. We are no longer in the industrial revolution, so schools are dying like so many institutions that must change today.

As long as I can have great control over the school, I don't mind using it to our advantage. (It's to theirs as well as they get money for each child enrolled from the state).

I take her out when I want, sometimes just to play or travel & refused to let her take religion or English ( she goes to the library & reads books then which is a much better use of her time...she doesn't need to learn her colors in English!! ;) ).

By homeschooling in English even when she is in school in Spain, I don't have to worry about what the school is not doing. ;) I hope by going only a few months at a time, she misses the compliant protocol.

It's very easy also for native speakers to lose their native tongue ( and reading & writing ability in mother tongue) if immersed in a 2nd language & culture.

There are so many ways of doing things, that was my main point I suppose. Parents need to be informed & diligent no matter what they choose.

It still shocks me when people think travel is expensive or that one can't do it with kids or that they would have no friends if they travel.

That's part of the passion of why I share! ;)

Marlana

Absolutely people who think have it easier as they can create their own opportunities. They are not dependent on everyone else to do their own thinking! But people are jealous of those who do. Oh, well for them, though!

Merry Padang

I love following your blog and I think you did one of the greatest gift parents can give to their child. I was born in Indonesia and have spent more than half of my life living in Australia and the US. This summer my husband and I are moving to Canada. Most of our American friends would say that this would be a time to move around the world because we don't have any children yet, as if the child would hinder anyone to travel the world. I wish I could meet more people like you in the US. We will continue to travel even when we have children.

Michael

Fascinating and inspiring post. You really explain well some of the rational behind my decisions. It's often challenging to express to others why we do what we do, but you nail it here. Please keep it up!

David Crandall

So, as someone who is trying to break free from the template life, I'm continually inspired by your site!

I just emailed this post to my wife because I think it addresses a lot of concerns that we have about living this type of lifestyle with children. Thank you so very much for sharing your story with all of us!!

I can't wait until we get to start living like this!!!!

soultravelers3

Merry- Thank you for your kind words! Sounds like you have done a lot of traveling the world & you are right, there really are no limits to those who want to do it! Good luck with your move to Canada! Maybe we will see you on the road some day! ;)

Michael- Always happy to talk to others who really "get" this! Thanks for your supportive words!

David- Wow, so glad that we can inspire you! I hope this helps reassure your wife too. You may want to check out our fanpage on Facebook as there is a discussion going on around this post that has lots of comments and questions that I answered from people preparing to travel as families in the future:

http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/pages/Soultravelers3com-Around-the-World-Family-Travel-Education-Adventure/185105005187

I often answer questions there so everyone can get the answer as often they are similar because we all worry about how it will work out for our kids.

Good luck with your prep! That is the hardest part, but worth all the effort! ;)

gopika

Wonderful post Jeanne. Anyone who wants to understand why the quality of education in America has been going downhill for years only has to read "The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America". This book is now available by its author, Charlotte Iserbyt, at http://www.deliberatedumbingdown.com/. It is hundreds of pages of revelation of the programming to create mind-controlled sheeple. Iserbyt was #3 in Ronald Reagan's Dept. of Education. When she found out what the agenda really was, she spoke out and was forced out.

Anyway, thanks to so many of you diligent, caring parents and those of us post-school who have awakened and really educated ourselves, we are prepared to co-create a new world based on communication, cooperation, service to others in a New World once this old, which is in its dying days, has finally collapsed.

I salute you all!

Mikayla B

I have read about you 3 from the 4 hour work week and just knew I had to connect with you. We are preparing to do the exact same thing as you 3 already did/doing. We would love to be able to get advice from you 3.

We are scheduled to leave June 2011. Our first stop is South America, Bolivia

Kim

wow! I really liked this post, I just got home from college orientation and am shocked by the culture of the students I will be going to school with. Most of them are there just to have a good time and almost none of them displayed any interest in actually learning to gain knowledge. When I told some new friends I was planning to graduate in two years they told me I should stay for all four so I wouldn't miss out on all the great parties! I hope that by studying abroad for the first year and a half I can meet people with actual interests like you guys. Hopefully, Mozart will be able to figure a way around the college nonsense one day.

Dave and Deb

I find it so strange that other people haven't run into kids. We have only been in Europe a few weeks, but we have been staying at campsites and the kids are everywhere.
You are doing an awesome job, Mozart is going to be so far ahead of the curve. She is multilingual, has set foot on the places that other kids have only read about in school and she is learning adaptability.
As for creating meaningful relationships, we find that the people we meet traveling have become our best friends for life. It is so easy to keep in touch with people in todays world.
AND we find that we become closer with our friends and family at home while we are traveling. We all tell each other how much we mean to each other and we are more connected when we are apart.
Believe me, we have been in both worlds. When you are away both sides seem to tell each other how much they mean to each other.
When we have come home over the years, we find that life gets to busy and we end up talking to our families less than when we are on the other side of the world.
Travel is beautiful.
Whew, that was a long comment. Sorry:)

soultravelers3

gopika- Thanks so much for your kind words and wisdom! Looks like a great book & I will have to read it.

Kim- Thanks! Good for you for being wiser than those party types! Sadly, some people have to learn the hard way. You go girl!

Dave & Deb- Oh never be sorry for writing a long post on this blog. Ha! I'm the queen of long blog posts. LOL.

Thanks for your kind and wise words. It is amazing how you do appreciate family and friends so much more at a distance. I think I talk more to my mom & friends now that we are traveling! ;)

Yvette

I happened to catch one of those "Law & Order" shows this week and was amazed because it was centered around a custody battle where the mom was painted as the crazy one because she wanted to take him to China for a year "where children still have childhood" as she put it. And per the show this was a Very Bad Thing because zomg the boy would be leaving his elite private school, as apparently there is nothing to be learned from living a year abroad. (Plus seriously, did no one check how far ahead the Chinese schools are on test scores anyway compared to the US?)

Rant over, whenever it comes to educational debates like this I always am left with the conclusion that what matters most really isn't the type of schooling but how much a family is involved in a kid's education. Homeschooling by nature gets a leg up in this but there are lots of good schools out there where a kid can thrive so long as you're not just tossing your kid in and assuming they're going to be fine!

Not to get terribly anecdotal (tho it's the nature of blogging I know!) but my family had a multi-cultural lifestyle even in Pittsburgh, and while I don't think being a geeky and angsty teenager is fun anywhere my parents kept tabs on how school was going etc. So it worked out I suppose, if a globetrotting astrophysics student was their goal!

Brooke Drury

Thanks for the post. We've been on the road for the year and have had differing experiences with our kids meeting other kids. We were in Fiji for a few months and were surrounded by kids, who came to our house to play almost every afternoon once they knew our kids were done with homeschool. Our son and daughter loved it. My husband and I marveled at it and appreciated the fact that it was so natural. There was no need to engineer playdates or figure out ways to entertain everyone. The kids just did it on their own. We were constantly amazed at the variety of activities they were able to conjure up, even despite age, cultural and sometimes even language differences. What a gift!

The same was not the case during subsequent legs of our trip. Since Fiji, we've done quite a bit of traveling around Thailand, New Zealand and Tasmania, including some by campervan. Aside from a reunion with some dear friends in Bangkok, the kiddos really never ran into any other kids to pal around with. There are a few reasons for this:

1. We were not engaging in the "slow travel" that the ST3 have practiced while on the road. We've rarely stayed in one place for longer than a night. This was by design but we all kind of wish we'd planned a little more time between stops.

2. The kind of places we've preferred to travel to this year have been relatively "un-peopled." No people has meant no kids in most cases.

3. Similarly, we've been doing most of our campervan traveling during the off season, when other kids are in school. We've seen very few kids in the campgrounds we've stayed at.

4. Finally, our kids have had each other. They are 17 mos apart and, although they each grumble about it, are each others' best friends. They thus lack the motivation that Mozart might have as an only child to find playmates in her immediate surroundings. Hopefully this won't come across as a judgemental comment. It isn't meant to be at all. In fact, I sometimes really wish our guys were a little more motivated to look outside each other for companionship.

All this said, I think you are spot on, Jeanne, in saying that it isn't impossible for your kids to make friends while on the road for extended periods. Traveling SLOW, settling in one place for a good long spell so you can really get to know a place is key though. I think we'd all do things a little differently had we to do it over again. More of the Fiji experience, less of the "tourist travel."

We're headed home soon but our own year as digital nomads was a game changer for each of us. We are looking forward to bringing many of the things we've learned and applying them at home as well as further on down the road... wherever that may lead us.

Thanks as always for your thoughts, Jeanne. I've really enjoyed reading your posts as we've been on the road and look forward to reading about your upcoming adventures in Asia.

soultravelers3

Mikayla- So glad that you found us through the 4HWW book & connected! Glad we can be a help. Happy planning!

Yvette- I'm so loving the comments on this post & you bring up a lot of great points! It is so true ( & I've talked about it before) that you CAN raise multi-cultural kids without traveling. ( And multi-lingual) We did this before we started, even though few in our area took advantage of all the opportunities. You do have to look for them and make them.

Also I have stated before and TOTALLY agree with you that no matter how you educate your child, the education is really always up to the parents & that will make all the difference in any situation.

soultravelers3

Brooke- Thanks for adding your take & you bring up some great points. First, there is certainly a difference if you have just one child and if you have more than one. BUT, I must say that Mozart is also perfectly happy to play on her own or with us, so there is never a problem when we go through periods where there might be less kids or people around.

Also slow travel does make deeper friendships possible as well as planning in a way where there are more opportunities for the kids to meet others. Or taking advantage of what does exist. Just hanging out at a park anywhere & you will find kids.

Of course, we have times where more friends are available than others. Often even off season, we have been very lucky. Like my child bonded deeply with a family of 3 kids that had a daughter just her age when we were in Nice in the fall. They were homeschooling too and were from Oz on an extended trip. There was even a Danish girl there as well & the three of them played a lot although the Danish girl was at a disadvantage because she did not know English yet, but the parents helped some because they did.

Yet, there are times where we don't have as good luck with finding kids, sometimes even when we are surrounded by them. We were in rural Austria more than a month in an apt when I broke my arm, but between the kids being in school, all German speaking & my needing so much extra care, Mozart didn't have a lot of playmates there...although she met some kids at the park & loved some adults that she met at the hospital and such. She was perfectly happy there without any & we had lots of family fun together despite the crisis & my quite severe pain.

Slow is a great key, but many times my daughter has also made deep friendships in very short times as I mentioned about the Denver girl. Mozart has a very outgoing & bold personality & has always loved novel stimulation/new things, so that's certainly helpful too.

The friendships and so many opportunities that Mozart has had with other kids around the world HAS been such a gift-- I totally agree with you.

One thing many travelers like you don't have which we did, was schooling and coming back to the same very small community for 4 winters. That has been phenomenal for deep language/literature/cultural immersion as well as friendships. Because our travel is a lifestyle, I think it's been important to add that stability to her life.

If you rarely stay in a place for more than a night, it is much harder to connect deeply, but sometimes we have even on just one night. Mozart is often motivated to find a friend when we camp, so she scouts them out as soon as we land, partly for the game of it.

She had a special relationship with a girl from Korea ( who only spoke Russian & Korean) when we spent just one night & 2 long days in Kilkenny, Ireland. We connected deeply with the parents & let the kids play a lot...all thanks to Mozart's scouting her out & finding her. LOL.

There could hardly be a place more "unpeopled" than deep within the Sahara desert in Morocco, but we found very deep connections there for Mozart with friends despite the language challenge, so there can always be exceptions.

It is true, we do not do that much "tourist travel". We do go and do some sight seeing on our own, but often we just live no matter where we are.

Yes, doing extended travel can not help but change you forever. Sounds like you had a wonderful experience! I will have to steal a few tips from your Asia adventures when we get there! ;)

AmberC

This post was great!

I spent my last year of college studying and traveling around 2 different continents. I had a very difficult time re-integrating into the mainstream American life afterwards. The exchange department of my college did a brief session on culture shock before I left and returned to the US - thank god, because had I returned without knowledge of culture shock in my head, I would have been devastated.

I remember shortly after returning, I was telling a childhood friend of mine (who I had long admired for her coolness) about an English speaking country I had traveled to. She asked what language I learned to travel there. I stood in horror as I explained to her the location of the country in question (which was ALSO a CONTINENT).

She seemed quite casual about the whole encounter. I think we both realized at that moment we probably wouldn't be hanging out anymore.

What I love about your posts is that you give so many links to go out and research more...this blog is my springboard. Thanks...


soultravelers3

Amber- Glad you like it and also that I link to many things! It does take me a lot longer to write things with the links, but I think they are useful for those who want to know more. Also some of my readers have read every post that I've written & others are here for the first time, so by linking to what I have said before or an explanatory page, nobody has to feel left out of a reference point that I make.

You also bring up a very good point about culture shock. Amazingly kids do not seem to get culture shock, Mozart hasn't yet. Not when we returned home to visit after being away for almost 2 years or when we were in various countries that were extremely different than home, like rural Morocco or Turkey. We did though!

Extended travel will definitely change you in many ways. Mozart may indeed have some adjustment to American culture when she grows up.Yet like you and many others who have done it, if there is a will there is a way. I lived in Italy when I was in my 20's for a year, so got to see both sides of cultural shock.

Sometimes it is just in the little things. We are so use to walking now, that it seemed so strange to us adults to drive a car short distances at home like we use to & found ourselves just walking MUCH more than a typical Californian.

Also dryers almost seem obscene to me now in a place like sunny California, because almost no one uses them in Europe & I have actually grown fond of hanging clothes to dry. Yet it had seemed so odd to me when we first arrived.

I couldn't believe how odd it seemed to pay with the dollar which seemed like play money after not seeing it for so long. Also, perhaps the biggest culture shock was being in a place where everyone spoke English as we have had very little of that. It was almost like being deaf and suddenly being able to hear...shocking.

It is quite funny how a place leaves an impact on you just as you leave an impact on it. ;)

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