I wrote about it on Can Globe Trotting Location Independent Kids Have Friends which has been a very popular article. I've gotten so many more questions that I thought I'd give more details on how we prepare and plan our family travel so that it is advantageous for long term friendships, socialization and deep relationships as well as amazing educational and multi-cultural opportunities.
TRAVELING THE WORLD AS A FAMILY WITH SCHOOL AGE KIDS
There is no one right way to do this, but relationships are important to us as well as giving our child a solid foundation in every way including pyschologically and socially, so we have been very conscious about providing emotional intimacy support and the "sure shelter" of long term dear friends...even as we travel the world.
"Traveling in the company of those we love is home in motion" - Hunt
I love this quote because it descibes our global lifestyle. Here are a few things that we have found worked best for us as far as keeping deep friendship connections while living a "home in motion" kind of life. With a single female child who loves people, we find this essential, although we also cherish all the many friends that we meet just once or twice along the way. One can find "roots" in a serial way by having more than one place as "home". The world is our home.
FIRST RULE -MAINTAIN FRIENDS AT HOME
We don't go "home" very often, and thus far in the last 5 years of world travel, we have only been home to Santa Cruz and the USA twice and each time for just two weeks, yet we have maintained our old friendships there. Today that is easier than ever via free webcam calls, email, Facebook etc and we do that with friends from all our different global "homes".
That said, kids tend to live in the now and we limit Mozart's online time because I don't think it is valuable to be online texting and talking constantly with friends at a distance. That can get in the way of connecting with friends deeply locally and being present in the "now", thus we are BIG fans of as much unplugged time as possible. Staying connected does not mean staying up with every tiny detail as if you are still living there. Friends are important, but ultimately parents are more important and one learns about relationship first from family.
We DO make it a priority to spend quality time with friends when we are home. One of the highlights for Mozart while staying at our beautiful beach home while visting Santa Cruz, was having a sleep over with one of her best friends there and hanging out at the beach and mall with her and various friends. We've always appreciated her special friends there and the families that they come from who have similar values that we have about loving and caring. Mozart has been friends with this beautiful child since she was four.
PICK A VILLAGE - IMMERSE IN LANGUAGE VIA A LOCAL SCHOOL FOR A BIT - RETURN REGULARLY
We are eclectic unschoolers, but are not above using schools to our advantage and I think language and cultural immersion happens best and easiest this way. We made up a system where we travel most of the year, but spend five months in the winter at a slower pace, immersing via a local school for language, resting, rejuvenating and doing only short trips from a base during this time. We returned to this village and school for four winters consecutively and now we return regularly to visit with our good friends there and allow Mozart time to play and reconnect.
WHERE EVER YOU FIND ANGELS EMBRACE AND CHERISH THEM
CLOSE AS COUSINS SINCE 2006
Yes these three trilingual girls have been as close as cousins since 2006 when we met upon our arrival in Spain. Often life seems to send us blessings on our travels and one of our great gifts in Spain is this darling family that we called our "guardian angels". By chance, I met the dad online on a global piano forum in 2005 when I was trying to figure out how we would deal with kidlet's piano lessons as we travel the world. Lo and behold it turned out that this most helpful person happened to live a short distance away from the village in Spain that we picked. What are those odds, eh?
Their youngest was in diapers when we first met, but every winter we enjoyed spending time together and they saved our butts more than once. So helpful to have local friends who understand how everything works and have experience living in foreign countries where they did not speak the language. We could gab for hours while the kids played. We were sad to see them move to London before our last winter there, but it's fun for us to reconnect with them when we visit London like we did this fall and plan to do it again in June. When they lived in Spain, Spanish was the girls dominant languge so it was funny to hear them with perfect British accents now.
Here we were also blessed by meeting an amazing local family. Remember that delicious paella that they've made for us? One of our great delights in going back there is we get to spend time with them and we also keep up from time to time as we roam via webcam calls. They love traveling as a family as much as we do and Mozart and their daughter are already planing their own round-the-world trip when they get into their twenties. We all cherish these angels and have lots of fun together.
This resort is a perfect place for tweens because they can have a lot of freedom in a safe way. They can explore, sleep-over, play in thier private kids tent playroom, swim in one of the 3 pools, go to the on-site store or bakery, tour sometimes together, go to the kids disco at night, make meals, watch a little Spanish TV, ride bikes, watch movies outside, play with kids who speak many languages in the kids club, ( Mozart often translates between her only Spanish speaking and only English speaking friends), make things, catch butterflies at the zoo and more.
FIND A NEW PLACE - ADAPT- IMMERSE IN A NEW LANGUAGE AND CULTURE - MAKE NEW FRIENDS
We came to Asia in November primarily to immerse our child in Mandarin through a local school here in Penang. So far it is working wonderfully on every level including friendships. The resort we happened to land in is perfect for families and our child already has a posse of wonderful friends here that she plays with daily. The variety is quite unusual and rich..a Hungarian, a Chinese-Canadian/ Australian , a Korean/Chinese Canadian, an Indian/Chinese/Malay, a Spanish speaking bilingual American from New Mexico and more. The kids go to many different various schools or homeschool.
The majority of kids in her school are Chinese Malaysias, but they are also from Thailand, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore,Japan, Laos, Indonesia mainland China and Pakistan. Her best friends in her class are from Indonesia ( 5 cousins) and two Korean boys, although she also enjoys the older Thailand girls who tell her daily that they love her. Mozart wants to bring her uniform back to show her friends in Spain but alas we pack too light, so we will store a few things here while gone & just have photos to show.
She is really enjoying her friends here and we plan to return for several more winters. We are very pleased that it is going very well and know that we are creating more friends for life. Part of what makes it work for us always is we pick child friendly areas and take the time and effort to connect with good people plus encourage and make time for her relationships.
Are there any questions that you have that I have missed?
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