Travel Schooling - Learning Through Travel

February 07, 2012

world school and karate

Road schooling, World schooling, homeschooling, matter what you call it, I think our family has more experience at it than most on the planet since we've been traveling the world non-stop since our child was five and now she is eleven.

I am still astounded by how rich her education has been on just $23/day as we've traveled to 43 countries on 5 continents. Lucky kid! We'd never be able to give her all this without our travel lifestyle. It's also been key on allowing us as monolingual parents to raise a fluent trilingual/triliterate who knows bits of many languages.

Our daughter has had some absolutely amazing learning opportunites from swimming with sharks in Bora Bora to sailing the Turquoise Coast of Turkey to exploring ruins like Pompeii and Petra to climbing the Tiger's Nest in Bhutan and sleeping in the Sahara!

Our main purpose in our world travel is to educate our child, so we've written quite a bit about education on the road in hopes that it will also help and inspire you:

Homeschooling While Traveling

Travel Homeschool

5 Best Reasons to Learn While Traveling

Travel and Education

Education Through Family World Travel

Books and World Travel

How to Raise a Multi-lingual Child

Learning Vacations

Kids and Friendships on the Road

How and Why to Raise a Global Kid

We've got LOTS more to share on this topic and these last few months we've been road schooling in California, so have tried some new things in our old home territory and we were especially pleased with the science opportunities that I will write about.

One thing Mozart loved was Karate and she proudly earned a yellow belt during our short stay! She could have taken karate when we wintered in Spain, but she wasn't in the mood then, yet loved it this time around.

Any questions about education and travel?

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Hi again!

I was wondering how you maintain your daughter's three fluent languages (plus the bits of other ones) while traveling in countries where those languages aren't spoken. (for example, Spanish when you're living in Asia.) When I was younger, I studied Hebrew and got quite good at it, at least with vocabulary, but after getting to a certain level, there weren't many resources to continue (big challenge in learning a less-common language!) and now I have forgotten a lot of it. I consider myself sort of fluent in Spanish, especially when it comes to reading/listening, but it is difficult to maintain since I don't live in an area with lots of Spanish speakers and therefore have to work hard to keep it up (especially with writing/speaking). Is this a challenge you have had?

I am sure you have been told this before, but your daughter is very lucky to be getting such a wonderful education and life experience. Best wishes for the future :)

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Thanks Lena for the kind words and great question! Yes, it is harder to maintain languages which is something most people do not realize.

That is one reason why we return to places and do long dipping regularly back into Spanish in an all Spanish environment... helps tremendously.

We work on keeping them all up as we roam. Kidlet does homeschool ( reading and writing in all 3 daily).

Also friends that are fluent help a lot and we keep connected via skype. Mozart won't speak a word of Spanish for my mother who doesn't speak it, but will blather away for hours with our dear friends in Barcelona who don't speak English via Skype. ( So my Mom gets to hear her and is amazed).

Spanish is very hard to find in Asia, but we lucked out with a family from Mexico who live in our same complex in Penang, so that is a huge help. They have girls her age and they do sleep overs and speak almost all Spanish together unless they are playing with kids who don't speak it. ( They go to an English school).

We've found lots of Mandarin and Spanish speakers in California and online. ( So my Mom hears her speaking Mandarin almost daily too). Funny, but even one of her instructors in Karate speaks Mandarin and has spent some time in China.

We definitely put a conscious effort into all 3 languages daily.


Right, I think Mandarin and Spanish would be a lot easier to keep up than Hebrew. Lena, I learned Greek during college, and I was one of the best students in the classroom. But have since forgotten it. Two problems 1) I only knew the language from an English-speaking classroom. In other words, my friends and I will speak English to each other. If we write to each other, we write to each other in English -- because that's our first language. In other words, the langauge was classroom only 2)I just never meet anyone who speaks that language, so I've never used it.

I speak, read, and write Thai, but learning this language has been very different for me because I am learning the language with native speakers. So I won't default to writing a text message in English to my Thai friends -- I must write in Thai. Even in the international community around with Koreans, Khmer, Malays, etc, our common language is Thai, and we use it. As Jeannie said, now with skype, it would be hard to lose the language as long as the friendships are maintained.

Jeannie, I agree that education is the best part of travel. My favorite ancient ruins are Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia; massive Hindu sand carving ruins over 1,000 years old. I can't wait to go to Pompeii.!! I want to go to Bhutan too, but that one will be a few years due to the costs per person. Most of Cambodia is really poor, still living the after maths of the war, and the capital is dirty (though nothing of India). Most of it is not a child friendly place, but Cambodia offers flights straight into Siem Reap, which is very, very clean, family friendly, and westernized. Man, this world is soo cool!

Bret Shroyer

There are a few traveling families out there who are full-timers, and homeschooling their kids. There are lots of WRONG ways to do it, but it looks like the you're doing it the right way.

Nice job, and thanks for sharing your adventures.


thanks for the responses!

@Jeanne: Yes, I understand it must be hard to maintain those languages, but so rewarding in the end. :)

@Marlana: Context makes a big difference... I think brains will learn the language better if they understand that they need to know it (like in your Thai-speaking environment).

Heather Caliri

What do you do for books and libraries? I've travelled to countries where one can't check books out of libraries--the books are too precious. Lugging a bunch along isn't easy, and it's not always possible to find titles on an e-reader. We read so many books when homeschooling at home. Any suggestions? There are certainly other ways to learn, but reading is my personal favorite :)

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Thanks Bret, so happy you approve. ;)

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Sooo true Marlana, the world is so cool and being totally immersed in an area where people do not speak your native tongue helps immensely in learning a language. ;)

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Yes, has to constantly use a language to keep it up. I know native speakers who have been in the US so long they no longer speak their mother tongue well!

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Reading and books are our favorites too Heather! Kidlet and I are bookaholics and books are the corner stone of our homeschooling.

It IS sometimes harder to do on the move internationally, but we prove it can be done. Some places are easier than others, but there are always ways around it when challenging and digital helps loads today as well as our library cards from home that we use regularly abroad.

I wrote about it on that linked post above about books on the road:

And here:

Spain is harder than Penang for English books,( kidlet is totally comfortable in an all Spanish library though) but one can also usually use American school libraries around the world and we regularly spend extended time in English book stores and libraries around the world.

If there is a will, there is always a way. ;)


I'd love to know more about what age you started teaching her Spanish and Mandarin, and how you went about it. How did you help her become fluent in these? I have a three year old and a 9 month old, and we are just starting to plan our worldschooling adventure.

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Sounds cool Lisa! We actually started teaching her Mandarin and Spanish in the womb as that is when we first learn languages.

But anytime is good, although the younger the better makes it easier.

Look to my 3 part series on how to raise a multilingual kid and the links there:

It's hard work for a monolingual to raise a mulitlingual kid, but worth it to us and a travel lifestyle certainly makes it easier and cheaper. ( Also helps a kid understand the purpose of such).

Good luck, happy planning!

Jake@educational school trips

There's some really good advice here, thanks for posting! Children who are travel schooled have such an amazing experience compared to children who are settled in one school. educational school trips certainly help them gain new ways of looking at things but travelling the world can make a child really appreciate what they are learning, and can also make them more accepting of unfamiliar cultures.

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