For our newest round table discussion I decided to interview nomadic families about their lives on the road with children. Four amazing families agreed to the discussion and their answers were so full I simply could not present them as a group. So – in order to allow you to experience their responses with the attention they deserve I am going to present them one at a time throughout the week. Here’s the schedule:
- Monday –
– an amazing RVing American family based in Spain who has visited a myriad of different countries with their young daughter.
- Tuesday –
the Atkins Family
– this family of 6 took on the challenge of renovating a large bus to accomodate themselves for their adventure. Along the way they entertained with their own family band and are now making a film.
- Wednesday –
the Frost Family
– with 4 daughters they have found a way to travel the world and provide them incredible educational opportunities without incurring any student debt!
- Thursday – Vogel – cycling from Canada to the tip of Argentina with their two young sons. True pioneers.
All four families will be responding to the same set of questions.
So – for today allow me to introduce you to SoulTravelers3. Da Vinci and Jeanne have been on the road now for four years with their daughter, Mozart (these are their online names used to protect their privacy). Having sold some assets in the U.S. they purchased an RV in Europe. The family bases themselves in Andalusia, Spain for part of each year and travels by RV for the remainder. They have visited numerous countries over the years and have entertained thousands with videos of young Mozart playing violin at their many destinations.
Here’s what they had to say about their life on the road:
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 world slowly.
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!
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 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, 30 countries, traveled over 160,000 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 deeply.
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!
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 they 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 travel!
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 piano lessons done with a teacher on another continent, john Hopkin’s University’s CTY program and Teddybears around the world , MIT’s scratch, e-libraries etc.
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!
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 and helping out with subway maps, guide books etc (besides books).
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.
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!
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.
To read more about this amazing family, visit their website – soultravelers3.
And don’t forget – tomorrow – interview responses from the Atkins family!