Tag Archives: worldschooling

Our family's worldschooling journey started in 2009, when we moved to Korea. Learn more, plus gets tips to help you embark upon your worldschooling journey!

Our worldschooling story

Our family's worldschooling journey started in 2009, when we moved to Korea. Learn more, plus gets tips to help you embark upon your worldschooling journey!

Worldschooling is gaining more and more traction amongst homeschoolers and families looking to travel more and simplify their lives. We just recently met up with a family from Colorado who have been traveling with their two kids and are trying to worldschool, and we’ve connected with dozens of families in the process of worldschooling online.

I realized that since we’ve been worldschooling and living abroad since 2009 I should finally write a post summarizing our journey!

What is worldschooling?

I don’t like labels and find that most people fight over who does what better. But to loosely define worldschooling, it means basically learning from the world around us. Pretty simple definition.

However, many of us also use the term to mean using travel as a form of education.

For our family, it’s a combination of both definitions.

What Worldschooling Looks Like For Us

To clarify, we aren’t constantly traveling and we have had a long-term home base in several places, from Korea to Italy to Phuket and now Chiang Mai. We’ve been visiting Myanmar and Malaysia multiple times per year, and traveling within Thailand. You could say were chronic expats or very slow travelers! Either way, his is what has worked for us. We love the community here in Chiang Mai and Thailand is affordable. However we plan on moving to Canada soon ( somewhere in British Columbia) to be closer to family, and to only have one of us that needs a visa ( Billy and Kaya are both Canadian).

How Our Worldschooling Journey Began

In 2008, my husband and I made the decision to raise our daughter outside of the U.S. I yearned to live near where I grew up ( in Europe) but Billy was hesitant to move there. He had only been to the EU with me when we were on vacation and wasn’t sure what it would be like to live there long-term. He assumed it would be wonderful, but his heart wasn’t in it. However, he did love the time we spent in Asia when we were on our honeymoon, so after much talk, we decided to move with our toddler and 4 pets to South Korea, where Billy taught English in the GEPIK program outside of Seoul.

Worldschooling in South Korea

Pit stop on a road trip to Seoul

While we love Korea and two of my best friends are from Paju ( where we lived), I was completely sick of being stuck at home with a two year old, all on my own. I didn’t want to work at the time and was still nursing our daughter, I just wanted to see my husband more and also have some more free-time during the day. We decided to spend a month vacationing in Phuket and then headed to Tuscany, where we planned to stay permanently.

Billy took six months off from working to recover from his somewhat long hours teaching and to spend more time with us. It was then that we decided he wanted to work from home, and also that we had loved vacationing in Thailand so much that we wanted to go back to Phuket. So after six months of living in Italy, we moved to Phuket.

And we stayed there on and off for almost four years, visiting Malaysia and Myanmar every few weeks.

One of the many reasons we decided to go to Phuket was that Kaya was turning three, and in europe children tend to enter a crèche and we didn’t want her to go to school. But the pressure to not homeschool is very strong in Europe, even though it’s legal in Italy. Thailand is very welcoming of homeschoolers in general, so we wanted to give it a shot!

Because we still didn’t know basically anything about working from home or freelancing, Billy went back to teaching in a small private school in Phuket Town while I started this very blog and began frantically researching how he could find a reliable way to work from home so we could all ‘worldschool’ together.

Eventually, I ended up becoming a freelance writer and digital marketing consultant and Billy too started working online, so things did work out!

Worldschooling to us is a lifestyle and not some term that places us in a box with another set of rules. We don’t constantly travel, and if you too choose to worldschool, you don’t have to either! You can settle down for a few months or years in a town or city that feels right for your family. And you can use your home base to explore other parts of the country or area.

Kaya takes robotics classes here in Chiang Mai and also taekwondo at a local dojo, and has made many wonderful friends that are locals and expats. This is why we’ve stayed here for so long instead of move to Canada earlier.

worldschooling

Naomi and Sarah are the worldschooling duo behind realgilmoregirls.com

Tips For Future Worldschoolers

 If you’re considering traveling full or part time as a family, here are some things we recommend you consider:

 Do you need to be in a like-minded community?

We’ve spoken to a few families who have expressed a concern about travelling full-time: the lack of community. And we totally agree! And even if you do plan on slow traveling, you may still find your home-base area to not have enough people you can build friendships with, whether it be because of a language barrier or a cultural issue, or some other random reason.

The lack of a like-minded community is the exact reason we left Phuket, and the supportive local community here in Hang Dong ( outside of Chiang Mai) is the exact reason we stayed here.

Do your kids actually want to travel?

When we left for Korea, Kaya was obviously too young to have a say in where we relocated to, or if we even should relocate. Billy and I did the best we could to take into consideration how the move would impact her life, and Korea thankfully had loads of playgrounds and other toddler-friendly things.

But if you have older kids that are perhaps in school ( who you want to homeschool), do they want to travel full or part time?

worldschooler

How will you make a living?

This is always the challenge we get asked about, and also the one we personally faced. For many years, we were very broke. I assumed I could make money off a nebulous travel blog, and sometimes I did. But it took me years and years of education ( programs like Marie Forleo’s B School) and experience to understand how to grow a business online, not be a ‘pro blogger’. Thankfully, my husband and I both are blessed to now work from home, but it took us a long, hard road to get to where we are.

As I mentioned in the beginning, Billy was a teacher for several years. This can be a great start to slow traveling, but some countries don’t pay ESL teachers well ( I think Billy made about 1K USD when he taught in Phuket and 2K in Korea).

The more experience you have as a teacher and qualifications, the more you will be paid. Japan and Korea typically pay the best. You can get a visa to sponsor your family this way too, which is a great plus, and housing in Korea is frequently included.

Many of the traveling families we’ve met are living off of savings, or renting our their houses in order to pay for their travels.

If you have a travel blog or are thinking of creating one, consider using it to market your freelance services ( if you’re a freelancer) or any ebooks or products you create, instead of trying to ‘monetize your blog’. Check out our travel blogging page for additional tips.

What types of visa do you need?

Because I’m an EU citizen, my family ( who are Canadian American) didn’t need a visa to live with me in Italy. However ( and this is the part that baffles everyone), due to the spousal visa changes made years ago, despite me being British, it’s almost impossible for me as a self-employed individual and freelancer to sponsor my family to live with me in the UK. Nope, makes no sense at all and it’s very complicated, but thousands of Brit-non EU families have to leave the UK every year because of it, or get split up. It’s a horrible tragedy, and it was the reason we left Scotland after moving there for a short period of time. Perhaps after Brexit this will now change, but who knows.

If you aren’t an EU citizen and want to stay in the EU long-term, you will need a visa. The same goes for pretty much any country, including here in Thailand. I plan on writing a post in the near future about the various visas you can get to stay here long-term, including the education visa I’m currently on.

Will you have enough activities for your kids?

If you are traveling while using a traditional homeschooling curriculum that’s accredited, will you be able to find the supplies you need for your kid’s classes? In  most cases you will, unless you are very rural, but it’s important to take this into consideration just in case.

Are you a worldschooler? Share your journey with us below in the comments!

 

unschooling in Chiang Mai

Unschooling in Chiang Mai

unschooling in Chiang Mai

Hello there!

It’s been quite awhile since you’ve heard from us, and I apologize for that! I write regularly on my other blog and neglected to update this one.

We haven’t made it to Canada and instead took a detour to Hang Dong, on the outskirts of Chiang Mai. I must say this move has been fantastic for all three of us. Our good friends Krid and Aung helped us find a very affordable house that is near a community swimming pool and in a quiet, mostly Thai neighborhood.

We were renting a car for several months but after the car rental company decided they could make more renting short-term to tourists, we’ve struggled to find another rental place that has the same rates. Just like in Phuket, renting a car here is pricey.

The good news is that publish transportation in Chiang Mai is better than in Phuket and have both super inexpensive buses that go into the city, as well as private ones that are slightly cheaper than taxis.

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exploring Wat Rong Khun in Chiang Rai

We live near Kad Farang, a market that is popular with both Thais and farang. It has a food court ( that includes live music and beer towers lol) and several restaurants, plus a Rimping supermarket. On Mondays and Wednesdays, there is a fantastic outside market that sells everything from puppies to clothes and food.

I find this part of Thailand to be amazing for a worldschooling, work from home family. Unschooling in Chiang Mai is much easier and more fulfilling than in Phuket, the latter of which has very few homeschoolers. I adore Southern Thailand and lived there for 5 years, but as much as I love Phuket, I’m so happy to be in Northern Thailand and have more book stores, educational opportunities, and playrooms for Kaya to meet kids.

 

If you happen to be an unschooling family or homeschooling family in Chiang Mai, please get in touch with us! We’d love to meet you!

3 Things YOUR KID wants to do in Birmingham

I won’t lie. 

We’ve outgrown Phuket island life and have been searching the web for new stomping ground.

Obviously we have a list – a quota – for our potential cities and countries.  And upon meeting some of the main points, we hope to spend a few days experiencing the lifestyle and vibe while seeing how our daughter, Kaya, reacts to the change.

So…  First on the list, is actually quite surprising, seeing as I worked in the city over 10 years ago and never thought I’d be looking back.  But after it hit so many unexpected points, I just had to make it one of our candidates.  I mean come on – it’s an Asian/Indian foodie’s delight touting the famed Balti Triangle – packed with over 50 SE Asian restaurants.  I mean the city has an unofficial count of 179 mostly Kashmiri influenced Indian restaurants!  It was UK’s Curry capital in 2005! This calls for a visit. Hotel Direct book me a room in The Cube please.  Don’t have it? Alright then, just suggest a few on your “Most Popular Hotels” list.  Thank you!

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Birmingham, England.  Yes, the Brums!

So we’ve created a list, not for the parents, but for the kids – cause we’re doing this as a family and what’s more appropriate for Europe’s ‘youngest’ city – It’s true!  40% of the population are under 25!

3 Things YOUR KID wants to do in Birmingham

1)       Cadbury World

A family trip to Birmingham must start where life began.  In chocolate.  With chocolate.  Okay so maybe not literally, but if you live or have at one point journeyed to the eastern hemisphere of the world, you know that Cadbury chocolate, candy and sweets are tops.  Dairy Milk may just be the king of milk chocolate.  And everyone knows about Cadbury eggs!  So why not take a journey to Cadbury World!  Enjoy the best history lesson – where chocolate began, enjoy seeing the original Cadbury shop on a replicated Bull Street (complete with actors!), watch the magic in action as they describe the ingredients and what makes a their milk chocolate exquisite, take a ride through a Cadbury wonderland for the kids, and partake in the Interactive side of Cadbury with simulated “chocolate rain” (song not included).  After all the fun, there’s even a 3-storey play area for the kids to burn off any excess sugar highs.  You’ll have to run past the world’s largest Cadbury store, lest you succumb to temptation that has been brewing since you bought the tickets!

2)      Library of Birmingham

You can’t miss the largest public library in Europe; the 9 Floor (11 if you count the 2 ground floors) Library of Birmingham.  This 400K Book library has a glass elevator, 2 gardens – one for ‘discovery’ and one for serenity, a top floor Shakespearean Memorial room, and an excellent Children’s Library set away from the more quiet areas of the library.

new-birmingham-library11library1 library2 library3

The Library of Birmingham

If the architecture doesn’t draw your kids through the doors, perhaps show them this video about a special collection of books and games, called the Parker Collection.

3)      RoguePlay

And after a trip, you can walk around the city center while enjoying sights and sounds of the boats and canals.  Head on over to Bull Ring for some shopping or even better yet, get the kids enrolled in a Circus skills workshop at RoguePlay.


Usually only once a month, these 2 hour workshops are for kids 7-15 (don’t worry they do have more intensive classes available for the older teens) and “introduces them to a range of Aerial and ground based Circus skills.”  Trapeze, aerial hoops and ground acrobatics all taught by professionals in a safe environment.  But plan ahead – I’ll repeat – these are available only once a month!

 

If you are staying for a longer period of time, you can explore other kid friendly attractions like the Birmingham Nature Center, the BBC public space at The Mailbox where you kids can take part in making their own radio drama complete with sound effects on a tour of the BBC public space, and if they’re truly thespians, take on a day trip over to Stratford-upon-Avon!

5 Ways To Worldschool Without Leaving Home

unschooling

I wish I could worldschool.

This is a sentiment that gets expressed to me often by parents looking to travel and educate their children while on the road. Many want the cultural experiences as well as something to break up the monotony of our daily routines. The great thing I tell people is that they can worldschool, and it doesn’t matter where they are. This stumps them. But I am being honest: yes, travel is a fantastic form of family bonding and education, but you can experience similar elements without leaving your hometown.

1.) Develop a traveler’s mindset

BE AN ADVENTURER! Believe me, this can take some effort for people. I personally get stuck in a ‘bored and tired’ mindframe a lot. I completely forget that I feel better when I acknowledge that life is a mystery waiting to be explored, and even our mundane habits can take on new meaning when we look at them this way.

I learned this when I was in Korea. My husband seemed to be perpetually at work, and I was at home with a toddler all day and a good portion of the evening. I felt desperate. Trapped. Longing for something. One day my attitude shifted and all of a sudden I felt really happy and excited. For God’s sake, I was in Korea! We had a lovely park in our apartment complex! We had some great friends at a local cafe, who basically adopted us. I got to eat kimchi! When this sudden shift happened, the mundane really seemed…cool.

Project:

How can you shift your mindset to that of an explorer and share this outlook with your children?

2.) Pack up the kids and do something different, perhaps out of your comfort zone.

Pick a random day of the week and go somewhere you’ve never been before. It could be a zumba class, or horseback riding. This is a good way to shake things up and it’s a great way to bond with kids. Even if you all hate it, at least you tried it and know it wasn’t for you.

Project:

What classes in your neighborhood could you do with your kids?

3.) Go to the Asian supermarket nearest you

There happen to be a lot of ethnic supermarkets in the Western world, even in some smaller towns. Do you have one that is semi close? Research some dishes you have always wanted to try, make a list and have a family outing to the supermarket. Even if you can get some of the items from a big chain/regular supermarket, go to the ethnic one as the kids may find some unique foods they may want to try that they wouldn’t have seen at a generic store.

Take the groceries home and cook up your new dish!!

Project:

Go to the closest ethnic supermarket and get items to make a meal you have always wanted to make…but haven’t. By some exotic fruits or veg as well, or maybe even Asian snacks ( such as seaweed). Keep a World Food journal with your children to keep track of your trips and your meals, as well as their reactions.

4.) Download some world music

One of the best parts of my summer in Kenya was listening to Brenda, a South African singer who was popular throughout Africa. I covet my CD! My neighbor, who is from Nairobi, got incredibly home sick when I showed it to him, and asked me if he could borrow it. It was a great way to get to know him.

Project:

Have your children pick a country and begin to research pop or traditional music from there, and download it. Some may be harder to find, but sites like Live365.com have free radio stations from around the world.

5.) Begin to simplify your life

Many worldschoolers and folks following Lifestyle Design actually live a simple life. That’s not to say we don’t like some luxuries, but we take a preference for following a simple path ( aka not buying a ton of stuff). I find the best way to begin this process is to make a list with your family of things that are really important to you. What could you do without? How can you free up your time by following a simpler path? This varies from family to family.

We personally try to buy good quality items but from Indie businesses, such as etsy.com, or support our local community by buying from our friends and neighbors.

Project:

Ask your family what you really need to buy, and donate, sell, or throw out unwanted items. Pick up a copy of Living Simply With Children and go over some of the topics discussed in that book

I can’t wait to find more ways to worldschool without leaving your hometown!!

What are some of your ideas on activities you can do with your family?

 

 

The World As A Classroom: Adventures in Family Travel

family travelI am very happy to announce that we have finished The World As A Classroom: Adventures in Family Travel, a photobook filled with pictures from our adventures in Italy, South Korea, Penang, and here in Thailand.

The 68 page book is available for sale on blurb ( see below) in ebook (3.99), hardcover with dust jacket (31.95)  hard cover with Image wrap (34.95) , and softcover (19.95) varieties.

Blurb publishes the best quality photo books available, and they were basically the

only service I found that could offer print on demand and yet retain such quality.

To celebrate, I will be giving away copies of the book!! This week’s giveaway is a copy of the ebook version ( which works on an ipad, iphone, and ipod touch).

To enter, simply subscribe to our blog and comment below!!

Mom Blogger Profile: Lainie from Raising Miro

Quito

One of my long time favorite travel blogs and unschooling sites has been Raising Miro. Lainie and Miro are from LA, where our family lived for 9 years ( Kaya was born there) so it was great to see another LAian who ditched the insane traffic and smog and took to the road! On top of that, Lainie is such an inspiration to us and to thousands of other families around the world; she shows what happens when you raise a global citizen.

 

SF: What prompted you to leave LA and travel? How long have you been gone?

L: In the beginning of 2009, we sold or gave away all of possessions and hit the road for a permanent adventure beginning in July of that same year. We have been traveling throughout Central America & South American for over two years with no stop in sight.

The circumstances that led to our current lifestyle were an amalgamation of many things lining up to create a path of least resistance. There are three main factors that led to our jumping ship from the conventional lifestyle: inspiration, economy and mental sanity.

Being inspired means living a simpler life, something that is now trending in progressive circles, defined through the term ‘lifestyle redesign’. Before I had even heard this phrase, I was itching for a life off the ‘grid’ and outside consumerist cycle of ownership and debt. Professionally, I owned and ran a small branding agency which focused on serving green -eco business, non- profits and conscious business. I really tried to create as much peace as possible within my professional life but I still recognized I was still contributing to the world of consumerism and marketing.

For all of Miro’s life, I have been the primary care-taker, responsible for the well being of my son on my own. This has been a responsibility that brought me the most joy. In addition to being a full time mom I built from the ground up a successful brand, marketing and design agency called jungle [8] for 8 years. In reality, this meant that most of the time, I was overly busy.

One of my most tearful memory is recalling a common phrase I heard from my son say, time after time (after “I love you” of course): “Mom, you work too much. You never spend anytime with me.”

In 2008 the economy took a tumble and business in California were greatly effected. Especially those that relied on the non-profit world as it’s clientele. As a result, jungle [8]’s “bread and butter” clients started going away.

One evening in September 2008, Miro and I were sitting in my office after everyone had left for the night. I remember letting out a grand sigh and looking at Miro and saying “I don’t want to do this anymore… Let’s get rid of everything and find a simpler life, climb a volcano, plant a garden, live in the jungle. Let’s go have an adventure in the world away from this consumerist lifestyle and get back to what really matters. Each other and enjoying life.”

Miro looked at me and smiled. Then he said “I’m in!’

..and that was all it took.

SF: You and Miro are global citizens, and volunteer. Can you tell me more about your lifestyle? Can you make any suggestions to other families looking to help society and enrich their lives by being of service to others?

L: I truly believe borders and boundaries are a thing of the past. There is only one citizenship that holds value, and that is “global citizenship”.

I come from a background of activism, which I no longer subscribe to. In the past, I strived to change the world, make a dent is issues that mattered to me, usually surround civil rights, peace and the earth’s health. This activism was a huge part of my education in compassion. However activism strives to change the world from the outside. Through traveling with my son, I have discovered that all change happens from the inside out. In other words ‘being’ the compassion can effect the world just by virtue of being in the world. By being compassion and interacting and through interacting with the adults and children we encounter, we cannot help but to effect our collective future.

Whether someone chooses to extend that further and volunteer, that’s fine. But it’s definitely not necessary. For us, we both have a lot of passion for animals and my passion for nurturing children has rubbed off on Miro through our latest volunteering experience, where we actually spent two months reading to children, getting them excited about stories and imagination and learned that Miro is a very good teacher. All of our experiences have been in one form or another of serving as we try to immerse ourselves within the communities we settle in.

We live like visiting locals but no matter how hard we try we will never be mistaken as a local. So we embrace our differences and live each day with respect and gratitude for the communities we live in.

Another way we immerse our selves is through learning as much as we can about the history and culture and local rituals, sometimes in the form of cooking, or learning about the local crafts and other times through volunteering. Most of the time though, the best strategy for immersion has been to participate within a given community by being present and connecting through smiles.

SF: When and why did you and Miro decide to unschool?

L: Our original plan was to travel for one year. I initially though for one year, the world would be our school. This was before I ever heard the term “unschooling” . When we left I knew without a doubt that traveling had it’s benefits and the experiences would provide everything Miro needed. I wrote this prior to our trip:

“What about school? What about 5th grade?

Take a year and gain valuable life experience, learn a language, travel through many countries, work on sustainable farms, learn about ecology, volunteer time and energy to make a difference, participate in new cultures, be empowered to make decisions, learn geography, navigation, budgeting, independence and respect. What does 5th grade have to offer in comparison? Nada.”

Since then, we’ve revised our plan to travel until Miro is 18 years old. So, education had to be a part of the plan.

Although during our travels, Miro was not following any schooling curriculum, I noticed he was talking about the things we wrap into neat packages within the formal educational system such as geography, sociology, history, economics, mythology, language and second language, literature, math, science. I sat back one night and realized how brilliant the idea of having the world teach my son was! Engage in life and children (and adults) learn!

Soon thereafter, I discovered the formal name for what we were doing as ‘unschooling’. In some circles it’s called ‘Radically Unschooling’, ‘Worldschooling’ and Roadschooling. There are similar principals to each of those ‘disciplines’ which is based on child-led learning. This is a radical departure form homeschooling circles that teach a formal curriculum only in the home environment.

The whole essence of unschooling is that children, when empowered will learn based on their interests. I have discovered by virtue of being in this world, we can’t help but to learn. Children learn naturally and retain so much more when they are engaged and leading the process themselves. I realized this just by watching Miro blossom and be empowered. What an authentic gift!

I have learned a lot from reading about the “unschooling” concept and have adjusted my approach with Miro ever so slightly. I have learned to take ques from his interests and seek opportunities together for further learning. I have become more involved in his education since he’s left the traditional school environment. I have consciously become more aware and present with his choices. And I have learned to be more communicative with my support and encouragement. And most of all, trusting the process. He is learning and we are sharing the experience. I couldn’t think of a more important role to take in this wonderful world of ours.

As a result of my unschooling education, I am growing as Miro teaches me how to be a better and more effective parent in the process.

SF: What lessons have you learned as a family worldschooling?

L:I think the most profound discovery is people are genuine and kind all over the world. It is easy to connect authentically with anyone by offering a a smile and making eye contact, even when there are language barriers. A smile can be an opening to a world of discovery, learning about different cultures and points of views, an experience Miro and I cherish. We have connected with homeless people on the street, children in impoverished neighborhoods, indigenous mothers, and the cosmopolitan socialites. We have made so many wonderful friends and have had the honor of being invited into so many peoples’ homes to experience a slice of their lives. The people have been the gift in the entire experience and they are the reason we keep exploring.

You can find the traveling duo at…

web site: http://www.raisingmiro.com

twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/ilainie

facebook: http://www.facebook.com/RaisingMiroPodcast

Return to the Andaman Club

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, we did our second visa trip, and went back to the Andaman Club. I was not happy about having to do the near 5 hour drive again,  in the backseat with our toddler- but then I started getting excited. It was such a beautiful drive when we went, and it should us more of Thailand. Plus, the hotel was really nice and inexpensive.

What we decided to do was to break the trip up. We left early in the morning ( hoped Kaya would have slept for most of the drive, but of course…she didn’t) and then got to Ranong in 4 hours. We had some coffee at a very cute cafe that wasn’t far from the pier.

My anxiety kicked in at the customs area, as normally customs and a toddler don’t mix. But this time, it went incredibly well. As Billy filled in the paperwork, Ky worked the customs counter, helped clean the bathrooms ( which were already cleaned), drank cup after cup of water from the water cooler ( it amazed her), all the while mom followed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So then when we left customs, we moved to the waiting area for the boat. You could tell at that point you were going to a resort ( there was a TV, a snack bar, etc). We waited for Papa to get the bags by Kaya looking through her satchel.

When we got to the Andaman Club, we went through customs quickly, took the bus over to the hotel and checked in. Sadly, it was raining and thus Ky didn’t get her swim time ( to her dismay). We also found out that the kids room is not free ( despite the fact that it was empty and we were going to go in with her, and no sign mentioned that). Nonetheless, our stay was nice.The hotel is very morose. Several of the staff ( when we have gone) seem either bored or act curt, save the restaurant staff and the customer service. The restaurant had wonderful food, and is the highlight of the resort island. Although it is small, the food is excellent.I highly recommend the fish congee and the spicy prawn salad with pomelo.

I’m not sure if we’ll need to do a visa run again, as Billy will be teaching a few classes at the University here in Phuket, but I do hope we go back. It is around 60 USD a night, and compared to hopping on a flight and staying overnight in say Singapore, it is a much cheaper option.

I have however enjoyed each trip we made to the Andaman Club and hope one day we will go back.

Check out our flickr account for photos from the trip!

Mom Blog Profile: Jennifer from Edventure Project

Next up in our series is the incredibly beautiful mom of 4, Jennifer Miller from Edventure Project. Jennifer gives some wonderful points that I agree with regarding the debate between various types of homeschooling method ( where each parent has a ‘my way of homeschooling is the best’ attitude). One of the reasons I am doing this series is to show home EVERY family is different, and how wonderful that difference really is.
SF:  Tell us about your family!!

JM: We are a family of six and we’ve been full-time nomads for three and a half years now. Our kids are currently aged 9, 11, 13 (boys) and 15 (Hannah).  We’ve cycled from London, UK, to Tunisia (Africa) and back. That took a year. We’ve road tripped Central America. This past year we spent six months going deep instead of wide in the highlands of Guatemala. We split our time between forward motion, exploring new things, and renting houses in interesting places to deepen our understanding of the cultures we’re experiencing.  We’ve rented in Prague, Marseille, Hammam-Sousse Tunisia, Cape Cod, Guatemala, and a few other places.

SF: What made you decide to live a nomadic lifestyle?
JM: I was raised in a fairly nomadic family. I spent two winters of my childhood exploring North America and focusing on Mexico with my family. At 16 they let me take off to the UK with a friend for a few weeks of solo exploration. To me, life is not life without extensive travel and a dream on the back burner at all times. We knew, from the beginning, that we would travel much with our children. We wanted to get everyone out of diapers before we sold the house and hit the road full time, and that’s what we did.
There are lots of reasons we live the way we do. Not the least of which is that it makes no sense whatsoever to us to spend the best years of our lives working for others, to collect “stuff” that in the end doesn’t leave the planet with you. No one knows what we take out at the end, but at the very best, it’s our relationships and our memories, so we’ve decided to spend our lives investing in those things.  Also, children grow up frighteningly fast. We wanted to take the two decades we have with them and really LIVE it fully, invest our whole selves in their development and education and show them how to live for today and dream big dreams for tomorrow. But more importantly, teach them how to work hard to make those dreams a reality. Our dream is travel, and so that’s what we’re doing.
        SF: You have a mobile income that allows you and your family to travel. Any advice to other families looking to break free from the 9 to 5?
        JM: This is the hardest part for so many people. My husband previously worked for a big name computer company and had a six figure income. People thought we were INSANE when he fired them so that we could ride bikes for a living. That first year was about learning how to live and developing his skills so that he could get work and do it from anywhere. (He spent the 3 mos, in Africa learning iOS programming) This last year has been about tweaking the job situation so that it really is portable and steady. It’s a constant balancing act. So far we’ve made it work.
Advice is tough to give because there are as many ways to make your dreams come true as there are families doing it. You CAN find a way to finance your life if you decide to do it. Choosing a career in technology helps a lot, as that’s where the money is and that’s where the flexibility that allows location independence is too. However, we know people who do a myriad of things to patch the money together, and the only constant seems to be an absolute commitment to your dream and the refusal of failure as an option.  Just jump out of the boat and do it.
         SF: Tell us your thoughts on homeschooling, as well as when you began home education.
         JM: This is a huge topic for me. I’ve spent the last decade or so as an educational consultant and curriculum designer in the home education community and I write regularly for homeschool magazines and other publications. Our children have been homeschooled since birth and we wouldn’t have it any other way. I think the bottom line is that an individualized education is the best possible option for any given child and it’s really important to remember that there’s not ONE way to do it.
There’s a lot of passion and heat on various sides of educational debates, pro or anti- school, homeschool, classical education vs. unschooling, to name a few. There a million subset debates that often serve to make parents unsure of themselves and immobilize them with the fear of the details.
In my experience, the most important thing a family can do, together, is to determine their philosophy of life and education and from there, school will flow quite naturally. There isn’t a “best way” or a “right” way, there is simply the way that works for your child, your family, and your current situation. I encourage parents to think carefully, choose wisely and then walk forward in confidence with little regard for what “everyone else” does or thinks.
              SF: To me, your blog is inspiration in many ways. First of all you have a large family and have retained your sanity all the while traveling the globe. I know my toddler sometimes drives me nuts, no matter where we are. Any advice to moms?
              JM: Ha! Well, I’m glad you find some inspiration in our crazy. My sanity is in question on any given afternoon! We do have a large family, we do travel the globe pretty extensively, and my kids drive me nuts sometimes too.
        As for advice? Again, that’s tough. I try not to give too much advice because every family is so different and as Moms there are so many voices shouting at us about what we should or should not be doing that create false confidence, or guilt in the process. Really, I think the only secret to this motherhood thing is to keep on keepin’ on. Get up every day, forget yesterday’s failures, do your level best and love them like crazy. I’ve learned that it can look like a train wreck at one stage of life and then you find that it wasn’t as bad as you thought later on…. Conversely, it can look like everything is PERFECT and then the other shoe drops and you’re humbled beyond measure as a parent.  All we can do is our best at every given point, and then extend a whole lot of grace, to our kids, our spouses, ourselves and the families around us.
       SF: Do you picture settling down somewhere one day? If so, where?
       JM: Oh yes. In fact, we know exactly where we’ll settle down one day. Our next house will be built on my parent’s property on Wolfe Island, Ontario, Canada. My family has 70 acres on the water that my Dad has spent 35 years making into an oasis for future generations. When I was four I helped my Dad plant baby trees on the property, turns out he planted them carefully around a space for me to build my house one day… which he only told me last year. In order for them to be able to live there as long as they like they’ll need some boys with machetes to clear trails and shovel snow. If there’s one thing we’ve got, it’s boys! It will probably be another 3-5 years at least before we build our home base there. Until then, we wander on! Our next big adventure will be a year in Asia, hopefully starting next spring!
Check out the Miller family on twitter and facebook as well as of course their blog! And head on over to Holistic Dad’s site to see the Dad Blogger series!