The World is Our Classroom-Long Term Travel and Education

The World is Our Classroom-Long Term Travel and Education

When I was pregnant with our son Jackson, Clark and I had a lot of interesting conversations that wouldn’t be anything more than theory for a long time.

Will we buy him a car when he is 16?  How will we discipline him?   What will his bedtime be?  What will his curfew in high school be?  Will we make him have a job while in school?  Will he go to school?

I was pregnant. Jackson wasn’t even born yet. To say the least…these issues were not pressing.

We had some time to work these things out, but this is how we have always been. We really want to lead an examined life. A life that we direct, to the extent we can. We talk about these issues, the philosophical and the practical all the time. We look at other people’s lives and try to analyze what is working and not working for them.

It is exhausting sometimes. BUT we are driven.

This brings me to the topic of school. I mean if we are going to do full-time long-term travel we have to think about our kids schooling. Right?

Truth is that we had settled on non-traditional school long before we settled on long-term travel. I will come right out and say that we have some radical ideas about school. Here are a few questions that always bothered me.

  • Why do kids love to learn, have an unquenchable thirst to learn until they go to school?
  • Why is there “school” and the “real world”?

Why does the kitchen from a home circa 1950 look vastly different to a modern one yet the classroom looks almost the same?











These have been like splinters in my mind. I couldn’t get rid of the nagging thought that there had to be a better way.

They have been developing for years and we are just now starting to put them into practice. These ideas have been evolving over hours and hours of conversation, observations of other family members and their kids, friends, blogs, research and soul-searching. This is how we really all learn isn’t it? Why don’t we teach our kids this way? We are going to!

My particular journey away from public school started as a religious quam. I didn’t like many of the things that were being taught and the hostility my kids would face as Christians  in that system. That was just the beginning though. Once I had decided that my kids wouldn’t be in the public schools I started questioning everything.

When Clark left his job and we went through those years of transitioning from salary to patchwork income we made the decision that if it wasn’t good enough for us to simply trade our time for money why would we put our kids in a school system that basically trains kids to trade their time for grades?

Many people have written on how our school system is set up to produce factory workers, not thinkers and innovators.  (Note: I hope all the teachers out there aren’t up in arms. I really don’t blame you for any of this. I admire your skills and resolve, but think you are working in a broken system, hindered from doing what you are really capable of!)

As we transitioned away from private schools to a homeschool model I saw many people who were just “doing school at home”. This seemed like the worst scenario to me. If you are going to just move the system into your home why not take advantage of all that the schools can offer your kids? Why try to recreate the same broken wheel with your own tools?

Then I came across Unschooling, World Schooling or Interest Led Learning. It was like someone had been listening into our conversations, hearing our struggle and had the answer. It is not school at all. It is living. Teaching as we go. Letting our kids focus on what interests them, bring in resources to encourage their own curiosity. I think it is really teaching kids how to be in awe of the “real world”, be inquisitive and be resourceful in finding answers to that inquisitiveness. Once you instill those qualities knowledge and skills will follow.

Christina Pilkington from Interest Led Learning writes it beautifully in her poem Instead. I love the last lines…

“Instead of allowing someone else to direct our time and attention for most of the day

we’re taking responsibility for those ourselves: dreaming, planning, imagining, inventing, and living.

Instead of waiting for the life we’ve always wanted, or until someone tells us we’re qualified enough or have passed enough tests

we’re free to live the lives we want to now.”


I know everyone has different thoughts on this hot topic (great post on why it is touchy!). Each family is different and has different personalities and skills, time and priorities, but for us this just seems so right. We can take our kids on this journey with us.

Their learning won’t be disrupted by our travel it will be exponentially enhanced. We won’t bring binders of homework for our kids to try to make up but will learn each day and in each place right where we are.
If all works well our families interests will be the curriculum and the world will be our classroom.

What are your thoughts on educating your kids?

  • I love your analogy to the kitchen and it is so true! We’ve learned so much about education, yet we still keep doing things the same way. We have chosen a hybrid education model that includes some formal study (for math and grammar) and some interest led study (for history, science,). I don’t think it is a mistake that they score higher on their tests in the interest led subjects.

    • Jessica,
      That sounds like a good model. I think the most important thing is to keep reevaluating my methods. Making sure I don’t fall into the trap of thinking I have to stick with a particular philosophy if it isn’t working for my kids.

  • Amy

    As you know we unschool our children. Now that we have started I really can’t see it happening any other way for our family. One of my unschooling friend’s father is a long time teacher and principal. He told her he thought that what she was doing was the “Cadillac of education.”

    Enjoy the ride! Once you start to notice all the learning that is happening you will be amazed!

    • Amy,
      I think that is how we will be too. Like I always tell people who ask when we are going to start homeschooling our kids. I reply “I already have, you should have seen them when they were born, they couldn’t do anything!”
      It is just natural for me to teach my kids. Why would I stop just because they turn 5.

  • Travel for me is the only true education, everything else is a bonus. When we travel, my kids learn how to be open to the world not have a closed mind and be open for everything.

    My goal is to make them global citizens!

    • Marina,
      You are right…travel teaches our kids so much and more than we even know. Thanks for the comment!

  • Monica, thanks for the inspiration. I know deep down inside that there is something about the current school system that strips away the love of learning, tries to fit a natural square peg into a round hole. i.e. my daughter loves reading, but shuts down when it comes to reading to fulfill her “reading contract” – reading contract, really?? – Still, I find myself torn between giving her the freedom to seek out reading when she wants to (will she? = my fear) and encouraging her to respect rules and authority and getting the necessary reading practice in. I believe in unschooling philosophically, but I can’t get over the fear that my children will miss out on something they’re supposed to learn (“supposed to learn” sounds so silly when I actually write it down). Thanks for the pep talk!

    • Heidi,
      I think we all have those fears, public school, homeschool or whatever. I also think we have really been brainwashed into believing that our kids need to learn particular things in a particular way at a particular time and if we dont our kids will be doomed to working in a low paying dead end job.
      Think about all you have learned since you got out of school, things you needed to be a success. You learned then on your own and it probably didnt doom you. Also thingk about all the useless things that you had to learn that didnt benefit you at all.

  • We totally agree with you about the education system. Funny we were just having a conversation about that the other night. We said, there’s no way we’d have anyone but leaders teach our kids. Of course this is all hypothetical because we don’t plan on having children. But if we did, we’d follow your lead!

    Good for you for knowing the difference.

  • Thanks so much for mentioning my poem. I’m glad you like it! I have to pinch myself sometimes to remind myself that our life is real. It’s not like there aren’t days when I get really impatient or we’re just cranky with each other, but for the most part each day is wonderful and full of surprises. I’m so glad your family can experience this, too. Your kids are still young like mine, so I look forward to watching your kids growing up, learning in freedom, and having the time of their lives travelling.

    • I have been really inspired by your site and especially the poem. It is beautiful. Thank you for all you do.

  • Pingback: 4 Ways Travel Can Dispel Myths About Homeschooling | Family Trek()

  • Angela Riggs

    After 20 years in the business of education and a mother of a college aged daughter, I completely agree that traveling with children develops skills in language, intellectual, social and emotional development. Our yearly girl’s trips reinforced what she learned in school and created new pathways to learning!

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