Worldschool Adventures

One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about the travel community we’ve become a part of is the number of families I’ve met that have made the same decision as we have to uproot and travel the world.  You could say that they are taking a sabbatical of sorts.  One of these is the Canadian family that makes up Worldschool Adventures.  They are Amy, Mike, Lan and Kayden.  What I like about this family is that they are going through a similar process of planning as we have been and dealing with many of the same issues.  I talked with Amy about why they made this decision to travel overseas with kids as well as what barriers they have encountered along the way.

Tell us a bit about your family and why taking this Worldschool Adventure through Asia is so important to you?  How did this idea come about?  When do you anticipate departing?

We are a family of four and we are preparing for a Worldschool Adventure in Asia.  Our plan is to slow-travel throughout Asia for at least two years, settling down in the places that we love for a few months at a time and moving on when our hearts tell us its time.  Traveling slow with the little ones in tow and letting the world be our teacher!

all of a sudden it became very clear to us that having children did not need to equate to putting traveling on the back burner.

It was on our honeymoon in 2004 when the idea of travel with our future children took seed.  We were backpacking throughout SE Asia when we came across a traveling family in Vietnam.  Mike and I had been planning on starting a family when we got back to Canada and all of a sudden it became very clear to us that having children did not need to equate to putting traveling on the back burner.

We decided to have our two children as close together in age as we could so that by the time we deemed them old enough to travel, we would be prepared financially to do so.  So we came home from Asia and got pregnant.  Nine months after the birth of our first son we were pregnant with our second son.  Our boys are now 3 and 5 years old and we are ready for our next adventure.  Our departure date, however, remains unknown.  We are trying to sell our house and can’t leave until it is sold, so for now we wait.

Throughout the planning stages of your Worldschool Adventure in Asia what are some of the challenges you have faced that might be more unique to families?

One of the biggest issues has been the vaccine debate.  When Mike and I first traveled overseas we didn’t think twice about getting all the recommended vaccines.  But I am weighing the pros and cons of each individual vaccine very carefully for my children.  I am not anti-vaccine, I just want to make sure that we know and understand the inherent risks of the disease as well as the possible reactions to the vaccine.  It has involved a lot of research and I am still not 100% sure on which ones we will be getting.

Vaccines are a big concern for us as well.  We’ve gotten the kids all the standard shots but there are a few that we are being very cautious about.  For your travels which vaccines are recommended and which of those concern you the most with your kids?

We have seen a Travel Doctor and the vaccines recommended to us that were beyond our routine childhood vaccination list were Hep A, Japanese Encephalitis, and Rabies.
The Hep A I had no problems with getting and the children have already had their first round of it.  However, I am very hesitant for the JE Vac because after doing some research I have found that the actual occurrence of JE among travelers is extremely low.  I also talked to another traveling family from England and their travel Doctor there advised them against the vaccine, siting that the ratio of risk of contraction with risk of adverse reaction to the vaccine made it not advisable.  I have to say, it makes me nervous when two different Travel Doctors tell patients different things!

I am also on the fence about the rabies vaccine.  It is a course of three shots that will boost your immune response if you come in contact with the disease.  But even if you have the vaccine you still need to seek immediate medical attention and receive more shots if you have been bit or scratched by a possible rabies carrying animal.  My boys are very cautious with dogs already and are old enough to take instruction in regards to animal safety.  Right now, my line of thought is to do everything we can to avoid rabies carrying animals and to educate our children on the dangers.  If any one of us ever did suffer a bite we would immediately seek medical treatment.

Probably the most asked question I get is how are you paying for your sabbatical year?  How are you addressing the financial aspect of extended world travel?

We have been playing the real estate market for the last six years.  We build our own houses (Mike is a Carpenter) live in them for a while, and then flip them.  This is why we are not able to travel until the house we are in now is sold; we have all of our money tied up into the equity of the home.  So once the house sells we will be drawing upon that equity to fund the trip.

Are you considering any other streams of income to finance your adventure such as monetizing your blog, travel writing, photography, affiliate sales etc.?

This is a question I have been thinking a lot about lately.  I have been trying to figure out what direction I want my blog to take.  My blog was born from passion; it is a creative outlet for me and something that I really enjoy doing.  My main goals for the blog are to just really enjoy the process and to share our adventures with the world, hopefully inspiring other families to begin to think outside the box.  So for now, my answer is no, I don’t want to monetize it.  I don’t want the blogging to become a job or to write posts just to get the numbers up.   If, in the future, a monetizing opportunity came up and it fit with my blog then, yes, I would consider it.  But for now, I am just in it for the joy it brings me and the connections and friendships that I am building along the way.

We’re planning to home school our boys and I know that you’ve been homeschooling (unschooling) your kids for a while now. Can you tell us a bit about that experience and how it’s been working out for your family?

Originally we started to look into homeschooling in preparation for our travels.  We were back and forth on the decision to either keep them out of school all together or to put them in and then pull them out when we started our trip.  After much debate we decided we would keep them out and try our first year of homeschooling in the comfort of our own home.  The method we chose was to unschool, or child-led learning.

I am very pleased with how our first year turned out.  Every day I am surprised by the curiosity in my children.  We have learned about so many things, from letters and numbers to gravity and natural disasters.  We learn about whatever the boys are interested in at the time, and they are always interested in something!

Do you think the way you home school now will change once you are on the road traveling and if so in what ways?

I don’t think the method will change at all.  Unschooling , in my opinion, is the perfect type of homeschooling for long term travel.  What will change, however, is that the learning will be more intense.  We will be immersing ourselves in different cultures, trying different foods, seeing different animals.  Everything will be new to us and our eyes, hearts, and minds will be wide open to receive the wonder.

Are your kids excited about this?  What are some things you’ve done to prepare them for the changes?

My oldest boy is incredibly excited and he talks about it all the time.  We have learned about many of the places we will go through books, stories, pictures, and maps.  He is most excited to see panda bears (his all time favorite animal), the Great Wall, and the Terra Cotta Warriors.

My youngest son is not quite as enthused.  Often when we are talking about the trip he will say “I don’t want to sell the house!”  Although a few months ago we were watching a program about Indonesia and when it was over he said “I want to sell the house tonight!”  He is still at an age where security is very important but I do believe that once we are on the road he will adapt very quickly.  We hope he learns quickly that home doesn’t have to be a physical place, home can be anywhere in the world as long as we are together.

We have tried to prepare them by just talking about it all the time.  The boys see how excited and enthusiastic we are and the enthusiasm rubs off on them.  We constantly tell them stories about trips Mike and I have taken in the past, we show them pictures, and we take them out to ethnic restaurants and try new food at home.  We also talk about possible negatives of the trip like unwanted attention from the locals, nasty public toilets, mosquitoes, smells, heat, etc.

But fear is a part of life and I am more afraid of not living our dreams.

What role has fear played in all of this?  What have you done to push through it and keep moving forward?

Of course there are things we are afraid of.  What if we hate it? What if we get sick?  What if there is an accident?  But fear is a part of life and I am more afraid of not living our dreams.  I always remind myself that we only have this life and it is too precious to waste on fear.  Carpe Diem, seize the day!

Throughout this whole process what is one thing that you’ve learned that you feel would be important for other families planning to travel to know?

The biggest surprise for me was how many other families are doing something similar.  I have received so much support and encouragement from my online community of family travelers, much more support than what most people in my “real” life have given us.  My advice to other families who want to do long-term travel is to get involved on Twitter, Facebook, and forums and “meet” families who are already doing it.  We really are a great community, willing to help, support and answer any questions you may have.

Anything else you want to say to maybe a family who wants to travel the world but doesn’t know where to start?

The first step is just to commit.  Once you make the commitment you can worry about the logistics of it.  You may not be in a position to do it over night, and as with our family, most families will need to plan and save for years.  But don’t give up because it seems hard.  You can do anything you set your mind to!

A great way to find encouragement and figure out logistics is to read the blogs of families who are already doing it.  A simple Google search will help you find long-term family travel blogs and always check to see if there is a blog roll with links to other family blogs that you may not have heard of yet!

If people want to connect more with you where can they find you?




Thanks Amy for taking the time to talk about your impending Worldschool Adventure.  We’re keeping our fingers crossed that you’ll sell that house soon. We’ll see you out on the road very soon.

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