By Dave Seminara
For travellers accustomed to picking up at the drop of a hat and jetting off to Rio or Riyadh without a care in the world, becoming a parent can be a culture shock. So long to travelling light. Goodbye bargain off-peak airfares; hello pricey, crowded, peak-season holidays.
But in the growing movement of worldschooling, parents don’t believe you have to postpone your travel goals until the kids are grown up.
The Australian-Canadian Tupy Family is travelling overland in a VW Kombi bus from Cusco to Niagara Falls and bloggingabout the experience. Talon Windwalker left his job as a hospice chaplain six years ago to travel full-time with his son, Tiger, then 9.
Lainie Liberti and her son Miro traded in a comfortable upper-middle class lifestyle in Los Angeles for a life on the road seven years ago and haven’t looked back. They blog, run a small fair-trade business hosting retreats for other worldschoolers, and have started a Facebook group for the worldschooling community that has grown to nearly 10,000 members.
All the children learn while travelling, though every worldschooling family has a different approach. Some insist on formal lessons and use the same curriculums their children would be working on in their home countries. Others prefer a less rigid approach, working on the assumption that kids learn best through their own life experiences on the road. The common bond is the shared belief that travel is an essential part of being a well-educated and well-rounded person.
Two-and-half years ago, I met the Snaiths, a British family of four: Gilly, a former biology teacher, Steve, an accountant who retired young, and their girls, Lucy, then 5, and Alisha, then 8, at a monkey sanctuary in Belize. Their guide was teaching the girls about monkeys and Belize’s distinctive Kriol dialect. I saw their impressive truck and struck up a conversation.
I learned that the Snaiths, who blog on their site Overlanding Family, had driven to Belize from Canada, and planned to spend four years travelling to all seven continents. I was curious and a bit incredulous – how was that possible, I wondered – and began to follow their blog. Sure enough, the Snaiths have made slow and steady progress right across the globe. They have formal classroom time in the truck for two hours each day, using a UK curriculum for some subjects and topical lessons specific to the place they’re in for others.