Almost every family takes a trip in their lifetime. Maybe to see grandma and grandpa, maybe to a National Park, or maybe just to the park down the street. Each of these journeys are learning experiences, whether you realize it or not. You do not need to jet set around the globe to have a successful World School experience, you simply need to be engaged and aware as you interact with the world and your surroundings. Remember your home area IS exotic to someone else! Others may travel far and wide to learn about you and your customs and culture.
Maybe the journey IS the experience – like hiking in the woods or rafting down a canyon. Or maybe the journey is a means to an end. If you’re treating the journey as a way to go from point A to point B, you’ll likely end up frustrated and exhausted with the children by the end of the journey. Remember, children learn by doing! Every new, exciting moment fills their energy tank just a little bit more. They want to explore, experience, ask questions, touch, feel, see and smell EVERYTHING. Any parent who is rushing, tired, and wishes to disengage will ultimately end up with a less than wonderful experience.
Don’t drag your child around like a suitcase. Rather, plan to give yourself time to notice the details. Show up early to the airport or train station. Buy your tickets and look at them. What do they tell you? Where should you go next? How much did it cost? What time does it leave? What time is it now? So how long do we have? These questions will all depend on the age and educational level of your children, but there’s literally thousands of things they could learn from this simple experience of buying a ticket for a ride on any form of transportation. Have them look at the map and show the route. If you’re open ended, even let them pick the route. Then they really “own” the experience and will want to make it enjoyable because they picked it out.
Parents focused on the children and children engaged in learning will thrive on these outings rather than struggling and enduring the events of the day. Pushing a toy, book, or electronic screen at a child will only last for so long. But why waste an opportunity for new understandings? Of course, having activities readily available is a great idea, but should be the default when time has worn on and the newness of the situation has worn off.
There are many types of travel which will depend on the families time schedule, wants, needs, budget, and skill sets. If you work and the kids are in school, then you’ll need to go on shorter vacation style travel experiences during holidays. If you’ve sold everything and work location independent or live on investments or savings, you often will choose slower forms of travel where you live in an RV or on a boat, ride bikes across the country, or set yourself up with a long term, budget friendly rental. There is no right or wrong way to travel. All types of travel have their pros and cons and each family must weigh them as they go. Weigh the pros and cons of the different modes of travel here. And the target is dynamic as the budget varies, the kids grow, and the needs change.
There are many different ways that people finance travel. Often the slow travelers have mastered skills along the way that make their cost of living significantly less than their expenses in their home country. They may travel in affordable areas, take local transportation (bus or foot rather than taxi or rental car), and participate in local events (free) rather than tourist staged events (usually a presentation for a price). When you fly to Hawaii for a week, you indulge in the intro to SCUBA activity, the cultural show and feast, horseback riding on the beach, take a tour to the volcano, and a helicopter tour of the backside of the island with the falls and lush mountainscapes. These are awesome experiences and memories!! If you only have a week and can afford to do it, it’s a great way to go! A slow traveler may also see those highlights, but over time. They may hike to the waterfall, go with a local friend to the volcano, have dinner at a friend’s house to experience the local foods, and attend a cultural celebration which may include traditional dancing, maybe at a school event. To do these things, you have to immerse in a society and build relationships. A one week trip simply doesn’t allow for too much bonding. If you wait for a dinner invite, you may have spent your entire week just trying to learn about the local cuisine and will miss everything else. So the style of travel is dependent on many factors relating to the person/people doing the travel and there is no “right” or “normal” style.
People worry about traveling with young children also. Even if the parents make it over the hurdle, friends and family will surely tell them they are insane for traveling with a small child. There are babies all over the world!!! Somehow they are surviving. They key to traveling with an infant or toddler is to make sure you’ve met their needs first. Are they hungry or thirsty? It doesn’t take a new parent very long to start traveling with food and drinks stashed away in a diaper bag or purse. Are the baby tired? Teach them to sleep anywhere and anyhow and you’ll be much better off! If they need a perfect environment, quiet, or their own bed, to be able to sleep, you will have a very hard time establishing that on the road! When my first daughter was born, the nurse told me to vacuum around her when she slept, run the radio, talk in a normal voice and whatever I would normally do during the day. This way she learns to tune out the sounds or sleep with them. It’s worked like a charm!
Children of all ages can travel and there are children of all ages around the globe surviving and thriving! Just make sure to focus on their needs (not cater to their demands), slow it down, don’t over stimulate them, and engage their curiosity. Indulge their questions, even those repetitive “why?” “why?” “why?” This is simple talk for “I want to know more!”
The big question is – Where do you want to go?? This Earth is a large place (but feeling smaller all the time). What are your goals? Do you want to check boxes of how many countries you’ve been in and how many miles you’ve traveled? Do you want to meet cultures that have fascinated you? Do you want to get outside of your comfort zone and do and try things you’ve never thought you were capable of? Do you love National Parks? Is there a picture of a place you’ve seen and thought, I really need to see that in person? Are you having a hard time teaching history and want to do a Medieval Castle tour or maybe visit historic WWII sites? Maybe you’re not sure.
Explore this site for answers to your questions and inspiration for your dreams! Read the Family Travel Blogs for tips and ideas. Read the Blogs About Finance for real life numbers from traveling families. Look at the Instagram photos of World School Families. Ask specific questions from World School families in the forums. Look through the Travel Directory for inspiration and ideas of places to go and things to do. Realize that travel does not need to mean selling everything and going long distances to far away places. It can mean a trip to the farm or going to tour a local factory. Start small, get your toes in the water, and slowly, but surely build up to the lifestyle you’ve been dreaming about but hesitating to indulge in.