“I’d Love to Take a Long Trip but my Children are in School”

Do you have children of school age and you think that taking a long term trip will ruin their chances of getting a good education?

That taking them out of school may lead to them falling behind. Or do you worry that being away for a longer period will make your children feel lonely and they risk losing their friends?

What is the meaning of education?

As we see it, the meaning of education is to learn about the world we live in, how to survive and function in it and how to socialize and cooperate with its people.

The most common scenario for learning is sitting indoors in a room all day together with 20 -30 other children of the same age and from about the same social group, with one adult whose task it is to teach you about the world and the essentials of life. And even though school of course has its function, it’s not the only place to learn about life.

”Homework” in the pool

”Homework” in the pool.
Preparing to go to Australia by reading Terrie & Steve “Crikey” Irwin’s book about their life and Australia Zoo. Who says you have to be sitting in a room on a chair to study? The photo wasn’t a set up, they really did read the book in the pool!

Another scenario could be out in the world itself, gathering first hand experiences. Meeting with different people and seeing new places and learning about them. For learning things like socialization, communication, social studies, geography, languages and history, (well, most things) traveling is fantastic!

Studying about India in India.

Studying about India in India.
This time the “classroom” is a hotel lobby.

Consider everything you can learn just from what’s around you in different places: history and architecture, natural science; animals, climates, time zones, oceans, beaches, deserts, volcanoes, aerodynamics/planes, boats, ships, trains, food, music, art…. not to mention people who tell you about their lives or share their special interests.

Do not let school get in the way of a good education”

There’s so much to learn from just everyday living in a different culture. So many things that invite you to be curious and the acquiring of knowledge when you travel is enormous.

When you travel around in the world, you learn about these things with all your senses. You can hear the sounds, see things with your own eyes, smell the wonderful (or awful) smells, taste the different foods, and feel all the different temperatures.

You collect experiences which become one with you and
help you get references to your life!

To have felt in your body how big a Redwood tree is and how much you actually have to look up to be able to see the top, compared to looking at a picture of it in a book or seeing it on TV. Or to look at the stars and wonder where you’re favorite ones are, they’re not there any more – there are other stars!

You can give your trip a theme if have a special interest you’d like to follow. “The Lord of the Rings” around the world for example

You can give your trip a theme if have a special interest you’d like to follow. “The Lord of the Rings” around the world for example

To experience how long it actually takes to go from Chicago to Seattle on a train, or from Sweden to southern Spain in a car. To feel your insignificance when you compare yourself to the humpback wale swimming next to the boat… or to learn that your new friends in India pay as much (or little) in house tax for a whole year that you pay for an ice cream at home.

These are a few of the things our own children (and we adults too) have experienced and learn from. Maybe the most important lesson of all is learning that we are sharing this world with a lot of other people who, on the outside, can appear different from us but at a closer look see that we are rather alike and have a whole lot in common.

Traveling also allows children the opportunities to get a view of the world that they can’t get at home. It gives them the opportunity to see with their own eyes what things look like compared to other people’s pictures that are delivered to them in books and in the media.

“There’s not just only one way that’s the right way”

Mamma Mu, famous Swedish cow

Mama Mu, famous Swedish cow

“There are lots of ways to acquire knowledge; the classroom is not a place with a monopoly of learning possibilities. Learning can take place all the time and everywhere. Travelling enables you to open your mind and learn in new ways and the learning that takes place while experiencing the world is massive.”

Something to also consider are all the learning opportunities there are in the preparations for a long term trip. To be part the planning process of a big trip is an experience worthy any school project. Like studying and gathering information about different places, helping to create the money to be able to go there. Setting goals and working towards those goals.

A child, old enough to be part of that process, will have many resources to draw from when later doing all kinds of project work at school (and in life in general). When you then are on the road, there are of course things happening that you can’t plan. Challenges undoubtedly turn up and give you even more possibilities to learn and to strengthen your problem solving muscles.

“His perspective of the world has broadened, his vocabulary has increased, he has learned more languages, become more brave, more social, more self confident, more everything”
Lydia, mother, world traveler, journalist and friend

Another dimension of travelling as a child is all the advantages the child can have from these experiences in the future. Adults take a career brake and get new energy, new perspective and learn new things that they have an advantage of when they get back home. So can a break serve children as well, both in their future studies and working life?

And as the world is getting smaller, international experiences become more and more an advantage.

“Experience of living abroad as a child is the single best predictor of success in an international career as an adult”
Edward Hasbrouck, Travel Guru

What about Socialization?

To be concerned about the children’s social life when traveling is not an uncommon concern. And if you believe that a child’s social life must consist of every day being part of a group of 20-30 other children at the same age, traveling might be a bit tricky (if you don’t choose a school abroad of course).

If you, on the other hand, look upon socialization as the ability to be able to be with different kinds of people, children as well as teenagers and adults, people from different cultures and social levels and with different languages, then traveling can provide innumerable ways to improve your social abilities and to create friends for life from all corners of our planet

“The whole world is their home. My son is used to many different ways of living. His ability to adjust to different cultures and languages has made him an urbane and interesting person with good self esteem. I think he sees more possibilities than most people his age”
Lovisa, world traveling single mother and friend

Regarding socialization it can of course be difficult to leave the best friend for a longer period. But then, the relationship can perhaps continue on another level. You can send postcards and letters to each others. You’ll then also have a reason to practice writing plus the friend probably will be very excited to receive greetings from exotic places around the world. Today, you can even continue to talk to each other daily from most places, thanks to the internet and very cheap or even free telephoning.

Maybe the friend can come and visit and travel with you and be part of the journey for a while and give the relationship even more dimensions – new experiences they will be sharing when you get back home.

To travel with children is a fantastic opportunity to give it possibilities to learn about infinite amounts of different things, and sometimes, things that seemed so big and important to study for a test at home, may look like a very small detail compared to all there is to learn out in the world.

The question is maybe not if you can dare to take your child out of school to travel, but if you can dare not to do it.

More ideas on how to handle the school issue when traveling here…

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