Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.
Hey I’m Laura – mama of the family, my hubby is Tabes and we have three children; Joshua is 8, Holly who’s 6 and our youngest Natalie is 4. We sold everything we owned at the end of 2019 for an adventure around the world.
The very next day a friend raved to me about a traveling forest school. So of course I had to find out more…the school stays in one location for 3 months before having a month off and then moving to it’s next destination for 3 months. I got in touch and as luck would have it a family had pulled out and the spaces were ours.
The problem was we had nine days before we needed to fly out and it was Christmas. Nonetheless a hectic week later, myself and my three kids boarded our plane from the U.K. to the Dominican Republic. From icy winter to tropical Caribbean beaches. Parenting solo while my husband stayed for work commitments.
What made you decide that you wanted to provide a life of travel for yourself and your kids?
Our reasons were mainly centred around:
-Become closer as a family.
-Create lifelong memories and an awesome education.
-Become immersed in different cultures, ways of life and background leading to more openness of mind and heart.
-Be happier with less.
-Love our planet and the nature within it.
Are your friends and family supportive of you and the travel lifestyle you live?
Friends are extremely supportive. When we first told them they were obviously sad that we wouldn’t see each other every week but they were excited for us. We’re in touch all the time sharing pictures and stories and catching up when can.
Family have come to expect us to live in a slightly unique way! I don’t think they’re ever surprised with a new venture now. None of our immediate family have done anything like this so I guess it’s hard for them to always understand our whys but they always have our backs and are there at the end of the phone. We find people back home planning their holidays around our plans too so they can hopefully tag along to bits.
Can you tell us a little bit about your homeschooling journey and traveling forest school?
We have homeschooled from the beginning of parenting. We remember chatting about education pre-kids when I was a school teacher and how we would take our kids to the places first-hand that they were learning about to cement the knowledge and skills they were developing. Our children are world schooled now – we have taken our home educating style with us.
After lots of experimentation and the knowledge that it might change with the seasons, we currently love project based learning. This is where we act as facilitators and mentors to the children’s choice of project. The children have complete reins over what they want to study and the way in which they will carry out their projects. We are there to gently support and encompass learning into this.
As I mentioned, before COVID hit we had joined a global traveling forest school which enhanced their learning immensely. This school is based in nature in the mornings and then in a school building in the afternoons where the children compete clubs, projects and team games. The start of the year saw their classroom on tropical beaches in the Dominican Republic, the next term was due to be in the Spanish Pyrenees right now before ending the year in Bali.
How have your kids benefited most from traveling?
Traveling with kids is the best thing! Experiencing new things together as a family. Embracing new cultures, languages, ways of life, food, activities… Being together as a family.
Traveling while learning benefits the children so much. It offers something a stationary school just can’t. It puts the learning into first hand experience. The focus shifts to valuable life skills, learning language in context, putting science and nature into action in completely different environments. It truly is a magnificent gift for our kids. And we hope it is providing lifelong memories.
What has been the best “kid-friendly” city you’ve visited? What made it the best?
We love finding a balance between stunning nature and bustling cities. Cities offer us the chance to visit museums, attractions, libraries and shops. We love noisy street life interspersed with those great parks you find in cities. Our home city, London, remains one of our favourites. But if we had to pick just one top city we would say Paris.
Whilst there are some countries that would be chosen above this for the beautiful love they have for kids, the top city would be Paris. We love the fact that it is small enough that we can walk around it easily enough. The kids love it because the famous landmarks are so recognisable. The combination of great art galleries and museums with parks makes it a manageable city with young kids.
Our favourite gallery is the Museé Picasso because the children find his artwork so fun. We loved taking boat rides. And of course – Disneyland is so close to the centre and adds such a magical memory to the city. Other amazing day trips from Paris with kids include Giverny – Claude Monet’s former house, home to his stunning lily ponds. And the palace of Versailles.
Have you tried any foods on your travels that your kids absolutely love?
If you knew one thing about our kids is that they LOVE foods! Any food, especially new cuisines. It’s the thing they were most excited about when we first started chatting about traveling. They adore Greek food especially Souvlaki. They loved eating fried plantain in the Dominican Republic. We have a family rule that we always try new things and this extends to food. They are most excited to visit Japan for its cuisine.
What’s the biggest criticism you’ve received about your choice to live a life of travel?
I guess we feel super lucky as we haven’t really been criticized for this life choice. The main thing we hear from people is how much they wish they I guess we feel super lucky as we haven’t really been criticised for this life choice. The main thing we hear from people is how much they wish they were able to do something similar.
From chatting to people it seems the main barriers holding them back are financial. When we told everyone about homeschooling we faced a few concerns from people that they would be missing out on social bonding, and academic learning. However, as anyone who homeschools would tell you this couldn’t be further from reality. With the travel school we attend they are able to form bonds daily but in unique classrooms!
Beyond the school when we travel by ourselves, although we miss the social connections that deepen as you spend consistent time together we are never short of new friends and new bonds. Travelling forces you to socially interact and chat to new people.
Do you have any travel goals that you are currently trying to accomplish?
Our main goals mirror our reasons for beginning. We want to become closer in both our marriage and as a family. We want to spend quality fun time together while we are still relatively young rather than wait until retirement age. We want to be of service to others and develop an open heart and mind. For our kids we want to develop braveness, respect and kindness.
Our bucket list revolves around animal experiences. Holly wants to swim with dolphins in the wild, Joshua wants to trek with tigers, Natalie would love to see elephants whilst Tabes can’t wait to put eyes on a giant anteater in South America. Country goals are being added to all the time but the top one at the moment is New Zealand.
What’s the worst part and the best part about traveling with your kids?
The most challenging part of travel with kids is that it does cost more than you’d pay as a solo/couple because we prioritise staying in safe, good locations. It’s different not having the support of family and friends to help raise the children and give us much needed time off. This means finding ways to create this time for our marriage on the road. The positives of travelling with kids far outweigh all of this.
They see the world with fresh eyes, they see it in a positive light, they see beauty everywhere. They live in a slow paced manner which allows us to see the details in our adventure. This means we can experience the fun of our childhoods again – climbing trees, playing in pools, being adventurous and silly!
What advice would you give to someone who is nervous about traveling with their kids for the first time?
My advice is to go for it. What is holding you back? There will be a way to overcome a barrier. It may take hard work, persistence and a complete change of career direction but if your desire to travel is there then you can make it happen. Yes flying with toddlers can be a challenge and can require copious snacks and activities but the magic of zooming through the sky and getting off the plane in a brand new place never ceases to amaze even the youngest family member.
Top tips – when you arrive find a park, play area or something active to do. Pack lightly – the stress of lugging around mountains of unnecessary stuff is exhausting and leads to snappy parents (speaking from experience!). Lastly – children learn what they live. If we are positive, excited and calm then the children emulate this feeling.
You can follow along with Laura and her family on Instagram and her blog!
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