I want my children to speak at least one additional language than our native one. I want to immerse them in another language, but I am not ready to sell everything to travel the world or settle somewhere else long term. How am I going to encourage language learning while staying true to my unschooling philosophy? Just how do I make the world my classroom?
In every sense, I want the world to be the classroom
That’s when I stumbled upon the idea of slow travel; living somewhere for for a few months, while still being able to come home when we are ready. Some call this worldschooling.
➜ Read about our life in Mexico, moving there was a big change we made a year after this post was written!
The beauty of this idea is that anyone can do it. I know if both parents are working full time, it may be a little more difficult to plan a large amount of time to stay out of the US (or your home country), but if it is worth doing for you, you can work towards that goal. If your kids are in school during the school year, it is still possible to spend a month or two in the country of your choice in the summertime. There will be a huge educational impact, even if you don’t forcefully try to make it educational.
Go On Real Life Adventures with Your Kids
Travel takes us out of our comfort zone. Sometimes, it takes us way out of comfort zone and the act of travel can only be appreciated once we are home.
As your children get older, they can participate in the planning within the travel budget. In addition to learning just how to stay within your financial means, they can help choose the destinations and can learn things about the destination beforehand. Can you imagine seeing the Sistine Chapel or the Coliseum right after you first heard about them? Or traveling somewhere off the beaten path that is filled with rich, historical sites, such as Azerbaijan?
When I was 11, my mother took me to France. It was incredible for many reasons, including it being the first time I was on an airplane. We toured the Eiffel Tower and the Catacombs, and saw the Arc de Triomphe and Mont St. Michel. I’d learned of most of these landmarks in school. I’d not yet heard of the Catacombs and they still made an impact! That trip to France included staying overnight in Switzerland and driving through Monaco. I’m grateful for that trip, as I haven’t yet been able to return to Europe.
Other than that amazing trip, our travels were mostly contained to US and Canada road trips. I credit those with my current desire to travel with my children.
It isn’t Only about visiting educational sites
While visiting important historical sites is educational, even just the act of traveling itself is filled with learning opportunities. Going to a market or restaurant and trying to order in the local language can be a huge challenge and occasionally filled with embarrassment. Mispronouncing a word in a different language could mean you accidentally said something offensive. Don’t forget to pronounce the ñ in the Spanish word año, for an example!
How on earth are we going to afford 2 or 3 months of travel per year? We have bills, a mortgage, and pets. First, we have to want it and make a family budget. Second, travel hacking! This involves getting and using frequent flyer miles to get to those amazing destinations. Additionally, slow travel is more budget-friendly than flying from place to place.
Budgeting for travel takes some sacrifice. It is a good start to learning about delayed gratification. “If I skip eating Chipotle today, I can save that $7 for my trip!” I wish I’d thought many years ago. While $7 doesn’t seem like much today, it adds up over time. Packing my lunch every day for work, instead of going to Chipotle three times a week would’ve saved me around $1,000 per year. However, I hadn’t yet changed my mindset into that of a travel one. I allowed my daily stresses to dictate my life.
While I don’t know what the future holds
Even though plans can go awry and a financial problem can pop up, it’s still ideal to work towards your travel goals. When you keep them in mind, you’ll persevere and land on that exotic beach eventually, even if you have car trouble today. Travel is worth it! Go forth and make the world YOUR classroom, too.
How do you plan for your travels? Do you stick to a budget or just go and throw caution to the wind? Do you travel slow and immerse yourself in a language or culture?