What is Travel Schooling & How Do We Start? Part 1
What is Travel-Schooling and How Do I Get More of it in my Homeschool?
5 Tips from Full-time Traveling Families
Whether you’ve heard it called travel-schooling, world-schooling, or road-schooling, if you’ve been homeschooling for a while, you’ve probably heard of families doing it. Some define it as simply traveling while homeschooling – taking their books on the road wherever they want to go and using what they see along the way to supplement their learning – while others define it as letting their travels define their curriculum for the year – a place where desire-led and environmental learning collide.
However, it’s defined, travel-school relies on freedom – one of the big perks of homeschooling. As homeschooling families, we often aren’t expected to be in any one place every single day, meaning that those of us who love to travel could potentially do math, reading, writing, science, social studies, and all the rest with our kiddos pretty much anywhere in the world in whatever way we choose. But many times, we don’t.
What’s Stopping us from homeschool traveling?
Perhaps we’re afraid our kids won’t learn enough if we’re traveling, or maybe it’s money concerns or health limitations. Some kids make us miserable in the car, and others crave predictability and complain if a day’s schedule is turned upside down. But a lot of times, we just don’t know how to make it work.
We need help understanding how to get all of the necessary subjects covered while we’re away from the books, and sometimes we need permission to imagine that, on certain days, an education gained away from the books might just be better, fuller, and richer than anything we know.
In 2013, after homeschooling for four years in traditional school-at-home fashion, I met a few families online who traveled full-time and took their learning on the road, and I was immediately captivated by the idea. So captivated, in fact, that just a few short months later, we had sold our home and started traveling full-time ourselves. That was over six years ago, and today, I can tell you that my kids have learned far more from traveling while homeschooling than we ever could have in my traditional school-at-home style. Why? Because my kids have been able to see history and science concepts come to life in deserts, mountains, oceans, and with all sorts of wildlife, and because their teacher/mama really comes to life when she’s traveling.
So, if you happen to be a homeschool mama who loves to travel and wishes your homeschool could include more time learning on the road and less time learning at home, these tips from full-time traveling homeschool families might help.
#1 – Start small and scale up slowly.
Go on regular nature walks, join a museum cooperative and visit different branches in your state, visit a few state and national parks close to home each month, look for nature preserves and wildlife sanctuaries nearby, and then do it a little more and go just a little farther until you’re ready for bigger trips. Start with day trips and work your way up to one night away or more. By the time you do, your kids will be older, you will have some successes under your belt, and you’ll likely all be ready for bigger adventures.
#2 – Expect some bumps along the way.
Not everything will be perfect when you launch into a travel-schooling adventure, but chances are, if you know there will be bumps in the road before they come, you’ll be better equipped to overcome them. You will forget someone’s hiking shoes or water bottle and have to go back home to fetch it. Someone will have to go to the bathroom in an extremely inconvenient place. A park or nature center will be closed on the day you drive 50+ miles to visit. And you will overcome those challenges, just like you’ve overcome so many others.
#3 – Research and test out the benefits of travel schooling, world schooling, and roadschooling.
There are hundreds of great blogs, podcasts, books, and social media accounts written and curated by homeschooling parents who have found creative, innovative, and revolutionary ways to educate their children while traveling more, and if you look hard enough, you might even find some compelling arguments for the immense benefits that exist for travel-schooling. Here are a few links to help you understand how to roadschool:
- “How to Homeschool, Roadschool, or Oceanschool” at Togethernessredefined.com
- “Road School Revolutionary War Unit Study” at currentlywandering.com
- “A Different Kind of Education” at tinyshinyhome.com
- “Raising My Daughter on the Road” at tinyasscamper.com
- “Traveling More: Could we Homeschool?” at togethernessredefined.com
- “Roadschooling, Boatschooling, and Beyond” a podcast with thehomeschoolsisters.com
- “Travel with Babies and Toddlers in Tow” a podcast with the Finding Walden crew
- “Raising Kids Off the Grid” a podcast with the Tiny Shiny Home crew
- “Family Adventure, Homeschooling, Travel, and More” a podcast with the Currently Wandering crew
#4 – Don’t compare your first year with someone else’s fifth.
Or better yet, don’t compare your travel schooling attempts with anyone else’s at all. When we started travel-schooling back in 2013, my heart soared every time we had a successful adventure, but when I logged onto social media to share that success with my family and friends, I started to shrink back when my photo of a small nature center showed up right next to another family’s epic photo of Zion National Park. But that was unfair to me, and if you compare your first year attempts with someone else’s fifth-year attempts, it will be unfair to you too. Don’t do it. Instead, compare this year’s attempts with your own attempts last year, or better yet, compare this year’s attempts with five years ago, or ten. You will see your progress so much clearer that way.
#5 – Embrace the unexpected opportunities for learning.
If you plan to study insects for the first six weeks of school but find a phenomenal dolphin research center only minutes away from where your husband will be on his next business trip, bring the kids along on the trip, get to that dolphin center, and embrace learning about cetaceans for a couple of weeks. If you’re studying marine biology but find that a world-renowned eagle expert is coming to a nearby nature center to give a talk, reserve seats at the talk for yourself and your kiddos and embrace learning about birds of prey for a while too. And if you end up taking a long road trip to visit a national park that everyone is excited to see, get yourself signed up for a platinum Audible membership and let your kids select a fun, addictive book series the whole family will enjoy while you drive. Here’s a list of some of my family’s favorites. Don’t be so stuck in your own lesson plans that you let valuable learning experiences pass you by. Reach out and grab them instead, and before you know it, you will be on more travel schooling adventures than you ever thought possible.
Want to know more about travel schooling?
You can find loads more links and a list of the homeschool resources we’ve used while traveling full-time over on our travel blog by clicking here or by reading our “Traveling More” series at togethernessredefined.com. Make sure you read her newest post Making a Case for Worldschooling!
Celeste Orr is a writer, reader, nonprofit guru, sociology nerd, hiker, sailor, full-time traveling Georgia-born mama to two boys. She has been homeschooling since 2009 and loves all things family travel and adventure related. She is also passionate about helping families choose togetherness and outdoor adventure, even if it means bucking the system and going their own way sometimes. She shares tips and articles to help families in the areas of travel, relationships, and choosing their own path at togethernessredefined.com.