One of our dreams all through our homeschool journey was that one day we would be able to take a year out and go travelling with our family – early on we had met another family who had spent some time going around the States in an RV and the idea of taking a family ‘gap year’ was always a ‘maybe one day….’ at the back of our minds.
This dream became a reality for us when we were blessed with some unexpected finances and worked out that if we rented out our house to students it might actually be possible for 7 of us to go around the world! One of our big motivations for travelling was to reconnect with friends in other countries who we had grown close to – Uni friends, homeschoolers, Church families who had moved. We planned our route focusing on the places where we could visit friends – Perth, Cairns, Melbourne, New Zealand, America, Canada.
We picked a year shortly before our eldest was due to start sixth form and our youngest was 7 (just about old enough for the trip to be memorable!). We discovered various housesitting websites and much to our amazement found that there were people out there willing for a family of 7 to come and stay in their houses while they were on holiday (this, and staying with friends some of the time really eased the finances – when we couldn’t get free accommodation we used airbnbs). We got to look after various dogs, cats, chickens, violent roosters, cows, sheep and Alpacas along the way which all added to the experience! We managed to get free cars in some of the places we travelled by connecting with other home-school families before we went via facebook groups (God blessed us with vans in Perth & Cairns (from strangers) and our friends lent us their 8 seater van the whole 6 months we were in NZ).
In terms of education for us it was mainly about the adventure and the experience but we did take along some maths and English books – which we used on the days/weeks when we were more settled and not travelling/visiting. On the whole we read lots of books about the places we travelled and did as much sight-seeing as we could afford! We listened to endless hours of audiobooks together on our many epic car journeys and played hours of games at airports and in downtime.
We spent 6 months in NZ and had a really special time getting to know some Kiwi homeschool families, going to a church and ‘doing normal life’ a little bit in another country. A friend from the UK came out and spent 2 months travelling & staying with us as well.
All in all it was an amazing adventure, something our family will always remember which brought us closer together and opened our eyes to what a big, beautiful world we live in! I don’t think it’s something we would ever have considered doing if we hadn’t already been homeschooling!
Story shared by Mary and uploaded by Streams.