I Took My Daughter Out Of Highschool To Travel Full-time
I get two reactions when people hear this. The first is an awkward silence and some serious judgement, like I’m the most irresponsible parent ever and I’m ruining my child’s future. The second, and most common, is pleasant surprise accompanied by regret that they couldn’t do the same. I say why the hell not?
Let’s get one thing straight, my daughter Musau is not a highschool dropout. She is enrolled in a fabulous school that has no buildings and all students and staff work remotely. At 17 she has grown up on several continents and is no stranger to travel, as we have made this a priority. And no, we are not rich. Like most other travellers will tell you, we make sacrifices in many areas of our lives, so that we can use our limited funds towards that which is meaningful to us.
Musau was in a school she loved in India but my contract as a school administrator was wrapping up and our visas were expiring. We returned to Canada and looked at schools there. Her options were not great and after spending so many years away from Canada she was feeling out of sync with most teens there. Instead of taking on a new job (I let 3 good offers go) we decided to take our savings from my last job and travel for a year. This is not luxury travel. This is backpacks and local buses. It is the best decision we ever made.
Many people are so stuck when it comes to their children’s schooling and understandably so. We buy into this whole step by step plan on how to get our child into the best universities and for some it starts with preschool. Any deviation from this narrow path feels like we will jeopardize our kid’s whole future.
My take on it is that schooling is about education and what better way is there to create well-educated, well-rounded humans who have the ability to contribute to society in a meaningful way, than to show them the world. Please trust me, universities will love the fact that your child has had a truly holistic education. I am proud of the caring, open-minded person Musau is and I know travel has played a huge role in the way she sees herself so easily connected to other people. She has also gained invaluable life skills when it comes to safety, budgeting, time-management and human interactions. Together we are having wonderful adventures and testing our physical and emotional limits. She has learned that we make mistakes, laugh them off and keep going.
Please do not believe me to be arrogant enough to think I’m the first to do this. So many families are worldschooling their kids. We have seen countless people travelling with young children. We even met a couple of families hiking the Himalayas with their toddlers. We have also met many many young adult travellers. So far we have not come across any families with teens doing long-term travel. They are out there and we applaud them.
My advice would be that if you are one of those parents who has wished to travel with your kid/s but think it is impossible, think again. It might take a couple years of saving. It might mean giving up on the big house with a big mortgage. Money may not be an issue. It might just take creating a vision and going for it. You may even be able to do your job remotely. Whatever your situation is, just know that there are so many paths out there and no reason to get stuck on just one, especially if it doesn’t make you or your child happy. Dream big, live bigger!