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|Home / College Guide / We homeschool our kids while traveling the world on a shoestring budget
| Posted on Monday, February 12 @ 00:00:04 PST
- Beth McCarter and her husband took their children out of school to try “world education” three years ago.
- They maintain a modest budget by renting out their home, spending less and traveling slowly.
- She is criticized by her in-laws, but has no plans to stop being homeschooled and traveling the world.
“Look, kids, the shark is right under the boat!” I shout, pointing at the disappearing fin. My 7 year old pinches his nose and dives.
“Wheee!” My 5 year old screams, already halfway down the boat ladder. I take a quick picture and rush after them. I’m just as eager to see the shark up close.
It’s Tuesday and we’re technically “in school”. Instead of drawing different ecosystems while sitting in the classroom, today’s lesson plan involves snorkeling off the coast of Tahiti to observe blacktip reef sharks in their natural habitat.
While it’s not your average school day, it’s been the usual holiday since I quit my teaching job to homeschool my kids over three years ago. Since then, we’ve traveled through Europe, Mexico, French Polynesia, and most of the southern United States, all on a shoestring budget.
The trip was always in the plan
Our transition to global education was a long one.
Back in college, before I got married, I told my now-husband that I would never be happy settling down. “Okay, let’s go around the world!” he said.
The journey didn’t start right away as we took a few years off to have kids and start our careers. But after teaching in Texas for 7 years, gun violence and the school system’s disregard for staff well-being prompted me to accelerate what had always been my plan.
After my husband found a job that allowed him to work online, I quit my job, pulled the kids out of school, rented out the house, and moved to France for three months.
Adjusting our lifestyle
We learned the hard way that financing worldschooling is easier when you don’t have a lot of debt. Our first trip was planned without dealing with this problem, since at the time buying plane tickets sounded much more attractive than paying off old credit cards.
These days, we look for the best travel deals before deciding on a plan. Our biggest find was when we paid less than $200 each for tickets to France from the US, including our pets.
In order to enjoy a global education without the stress of worrying about money, we need to balance our financial responsibility with our desire to travel.
We started downsizing early and have tried to embrace minimalism when the kids let us.
Choosing what to do with our car and house was another big piece of the puzzle. We are now renting out our house so we can build equity while someone else pays the mortgage. We keep our car at my parents house and also sleep with them when we are in town in exchange for helping out on the farm.
These days, our family is constantly on the go. We travel across the US and aim to travel abroad at least once a year. We homeschool and work full-time from our laptops on the road.
To keep our lifestyle sustainable, we are constantly changing our budget. Back when we were teachers, we used to go to the mall and end up blowing our budget. Now we know how much we enjoy experiencing travel instead of mindless shopping and eating out. We save when possible and are always looking for ways to increase our online income.
We’ve found that balancing a frugal lifestyle and quality of life is key to achieving our dreams of a global education while maintaining financial stability.
Our new strategy
Our ability to continue traveling depends on a combination of strategic choices.
We embrace the slow ride. This means spending extended periods in each location to minimize transportation costs and take advantage of long-stay discounts.
When we were in Europe, we were surprised that renting a car for a few days cost more than staying overnight for a whole month.
We select free pet sitting options when available. We once spent the Christmas holidays at a house next to Disney World for free in exchange for watching two slimy bulldogs.
When it comes to international travel, we choose our next destination based on ticket availability. While we would love to return to Asia and Europe, our budget often means we have to explore closer to home for now.
A passive income stream, such as selling a digital product, can help. I wish I had learned about passive income sooner. The only downside is that it can take some time to develop. I put several years of work into this project, but now I earn a small income each month from blog posts I’ve written for both travel and homeschooling that include links to affiliate products.
Worldschooling is not an endless vacation
There have been many mishaps along the way—my kids caught COVID-19 in Tahiti, and I sprained my ankle down a rabbit hole in rural France. We also face criticism for our choice to travel. My in-laws are particularly disapproving and openly against homeschooling.
The biggest obstacle to world education is the lack of “adult” time.
Finding personal space is difficult when staying in hotels or small Airbnbs.
I made it for my inner child
World education for me is also related to the fulfillment of my childhood dreams. I travel for my 11 year old who has spent countless hours daydreaming about traveling and watching House Hunters International. My current lifestyle is in many ways a sincere celebration of the dreams of my inner child.
In this way, it is about setting an example for my children. I believe it is essential that children witness their parents, especially their mothers, pursue their own happiness and achieve their dreams.
My own mother sacrificed everything to be able to homeschool me and my siblings. Since becoming a parent myself, I’ve learned that giving up everything for the sake of your children is not healthy for you or them. By living my travel dreams, I show my kids, especially my daughter, that your dreams don’t have to die when you become a mom.
Worldschooling is not just about education and research; for me, it’s a journey of self-discovery and setting an empowering example for my children.
Beth McCarter is a certified teacher and creator of The home school graduate.
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