A couple decided to live on the road and offer their three children a "more valuable education" by selling their house and taking them out of school. Both 43-year-olds Carl and Ruth Jackson felt cooped up during the COVID lockdowns and decided to make the most of their freedom whenever it arrived.
They made the difficult decision to list their £535,000 family home for sale in July 2022. It rapidly sold, and they used some of the proceeds to trade Swindon for continental Europe by purchasing a £60,000 campervan.
Following that, the couple pulled their kids Maisie, 11, Pippa, 10, and Marley, 5, out of school and set out on a road trip around Europe, where they have now travelled to 28 different countries. The owners of a signage company, Carl and Ruth, claim they have no regrets and think their kids have learned more on the road than in school.
"We had talked about travelling ever since we started dating, but it's one of those things you think you'll do, but it never happens, said Carl, who owns a signage company with his wife. Ruth was the roadblock, until one day she just said, "Let's go." Then I simply asked myself, "Why not?" We then left.
"We conducted a practise run up to Aberdeen, staying on a driveway, according to Carl. It all went smoothly. We made absolutely no bookings when we first started. Only that we wanted to take the kids to Lapland was all we knew."
In November 2022, the family left for Calais and travelled through France, stopping at the Dunkirk war memorials and visiting the museums in Ypres. Prior to spending Christmas and New Year's in Helsinki, they travelled up to Scandinavia and stopped in Lapland in time for the holiday.
Before going to Greece and Italy, they also travelled across eastern Europe and took flights to Perth, Australia, and Bali. Throughout their journey, the pair had no set itinerary and hardly made any reservations. They assert that they would simply "wake up and drive" instead.
"We went with our noses. After Covid, we had a dream to show our children more of the world and to teach them that the real world still exists."
The Jacksons claim they don't regret pulling their children out of school to travel. The father stated, "We want them to be more open-minded. The media and news can often be quite dreary and depressing, so we wanted to show them that you can go out there and have wonderful experiences. Additionally, you don't need a tonne of cash.
The couple assisted by their children's school, which gave them access to online resources, homeschooled their children while on the trip.
The vacation was a dream come true for Maisie, Pippa, and Marley, and it was topped off when Marley had Tom Cruise personally sign his Top Gun t-shirt while the family was visiting Rome.
The parent gushed, "The kids have loved every minute of it. They have liked meeting new people and enjoying all kinds of new dishes. I've witnessed variation in all spheres, even the weather."
In August 2023, the family returned to England, arriving just in time for Maisie to begin secondary school. Carl remarked, "We fully realise how fortunate we are to have accomplished this, but we would encourage anyone who is able to do it to do it!"
They visited France, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Czechia, Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey, India, Australia, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Spain, and Portugal as part of their epic adventure.