Travelling the World with Kids
Becoming a Nomad: a Child's Perspective
Without a doubt, we all feel the urge to explore. For some it's sitting on the couch emerged in a good book, for others it's sleeping under stars that you've never seen before. My parents belong to the latter. Having kids, however, did not stop them from travelling. On the contrary, I believe that because of us, they wanted to travel even more for years on end. Just to show and experience life together, as a family.
Nowadays, there are many examples of families living in a van or tent as nomads. They live to travel and travel to live. Their lives have been thoroughly documented, yet from the adults perspective. I think it's high time to tell you how I, as a child, experienced the nomad-lifestyle.
My parent took me and my sisters on a 3.3 year trip when I was a mere 7 years old. We went from a luxurious lifestyle with a big house and 2 cars to living in one tent, all huddled together. I marvelled at the adventure of it all. As an adult you might think this change to be rather extreme. But I never noticed. I was unaware of the substantially lower income, the less fancy lifestyle and the absence of the tv (mind you it was 2005, internet was still in it's primitive stages). The concept of wealth was unfamiliar to me and the only change I noticed was the decrease in christmas and birthday presents. But, I didn't sulk on that for long. A party is a party.
The fact that both my parents were now with me 24/7 was far more important to me. I remember missing them and complaining about their absence to my nanny when they still worked full-time. I was therefore very eager to start school and meet new friends. My neighbourhood had zero other kids.
That brings me to a heavily debated topic: schooling and the related social interaction. My parents did not homeschool me the conventional way. They let me learn by just living and would only "force" me to read a book from time to time. It did not interest me in the slightest. During those 3 years of travel, I covered a mere 1 year of primary school. However, that did NOT stop me from starting high school on time. After travelling, I attended the most mundane primary school in my neighbourhood. In 1.5 years time I caught up on 4 years of education (not counting year 1 and 2). Yes, it is very feasible to learn all there is to learn in primary school in 2.5 years without making over hours. This tactic probably won't work on your toddler, but as a 11 year old it's manageable. The secret in my case was having a good connection with my teacher.
My parents let me visit a couple of primary schools and let me choose which one I liked best. I understand this might not be possible in your area and by no means am I trying to tell you how to raise your kid. I am just giving you an insight in my life. And I believe the approach my parents took helped me get where I am today; at university with a very decent GPA.
Now, as for the social skills generally acquired at school. I know it might seem unlikely, but there are kids everywhere. The two places I loved most as a kid were the playground and the toy store. While the latter in this case is irrelevant, the former is key. Looking back today, it's where I met most of my playmates. The language barrier isn't a problem. Especially when you're young. I must admit, however, that as I got older I did find it hard to feel a genuine connection with my friends. My sisters do not experience this. So whether my case was caused by genetics or upbringing, I leave up to you.
Lastly, did I miss having a house? The answer is no. The tent was my house and my family is my home. I never missed living in a house or a permanent place to stay. I did not mind sharing one sleeping compartment with everyone. It was one of the best parts. My dad would often tell as a story he made up on the spot or mum would sing us a song to lul us to sleep. The only things I missed about a house were the oven for cakes and the space for art and crafts on rainy days.
I hope I have given you some insight into the nomad life through the eyes of a child. I am deeply grateful for the experiences my parents have given me. I hope my article has given you some insights or even better: laid some insecurities you had about travelling with kids to rest.