Author Topic: Traveling abroad for an extended time  (Read 656 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Traveling abroad for an extended time
« on: June 11, 2022, 06:00:54 PM »
My family is tentatively planning on renting our home and spending a year or two abroad. We'd home school the kids (three ages 6-12).

We've been talking about this vaguely for years but now we've reached the time where we need to do serious planning.

My spouse and I did 2 years abroad before we had kiddos. 35 countries, spent less than 35k. We did a lot of sleeping on buses, camping, hosteling with bedbugs, etc. I don't think we could do this with kids, so how do we do it? I was thinking we pick a few places and spend 3 months renting a place in one spot.

The goals are, in order:

1. Kids start to learn a 2nd (or more) language
2. Kids are exposed to new cultures- food, customs, clothes, climates, etc.
3. Kids get comfortable in new situations, and get a little travel savvy
4. Have lots of time in the outdoors hiking, skiing, camping, etc
5. Unschool the kids, let them learn at their own pace what they find interesting
6. Family bonding time- something they'll never forget
7. I don't have to work for a few years (maybe ever depending on how things look when we come back)

Do you know of others families doing something similar?

What are your ideas of how to pull this off?



  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Traveling abroad for an extended time
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2022, 07:06:48 PM »
If you want the kids to learn languages and customs, they will be best off interacting with other kids. Personally, I would be looking at putting my kids in summer camps, after school programs or even school itself for that experience.

For many kids, this can be a great experience. For some, though, moving every three months could be very stressful. Establish routines that you can take with you anywhere to help them adapt. Watch for signs of stress in all family members and be willing to adapt the plan

Being in foreign country is exhausting. It is a lot like being a toddler again, trying to make sense of all the new things. Incorporate those outdoor activities before heading off, so that they aren't also more exhausting than they need to be. Consider making your first port of call someplace where English is the primary language.

There was an FI family pursuing travel with young kids, but I haven't heard much about them since the pandemic. Amongst the sailing youtube families, I can only think of one with kids in your age group (sailing Zatara), and I think their youngest was a tween when they started. But if you start looking at sailing or other slow travel channels and blogs, you might find other families that can offer tips.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Traveling abroad for an extended time
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2022, 01:37:26 AM »
I agree that the locals are going to be able to teach your kids other languages a lot more effectively than you you are.  You might even do better in an international school, geared toward teaching the local language as an additional language.

Why are you thinking 3 months?  Is that somehow matched to the number of countries you are targeting?  Or is it oriented around the 90 day visa-free travel you can get in the EU?  I would look at longer stays oriented around the school year, so maybe 9 months / 3 months, so you could still do more of the open travel / unschooling in the summer, and the language learning / culture through a local school the rest of the time.  To this extent, do you have on-demand work skills?  You could perhaps even get a work visa and local job, and get some of that same local culture exposure for yourselves, not to mention entitlement to services and funding for the trip.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Traveling abroad for an extended time
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2022, 08:07:48 AM »
We're thinking about doing this in a few years (DD is currently 7).  We're more interested in living a place or two over a couple of years than traveling every few months, though.  If we were to do it, we'd go with the intention of her going to school in the place we went (with her as an only child, I don't love the idea of homeschooling her).  And she's currently doing French immersion, so it would be great to go somewhere that spoke French.  This isn't a dealbreaker, though.  DW and I are both ESL teachers (DW currently, me in the past) so one of us would likely get a job for the minimum number of hours required to get a visa.  And, for context, we moved 2 years ago from the US to Canada to we're technically living abroad now but our intention is to become Canadian citizens.

I lived in Taiwan for 5 years, China for a year and England for a year, and I really enjoy living different places.  I'd love to share this with my family, but at the same time I don't want them to feel like everything is unstable.  I think it really depends on kids, though.


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: Traveling abroad for an extended time
« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2022, 03:10:25 PM »
I suspect that you'll do better, or rather, the kids will do better, if you pick a location, live there for a year or 2, and do shorter trips from that home base. You should also keep a close eye on the kids for signs of stress.

Also, do some research into parenting styles in the location you'll be in. Norms vary widely and at minimum you want to be aware of them.


  • Stubble
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Re: Traveling abroad for an extended time
« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2022, 11:47:57 AM »
My son was younger when we lived abroad (ages 3-6), but I have to say... it was completely wasted on him. A young child may not care about historical significance. Travel won't be a rare or unusual experience for them.

I distinctly remember standing on a bridge over the River Thames, trying to point out the Houses of Parliament to my then four-year-old son, and he got really excited and shouted, "Look, Mama! Look! IT'S A BUS!" (Not even the double-decker buses. It was just a regular bus)

This Mother's Day, his teachers asked him to fill out a questionnaire. To the prompt, "What was an exciting trip you took with your Mom?" my son, former frequent visitor to internationally-renowned museums, medieval cathedrals, Jacobean mansions, historic universities, falconry demonstrations, etc., wrote "Mama took me to Silver Dollar City." (A theme park in Branson, Missouri).

Your mileage may vary, but be prepared that they may just remember standing in a lot of lines, being bored in a lot of museums, or forget large swaths of the experience altogether.

The other thing is I think he felt quite rootless. He still frequently asks me, "Can we stay forever in this house? Can we not move ever again?"


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Traveling abroad for an extended time
« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2022, 01:24:53 PM »
Travel won't be a rare or unusual experience for them.

First off, I totally agree with you.  We are back in Ireland after two years away, and almost nothing registered as memories or desired activities or destinations, until we started seeing things.  Then, there was a lot of "Oh, yeah."  One exception was visiting his old school on their last day of class.  He was surrounded like a rock star, and they had a blast; in many ways, picked up right where they left off.

But, if the above is all you accomplish--that you grow a global citizen who can become comfortable in some circumstance other than the one they are currently in--then that is something.