Jennifer Miller is one of Family Adventure Summit’s keynote speakers. She has traveled the world with her family for almost a decade and has been inspiring other families to live an extraordinary life at every turn. You can find more of Jenn’s writing at Edventure Project.
Tell us a bit about your family and what kind of traveling you have done.
We are a family of six. In 2008 we sold all of our stuff and took off to bicycle from the UK to Africa and back, for one year. We did that. We kept going and 9 years later we’ve been to six continents, by just about every mode of transportation possible. Currently, the guys are sailing our boat from Canada to the Bahamas and back. The oldest two kids, who had never been to school, transitioned to their university work and are pursuing their own dreams. The younger two are still finishing up their high school work as they sail.
How old were your children when you first started your traveling lifestyle?
Hannah was 11, Gabe was 9, Elisha was 7, Ezra was 5.
What was the catalyst that made you decide to live life differently and travel the world with your family?
My parents took me out of school for third and eighth grade to travel, so we are second generation crazy. 🙂 We planned on big time travel with our kids from the beginning. We believe that travel is an essential part of a well rounded education and we wanted our children to learn not just from books, but from the world. We choose to invest our money in making memories over accumulating “stuff” and we wanted to spend the little time we have with our kids making memories all over the world.
As I mentioned, our kids have never been to school. We homeschooled before we traveled, from birth to university. Our basic philosophy is child centered, parent directed learning, influenced by Charlotte Mason’s philosophies. Of course the methods have evolved over the years and according to the needs of each individual child. We’ve taken a very organized approach to our kids’ core educations and have worked hard to integrate that core into the world around us, at home and abroad. It’s rewarding to see that paying off now that they’re graduating and moving on towards university and building their careers.
Tell us one of your best worldschooling moments.
It’s impossible to pick just one… riding motorcycles on the Ho Chi Minh Trail learning about the Vietnam war, the children playing on the floor of the colosseum at El Jem in Tunisia, touring the great museums of Europe, their first Shakespeare play in Stratford-Upon-Avon and their first opera at the Sydney Opera House, taking Spanish lessons in the highlands of Guatemala… the list is endless.
What is one thing you know now that you wish you had known before you started out on your traveling lifestyle?
That we’d be at it for the better part of a decade. Because we were only taking off for a year we didn’t set ourselves up in quite the way we would have if we’d known we’d still be going nine years later.
How do you find community on the road?
We belong to several internet groups of traveling families who connect as often as possible in the real world. On a very practical, day to day, level: we invite people to dinner. Regularly. It’s the very best way to learn about a place or a people.
How do you finance your travels?
Tony is a database designer. I am a travel writer and editor. We are completely location independent in our careers, so we can work anywhere, and we do!
What is your favorite country so far?
Everyone in the family would have a different answer. Mine is Guatemala.
What are some of the difficulties you have encountered in traveling and how have you overcome them?
We were camped on the highest sea cliff on the Adriatic coast of Italy the day the US stock markets crashed in 2008. We lost all of the money we’d saved to travel. All of it. We had to decide whether to come home and get jobs or head to Africa, live on the cheap and reinvent our careers. Guess which one we did?
Tell us one thing that you have learned about yourself, your family, or the world through travel.
We’ve learned that there are more similarities than differences. Everyone, no matter where they are, what language they speak, or their cultural situation want the same thing: peace, happiness, prosperity for their families. The world is not a scary place, it’s an overwhelmingly welcoming and safe place.
What are your future travel plans?
As I said, the guys are sailing. They are not likely to be back before June or July. I leave Thursday to go to Washington, then Florida to see the guys, then Nicaragua and Guatemala for a month before heading to San Diego and Las Vegas before coming back to Canada for a couple of weeks. This year will take me to New Orleans, Denver, Portland, and hopefully Europe… perhaps Africa… I’m considering a safari with my mother.
What aspect of the Family Adventure Summit are you most excited about?
Connecting with other like-minded families and helping those who are just getting started to catch the vision for what is possible as a family.