My husband and I have been together since 1999, and we have been through a lot together. It’s nice to say that, after so many years, we are both very happy with the partner we chose 😉 I supported my husband’s desire to rejoin the military which he did in 2005, and he supported my desire to be a full-time home educating parent.
We have three children, all born joyfully at home in 2007, 2010, and 2012. Those years were hard work as we juggled a new family around my husband’s training & deployments – Iraq in 2006 & 2008, and Afghanistan in 2010. For example, he arrived home from his last deployment 2.5wks after our second child was born, so he missed physically being present for her birth (however, because it was a homebirth, he had managed to catch it on Skype and he heard her first squawk!). That was one of many examples of things he missed over the years, and things I had to manage alone.
In 2011 my husband’s work posted him to central Victoria, and we lived there for 4 years. During that time we travelled a lot between Victoria and our hometown of Brisbane, stopping along the way to see family in Canberra. By the time we became a family of 5 we could no longer couchsurf with family and friends when we travelled, so in November 2012 we bought a 16ft 1977 Franklin caravan. That opened up our opportunities for cheap and easy travel in ways we never imagined! We named her Frankie, gave her a makeover, and we took as many trips as we could, sometimes up to a month long. We saw more of the east coast of Australia than we had ever hoped to, all with three littlies in tow. The world seems so much more fascinating when seen through the eyes of our children. We talked loosely about an overseas trip some time but we always concluded that ‘probably when the kids are older so they can remember it’. For Australians, it’s a big investment of time and money to go overseas, and we wanted a trip like that to be worth the effort.
In January 2013 my husband’s mother died of an aggressive cancer. She had just turned 59, was recently retired, and had plans to travel Australia with her husband in their new caravan. Her death was devastating for us, and it was the catalyst to triggering my husband’s unresolved PTSD that had been simmering below the surface ever since his deployments. He had also developed physical injuries from his service by then. Combine all that with a new baby, a toddler, and a child at home, living remotely with no family or friends nearby, and we struggled. Badly. We needed an escape and that’s when I heard about worldschooling.
Worldschooling fired my imagination, and I was spurred by a new sense of carpe diem that losing a loved one too early had instilled in me. We didn’t need to wait until the kids were older, it was mine and my husband’s lives too and we were still relatively young. If we wanted to see the world with young kids, why not? I didn’t think we would be able to do it as a lifestyle with my husband’s job at the time, but he had long service leave coming to him in a couple of years and I thought we could at least go on a 3-6mth adventure. I began to learn everything I could about worldschooling by reading articles and joining groups and listening to podcasts. There were so many families out there doing it, all with a different story of how and why they chose to do it.
Over the next few years, as my husband’s medical issues unfolded and it looked like he’d be medically discharged, we began placing in the struts we’d need to attempt overseas travel. In 2015 we hired a financial advisor who reorganised our finances for us so that we could keep our home while we travelled, and we began to part with superfluous belongings. In January 2016 we became a full-time family as my husband started the process of a medical discharge. In May 2016 we went on a two-week backpacking holiday to Japan to trial how my husband – and the family in general – would cope. We learned that we would have to take things slowly.
In September 2016 my husband’s discharge was finalised and we were on our countdown until we could leave Australia. We continued to declutter, organise storage, finalise our renovations, and we nursed our sick dog until her death in April 2017. In mid-May we took a post-discharge celebratory sailing holiday in the Whitsundays, and a week after we returned we put on our backpacks, handed our keys to our property rental manager, and flew to Singapore with no intentions of returning any time soon.
At the time of writing this (September 2017), we have been travelling overseas for 4 months and not only do we love it but it has proven to be affordable for a family of five (so far!). But it’s not all sunsets and cocktails and happy snaps. We’ve experienced homesickness and a serious medical emergency (plus recovery time), however that has not deterred us from this lifestyle. If something is worth doing then it’s worth doing, and this is definitely worth doing 😉
I hope you find it useful to read our experiences of living an unconventional life.