Conventional living offers more than just a place to call home – it provides a safety net to catch us if we fall: reliable income, a network of individuals to ask for help and advice, fulfillment of social and developmental needs, and access to services and traditional education. A customary lifestyle supplies a safe and comfortable place for a family to live and grow.
Naturally, we associate these characteristics with a fixed lifestyle…the home, the job, the school, the family and friend circle, the healthcare, the community. Fortunately, this is only a perception—all these attributes are transferable to a mobile lifestyle. It takes some creativity and flexibility, but it is entirely possible to establish a robust sense of security while living a non-traditional way of life.
Meeting Wants and Needs
If we take a deeper look into why a fixed lifestyle feels safe and comfortable, we can distinguish how various features of stationary living meet our basic human needs. Once we know those needs, we can brainstorm portable solutions.
Please note: There is no single way to address these needs as each family has different priorities and requirements to feeling stable and supported. Truly, it would be surprising to find two families who navigate these issues with the exact same solutions. Please utilize worldschooling forums to search past discussions, ask questions, and uncover approaches which resonate with you.
- The Home = Shelter: This is the most straightforward of the needs to recreate while traveling. Shelter may be a campervan, a rental property, a hotel room, a sailboat, a housesit/swap, etc. Normal vacation rules apply to locating appropriate shelter for the traveling family. Though some families travel quickly from place to place, many opt to rent for weeks or months to provide a bit more stability. Trial and error will reveal what works best for your family.
- The Job = Financial Security: Most worldschooling families have at least one employed parent, sometimes working multiple online jobs…continuing with the same employer but working from ‘home’, producing freelance work (writing, graphic design, coding, translation, photography, travel agent services), transitioning to a traveling profession in medical services or education, running an online business (dropshipping store, coaching, tutoring, marketing, blogging), etc. Other families have passive income from rental properties or investments. Another group offsets living expenses by housesitting or house-swapping. And with the potential for overlap, there are numerous ways to create income independent of living in one specific location.
- The School = Education and Social Development: There is a broad assortment of how worldschooling families educate their children. This runs the whole gamut from a traditional curriculum, to private virtual school, to sporadic online classes, to freeform unschooling. In general the homeschooling laws from where the family claims residency will determine requirements and regulations. Connecting with individuals within that same jurisdiction is valuable for devising strategies appropriate for your family.
- The Healthcare = Medical Support: A wide variety of international health policies are available, some of which include emergency repatriation in case an incident cannot be treated overseas. Though quality of healthcare facilities varies from country to country, doctors and nurses are compassionate individuals regardless of where you travel. They will do their best to provide optimal care for you and your family. For those with special medical needs, join online support forums specific to your condition. There is ample travel advice for filling prescriptions in a foreign country, receiving shipments of medical supplies, selecting allergy-friendly destinations, and finding accessible accommodations. It’s not necessary to reinvent the wheel, find someone with experience who can offer pointers.
- The Community = Social and Emotional Support (for the whole family): Having that special group of friends and family is instrumental to feeling secure. This is a challenging issue to address because, in addition to friendship, our communities provide socialization and camaraderie as well as offer a place to belong. Many worldschoolers use a multifaceted approach to meet these needs: They keep in contact with family and friends from home via video chatting, online gaming, email, texting, social media, etc. Additionally they may visit ‘home’ often or invite their friends and family to meet them somewhere on the globe for a joint vacation. Worldschoolers often seek destinations where it’s easy to interact with locals and other traveling families, giving them an opportunity to create friends and community via travel. To nurture mental health, worldschoolers make time to have meaningful, personal conversations with a confidante, partner, online support circle or therapist. And lastly, and perhaps most importantly, they tap into the worldschool community to validate their perspectives and goals…when no one else understands you, the worldschooling community absolutely does.
For the most part, families readily adapt their behaviors to meet these needs. However, filling the gap of being unable to hug Grandma or have a spontaneous night out with best buds takes commitment and persistence. As worldschoolers loosen these ties with their home area, they realize the value of establishing reliable connections that are independent of physical location.
Establishing A Wide Variety of Relationships
As social creatures, relationships play a vital role in our health and wellbeing. Mobile families cannot rely on their home community to be personally involved on a daily basis. Therefore, part of their focus shifts to developing bonds within transportable relationships.
Connecting to the self, others (especially within the immediate family), nature, and the divine, creates strong relationships that follow us wherever we go. Here are some examples to strengthen bonds within any environment:
- Self: Journaling, artistic expression, meditation, deep breathing, solitary time
- Others: Smiling at strangers, volunteering, cuddling, sharing a meal, playing games
- Nature: Stargazing, walking barefoot, observing seasonal changes, hiking, picking up litter
- Divine: Practicing gratitude, trusting gut instincts, exploring spiritual texts, noticing coincidence
Ideally each family member cultivates a handful of dependable relationships within the family unit, the extended friends/family circle, and the local environment. It’s not necessary to maintain loads of relationships, a few solid connections are more than adequate.
Children and adults equally share these needs, therefore parents must assist their children in making and nurturing these connections. This process does not need to be rigorous, intimidating, or time-consuming. A few simple, yet intentional, engagements each day paves the pathway to healthy relationships with the self, the family, nature and the divine.
The above suggestions build the foundation of an authentic sense of security, yet they are just a starting point. This isn’t something that happens overnight; it develops over time as issues arise and resolve. A solid, underlying feeling of security requires a little bit of intention every day.
Find approaches that feel right to you and do not be afraid to ask for help when something feels off. The worldschool community is full of understanding individuals who are willing to listen, empathize, share, and brainstorm…we’re only a click away.