Thanks to Karthika Gupta‘s children’s remote schooling schedule, she doesn’t see school as a barrier to travel; her family has been able to relocate temporarily from Chicago to other places around the U.S. during the pandemic. “There are so many opportunities for remote school or even homeschooling if that is right for you,” Gupta says. “It does need planning and a lot of prep-work but school on the road is possible especially with younger children.”
For Regelman’s around-the-world trip, her daughters were able to temporarily opt out of school entirely because they were already one year ahead of their peers. “They learned to see the world from different perspectives and found tangible, personal reasons to care deeply about politics, history, economics, culture, and the environment,” says Regelman.
Creating stability in the transition
Once you’ve got your destination and schooling decisions worked out, it’s important to consider how to create a sense of security for your children. While conversations regarding a physical transition can look different depending on your child’s age, there are a few different factors to take into consideration. Dr. Reinke suggests preparing school-age children for a move by talking through the details of the trip and giving attention to what they may miss when they’re away from home.
“This will ensure that children know what to expect and will allow for children to prepare by identifying items from home [to take on the journey] or strategies for staying in touch with friends in advance of the move,” says Dr. Reinke. She also recommends staying in a new place long enough that the whole family establishes daily routines and a sense of belonging.
Gupta says she gives her children the opportunity to help shape what their experiences will look like. “We research places as a family and collectively decide on where to go,” she says. For Regelman, talking about perspective is also key: “We framed it all as an exciting, lucky opportunity, and our girls realized they are very privileged to get to explore different parts of the world,” she says.
And when it comes to financial stability, one of the biggest misconceptions about living abroad with children is that it’s too expensive. Having children is already costly and requires budgeting, but living abroad with them doesn’t necessarily have to add that much more to that budget: Bashir calls it “a matter of working with what you have and not overdoing it.” Still, Regelman admits it’s not something accessible to everyone: “We fully recognize our privilege in being able to pull this off, but we did have to travel creatively—and relatively cheaply—to budget for a whole year without income. To us, that was part of the adventure and actually added to the enjoyment.”
If you feel ready to take the leap into moving your family, it’s helpful to have structures in place that either continue to strengthen your current social ties, or will connect you to other families who have the same mindset for traveling with their children. Bashir recommends joining expat groups to get together with other parents, and Chen affirms that there are ways to socialize in most environments. “There are children in every community,” Chen says.
While parents all have differing opinions on how to give their children a different educational experience, one thing remains the same between them all: exposure to new environments and cultures has made their children more adaptable and understanding global citizens.
“Living and traveling internationally has made our children so much more open to peoples, ideas, foods, political differences, histories, and experiences that are not just like their own,” says Regelman. “It has fundamentally changed who they are in the most wonderful ways. They have a level of independence, confidence, sophistication, and openness I could never have dreamed of at their age.”
As it is with many aspects of parenting, even with the best of planning, things don’t always go according to plan. There is no location you can move to that is free of the heartache or conflict. However, as your family adapts, you may find that you too are becoming just a bit more resilient.