Remote Learning and Travel Brought This Family Closer Together.
- Andrea Schilde and her husband Eli Karplus quit their jobs in the US to travel around the world.
- Their son attends school online and completes his work whenever it suits him.
- The couple takes care of houses and pets with their son to help fund their travels.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Andrea Schilde and her husband Eli Karplus, who left their full-time jobs in the US to travel to more than a dozen countries with their son. It’s been edited for length and clarity.
We lived in Boulder, Colorado and worked full-time jobs. My husband Eli worked in data science, and my 22-year career was in software development. We have two kids in college, and a nine-year-old son, Finn, who travels the world with us.
We started traveling in April 2022. So far, we’ve been to 13 countries: Portugal, Germany, Greece, Switzerland, Netherlands, UK, Denmark, Sweden, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Australia, Thailand, and Malaysia.
While we both enjoyed our jobs in the US, it’s not always easy to keep the right balance. We both worked in demanding and fast-paced environments, which took a toll on our time and health over the years.
The pandemic allowed us to spend more time together as a family. Life slowed down, but in a good way. We ended up selling our house in Boulder before starting our travels. We considered renting out the house while traveling, but with our older kids grown up and in college, the house was more than we needed. It also helped to fund the adventure.
People often ask what it’s like for our son to attend school while traveling.
It was during the pandemic, when classroom learning was put on hold, that we noticed our son Finn was excelling in his studies. Finn is now in fourth grade and he learns well online, and when he studies at his own pace.
Our school district in Boulder offers an online classroom with a semi-asynchronous curriculum that we thought would be a perfect match for the kind of traveling we wanted to do. Finn studies four core subjects — math, language arts, social studies, and science.
So we saw this as the best of both worlds. We had access to a great education platform to make sure that Finn has a regular, standard core curriculum, but he had the flexibility to do the work on whichever day and time that made sense for him.
Finn gets between 15 and 20 assignments in a week, and has an online platform to message his teacher. His teachers have been so supportive.
Facebook is the best place to find work and school communities. There are these pop-up hubs on Facebook, where people organize programs, excursions, day trips, and activities for travelers to be part of.
When we visited Luxor in Egypt, Finn attended his first WorldSchool Hub — a place where other traveling families come together to find community and where kids learn new things in a different setting. It’s completely different than school as we know it.
In Luxor, Finn attended class on an Egyptian farm. He made new friends, learned about irrigation and how the Nile gave Egypt life, learned about ancient Egypt, visited the most amazing historic places, planted his own garden, and interacted with locals.
Sometimes we compromise with the teachers on assignments. We ask Finn to drop his teacher a note and tell them what he learned that day, and that typically counts as some of the assignments.
Finn was excited about the prospect of adventure. He loved the idea of seeing exotic, far-off places that he had heard about and read about.
At first, he struggled with missing friends back home. But since we started traveling, he’s become more confident, social and extroverted, and never passed up a chance to interact with kids or grownups, whatever language they might speak.
We save thousands of dollars a month by caring for strangers’ houses and pets.
We use the website TrustedHousesitters to connect with homeowners all around the world. House and dog sitting is a wonderful way to live in new places and meet great people.
Initially, as a family, we thought no homeowner would hire us, because they’d think “Oh, the kids are going to destroy our house.” But we’ve found that there are like-minded families all around the world.
I typically write a long, personal email and mention the names of our pets back in the US. I also share photos of the house that we sold, so they can see how we lived and so they can connect with us and feel we are trustworthy.
It’s mutually beneficial. The homeowners know that their dog and their house are in good hands. And for us, it’s such a great way to save money on the road.
Housesitting is different from being in a hotel, and it gives a homey feeling compared to an Airbnb.
How we budget our money and save while traveling
There are three main expenses to watch out for — food, accommodation, and transport.
Most places we’ve traveled to can afford us a lifestyle that’s cheaper than the one we were living in the US. There have been places where we have to spend $2,000 to $3,000 a month on accommodation, but other countries, like Egypt, were amazingly affordable.
There are also ways to save money on accommodation in more expensive places apart from housesitting. Choosing accommodations that are smaller and further from the city center helps. For example, we stayed in a hostel in Scandinavia, because other types of rentals were so expensive there.
When traveling from one place to another, we usually plan a cheaper route. For example, we took the discount train rather than Eurostar when traveling around Europe. When traveling from island to island, we take the long boat and the local bus. The less you move around and the slower you travel, the cheaper it gets because you don’t have to spend as much with airfares. These things have kept our costs down.
There are several things that can break the budget, like traveling between countries in a short amount of time, staying in city center, doing loads of activities, and eating out in restaurants. Longer stays in a single location where we can slow our roll, buy our groceries and cook at home, make travel cheaper.
What we’ve learned after traveling to 13 countries.
One misconception is that the world is full of dangerous places and people. What we have found is that there are a lot of really friendly, helpful, smiling people in the world.
When you take yourself off of auto pilot and leave your comfort zone behind, you start living life more fully. Every new destination offers us a leap into a new life — new environment, new values, new puzzles to solve, and new games to learn and play.
Finn had reservations and worries about missing our dog and his good friends in the neighborhood. But now, he has come to value connection with others.
We initially planned to travel for around 18 months to about two years. But we’ve yet to decide whether we’ll travel for longer and perhaps even explore the idea of working remotely while traveling the world.