Sunday, 14 April 2019

Family and Nomadic Sabbaticals - Are you crazy or inspired?

In line with our travel trends theme, and certainly in light of our travelling-the-world posts, it seems appropriate now, dear Readers, to consider the mechanics of travel.  As we have touched on before, we’re not all (or certainly not now) the classic “backpacking age”.  Many of us have missed out on the traditional “gap year” or indeed, when they were young, needed to work, not saunter off into the sunset without a care in the world…

In this post, we consider the different options available to more mature travelers, especially those with families….

What is a sabbatical?  Traditionally, a sabbatical is taking a year off, with pay, every seven years from work.  Generally it’s something we consider for those who work in higher education:  prominent educators who are at the top of their fields who take a year off to study, research or write.   Fortunately, the idea isn't confined to that particular sector of society any longer.  People from all walks of life are deciding to take sabbaticals.  It's doubtful their companies are willing to pay them to have an extended holiday, but a growing number of people are doing it anyway.  They sell up and move out, leaving behind their usually slightly unhappy and stressful lives.  Should you do this, of course, it doesn’t mean you’re tied to a year, sabbaticals, therefore, can be for any length of time.  Naturally, that brings its own set of problems and worries.  Basically, if you want to do it, you have to have the right mindset and attitude.  In other words, dear Readers: you only live once.

Financing Your Trip

The most common obstacle to taking a sabbatical is money.  How are you are going to survive without a permanent job or fixed income coming in?  There are different ways to finance your trip, you can sell the house and car, take out a loan and never come back or freelance and work remotely.  Having said that, some people will have savings to finance their time out.  The nature of work has changed over the years, and there are many more opportunities to work remotely, online, to ease those financial worries.  Anyway, anyone who is considering a sabbatical shouldn’t do it unless they are confident that they can cover their costs.


Those who choose to take a sabbatical or a more nomadic type of life (and is actually far more popular than you may realise) and have kids come up against other problems.  Taking kids out of school for a short or extended period will almost certainly cause problems with the educational authorities.  Granted, that they have your children's welfare in mind, but you might run up against opposition or legal restrictions.  One way around this is to assure the authorities that the children will be 'homeschooled' for the period that they are away.  Of course, if you don't have plans to return your kids to the same school or are going for the more nomadic approach, you can just take them out of school and go.

Home Schooling

Homeschooling is an increasing trend because many parents are unsatisfied with the quality of education their children are receiving.  Many children find school curriculums stressful, with the many different subjects they forced to study.  Whether or not your children attend state-run or private schools, the education system is based on results.  The quality of your child's education is measured primarily on test results, certainly once they reach senior school age.  Many children learn subjects by rote just to get through the exams, without understanding or interest.  This is where homeschooling rates above the other kind because you can control what your child learns and the amount of time spent studying.  On a sabbatical or extended trip, you are responsible for your children's education and this involvement may prove to be very rewarding, as by spending more time with your children, you learn more about them, and your relationship can strengthen.

Teenage Objections

On the other hand, sabbaticals with children could potentially be a nightmare…To go anywhere with your kids, you need their cooperation.  Your children need to appreciate the idea of going to travelling, especially if it's a foreign country and far away.  Little children have less understanding and certainly no say in the matter, but older children are another issue entirely.  Most children don't like the idea of leaving their school or their friends.  Teenagers are even worse, their world revolves around their friends and what is trending in their 'clic' at the moment.  If your children aren't eager and willing, your sabbatical could turn into a living hell!

The Rewards

The most rewarding part of having your kids with you are shared experiences.  You can explore new places together and share the wonders.  It is said that travel broadens the mind and that is very true.  Older children are a contradiction, part conservative and part impressionable.  Like all of us, they are bound by a particular set of rules that their set or group of friends live by and generally agree on, but they are also impressionable to the extent that they are lacking in experience and absorb new lessons better than adults.  Children are also very adaptable, willing to fit in wherever home is at the moment.

Expanding Your Children’s Minds

Whether the sabbatical is in your home country or abroad, both parents and children will be exposed to cultural differences, even moving from one part of your country to another.  People outside of your home environment may view the world differently from how you do and this is good for kids, as this broadens their minds.  If the sabbatical takes you to foreign countries, the impact of the change is even more significant.  All of you will have to deal with different customs and languages.  You will all be experiencing the same changes and differences, but together, as a family, creating greater bonds between you.  Younger children rarely have the same prejudices as older ones or adults.  They are more willing to be inclusive, instead of exclusive.  They accept others more willingly, despite colour or creed.  Children from different backgrounds or cultures can play together, their acceptance and friendliness overcoming language barriers.  Going somewhere entirely different will help your children become more socially adaptable and probably socially conscious too.  Not only that, but your children will grow more self-confident.

Building Self-Confidence

Parents who take their children on trips, long or small, sabbatical or nomadic are opening their minds and encouraging them to explore the world both mentally and physically.  It will undoubtedly broaden their interests and promote greater investigation.  These parents are teaching their children to become citizens of the world, not just of one country.

In conclusion, if you get the chance to take a sabbatical or an extended trip, take it.  Maybe reluctantly at first, but your children will adapt.  Homeschooling on the road or wherever you go will erase the divide between education and family, it all becomes family time, if you’re up for it.  You may be amazed at the abilities and interests your children show when they aren't forced into the straight-jacket of imposed learning.  However, there are many arguments for systemized learning, and perhaps, depending on your situation, one may argue that it’s better to take your sabbatical before your children reach senior school age.

In fact, dear readers, there is no barrier, no age limit, nor financial limit.  If you really, really want to travel, then you will.  If your children are young, they’ll love it.  If they’re older, you have more to consider regards exams etc, and if they're grown up, what the hell are you waiting for!



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