Thinking About: A family gap year?


Many of you are likely familiar with blogger Courtney Adamo already—from her work on the expat-based parenting blog, Babyccino, or from her Instagram account that features “the most stylish” family in Britain, or from one of her many appearances around the web. I’ve found her travels with kids to be very inspirational—most notably it was she who led us to our apartment rental in Positano last summer.

So it was with great interest that I read the article Courtney wrote recently for The Telegraph‘s Lifestyle section: “We’re all going on a family gap year.” There, she describes her plan for her family of six (kids aged two to nine) to put jobs and traditional schooling on hold (in favor of check-ins and homeschooling) for a year of travel, and how it connects to a particular memory from her childhood:

“When I was growing up on a tulip farm in rural Washington State I knew some people—they lived next door to my grandparents—who did exactly that. They took their children out of school, put their careers on hold and travelled the world. It was an audacious move for a family in small-town America and everyone took notice, including my eight-year-old self. They seemed to have it all: the successful business, the nice house, a two-car garage and three healthy children. Why would they do such a thing? It was downright un-American and I was intrigued.

“That year raced by with all the regularity and predictability of any other for us back home. Not much really changed, but this family returned from their travels transformed. They had the most incredible stories to tell and the most beautiful photos to share. They had gained insights and a world perspective. They talked of places I had never heard of, told stories I could only dream of and exuded a confidence that comes from stepping beyond one’s comfort zone and really living.

“I remember thinking that whatever it was they experienced on the other side of the world, I wanted to experience it some day too. I specifically remember a photo of a big van parked on a beautiful beach in New Zealand beside a tent with a few belongings scattered nearby. This was the life I wanted for my future children and myself: a life of exploration, discovery and—most importantly—one where living simply yields the greatest riches.”

Gap Year

I admit I expected the vision to be overly romanticized (especially when it begins with “growing up on a tulip farm”!)

But I kept coming back to that sentiment: ‘the year raced by with regularity for us, but for them it was more.’ It’s such a compelling argument for seizing the day. Life can just fly! It is romantic. But is this the stuff of silly romance, or the kind of romance that makes life interesting?

Gap Year-Hither-Thither-01-2

I’m so curious to hear what others think about this and whether you have any personal experience with this sort of leaving-it-all-behind (for a while) story.

Would you want to do this? Anybody planning something similar? What aged child (or children) would you consider taking out of his or her traditional school to homeschool, if you would? Or would you only do this while their in pre-school? Does it seem risky or well-considered? Would your careers afford you this sort of opportunity?  What would you miss most about home? Would you move about often or find a select few home bases? Where would you go?

Gap Year-Hither-Thither-11

[Top photo of the Adamo family from Red Magazine; Following photos from some of our most memorable travels as a family: Hudson with the dogs at a vineyard we stayed at in Tuscany; Watching children fly kites over rice fields in Bali; and tasting new foods (Atole, a masa-based drink) with a guide at a market in Mexico City.]

P.S. Mexico City travelogue coming soon! See all travelogues. And read more “Thinking About” posts.

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