This interview is the third installment in our Child and Teen Travel interview series. Launched with an in depth interview with Hannah Miller of Edventuregirl.com and The Edventure Project, this series strives to provide a look at what long-term travel is like for children and teens through the eyes of the experts…. the kids themselves!
The Whiteheads are a traveling family of 7! They left their conventional lifestyles to travel permanently in August of 2011. With children ranging in age from 4-14, this family of young travelers have a lot to say about life on the road. In their own words, “We are a crazy, kid-loving, homeschooling, entrepreneurial, nap-enjoying, Christ-following family of wanderlusts that are often being led in new directions. Sometimes the directions are spiritual, emotional, intellectual… but most recently, they seem to be physical in regards to travel. And we ALWAYS get lots of stares and funny looks when we’re out in public.” To read more about the experiences of this adventurous clan, check out their website at FamilyTravelBucketList.com or their new travel magazine at RealFamilyTravel.com.
Introducing (from left to right): \
“C”, Age 7
“B”, Age 9
“J”, age 14
“G”, Age 4
“M”, Age 12
You have been to some amazing places already with your family! What is it like to travel full time with your four siblings?
Crazy. – M
Sometimes it can be a little hard to travel and sometimes it can be really fun. -B
Awesomeness! – C
Fun. – J
Do you feel that there are any specific benefits to traveling as a kid/teen?
You can see more of the world before you get too old to travel. – J
One thing that many families considering travel wonder about is how to celebrate holidays on the road. How does your family celebrate holidays that are important to you?
This Christmas, we got a real tree, made decorations, bought stockings, and made cookies. The big difference is that we can’t get as many gifts for our family because we don’t have enough room in our backpacks. -M
Just like we did before, with trees and decorations, or birthday cake and presents, but not with lots and lots of presents. – J
Another topic of much discussion is school and education. What does school look like for you?
I do math and language arts by myself, and science with my sister. I also read lots of different kinds of books. – M
We homeschool and I do my math online, science on the computer, handwriting, language arts on my own. We also took Spanish lessons with a local teacher. – J
Do you feel your family’s method of schooling works for you? Why or why not?
Yes, because your parents can actually teach you in the way that you learn. – J
What have you learned about your parents that you did not know before you started traveling?
I learned that my mom’s Spanish is pretty good and my dad’s Spanish is okay, but he sounds like an American. – J
Do you make friends while you are traveling? How do you keep the bonds of friendship strong while you are traveling?
Sometimes. I stay in touch with my friends by emailing and Skyping and messages on Words with Friends. – M
Not really. We email a lot, use Skype and Words with Friends occasionally to talk with our friends in the US.- J
In your opinion, what is the best place you have traveled to so far?
The best place I’ve traveled so far is Merida, just it was a little too hot for me. – B
The best place I’ve traveled so far is Granada, Nicaragua. I liked the area we stayed in. – M
My favorite place so far was Atenas, Costa Rica. Atenas was the best place ever! -C
Mexico. – G
I really liked Atenas, Costa Rica, but I think I’ll have more favorites as we keep on traveling. – J
What is the weirdest experience you have had while traveling?
Someone asking us to be in a movie in Granada. – M
I think it was kind of weird when we rode bikes in Merida because people were staring at us because we’re a family of 7. – B
When we were at the Festival of Lights in Atenas and were having a snack, a random guy came over and ate some of our food with his fingers. – J (We later discovered the man was mentally disabled, but it was quite a shock…he was 100% focused on our quesadillas! – Susan, mom)
If you could have one super-human power what would it be and why?
I would have webs to be like Spiderman. -G
Going anywhere in the world in a super-short amount of time. -M
I would see through things. – C
Be really fast and climb up walls and the ceiling. – B
I think it would be cool to fly and to be able to talk to animals. – J
Do you feel as though you have given anything up to travel the way you do? Is it worth it?
Having a [forever] pet. – M
We can’t see family a lot and we can’t have a lot of stuff. – B
Not really, maybe a little bit of time with family and friends. – J
If you could recommend only one destination to a family traveling with kids/teens, where would that be?
I think Merida, Mexico. – M
I really like the culture in Granada, Nicaragua. – B
Atenas, Costa Rica. – C
Chapala because it is family friendly and there’s a lot of stuff close by and everyone seems to speak a little bit of English, making it easier to get around. – J
Is there anything you want other kids and teens to know about traveling?
The way that you live can change really fast, like going from one place to another that is totally different in food and culture. – M
It’s worth all the stuff you have to get rid of, and it’s really fun, and it is worth the experience. – J