We have been blessed to connect with many amazing families online, all of whom have adapted a travel lifestyle in one form or another. We wanted to take the opportunity to introduce you to them here and highlight the positive aspects travel has had on their families. Welcome our interview series called Families on the Move. Miro & I are honored to a part of this global community we consider our extended family.
Meet the Millers
We are the Miller Family, of the Edventure Project.
Tony (40) is a database developer/designer and iOS/Android programmer. He quite a great job with a division of Apple to adventure for a living. He plays a little guitar and reads aloud most evenings, with voices, of course!
Jenn (37) is a teacher by training who has spent the past ten years doing educational consulting and curriculum design for families who educate “outside the box.” She’s also a freelance writer for the homeschool and travel markets. She knits and bakes a lot of bread.
Hannah (15) is a music addict. She plays guitar, fiddle, mandolin & irish flute, so far, and loves to play gigs at hostels and bars as we travel. She’s also a freelance writer for the travel market and a journalistic intern. She’s passionate about travel and social justice issues.
Gabriel (13) is an avid reader, wood carver and adventurer. He’s passionate about wildlife and would like to farm when he grows up. He spent part of the summer living and working on a hydroponic farm in Indiana and is ecologically minded. He loves SCUBA diving, climbing and jumping off of things & is hoping to learn to kite surf soon.
Elisha (11) is interested in how things work. He notices things that no one else in the family does and he asks a lot of questions. He learns languages quickly and isn’t afraid to dive into new cultures and learn.
Ezra (9) is the comic relief of the family and a tough little nut. He’s spent half of his life on the road and is more comfortable on a chicken bus than in Wal-mart. When the Castro brothers retire, he’s considering applying for the position of “dictator.”
Where are you now, where have you been and how long have you been traveling?
Right now we are in a little fishing cottage on Cape Cod, MA, USA. We’re renting it for a few months while we spend some time with family, attend to a couple of work contracts and get everything in order for our next big push to Asia (April or May 2012). We have been traveling full time for four years now, beginning with our one year cycle trip through Europe & N. Africa.
Why do you travel as a family?
We believe that the best teacher is experience and the best classroom is the world. We want our children to spend time in each of the major cultures of the world, to learn multiple languages and to become comfortable in their own skins and find their place as world citizens. We travel because we only have our children for a very little while and we want to make the best use possible of that time. We want to live each day to the fullest, together, doing the things that inspire each of us.
What are some of the benefits your family has experienced as a result your travels?
The most obvious benefits are relational and educational. Because we travel together, we overcome obstacles together in a way that most families don’t have the opportunity. This has bonded our kids in a way that they wouldn’t be if they were separated in grade leveled classrooms in their own society where challenges are fewer. The educational benefits are innumerable, from Spanish classes in Guatemala to guitar lessons with Blues greats, philosophy lessons around our dinner table where worlds collide on a nightly basis as we travel, to internships with professionals in the fields the kids are interested in, travel has provided our children with learning experiences a classroom never could.
What inspired you and your family to incorporate travel into your lifestyle?
My family (Jenn) traveled a lot when she was a child and the years she was pulled out of school to cruise the continent from end to end were by far the best, socially and educationally, of my life. Because I was the nomadic kid, I know what a benefit there is as an adult from that outside the box upbringing and that was a huge motivator. We married young and had our kids young, with an eye toward big time travel from the beginning. We have always had a family mantra of “Love People, Not Things” so to us it made perfect sense to spend the best years of our lives with our children, working to make memories instead of amass “stuff” and investing in their lives and the lives of those we encounter as we wander.
How do you address education while you are traveling?
Our children have always been homeschooled, so that was not an adjustment when we started traveling. How we educated has morphed over the years. From the very beginning we’ve had a clear philosophy of education that has driven our educational choices for our kids. We are not unschoolers, but we do design the educational experience of each child to suit their needs as individuals and to maximize their potential to follow any path they desires as they grow toward adulthood.
How do you and your family experience being global citizens?
We are acutely aware that our American (and Canadian) citizenships entitle us to privileges that many others would trade much of what they have for. We’re grateful for that, every single day. No matter where we are in the world we seek to live lives open to the world. We have guests in our home daily, no matter where we are, and intentionally fill our dinner table with as diverse a population as possible. From backpackers, to photographers, teachers, writers, Israeli fighter pilots, drug addicts, policeman, hippies, and anyone else we can find, we invite them to share their stories and teach our children. The best way to raise a world citizen is to invite the world home for dinner and introduce it to your child, one face and one story at a time. I bake a lot of bread.
Can you share one of your families most memorable experiences?
Walking through the coliseum at El Jem, in Tunisia, with Jenn’s parents and listening to Gramps teach the children, “Now boys, pay attention, the ghost of young Gramps is here… forty years ago when Grammy and I were backpacking through this part of the world it looked very different… we were here then, your Mama wasn’t born yet… Grammy rode a camel…” There is nothing in the world like listening to your epic-adventurer Dad give your kids a tour of history through his own story and then sitting with your head on his shoulder, shivering in the desert cold, while the kids play “Gladiators and Lions” on the arena floor for a lazy hour.
Can you share one story from your travel experiences when you and your family had an “aha moment”.
Camped atop the “Cliffs of Insanity” on the Adriatic coast of Italy, the stock market crashed and over night our savings disappeared and our travel fund was gone. There were two long days of discussion: Do we pack up, go home, get a job and “get on with it?” having traveled only half of the year we’d originally planned? Or should we press onward, get to Africa where it would be cheaper and keep traveling, figuring out the funding as we went? Needless to say, we went to Africa. Tony spent the winter learning to do iOS programming and setting up his company, Fahrsoft.com and Jenn got serious about developing her travel writing clientele. It was the moment where the winds shifted, our “gap year” became our life and we discovered that home was on the road.
Next is Edmonton, Canada and Iceland for a little honeymoon in February. Beyond that, the big, “Next,” is at least a year in Asia. We’re in the process of wrangling visas at the moment and in the spring we’ll be headed to Thailand first. If all goes well and work holds out we’ll spend a year exploring South East Asia before working southward to New Zealand and Australia for a second year. Everyone is very excited about the continents as none of us have been before. Hannah is in pre-launch sequence and Gabe isn’t far behind, so the number of years that we’ll have our whole family with us to adventure are few indeed. We’re hoping to make the most of the next two years before watching our kids dive into the great big world and chase dreams of their own.