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 Amazing Family Behind WanderingEducators.com
Ed Forteau, 51 – loves sports, politics, marketing, travel
Jessie Voigts, 43 – loves water, reading, photography, cultures, cooking, travel
Lillie Forteau, 9 – loves water, mermaids, swimming, fashion, travel
Where are you now, where have you been and how long have you been traveling?
We live on a lake in Michigan. It’s ideal for summer – we swim all day, every day. We also have a cottage up north in Michigan, where we can go swim when we need a lake change of scenery. We have traveled as a family around the United States, and also to Ireland and Scotland. Before we married, I traveled in Europe and Asia (and worked in London and Tokyo), while Ed traveled and worked in Australia.
Why do you travel as a family?
We travel as a family because we are a family! We do so much together that I can’t imagine traveling alone. We also love to see the world through our daughter’s eyes – it’s a remarkable learning experience.
What are some of the benefits your family has experienced as a result your travels?
Oh! Everything! We’ve broadened our worldview, tried new foods, made new friends, seen beautiful sights as well as depressing ones, heard new music, learned from a different culture, and gained a broader sense of diversity in this world.
What inspired you and your family to incorporate travel into your lifestyle?
We publish a travel site for global educators, WanderingEducators.com, because we believe so strongly in travel and experiencing other cultures. I think it comes from family tradition – my mom lived in India, my dad had a German exchange student in high school that is part of our family, and Ed’s parents lived in Japan. How can you NOT be a globally focused family with this background? We’ve always traveled – and are grateful for the opportunities, and worldview.
How do you address education while you are traveling?
We are unschoolers, which is a way of learning and being curious about the world. We learn from everything – whether it is watching frogs spawn here in our lake, or the rhythm of the ocean tides. We explore wherever we are – and try to learn as much local culture as possible.
How do you and your family experience being global citizens?
One of my favorite sites is Good Global Citizen, which explores all kinds of meanings of being a global citizen. My definition of being a good global citizen is learning about others, practicing intercultural sensitivity, and trying to make the world a better place. How do we experience that? By practicing what we preach – learning about other cultures, listening, teaching others about cultures and travel – and how we can learn something from every single person on this planet, and by working on conservation issues (we love the Ocean Conservancy).
Can you share one of your families most memorable experiences?
It was a surprise to me – we’d studied Scottish history before we traveled there, but there’s nothing like seeing it in person. We arrived at the Culloden Battlefield Centre on a grey, rainy afternoon. Once within, our daughter (then 8) was captivated – by the actual historical artifacts (such as Bonnie Prince Charlie’s clothing and jewels), by the battlefield experience surround movie (which showed both sides!), by seeing the spent bullets that have appeared on the ground since then, by going outside and walking all through the battlefield (avoiding the copious and large slugs), by listening to the audio accompaniment that made the ill-fated battle seem real. She didn’t want to leave – and in fact, we closed the place down. It didn’t matter that it was raining on us, while tramping the moors. History came alive for us that day – and we can’t stop talking about it.
Can you share one story from your travel experiences when you and your family had an “aha moment”.
We were surprised in Ireland at the local market in Kenmare, in County Kerry. Why? We hadn’t expected that much diversity! We realized, at that moment in that small town, how much of a lack of diversity we have at home in the US. People were from all over the world, speaking many languages, and how natural it seemed. The vendors spoke many languages effortlessly, conversing in whatever language was required. It was an “aha” moment because that is not something you see in the US – we’re more insular and expect people to speak our own language here. It was inspiring!
We’ve got so many projects going on, at Wandering Educators. We’re starting a free youth travel blogging mentorship program, and are also publishing a book on Moving to Southeast Asia. We just published a book on Raising Intercultural Kids! In terms of travel, we’re sticking close to home in the Midwest – Ed’s mom is 94 and I feel that we should be close, right now.
Jessie Voigts, Ed Forteau, Lillie Forteau