Travel is WAY BETTER than school!

Travel is WAY BETTER than school!

Article By Miro Siegel, 14 year old world traveler 

SmilingMiroMy name is Miro, I am a semi intrepid 14 year old, who has been traveling the world with my mom for the last 4 years. My mom and I have slow traveled to 14 different countries during our trip, with little possessions, we live as visiting locals and spend a lot of time in open air markets and going to the places most locals go to. I have had experiences most other kids from the United States will never have. I’ve been immersed in many cultures, witnessed nature first hand, played with children who have to spend half their childhood working, so their families can make ends meet. I feel like I’m living life to the fullest and really experiencing the world. But one of the greatest differences in my lifestyle from my peers in the United States is, I don’t go to school. I’m doing a thing called unschooling. Unschooling is also called “natural learning” and it means two things:

1. The world teaches me.
2. I teach myself or study what I want, how I want and when I want.

That freedom means some days I don’t study at all and just hang out. (Every one needs off days every once and a while.) Other days I write or read or walk around, whatever I feel like doing.

Lets say I am interested in agriculture while living in the mountains of the Andes? If I were in school, I’d have to pick up a book and read about agriculture, but with unschooling, I’m free to visit a farm and have the experience myself. Its these lessons that are much more memorable than, lets say, a math class.

Now, to be completely honest, I suck at math. I know basic math and I figure I will not need to know more unless I want to be an engineer or something. However, I do excel in things I enjoy, such as: mythology, agriculture, writing and language. These are just a handful of things unschooling has allowed me to pursue, and I’m learning everyday, sometimes without even trying.

Just by being exposed to the outside world, I am learning. Whether it is having an apple fall on my head, or being spat at by a llama, The world teaches me just by virtue of being in it and participating. I also don’t have to break my life into subjects, I just learn naturally. For example, I now know not to stand in front of llamas anymore if I don’t want to be on the receiving end of a gooey mess.

In my opinion, children who do not travel and are forced to go through the traditional school system are forced to remember and “learn” facts about the world. I am living in the world through travel and learning what is actually relevant.

My mom and I have even volunteered many times throughout our travels. It really feels good helping someone in need. We’ve assisted children in Ecuador, Nicaragua, Colombia and Peru. We’ve also worked with animals in many other countries. The experience has been rewarding and meaningful. I’d say that’s learning.

My traveling lifestyle becomes my education. I’d say unschooling and travel are the best things since sliced bread and it’s almost as good as bacon.

I don’t think shoving kids into a room and talking at them is the best way to go about learning. Let them explore the world! See what life has to offer!

The world is YOUR classroom, and by living in it through travel, you can’t help but to learn.



  1. Nick Clarke-Gerrard 2 years ago

    nice one Miro

  2. Linda 2 years ago

    Sounds like you have a great life! Fun and interesting. And close to bacon.

  3. Julie 2 years ago

    Miro you are a rockin writer! I LOVE your perspective and your spirited STYLE. Living=learning! You’re fantastic!!!!! <3 Julie

  4. Lesli Peterson 2 years ago

    What a cool life, Miro. What I love most about your story is your appreciation for how you live your life now. I lived in Japan for highschool (although it was SCHOOL), and never fully appreciated it. Rock on my friend. You guys are inspiration for unschooling my two boys.

  5. Karen 2 years ago

    Well said! You have a really nice way of expressing yourself through your writing, Miro. What a great life you have- thanks for sharing! :)

  6. Shara 2 years ago

    Love this post Miro! You are a brilliant young man. Having the privilege to meet you proves this immediately! You are generous and caring, super duper funny and sarcastic (which I can totally relate too.. cause we know some can’t) ;). Your relationship with your Mom is unparalleled in that you both respect each other, understand each other and love each other.
    I will always remember the first time my daughters and I met you. You had a bag filled with hand made bracelets form Peru and you were handing them out to each and every child at Life Rocks. How cool is that?!! No question about sharing, caring, giving, making others feel loved. You are awesome! Can’t wait to hear more about your adventures and to read your book, when it comes out!!!

  7. Andrea 2 years ago


    Your writing talent is proof that unschooling rocks.

    I’ve sent the link to the Guardian Lifestyle and Education editors – hope that someone discovers your talent soon!

    Best of luck,

  8. OCDemon 2 years ago

    I bet if your mom lets you take care of all the financial decisions you’ll get better at math really quick. Or maybe just souvenir shopping budgets, for example. You’re probably already better at it than you might think.

    • Author

      I may be better at it then I think, but that doesn’t change the fact that I despise math. Thanks for the comment.

  9. Well done, Miro! You’ve hit the nail on the head about learning. Learning isn’t memorizing a set of facts, but learning about our world in a way that makes sense.

    That said, you dropped it here: “In my opinion, children who do not travel and are forced to go through the traditional school system are forced to remember and “learn” facts about the world. I am living in the world through travel and learning what is actually relevant.”

    Although I will agree with you that some kids in the traditional school system aren’t learning effectively, that’s not to say they CAN’T learn there. There are some incredible programs offered through the schools that can and do foster incredible learning – I know, because my sons are in some of them.

    As you know, my sons spent many years traveling the world. They lived as expats in 3 different countries until they were 7. From age 8 to 13, they spent a total of four years cycling 27,000 miles around the Americas. They’ve been around the world a time or two and have learned a LOT from those experiences.

    But now, we all feel they will benefit more from some time in Idaho than they would with continued travel. They are enjoying putting down roots and being a part of a greater community. That’s not a bad thing, and was the one thing we simply couldn’t give them with our nomadic lifestyle. They are choosing to take some classes while here, and are learning a LOT.

    I guess it’s not quite so black and white.

    • Author

      Nancy, you have to remember that this is all from MY experience and opinions. School sucked colossally for me.

      Maybe it isn’t so black and white, but it sure as hell seemed like it for me.

      Thanks for the comment.

  10. Mo 2 years ago

    Hi Miro,

    great post, and glad to hear your trip went to well although sounds like you’re both pretty happy to be back in Cusco. We’re getting close to extending our travels to 2 years and embracing more of the unschooling philosophy… meeting you guys was part of our inspiration:)

  11. Marty 2 years ago

    Awesome, Miro! You’re living an amazing life! So happy and proud of you. Live it! Love it! Own it!

  12. Catherine Forest 2 years ago

    Hey Miro! It is awesome to read you! I am a radical unschooling mom of 3 girls (9 yo twins and 7 yo) and we have been traveling full time for over a year and a half. It’s so great to hear the voice of older traveling unschoolers. You are an awesome writer!

  13. kashdoller 2 years ago

    you’d be surprised how much math you do every single day without even realizing it. I’m a single father with a daughter who goes to a regular public school. However without even realizing it I discovered much of how I parent really fits in with “unschooling”.

    For example, not too long ago my daughter asked me why we always get in the self-checkout line because she notices it’s the longest line in the grocery store. To her this made no sense. Well aside from the fact that it’s a self checkout (this can actually either slow down things or speed them up depending on the situation), the real reason I get in that line is because there are 4 places to check out rather than 1. So obviously the line will move much faster than any other line in the grocery store.

    This is simple math but it’s still math you’re doing in your head nonetheless. The situation could be more complex but an assessment you make on a moments notice. For example in Costco the lines are usually very long regardless of which one you choose to go in. There is no self checkout and there is no expresslane. They are all the same regardless of which one you choose. However I accessed the situation a bit ago and realized that the line closest to the right of me (which is the line closest to the exit) was the best one to go in. Why? Because the crowd of people to the left plus the food station always made for a slower exit of people. That plus the fact that the person helping with the food came from the right and always seemed to stop at the station closest to him. This always led to the right one being the fastest.

    Is that math? That’s for you to decide. I think it is :)

    Last example although this is one is on purpose. When going through the market with my daughter, I make her tell me unit prices on items that have odd pricing in order to get it. So for example if something costs 9 for $11, I’ll make her tell me how much would it cost for 3 of them (roughly). The answer in this case is (without looking) about $3.50 cents. If she says that, she gets it. If she doesn’t, then she doesn’t get it. Really sucks makes me look bad. (I never gave a shit too much how I looked, only if I’m benefiting my kid). But you bet your left lung the next time we came across something like that she’ll get it, and used math to earn it 😉

    Take care,

  14. Robin Stevenson 2 years ago

    I liked your post very much Miro. I have an almost 9 year old who is unschooled– so it was nice to read the point of view of an older unschooler. I do agree with you about math… not that I don’t like it myself (I didn’t like it as a kid but now I actually think it is pretty cool- I’m a Vi Hart fan)… but that many people don’t need more than the basics. As a social worker and a writer (teen fiction), I haven’t had much (any) use for trig or calculus. My son is actually leaning towards an interest in engineering and computers so maybe he will need to learn more math– but learning something because you want to or need to is very different from just doing it because someone else says you have to. Anyway, happy travels. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

  15. Clark Vandeventer 2 years ago

    Great post, Miro! Our oldest son is 5 so he’s at the age that people are asking about school for him. Of course we are getting all the typical questions. I just want to introduce all those people who don’t think he’ll learn the things he needs to know or that he won’t be “socially adjusted” to you! You rock! Too bad we didn’t get to meet a few weeks back at the Phoenix airport!

  16. Viet 2 years ago

    Great post and casserole Miro.

    Your current neighbor.

  17. michelle 2 years ago

    What an inspiring post! Miro– your attitude is fantastic! You are so articulate for a 14-year old!!

  18. Nice post, I love the last quote! So true!

  19. Bonifer 2 years ago

    Thanks for the report, Miro. If you were in a traditional school, I’d give it an “A.” Because you’re traveling to learn, I’ll give it a “G” (for Go)

    As you’re into agriculture, you might want to investigate the breadnut.

    It was a staple of the Mayan culture, and its many uses have been lost over time. It has the potential to be turned into lots of different products, say like the peanut. It is rainforest friendly. I have a friend named T.H. Culhane who helped plant thousands of new breadnut trees in Guatemala seven or eight years ago that will be mature enough to begin producing in the next couple of years. His idea is to help indigenous people build sustainable economies by harvesting the breadnut, which would be processed by entrepreneurs in inner cities in the U.S. and elsewhere, and turned into various rainforest-friendly products.

    Let me know if you want an introduction to T.H. He lives in Germany, teaches in the U.S. and currently has a project in the favelas in Rio for turning garbage into fuel.

    Say hi to your mom for me. Keep getting those G’s on your non-report card ; )

  20. Erik 2 years ago

    That’s a very fun life you have! You’re awesome! I wish I could do the same but my parents are not thinking about it.

  21. Cristina 2 years ago


    What you say is very true. But please also remember that you are very, very lucky to be able to lead this life. Many children in the world love to be able to go to school instead of having to work, especially girls who in many places in the world are not allowed to go to school and instead are forced to work to support the family at very young ages or are forced to marry very young. For these girls (and boys), education, even in cramped classrooms, is one of the only things that will allow them to leave poverty behind and live a better life than their parents. What’s more, increasing schools for girls in countries with patriarchal cultures where women are oppressed by men has been shown to be the main way to empower women and reduce their dependence on the men who abuse them. This is a very important fact to remember.

    School may not be ideal, but perhaps you and your mother could visit some of these places and see for yourself how happy and grateful those girls and boys feel to be able to go to school.

    Enjoy your travels!

    • nick gerrard 2 years ago

      Very good point but I think Miro realises he is lucky and would argue for free education for all. I think the two sides go hand in hand. In the developed world a change in the way Education is delivered and in poorer countries the chance of any education at all must be made available. :-)

  22. Sunshine 1 year ago

    This is very cool on so many levels. Thank you for writing and sharing this.

  23. Lonnie Mann 1 year ago

    Hello author, my family and I are quite interested in this lifestyle. I’d really like to talk with you. Please contact me
    FB – lmann8350

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