Families on the Move – Meet the Family Behind the Book Running Away to Home

Families on the Move – Meet the Family Behind the Book Running Away to Home
October 24, 2012 Lainie Liberti

Families on the Move

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 the Book Running Away to Home

My husband Jim, 43, is an architect and a food lover. When we first came back from Croatia, he tried to replicate the recipe for the village sauerkraut in our basement. He nearly killed us all in the process.

I’m a professional writer, and have been for 15 years. Before that I was a high school English teacher for tough kids. I write. And write. And write. And also take care of the chickens in my back yard. And the kids! Can’t forget the kids.

Sam is 10, and he’s about to go into 5th grade. He is currently all about Pokemon and Rick Riordan and growing out his hair longer.

Zadie is 7 AND A HALF, and she loves music, dancing, singing, and spending the night at other people’s houses besides her own.

Where are you now, where have you been and how long have you been traveling?

We are now living in Des Moines, Iowa, back from the trip and publicizing the book. We traveled for about a year, including our time in Croatia, all stuffed into a teeny Peugeot. We covered France, Spain (our favorite), Switzerland, Italy, England, Portugal, a little bit of Bosnia. We’ll be poking around in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado next week.

Why do you travel as a family?

I believe it’s a good thing to get us all out of our regular routines and try new patterns out. We tend to get into ruts here at home–I’m the controlling one, Jim’s the worker bee, Sam is the screen fiend, Zadie the crabby little. When we’re on the road, the dynamics are completely up in the air. That’s good for everyone, to see and be seen, as entirely different creatures. It also gives us all the great reminder that there is a giant world out there beyond Des Moines, Iowa, and we need to be actively engaged in it.

What are some of the benefits your family has experienced as a result your travels?

Much more inclined to roll with things, and take life as it comes. It’s still tough (when you’re the controlling mama), but we’re more interested in change now than fearful of it. Also, I think we established when we lived so many months on the road that “home” is a concept that means “family” to us. Whenever the four of us are together, that’s home. It doesn’t have to do with a building or a particular location.

What inspired you and your family to incorporate travel into your lifestyle?
We live in a pretty homogenous place. We love Iowa, but Jim and I believe that it’s our job as parents to get our kids out there into the world. It’s a much more connected planet than it was when we were kids. Sam and Zadie (and Jim and I, really) need to know how to navigate other cultures and people.

How do you address education while you are traveling?

Jim is the homeschooler. He did a great job with Sam and Zadie. Zadie learned to read when she was 4, after just a few weeks of home school. Sam learned to tell time in an afternoon. He can seriously rock the European capitals.

How do you and your family experience being global citizens?

We remain connected to our little village in Croatia–and to most of the places we visited. When we see a place we visited in the news, we have more intimate knowledge of it. I think that really matters, in a time when many Americans would prefer to remain insular and keep out people from other countries. That tactic just isn’t what being an American is all about. We stronger together.

Can you share one of your family’s most memorable experiences?

I remember a moment in San Sebastian, Spain, when we were just hanging out on the beach together. The mist had settled over the beach, and you could see the giant statue of San Sebastian just barely in the haze of distance. Sam and Zadie were playing in the sand, and Jim and I were watching them as the surfers went in and out of the sea. I believe that travel is 90 percent hard work. But that beautiful moment that my family will never forget? That’s the 10 percent that makes it all worth it.

Can you share one story from your travel experiences when you and your family had an “aha moment”.
Well, in Croatia, we met some fairly close relatives we didn’t know we had, and that was a beautiful thing. You’ll read about it in the book. But the thing that was the most jarring about meeting cousins who look like your relatives but you’ve never actually seen them before was how much it meant to them that we came back. As Americans, we don’t think much about returning to our roots to see where we’re from. But when I was sitting in a place of honor in a humble home in a tiny Croatian mountain village, and my cousin was sitting across from me in tears, saying I was the first family who’d ever come back to see him? That was major. It meant a lot to rekindle that across-the-sea connection. I walk taller, my kids do too, knowing that we’re connected to each other by these tiny tendrils across the world.

What’s next?
I’m working on a novel that’s set in a cemetery! We’ll do another travelogue as a family after that, I imagine. Cultural family travel is such an important part of education now. I can’t imagine us staying still for too long.

Name: Jennifer Wilson 
web site: Jennifer-Wilson.com
twitter: @travelinfamily
Book: Running Away to Home

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