Reflections from a grown roadschooler; lessons, effects, past, present & more!

Reflections from a grown roadschooler; lessons, effects, past, present & more!
September 29, 2014 Guest

This wonderful guest post comes to us from Hanna Smith,  a free spirited journalist and photographer traveling full time on the road of life. She traveled with her family as a child and has grown up experiencing the travel lifestyle. She has since become a journalist with unique insights to travel, global citizenship and participating in world without fear.  We hope you enjoy this guest feature!

Roadschooling Outcome

Thawing ice from your hiking boots over a 5 inch propane stove on a mountain top provides ample time to contemplate the deep things in life.

tent and mountains second night

Things like: what the heck am I doing‽

I was camping in the middle of the San Juan Mountains around Durango, Colorado in May 2014 at an elevation I guessed was about 11,000 feet because of the trees that were beginning to thin out and the tundra that could be seen not much farther up from where I huddled around the bit of warmth. Snow still capped the jagged mountain top that was visible from the campsite. Although I was sitting with my fingers numb, my long hair tangled around my face like a scarf, shivering despite my layers, and working to thaw out my boots over a backpacking cook stove, I was awe struck. I was so close to the mountain peaks and they were the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

Thawing ice from your hiking boots over a 5 inch propane stove on a mountain top provides ample time to contemplate the deep things in life.

Things like: this is what I was made to be doing.
Hanna 7-14-14

I’m Hanna Smith. Hi, it’s nice to meet you, friend.

September 9th was my sixth anniversary of traveling full time and it’s a perfect opportunity to reflect on what this life style has meant over the years.

I was raised in much the same way as Lainie is raising Miro – education through travel. I’ve heard some people call it road-schooling. My parents, Shae and Sheri Smith of SmithPRO LLC, sold our home in Highlandville, Missouri and began traveling in an RV when I was 14 years old. Prior to the decision to full time, we had always gone on shorter trips throughout the year and, before that, moved often due to the military. For as long as I can remember, we’ve always been on the move – either moving to a new home or simply visiting a location for kicks.

My parents originally started home schooling my older brother, Cody, and I because we moved so often from base to base in the Navy. They didn’t think it was fair to move us in and out of schools so frequently. However, when Mom and Dad both got out of the military, they had begun to recognize the other benefits of home schooling, especially as we continued to travel for the fun of it instead of in the military. Our schooling became based more around unit studies depending on where we went, what season it was, and world news. When we traveled to Virginia, we studied for a month before about early American colonies and then explored the places we had read about. When we began traveling full time during my freshman year of high school, this method of learning became our full time education. By that time, my parents had four younger children as well.

Cody and I both graduated from high school on the road and neither of us went to college. He got a job with the Forest Service in Southern Missouri, something he had wanted to do for some time. He’s since transferred to the National Park Service where he can travel from park to park and work. I devoured any book published by The Associated Press that I could get my hands on and, combined with interning at a newspaper in Missouri, expanded my knowledge while continuing traveling.

I’ve since written for The Lemonade Digest Magazine, The Christian County Headliner News, Full Time Families Magazine, and The Independent Scholar Newspaper. Portions of my blog have been published in an Eric Cohen English as a second language textbook in Greece and Spain. Two of my stories have been printed in Postcards From Chicks Without Bricks. My favorite project, however, was working with Mars-One, the division formerly part of NASA that covers Mars study as they sent the Opportunity Rover into new unexplored territory.

Road-schooling had propelled me into the “real world” from my desk that was any random rock I found to sit on during our travels. Now, I’m a second generation full time traveler with a notebook in my pocket and a pen behind my ear and it’s exactly where I want to be.
hanna spotting skope utah

A lot people wonder what children raised on the road of life will turn out like when they’re adults. All through high school, people would ask me if I enjoyed the way I was being raised. Now that I’m an adult, they ask the same question: do I appreciate the way I was raised?

The answer is a concrete yes.

Some of us were born with feet that were made to wander. I didn’t realize I was a gypsy soul and that my continual questions of “who, what, when, where, why, and how” were a product of that eagerness to go. Once I was on the road, however, I put the puzzle together and knew that I had found what I wanted to do in life. While not all road-schooled children will grow up to be second generation travelers, and that is just fine, there are certain life lessons that traveling teaches and knowledge that is expanded only by experience.

Here are a few of the many aspects of life that growing up on the road cultivated in me and I have carried on into adulthood.

rm all of one and one for allALL FOR ONE AND ONE FOR ALLpeople are the most important.

This is one of the most critical things that travel has taught me. While it can become easy to fall into a cycle of self preservation and satisfaction, it’s just as easy to become outwardly focused on others and caring for their needs. Traveling taught me that having an abnegate heart is our natural state and it’s our own pride and negligence that breeds selfishness. My parents always told me to train myself to be continually observant of those around me. Everywhere you go there is at least one person who needs a helping hand, a bright smile, or just a friend to join in the fun with.


AK8558-002RUBY SHOES WILL GET YOU LOSTHome is not a location.

I realized I can sleep peacefully most anywhere. A tent in the middle of the forest is the same as a bumpy hotel bed is the same as a down comforter is the same as a sleeping bag on the grass. When you’re on the road long enough, you realize that home isn’t one dot on the map – it’s many places and it’s what you make of that place. Home is a state of heart and mind where you are in love and are loved. It’s with family, friends, and the atmosphere that brings you to life. That love is home.


rm not my circus not my monkeyNOT MY CIRCUS, NOT MY MONKEY let go of the things that don’t matter.

When you’re on the road, you learn what truly is important and what is critical to let go. This could be bondage of any kind – financial, relational, or self imposed and outwardly imposed expectations. What remains that is meaningful and long lasting, however, does become all the more central because it’s not crowded with things that steal our time and joy.


rm well never be royalsWE’LL NEVER BE ROYALS it’s easy to live on little.

Recently a friend and I packed all of our belongings into the back of a Station Wagon and road tripped from Missouri to Colorado. Nearly everything we owned was contained in the cramped space behind our seats. When you’re a traveler, not only are material items inconvenient, in excess, they’re entirely undesirable. I found that I didn’t need all the things I thought I needed and soon I didn’t even want them. Instead of being a slave to finances, money becomes a blessing.


rm improvise adapt and overcomeIMPROVISE, ADAPT, AND OVERCOME be flexible.

Things rarely go according to plan, traveling has taught me. Life has a way of tossing obstacles of every kind in our way. You can’t go over it, you can’t go under it….you’ve got to go through it! Learning to take everything in stride and planning for plot twists is essential for survival on the road. It’s guaranteed that, at multiple points sometimes in the same day, plans will go awry. That’s part of life. However, learning to take detours and be flexible to change with those bumps in the road not only keeps the adventure going, but it changes your attitude about it.


rm this land is your landTHIS LAND IS YOUR LAND, THIS LAND IS MY LANDwe are all earth citizens.

This last lesson encompasses the bottom line of what I’ve learned from growing up on the road. I’ve seen so much on this earth – so many places, so many people. We are all uniquely and wonderfully different from each other with colorful cultures and tastes and preferences differing from country to country, region to region, and person to person. No two fingerprints are alike. However, when it comes down to it, we are all citizens of this earth. I may speak a different language, come from a different country, and like my sandwich made different than yours, but we all live on this earth together. How beautiful it is when we all learn to appreciate each other and experience life together. We all love to smile as a collective whole. It’s universal.

I could go on and on about ways that being raised on the road of life has helped me in adulthood. Things like food is an international language, never carry your debit card in your wallet, or propane camp stoves work great for thawing boots. It taught me the significance of curiosity, the freedom of wisdom, the confidence of intuition, the invaluableness of good humor, and the simple joy of just being alive.

So, before I say goodbye, friend, here’s one of my favorite recipes that I learned on my travels: Apple Pie Scones. Like I said, food is universal glue that everyone can agree on. These scones are easy to make and are perfect to share. Enjoy!


2 1/2 c. flour
½ c. sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ c. cold butter
2/3 c. apple pie filling
3/4 c. milk


Melted butter
Organic sugar crystals

scones on plate

Mix the flower, baking powder, cinnamon, and sugar in a medium size mixing bowl.  Cube the stick of butter before adding it to the flour mixture.  Use two butter knives to chop the butter in.  In a separate bowl, scoop out the apple pie filling and mix it with milk.  I popped this mix in the microwave for 25 seconds to warm and soften the apples a bit before mashing them well.  Combine the two mixtures together and stir well.  You may need to add more flour at this point if the dough is excessively sticky.  Flour a cutting board and spread out the dough with your fingers into an approximate square.  Use a butter knife to cut the dough into triangles as shown above.  Keep your dough floured well to prevent sticking. Coat a baking pan with olive oil to prevent sticking, and bake the scones at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.


Follow Hanna Smith on her adventures at:
Instagram: @hanna_traveler
Twitter: @hanna_traveler


  1. Yvie 10 years ago

    Thank you so much for these encouraging words! We’re on our second year as a road-school family, and there are days when I wonder if we’re doing the right thing. The kids are happy, and life is never dull, but it’s such a different experience… This gave me that injection of confidence that we _are_ on the right path…however winding it may be. 🙂

  2. karenpixietaylor 10 years ago

    I love reading your post. We just left our s&b home and are living it up in our RV at Stockton Lake! We have two boys were are roadschooling. Landon is 8 and Sheldon is our 7 year old with autism. It is the best thing we have ever done!

  3. Brenda Dettloff 10 years ago

    Hanna you are an amazing young lady and I am proud to be your cousin. You go girl!

  4. L Blackwell 8 years ago

    You are such an encouragement as I read this. I am so happy to hear about your experience. We are parents to three littles and we live in a 4,000 sq foot home in the ‘burbs that sucks the life out of us. We are constantly working to keep up with it and the demands are just too much. We have little time to enjoy living. I’ve never liked being put in one place but we bought a home because we were worried about messing our kids up with moving too much. Your comment about some of us were born with feet that were made to wander resonates with me to the core. Thank you for sharing your experience with others.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.