This weeks interview is from Lainie Liberti of RaisingMiro.com. Her blog focuses on the adventures she and her son have had during their last 3.5 years of travelling the world together as a single parent family. Lainie is also a big advocate of “unschooling” and her blog is a great resource for those also interested in this type of life learning and education. You can find her around the web at the blog, twitter, facebook, or check our their videos on Youtube.
What was your travel style like before you had children?
I traveled for a year through Europe when I was in my 20’s, with a backpack and an eurail pass. That was a little over 20 years ago and my travel style since has been that as a casual American traveler, taking 2 weeks here, another two weeks there. And after Miro was born, we had taken several conventional trips together throughout his life including a trip to Hawaii and Jamaica. But until we left on our current trip together, three and a half years ago, we had not experienced anything like this.
What ages were your children when you started travelling with them?
I am a single mom, and Miro and I left on our open-ended world trip in 2009. Miro was 10 then, and we’ve been on the road now for three and a half years.
Why did you decide that exposing your children to travel was important?
We made the choice to travel for many reasons. The circumstances of the economy was one of the factors, but beyond that, my dream had aways been, to give Miro the world, in some form or another. I worked in the advertising world for almost 20 years and our lives in Los Angeles colored our experience of the world, culture and humanity. Then the opportunity to travel with with my son Miro, to have totally new experiences, volunteering together as a family, climbing a volcano, exploring indigenous villages, learning a new language and feeling what it feels like to be alive became my obsession. And when the economy dictated that we needed to make a change in our lives, we jumped at it. And there has been no turning back.
What is your travel style now that you travel with children? How did it change from before you were a parent?
Our travel style is slow and immersive. We have no plans, don’t need to be anywhere at any given time, therefore, we’re freed up to being guided solely by inspiration. Wow, what an energizing way to live life, wouldn’t you say?
When we are inspired to go somewhere we go. When we are inspired to stay, we stay. Our journey together has allowed us to truly be in connection with living in the present moment.
What has been the most difficult thing about travelling with children?
Absolutely nothing. However, we don’t see travel as separate from just living our lives. In fact the two are completely integrated. Furthermore, my son and I treat our travels and our lifestyle as a partnership. Therefore when difficulties in travel or life come up (which they rarely do) we have the ability to handle them.
What has been the most rewarding part of travelling with children?
The most rewarding part of our travels has been the ability to experience numerous cultural traditions, encounter people of all walks of life, learn the living history of places and live in harmony with other beliefs systems. We have had some life changing experiences and adventures that remind us that we all are important members of humanity. A child cannot learn this through a book, only through being in the world and experiencing it as a safe place.
What is your favourite travel memory of travelling as a family?
We have so many incredible moments. I would say though, that the majority of them would be less tied to an actual destination, rather about moment we deeply connected with one another.
There was a wonderful conversation Miro and I had with a homeless man in Manizales, Colombia that touched both of our hearts.
There was the time, we both fell into hysterics at the songs we made up at a bus stop 2 years ago in Panama. We remember vividly a woman in a nearby house, sticking her head out of her window of her house to see what all the ruckus was.
And another favourite moment happened in Costa Rica 3 years ago, when Miro and I were walking back from dinner one evening. I wanted to hold Miro’s hand, and so I asked him if I could. Then Miro asked “why?” Trying not to sound like a mushy-sentimental mom, my intention was to come up with a better answer. However, the only thing I could think of saying was, upon noticing an old man walking on the other side of the road, “because that man has big pants!” That incident happened three years ago and it has become our ‘go-to answer’ for the most ridiculous of questions.
But it’s those precious moments between us that create our lasting memories. Sure we go on tours, and see the sites, and visit ruins and museums, but we’ll always remember the songs we sung, the moments that touched our hearts and the laughter we shared together as part of our journey.
According to your child, what is their favourite part about travel?
The not going to school bit is pretty cool, but most of all travel gives me that sense of… freedom.
According to your child, what was their favourite place you have travelled as a family?
Most definitely Guatemala. It’s colorful with culture, the people are nice, and they have bagels there.
According to your child, where in the world do they most want to travel to next?
Japan would most likely be my top priority, although Greece sounds good to.
What tips would you offer parents when it comes to travel with children?
I would always recommend a slow immersive type of trip. There is stress in the actual travel time, so why not try to minimize that as much as possible? Why not go to Peru and live in the Sacred Valley for 3 weeks, instead of being on the go, trying to see the whole country in the same amount of time? You may not ‘see’ as many things, but the overall travel experience will be that much more enjoyable and having the ability to actually live in the culture for a few weeks or longer will make a lasting impression on your children. Otherwise, you will be in hotels, interacting with other tourists, and missing the greatest benefit travel has to offer, the local experience.
Are there certain destination or holiday types you would recommend for parents travelling with children?
I would recommend researching potential destinations as a family and engage in the planning as a family. Your children will feel a sense of ownership in the experience before, during and after. I also recommend considering a trip where you aren’t moving around too much and if you can add a family volunteer experience into the mix, it will guarantee to make the trip so memorable and meaningful.
And finally – what are you upcoming travel plans?
Miro and I are currently enjoying Peru’s Sacred Valley and are not sure when we will move on. When inspiration hits, I suppose. We will be heading to the United States in April to speak at a conference sharing tid-bits from our nomadic lifestyle, long-term travel, life learning (also known as ‘unschooling’) and global citizenship. That trip will also include a visit back to Panama. After that, who knows? You are always invited to keep up with our journey on the road of life at our web site RaisingMiro.com