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Funding Home Educating on the Road

By Beverley Paine

Lots of us have sold up or packed all of our stuff into storage and hit the road with our families, enjoying the home educating life style in a free and easy way, travelling! The question comes up frequently on support groups such as this: how do families fund this lifestyle?

Like many people, Trudi saved for a few years, slowly getting together the equipment they needed, plus enough money to manage any contingencies that might crop up along the way. Trudi said that as they were camping in a tent, they travelled light, packing an enormous amount of stuff into their medium-sized hatchback and roof rack. Even with this prior effort and commitment they were only able to afford travelling for about six months and then only by being careful with funds, mindful of the cost of activities they did along the way.

Having a goal and saving was also important for Amanda and her family. On the road, living frugally and free camps meant the money - and travel - went further. Bella agrees: her family slept in the van, focusing on keeping costs as low as possible by making use of well-lit free campsites wherever they went.

Centrelink benefits, mainly FTB and Parenting Payment were major contributors to income while families were travelling. Lauren said that living on the road, especially taking advantage of free camps, was cheaper than living in a house for her family.

Ally's family spent close on two years on the road living in an off-road camper-trailer. Settled and renting again, with two children happily attending school, she's already planning their next trip. Dependent on Centrelink payments, she said "we blew all our dough" by mostly staying in caravan parks, and would get a caravan and free camp next time.

Thanks to her dad's job, which meant they moved frequently, home educated Amy and her siblings got to see quite a bit of Australia and New Zealand. Holidays between locum positions were funded by savings and commitment to a frugal lifestyle. She's planning on emulating the travelling lifestyle in the future, with her husband and her specifically planning their careers (general practitioner and freelance writer) around this desire. They intend to work part-time, keeping living costs as low as possible. Saving before setting off will also help fund their travels.

Joanne's family takes advantage of the fly-in fly-out nature of her husband's work: when he is with them family they stay at different caravan parks or free camps in their bus, gradually working their way around the country. Like Lauren they find this nomadic lifestyle much cheaper than living in a house.

For the Clarke family, taking advantage of seasonal work sustains the free-living fun-loving home educating lifestyle.

Having a job that travels is how Jo manages to fun her odyssey around Australia. As a trained masseuse she finds she needs to remain in one place for a few weeks but that also allows her to concentrate on making things that she sells at local markets. Centrelink payments helps to keep " things ticking along", although travelling hasn't been as easy as she thought it would be. She is planning to add WWOOFing to their journey, partly to help with finances but mostly because of the educational experience.

Making use of the internet to earn an income is a popular aim and it will be interesting to see how this develops. An extensive overseas journey will be funded by selling the family car and belongings, boosted by a small inheritance, for one home educating family. Their aim is to create extra funding as they go by exploiting their creative abilities and talents: freelance photography, travel writing, an online shop selling ethically produced handmade children's clothing, and music and book production.

Travelling slowly is one way Shelley manages to keep the costs down, by reducing the amount of money spent on fuel each week. Living frugally she purchases items such as packet or canned food on special in bulk. Taking advantage of free camps wherever possible is necessary too. A keen knitter she hopes to be able to sell some of projects too.

Kym's family travelled around Australia living in a roof-top tent, staying in places when opportunities to earn an income arose, such as working on farms and caretaking a caravan park. They mostly took advantage of free bush, beach or river-side accommodation but if they are in one place for months will find cheap houses to rent or in intentional communities. They sold their house, car, furniture, everything and invested the money, living off the interest and dividends earned for a long time. They "lived very simply but wonderfully". Centrelink family payments top up their income. According to Kym, "It can all be done with a little letting go", and the best part, she says, is staying in touch with the many people she's met over the years.

Staying with family and friends along the way was another way of reducing travelling costs. Help from family and friends in the form of storing furniture and belongings reduced this necessary cost, especially for families who, like Trudi, left rental properties behind, or who rented out or sold their home.

Flexibility and part-time work, together with the ability to share the home education of the children, was a major focus for Lorri and her partner when deciding to travel instead of living in one place.

Home educating 'simply' featured strongly. A few commented that they'd started out using distance education but it became cumbersome, time-consuming and limiting and eventually switched to writing their own learning programs. Wifi came in handy for tapping into online learning programs such as Study Ladder and Reading Eggs. DVDs helped the children pass the long hours travelling between destinations. Some families picked up second-hand children's books from op-shops, leaving them at laundries along the way after the children have read them. All commented that there is so much to see and do: tourist information centres are frequently a first stop, obtaining information about local festivals, museums, parks and 'must do' activities or 'must see' places. It's hard not to casually pick up knowledge and understanding across a range of subjects: geography, history, the Arts, and science. Children are active: hiking, swimming, exploring new playgrounds. A simple journal or scrapbook, online or paper, together with reading, round out the homeschool learning program.

Families met up or stayed with other with home educating families along the way through contact with online support groups, and attended group activities if they coincided with when they were passing through a town.

Lorri suggested reading the following inspiring and encouraging travel tip articles:

Online support groups:

Other articles about travelling and home educating on this site:

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Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.

Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.

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We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine


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