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Travel with Kids – A Barbados Edventure

GUEST BLOGGER: Katrina De Jersey (Australia)

Here's one thing I know, travel is good for kids, it's good for parents, it's good for everyone.

In April this year, my partner and I took our daughter, Ayah, 5, out of school to travel the world. It's apparently called an 'edventure’— where kids learn on the road. Having lived and worked on every continent, for more than 15 years, I was passionate about providing her the type of experiences a traditional schoolroom could not.

Our decision to drop out of the day-to-day rat race and explore the world for 6-months prompted many questions from family and friends, "Should you really take your daughter out of school?"  " How can you afford it?" "Do you have to quit your jobs?" "What will the school say?".

We had planned perfectly and had an answer for each and every enquiry. Yes, our daughter had to miss two terms of school, due to hard work and careful choices we could afford it (with some creative budgeting) and no, we did not have to quit our jobs.

We knew in our hearts it was the right thing to do, however, we did expect some resistance from the education system, where even half a day’s absence from school requires a note, an email, an explanation. When we floated the idea with the school principal, rather than shaking a finger at us in disapproval she said "That's the best opportunity you can give your child at this age, we support you 100%."

We could not wait to escape the growing culture of consumerism and fast-paced life we were living.

The idea to travel started many, many years' ago, when I went back to work full-time in Sydney. As the hours increased, time with family got tighter and tighter, and soon enough my priority was professional not personal. I promised my partner that when our daughter started school we would embark on an international adventure. Driven by the desire to spend quality family time together and with loved friends abroad and experience different cultures and values, we set out planning 6-months away.

Since April, we've savoured many a sunset in the South of France. We've watched our daughter's language skills boon at the local Arles Public School in Provence. We've made chocolate from cacao in Costa Rica, met Fidel Castro's son in Cuba and swam with stingrays in the Cayman Islands. But, a major highlight of our journey was the month we called Barbados home.

As a result of a promise to visit a much loved friend, we arrived in Bridgetown late at night, minus one of our bags! As the sun came up the next morning, we were hit by the heat and beauty of Barbados. The laid-back Bajan lifestyle and big wide smiles quickly intoxicated us, as we learnt to live like locals.

Whilst in Barbados my partner Carl worked remotely, our daughter was tutored every day (both professionally and by us), and I was determined to swim in the Caribbean Sea as much as possible.

Homeschooling in Barbados, where the reward of making sandcastles on a spectacular beach was always on the menu. One of our classrooms was Artsplash, a community arts space for kids on the South Coast. After a lesson of phonics, we would cross the road to the turquoise water and wade for hours.

Whilst Carl worked, Ayah and I bumped around Barbados by bus, with a sound system that blasted us into tomorrow and filled our hearts with joy. We celebrated the African roots and music, witnessed the religion of cricket, indulged in luxurious spas and the savoured many a sundowner at Batts Rock Beach bar 'La Cabane'.

I’m absolutely sure that the time together brought us closer, enabled us to make important decisions about how we want to live our lives, and ultimately, taught Ayah how to be a resilient global citizen.

Our journey was an adventure, it was enriching and a privilege to share with the many interesting people we met along the way. It is definitely something everyone should do if they have the guts and can make the right choices to make it happen.

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