Inspiration & Social Proof: An Interview With The Miller Family

Image from Miller Family’s Albums

One of the things we hope to convey with this site is the fact that there is no single *best* way to be location independent parents, travel the world nor educate your child. We all choose to do different things, based upon what works for each of us. So with that in mind, we have interviewed a wide range of location independent parents (of all types – nomadic or not) to demonstrate this!

We also have found it useful to be able to point to others living this lifestyle, when faced with questions and challenges from friends and family – so with this series, we’re hoping to give you plenty of social proof for this very purpose!

In this interview, we feature the Millers – a family of 6 who experience cycling adventures around the world together…

What type of location independent parent are you? (nomadic, entrepreneurial & nomadic, stay-at-home entrepreneur). Can you give us a brief overview of what you do & how this enables you to be location independent?

We started out nomadic and are now entrepreneurial & nomadic. When we first hit the road we saved for two years, sold everything we owned and hit the road on bicycles for a solid year. Now we balance work and travel.

Tony is a computer systems engineer and database designer. He alternates between working on the road and taking short term contracts for a few months at a time in one place, which allows us to really dig into one area for a while. He also creates iPhone applications, which he can do from just about anywhere (even the Mediterranean coast of North Africa!) Jenn is a freelance writer for the home school and travel markets, which is a blissfully portable occupation!

If you travel, please give us an overview of the benefits you feel that being location independent brings to you & your family?

We travel for a living. Being L-I has many benefits, not the least of which is the ability to work where there is work to be had, which in this economy is a real boon. In addition to increased marketability in the work world, we can spend time in a variety of cultures continually learning, growing and challenging ourselves both personally and professionally. As a family, being location independent allows our children to grow up with a global vision and experience cultural diversity in a way that wouldn’t be possible any other way. We love the freedom that we have to go where the wind blows us, travel to the places we’re studying about, and have real life adventures every single day.

What about schooling? How do you do it on the road or overseas?

We have always home schooled our children. Our methods have changed with our circumstances. The world is an excellent classroom and every single day provides opportunities to expand into lessons if you are looking for them. In general, when we’re in one place for more than a couple of weeks, we school intensively. When we’re traveling we tend to leave the textbooks behind in favor of real life learning. Our children are always reading and writing about the places we’re visiting, learning the languages, engaging with the history and culture as we move; road schooling doesn’t occur between school bells, it’s a 24-7 prospect. It is not difficult to “keep up” educationally with their public schooled peers living the way we do, 4 hours a day, 4 days a week takes care of their curricular needs. The real learning is what happens the other 10 hours they’re exploring the great big world in!

How do you cope with working from home and having the kids around you?

Tony and I have both worked from home since our second child was a baby… 11 years ago. We’re all used to the routine. The children learn, very early, that when Dad or Mom is working they have to give that parent space. We take turns working and wrangling the children, depending on whose contracts are most pressing at the moment. If all else fails, Mom can go to a coffee shop and have a pastry while she writes!

What fears did you have about becoming location independent that turned out to be unfounded?

I don’t know if fears is the right word… we prepared to make the jump for two solid years and were quite confident that we’d covered all of the bases. We did wonder how the kids would do going from a house and “real life” to living in tents and carrying all of their belongings in a bicycle bag. There were adjustments, to be sure, but there have been no major issues and we wouldn’t go back. We love the freedom we have now. The children love being the only kids they know who adventure the way they have. We enjoy dreaming and continuing to plan for future leaps of faith together as a family.

Any that materialised? And if so, how did you overcome these challenges?

The biggest thing that we had to learn was balance between our “on the road” time and our “down time.” For us, with our four kids, we can travel hard, pitching a new camp every three or four days, constantly on the move, for about three months. Then we’re tired and we need to find a place to “land” for a few months. For us, the balance tends to be “three months on, three months off” when we’re most comfortable. When we try to stretch it either way, we end up either over tired, or itchy to hit the road.

Your top 3 tips for parents or soon-to-be parents wanting to be location independent?

1. Do it. There is no time like the present, kids grow up WAY too fast and if you don’t jump off that cliff they’ll be gone and you’ll have missed your window of opportunity. You never hear older people say, “Boy I wish I’d worked more and saved another $5000 dollars.” But you hear lots who regret the time they didn’t spend with their families. No time like the present.

2. Remember the 7 P’s: Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. If you’re like us with a bunch of kids, a house, cars and a LIFE it’s going to take some planning and attention to detail to pull of a switch to being LI without a major catastrophe. Take the time necessary to do it properly.

3. Train your kids. Take the time to teach them the skills they need to know (if they’re old enough to get it) before you hit the road. Take practice trips within your area, eat weird foods, surround yourself with other languages, practice brushing teeth without using tap water (you’ll be in the third world eventually!) and teach them self control and patience. Kids who can’t sit quietly and wait will drive you insane on the road. Help them find their groove at home and then, the world is your oyster!

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