Welcome to Worldschool Adventures first of many interviews with traveling families doing extraordinary things! I hope to do an interview with a different traveling family every month, and for our fist one I am very excited to introduce you to Lainie from Raising Miro on the Road of Life!
Miro and Lainie (mother 44 and 11 year old son) share their adventures from the Road of Life, discussing issues of humanity, global citizenship, worldschooling, slow travel & living in the moment as they explore the big beautiful planet, they call home.
Lainie and her son Miro began their open ended adventure in 2009, starting in Central & South America. They are slow traveling around the globe allowing inspiration to be their compass. The pair is most interested in exploring cultures, contributing by serving & connecting with humanity as ‘global citizens’.
They invite you to travel along with them, and share their experiences on the Road of Life.
1. How long have you been traveling for and what countries have you explored?
Miro and I left July 1, 2009. At the time of writing this, we’ve been on the road for 608 days. We have explored all of the Central American countries including parts of Mexico. The eight countries are: Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. Today we find ourselves in our first South American country of Colombia, where we have been exploring for the last two months. We will remain here for another month or so, then head to Ecuador.
2. How much longer do you plan to be traveling and what are your intended destinations?
My son and I are on an open-ended adventure. But as most humans need some context to what they are doing, so we felt the need to give our trip an end date. We did and we may or may not keep it. Our current plan is to travel around the world until my son turns 18, which makes our trip an eight year trek.
He will be 18 then and I will be 50. Maybe we’ll want to settle down somewhere then. Maybe not. I find myself inspired by Rita Golden Gelman, who wrote Tales of a Female Nomad. She is close to 20 years my senior and is still flourishing in her travels. (I love that woman!)
3. You follow an unschooling approach to Miro’s education. Can you tell us how your traveling lifestyle has enhanced his education?
As we started our trip, I had no idea such a thing called Unschooling existed. However I noticed Miro was talking about the things we wrap into neat packages within the formal educational system such as geography, sociology, history, economics, mythology, language and second language, literature, math, science. I sat back one night and realized how brilliant the idea of having the world teach my son was! Engage in life and children (and adults) learn!
Soon thereafter, I discovered the formal name for what we were doing as ‘unschooling’. In some circles it’s called ‘Radically Unschooling’, ‘Worldschooling’ and ‘Roadschooling’. There are similar principals to each of those ‘disciplines’ which is based on child-led learning. This is a radical departure form homeschooling circles that teach a formal curriculum only in the home environment.
The whole essence of unschooling is that children, when empowered will learn based on their interests. I have discovered by virtue of being in this world, we can’t help but to learn. Children learn naturally and retain so much more when they are engaged and leading the process themselves. I realized this just by watching Miro blossom and be empowered. What an authentic gift!
4. Do you tailor your outings and excursions based on Miro’s interests? If so, can you give us some examples?
I’m afraid I’m at risk of loosing my model parent badge here.
No, I don’t tailor our excursions for him.
We choose what we do together, most of time. We are a team. (We are mother and son, but we’ve always been a team.) Sometimes we do things tailored just for him. I think his last birthday party at Chuckie Cheese in Guatemala City qualifies. And sometimes he accompanies me to things I want to attend, like the Mayan ReUnification festival on the winter solstice in Tikal. We both try to be present with whatever we do and for each other. As I said, we experience this world as a team.
5. If I was to look in your backpack, what items would I find that wouldn’t be on the packing list of someone who did not travel with children?
He carries his own things, so it’s really his backpacks you are talking about. We each have a big pack for our clothes and each have our own day pack.
If he wants it, he knows he has to carry it. However when we stay in one place for an extended period time, the rules shift a little bit. Miro has become really good with letting things go or giving things away. An example would be, in Guatemala he collected jumbo lego sets. Every time we went to the market, we picked up a bucket for the equivalent to $2. He said he knew he’d be giving them away when we left the country because he couldn’t travel with them because it was too bulky. But what he said was, I’ll play with them now, then we’ll make sure they get to some kid who has none when we leave.
His smile always melts my heart, and yes, he got another bucket of legos.
When the time came, with as much grace as a monk he gave his toys to the children of San Escobar, a small town outside of Antigua, who had just experienced a horrible mudslide in their village. He was so happy to do this and so genuinely in the moment with that action. And I was never prouder.
Our travel experience has allowed both Miro and myself to give in so many ways. Having the opportunity to experience this with my child has been one of the biggest gifts in our travels, to date.
I love this quote, and thought it would be appropriate to share here:
“Travel like Gandhi, with simple clothes, open eyes and an uncluttered mind.” ~ Rick Steves
6. How much input does Miro have on your itinerary?
As I said before, we are a team. But that being said, he is pretty complacent in where we will go next. We take the attitude that where ever we end up next, that’s fine. There are times, however he says he does not want to go somewhere. For example, while in Panama, I asked him if he wanted to go to Bocas Del Torro. He said “no, I don’t want to go there.” When I asked him why, he said he just didn’t. He thought it would be similar to Costa Rica, a place both of us didn’t care for that much. So, even though I wanted to go, we didn’t go. It’s a little bit of give and take and that’s how any two people can travel together for an extended period of time.
7. Have your family and friends been supportive of the lifestyle you have chosen?
Yes, most of them have, with the exception of a few fear attached friends who disapproved of our plans before we set out. Those judgments aside, we have had support from our family, but most didn’t think our travels would unfold into the long term plan that it did. That’s something that has developed as we set out.
Also, a bit more profound, I was not the me I was then.
Nor was Miro for that matter.
When we left I was stressed, projecting into the future, worried, (slightly) unhealthy and very tired. I was reeling from a failed economy, sad about my struggling 8 year business I worked so hard to build and had to close, burnt out, torn up about the future and utterly stressed. I started our travel in a state of overwhelm and gradually started to unwind as part of the process of detaching, letting go.
It wasn’t pretty, let me tell you.
I think my family thought, she needs a vacation more than anything. I think they thought, she’ll travel for a year, then take Miro and settle somewhere and start again.
But over the last year and a half, I’ve had the opportunity to practice the concepts I’ve intellectually studied. The rhythm of being in the moment came naturally to us, and as soon as our lives, bodies and spirits were relieved of the idea of stress, we became satisfied and content in whatever we did. Traveling just happened to be how we expressed our current state, and that was natural. The concept was something I had studied, practiced, and yearned for, for years, but not actually experienced until our new life became a reality for us.
And now, my family is so behind us as they’ve seen the changes take place within Miro and myself. I’ve become very peaceful, introspective, trusting and joyful. How could they not support that?
8. How has it been for Miro in regards to making friends on the road?
Hmm, that would have to be the most sensitive of topics. He doesn’t mingle easily with kids his own age with the rare exception. Even before travel, he was more comfortable with adults.
Miro used to spend much time in my office with my team when I owned and ran the agency. He participated in creative brainstorming and was friends with the designers and writers who worked with me more so than then his school age peers. For the first 10 years of Miro’s life, he grew up in an artist complex in Los Angeles, where 350 artist lofts were and many more artists resided. He was also part of that community. Our circle of friends in the community took him under their wing, supported and encouraged his development and participated in his life. And these were a community of adults, so it’s no wonder he’s most comfortable around them. My favorite Miro quote talking about why he isn’t interested in interacting with other children is “they are so primitive”. I am not sure if traveling has alienated him from other children, or if he just does not seek out situations to be around them. Either way, I think that’s just who he is at this point.
9. Has your relationship with Miro changed since you started traveling together?
Our lives have changed, so of course our relationship has changed. We have always been very close, and very bonded. That hasn’t changed. We talk about our feelings, we share our fears, we trust one another and we love each other. However, there are changes that are undeniable. I can’t hold Miro’s hand in public anymore. I can’t touch his hair or tell him I love him when other people are in ear shot. And now, I can’t even share a glass of water with him since he doesn’t want our lips to touch the same glass. I think the changes have less to do with traveling and more to do with adolescents coming on. It will be an interesting ride, that’s for sure.
10. If you could choose the best and the worst things about traveling as a family, what would they be?
Of course every family is different as the dynamics are differ between it’s members. If there are issues surrounding trust or communication, they will of course be amplified on the road. For us, we have only had issues around …. Yikes! I’m drawing a blank. I just asked Miro and he said nothing! But Miro did say “The best thing about traveling as a family is the feeling of being a family”.
11. Do you find your interactions with locals to be any different because you are traveling with your son?
That’s difficult to say, since our only experience has been the two of us. I think in general people are more open to us because we are mom and son and Latin American cultures honor that relationship. However, since I do not have a husband, there are always questions surrounding that aspect our life. Often times people do not understand why we are doing what we are doing and why I’m not married.
12. How do you fund your travels?
In the past, I did freelance design from the road to support us, however my goal is to phase that out entirely. We have started to generate a little ad revenue from our web site and travel podcast at www.raisingmiro.com . Also, we receive donations from our listeners, who are touched by our journey and have become inspired to support us.
The funny thing is, even when our money gets tight, we always seem to have exactly what we need.
I am completely and one hundred percent committed to making a living through our blog and podcast, and I can’t think of a better time to do that then when we need to the most. We’ve received a sprinkling of donations in the past and that’s helped keep us afloat, but this model is not sustainable. Now we are seeking sponsors and advertisers for our blog and podcast and the same way I have learned to trust the universe, I trust my intuition that we’ll be fine.
13. Can you give us a rough idea of your monthly budget?
We have been living on a $1000 a month budget for two people and that’s doable. We live frugally. We couch surf, we eat local, we try to cook for ourselves. We walk a lot and we volunteer
Thank you Lainie and Miro for sharing your story with us!