Featured, Parenting

Roadschooling: Two parents, four boys, one bus and the whole of New Zealand for the rest of their lives

6 November, 2014

We are hitchhiking on someone else’s roadschooling dream at the moment. Friends we met at the very start of this year, when we were just a few weeks on this fair New Zealand soil, at the unschooling retreat in Foxton. (Going to that retreat was one of the best things we could have done, arriving new here. We made so many fast friends and felt like part of an instant tribe. We held the third unschooling retreat just down the road from our yurt last weekend- 120 unschoolers in the mountains…. Awesomeness.)

Anyway, just one of these families happened to be travelling around the country in a bus. Kind of like us at the time, but with double the children and with indefinite travelling plans, where as we were basically on a hunt for a spot to furrow down our wandering roots.

We kept connecting with Us In A Bus (it’s not actually their surname but you wouldn’t know it to hear us refer to them) through the year and on Monday we began a little holiday with them, our buses united on the road once again.

IMG_1258.JPGWe are having a bit of a lush time … Totally buzzing out on their nomadic lifestyle. It is helping us recall our hoon around Europe last year (I’m remembering swimming in lakes beneath beautiful sunsets and Tim is remembering banging his head a lot and not having anywhere to do a poo.)

I love Ange and Hamish’s dream, I am totally loving sneaking in with it for a bit. It is a dream fuelled by Lego, sand castles and espresso.

They had safe jobs, a house in a nice town, four happy boys. And then they bought a bus, and began roaming NZ, playing and learning together. Soon they discovered they loved it and sold their house, establishing the bus and the road as their only home. And now they are all happy.

Ange was explaining this morning the rut she felt stuck in before. Tied to a mortgage, no time for fulfilment.

It was when their youngest child was one, after a bout of health issues, that Ange realised that the isolation she felt was having a serious impact on her sanity. They realised that something had to change, if not everything. At that moment they began planning a path out. It took them a year but now they have the life Ange has always imagined was possible for them.

Hamish, Ange, Will, Ethan, Micah and Arlo in a gondola (the word gondola totally cracks me up. Maybe because it reminds me of the word gonads.)

Ange describes wanting a community to bring their kids up with, and somehow, through the freedom of life on the road, they are discovering this. Communing with families all over the country.

They have found places to stay through online networks (like home education Facebook groups) and friends of friends of friends. Sometimes staying a night, sometimes two months if everyone is enjoying themselves.
They’ve had hitch hikers having a sleepover in their (tiny) lounge and have rolled out an extra bed for a visit from Nana.

The boys build stuff and play board games and draw and read and climb and dig and explore, Ange and Hamish taking it in turns to either play or work, running their online businesses with their excellent mobile internet and solar power.

Ange is the driver of their eleven metre beast, wrapping it around some of New Zealand’s gnarliest bends, and Hamish is in charge of meals with each boy choosing a favourite dinner to eat once a week.

In some ways their life is like every other large family’s- they eat around 5:30 each night, time is spent helping the boys navigate tussles, there can never be too many stories read to them, or enough biscuits.

But in other ways it is completely and utterly different. They are free to go wherever they want, they are together all day and all night, they learn from whatever it is they happen to be experiencing.

Last night we parked up on a magnificent beach, putting our buses nose to nose. Right now I am typing this up, looking at the rain thrashing the window and the sun trying to zap the ocean but failing.

The school bus has just driven into the bay, tooting it’s horn frantically, as if trying to round us all up.

But the classroom isn’t for these boys. They are too busy playing for that…

It isn’t everyone’s dream- it is theirs and they have found a way to live it.

And for a little bit, we are living it with them.

Well… drinking their coffee and using their whizzy internet, at least.

Ps You can virtually hitchhike with them via their Us In A Bus blog and their Us In A Bus Instagram and their Facebook.

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  • Lucy 6 November, 2014 at 9:39 am

    I love reading your blogs Lucy – they make me feel so inspired to live the life I want to live (not the one I feel I HAVE TO live). I am so so keen to take a year out and see where the adventure takes us- the only thing stopping us is money. How do you afford to do it? I would love to learn how you make it work.

    • Lucy 8 November, 2014 at 10:49 am

      We are under far less financial pressure since giving up our mortgage. We live off quite a small amount of actual money and are helped out by swapping the rental of our yurt for labour on the farm.
      Travelling in the bus- we were payingonly for petrol- never camping costs.
      I’ll let Angew give her answer!

    • Angela Fraser 8 November, 2014 at 11:11 pm

      Hi Lucy
      That is so cool you get that inspiration from reading Lucy’s blogs!
      Hamish has his own web software development company (www.verb.co.nz) that he was running long before we hit the road – it is a really good fit for living on the road as he can work virtually and manage his team virtually. (we chose to take a modest weekly wage from this avenue). The only downer is NZ internet which can be excruciating and very allusive in some of the nicest places to park! Gah! Exploring possible revenue avenues online that utilises your current skillset is definitely a great place to start if you wish to travel/change what you do and keep the money flowing. I am a huge fan of Pat Flynn smartpassiveincome.com as he is very inspiring in this regard. His podcasts are fantastic and open up a huge area of possibilities as to how make money in ways you may have never thought of before. We chose to sell up our house, go debt free and live simply and it is the best thing we have ever done!

  • Sarah 6 November, 2014 at 9:43 am

    Such a lovely, inspiring read. Wonderful.

  • ThaliaKR 6 November, 2014 at 10:34 am

    Lovely! Thanks, Usinabus for sharing your internet so we hear more from Lucy 🙂

    Lucy, you asked on fb for questions re your European bussing adventures, and I guess one of mine – that we’ve talked about a bit already – goes to Usinabus too.

    We are a bit of a travelling family, too, though not as bussy 🙂 The hardest thing for our littlie is all the goodbyes. When you’re always on the move, you’re always making new friends and then always leaving them behind. I’m keen to hear from both your families how that has gone.

    • Lucy 8 November, 2014 at 10:48 am

      Ange from Us in a Bus has something awesome to say about this. Personally, we never did find a perfect way. I do feel that is one ofthe negatives – Ramona now struggles hugely with transitioning from place to place perhaps because so often it was a forver goodbye?!

    • Angela Fraser 8 November, 2014 at 11:43 pm

      Hi Thalia
      I love your ‘not as bussy’ clarification!
      Huge question you ask! How to answer without writing an essay! I agree it can be really tough. In brief, each of our kids react differently to it depending on their personality. But one of the greatest benefits from travelling with our kids has been the increase in their ability to meet and greet AND say goodbyes. Generally they fall on the quieter end of the social spectrum by nature and thus it is not their natural inclination to vicariously meet people/make friends or to say goodbyes. They use to have a two hour lead in to any new meeting people situation (Literally!) Yet because this is what we are doing constantly as a family (important distinction!!) they have had the chance to do so over and over again; practise their skills in this area and always do so with our modelling and support on tap which allows them the safety net they need to talk/discuss each circumstance. They are so much faster at the ice breaking now! They have met some of their now closest buddies from our travels and so have had some tough goodbyes.
      But the more practical side is we use Skype a lot….the kids have discovered that you don’t have to be in the same place as someone you are friends with to continue a relationship with them – you can still communicate/be ‘involved’ in their lives through online means. Using Skype has reinforced that goodbyes don’t have to be forever but rather can be “until we meet again”.
      It was definitely tougher at the start of our journey for them and we spent a lot of time discussing this topic with them but it is really cool to see over time that they have come to a greater place of peace about it all, perhaps as they are able to process that goodbye doesn’t have to be a thing to fear? Gosh I feel I could chew this over so much more but shall stop there in fear of it becoming too much of an epically long answer!!

    • Rachael W 11 November, 2014 at 6:23 pm

      Hey Thalia- sorry to jump in on your question for Lucy and Ange- but as someone who is planning on becoming a travelling family in the not-too-distant future I have thought about the issue of making it easier for kidlets too. I don’t have any experience of travelling with kids myself (yet), but have read some quite good stuff about third culture kids and missionary kids. Search the internet or approach missionary agencies (i.e., organisations whose main purpose is to support individuals and families who move country a lot- most have an MK consultant whose main job is to help make things easier for the kids) for some recommendations. Some of it is quite common sense (e.g. create lots of memories for the kids with photos, etc), and some that I wouldn’t necessarily have thought of (e.g. make time for doing goodbyes well, to people, places, and things; even if your kid doesn’t seem that keen).
      So yeah, not sure if that is helpful or not but there’s my two cents worth 🙂

  • Eumaeus 7 November, 2014 at 5:54 am

    There was a documentary called SURFWISE about a US family doing this. Sounds like fun to me.

  • 76sunflowers 26 November, 2014 at 3:30 am

    Wow. Just wow. If only I had the balls! The more I stay in mainstream teaching the more I yearn for this but it will never happen as deep down I’m too straight and boring following the norms! Also, new business venture by the OH kind of ties us. *sigh* I’m off to find their IG feed and dream! X