Welcome to the newest installment of the Daring to Dream Family Traveler Series!
Jessica and Will Sueiro and their two children have been soaking up the travel life for three years now. Currently settled in a little village in the south of France, the family has fully embraced the worldschooling philosophy as they actively take up residence in one new place at a time. They are so passionate about their way of life, in fact, that they are launching a new business, Worldtowning, where they’ll help other families live the travel life of their dreams.
1) What country are you from? What country do you live in now and what other places have you visited/lived in? Please describe your travel schedule. When did you start this lifestyle?
Hello! We are the Sueiro family from all-over-the-world, although much of our pre-travel life was spent in the U.S. (Los Angeles, NYC, Miami, Boston, and several other locations). As a family, we will always consider ourselves American, but at the same time, we are global citizens. We’ve also called Costa Rica, Ecuador, and now a quaint village in the south of France home. Our philosophy is to WorldTown our way around the world. What is WorldTowning, you ask? WorldTowning is a slow-traveling way of life for the curious and adventurous. It is the act of taking up temporary residence in a foreign location with the intention of experiencing day-to-day life as a local. It’s a philosophy based on the desire to expand one’s view of the world, enhance one’s knowledge of a region, and establish lasting community ties. We started this journey almost three years ago and we have no intention of stopping anytime soon. We love it!
2) Can you introduce us to your family?
Jessica (44) grew up in rural Maine, where she developed a love for the outdoors. Her many diverse interests have led her to wear a number of hats throughout her life – she’s been a corporate graphic designer, business owner, real estate investor, avid photographer, and successful blogger. She wears no role more proudly than those of mother to her two children and passionate partner to her husband. When Jessica fused her love for family with her interest in the arts and her zest for adventure, her life as a worldschooler emerged. Her mission now is to take travel to the next level and help as many people as possible to join the Worldtowning™ movement.
Will (46) is a self-employed accountant by day and a vlogger by night. He is also a bit of an adrenaline and adventure junkie, a marathoner, and a hands-on worldschooler. He embraces the diversity of his Cuban culture and believes it fuels his love for experiencing life with people all over the world. Currently, Will is on a quest to document the Sueiro family’s journey as authentically as possible, so others can join in the discovery and exploration of the world at large.
Avalon (12) has developed a deep sense of justice. The tween has already taken up the cause of women’s equality and fights hard for fairness in all dealings. It comes as no surprise that she has expressed interest in becoming an ambassador when she is older. Avalon speaks three languages, is fearless when it comes to making friends and, although she is adventuresome when it comes to food, she has developed a palate for finer tastes.
The youngest of the family, Largo (9), is a lover not a fighter. He speaks three languages and readily makes friends wherever he goes. Largo has a zeal for adventure and speed; if something goes fast, he wants to be on it. Largo is proud of his Cuban heritage and, like his dad, is interested in drones. In fact, he wants to build them when he is older.
3) What method of education do you use for your children? Can you talk a little about how traveling has added to their education?
We are worldschoolers. Worldschooling can have many different meanings depending on who you ask, but revolves around the basic premise of a global approach to education. For us, that can mean online classes in combination with local teachers wherever we may be living, or adventure-based learning within a community. This year it means that the kids are attending a traditional school in France. They’re learning in a different language within a culture unlike that of their birth country. Avalon and Largo have partial control over their education paths and they wanted to attend school in France this year. Next year they will go back to worldschooling (as per their request) with a customized program outside of a classroom. They will experience online classes, local art and music teachers, classes within the community, independent study, and a business internship within our company. Travel has given them the opportunity to learn about different cultures in real world situations. As parents, we have found that they respond much better to learning this way and don’t necessarily consider their education to be school.
4) What was the inspiration that led you to traveling with your family?
Our kids, Avalon and Largo. We have always loved vacationing, but we never thought traveling full-time was an option until we spent a summer in Paris. We came home and said we HAD to do it, no matter what it took. We could see our time with the kids slipping away and we wanted to give them an epic childhood. In addition, we noticed how much their minds were opened by learning through exposure to the outside world, rather than sitting at a desk all day.
5) How do you finance your traveling lifestyle?
Will and I are independently wealthy. Ha! Just kidding. We work our butts off. Will is a contractor in the field of corporate accounting. He has the luxury of being able to work from anywhere, but has to work Boston hours. This can be challenging, depending on where we are in the world. I was a graphic designer until a year ago. Now we are both founders of WorldTowning.com. We work very hard to keep this lifestyle; however, we are fortunate to be in the driver’s seat, which is magical. Often we work nights and weekends, but we also have the luxury of taking off on an adventure in the middle of the week.
6) What are the greatest advantages for you in living like this? What are the disadvantages?
For Will and I, the biggest advantage is that we get to spend copious amounts of time with our children before they take off on their own adventures. We did not have the luxury of time and the ability for both of us to work from home when we lived in the U.S. Now we get to adventure and learn with them and eat three meals a day as a family. It’s quite special. In addition, we’re making memories instead of buying stuff with the kids. This approach to life is exactly what we dreamed it would be before we took off. Finally, Will and I have had the time to pursue our dreams of starting a business together. This allows us to continue to be location-independent digital nomads. I only see one disadvantage and that is leaving friends and family each time we move to a new country, but the plus is that we now have friends all over the globe wherever we fancy traveling.
Frankly, I don’t see any disadvantages. Of course, as I stated above, it is hard to leave new/old friends and family. That said, the advantages outweigh the occasional bout of homesickness. The biggest advantage we see is that the kids can form a strong bond with Will and I and with each other. Also, they’re growing up at their own speed without the social pressure to behave as their peers and society think they should. Thus, they are understanding from a young age how to live an authentic life. Avalon and Largo have the luxury of learning at their own pace. They have a global approach to education which gives them a deep understanding of the world and its people, as well as compassion for those less fortunate.
8) What did your friends and family say when you announced your travel intentions?
They thought we were nuts. Well, not everyone. Our friends are well vacationed, so they could see the educational value in traveling with the kids. Of course, there were a handful of naysayers who thought we were committing career suicide, living out our 20s (I guess they don’t remember how we really lived out those 20s) and ruining our kids’ childhoods. As for our families, their biggest concerns were the social interactions and educational opportunities for the kids. I don’t know how they feel about it now. Neither Will or I ask them. The kids are happy and educated and I think the proof is in the pudding. My main philosophy regarding this is that (and this will go on my grave stone) we love and respect our families, but they don’t get a vote in how we live our lives.
9) Describe one experience where you absolutely knew you’d made the right decision in choosing to live this way. Have you had any moments when you weren’t so sure this was good for you and your family?
Even when we first moved to Costa Rica and life was bad (ok, horrible), we never once doubted our decision to go. We knew from before we left that it was the right decision and we have never once waivered. We have had a lot of “aha” moments, but I’m not sure I could narrow them down to one experience. That said, it became very apparent to us (around the 18-month mark) that this lifestyle choice was indeed our “new” normal. What do I mean by that? Avalon and Largo had adjusted to all the changes that had happened in their lives and had emerged as well adjusted travel kids. When you start on this type of an adventure, you never know how each unique child will handle it. I am happy to report that neither of ours want to return home at this point.
10) What do your kids like and dislike about living abroad?
When I am asked this question, I always let them answer, if they are present. Frankly, it depends on their mood, recent events, and many other factors. However, on most days they would say that they miss family and friends across the globe. They also don’t love it when I heavily encourage them to try new foods that might look disgusting. If we asked them right now they might say that they dislike school. This year they chose to attend a traditional French school. The days are long and boring. Thus, they are both eager to return to our other version of worldschooling. Avalon and Largo like everything else to varying degrees. If you were to ask them today if they like our apartment they might say, “It’s ok,” because they are eagerly awaiting our next adventure. Overall, they like meeting new friends (especially if they are older and have had cool adventures), they like trying new foods (if they look presentable), they enjoy staying in diverse accommodations and they love to stay on the move. If they had their ways, we would switch countries every three months. They both love to learn, to have new adventures, and to discover new traditions different from those we observe in the U.S. They were not super impressed with the minimalist lifestyle initially, but they have grown to appreciate it. Avalon and Largo are at the point now where they don’t value stuff as much and will go into their rooms and simplify on their own. They like the mystique and diversity of every day presenting something new, some good and some bad, venturing into the unknown with us.
That’s a hard one. Each family member would answer this differently. Personally, I would say all of them. I would put Costa Rica on the bottom of the list, but I think that had more to do with us transitioning to this new normal more than it had to do with Costa Rica as a destination per say. We had amazing experiences, met nice people, and grew so much there that I even hate to say anything bad about it. We loved Ecuador, everything about it except the food. And so far, France is proving to be amazing, food included. But at the end of the day, each experience is new and that’s what we thrive on. If a destination was terrible, we would probably just up and move, because, hey, we can do that.
12) How do you connect with other traveling families? What kind of support network is available?
We are intensely committed to connecting with other traveling families and locals. We will do meets-ups, have families over for dinner, chat online, and more with anyone who is interested. We have even invited people we barely know into our home for the weekend while they pass through. We all do this travel life very differently and we can learn so much from each other. Meeting up gives traveling kids the opportunity to share stories of adventure, education, and daring. We have an amazing support network across the globe and we do our best to meet up with nearby travelers wherever we go. Actually, we ended up in our quaint French village because we met a worldschooling family online and they recommended this town, so we moved here.
13) If you could go back in time and do anything differently along this journey, what would it be?
I would have sold everything at once and only held on to a couple of boxes. We sold about 80% of our stuff, but then we returned after two years and had to sell more. We realized at that time that we didn’t need another 15%. What a waste of a monthly storage fee. You live and learn. Also, I would have ignored all the small stuff. At the end of the day, all my worries back then (medical, education, social) were unwarranted once we got on the road, but how were we to know, right?
14) What advice would you give to other families considering a move like this?
Do it NOW! There is no better time than the present. The kids will get older, schedules will get tighter, promotions will happen, and excuses will run abundant. And please don’t listen to the naysayers. I am sure some are well-intentioned and will miss you dearly, but the others are just projecting their own fears. Don’t let them stop you before you’re even out of the gate. Lead with gusto and go after that authentic life.
15) What’s next for your family?
We’re still trying to decide between two options. We will be leaving France in the middle of July for a new adventure, but we won’t be heading back to the U.S. Any guesses? We’ll be taking this travel adventure to the next level!
16) Do you have a blog or website where readers can find you?
You can find us at www.worldtowning.com. If you are interested in living abroad for 3, 6, or 12 months, we can help you with the whole process. Contact us, we love helping others live out their WorldTowning dreams.
If you’d like to be featured on the Daring to Dream series, please shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org! I’d love to share your story. 🙂