How do you afford to travel?
You don’t have to win the lottery to travel full time, and you don’t have to be a programmer to work remotely. Living this way costs a fraction of what we used to spend, which is exactly why we’re doing it. Although we’d researched going nomadic for years, we didn’t plan on doing it so soon. It was a health crisis that spurred us to launch differently than expected. So we sold nearly everything we owned and lived off a combination of those proceeds and our retirement funds. We took several months to rest, recuperate and reconnect as a family without pressure to earn. Now that we have gotten much healthier, we do have multiple mobile income streams. Learn the 10 ways we fund our travel.
Why do you call it Silver Lining Life?
Because, like most folks, we’ve had our ups and downs. Our downs may have been lower than average and our highs have been higher than average but the way we move forward is the same as anyone we know – by keeping positive, and looking for the silver lining, aka the good in the situation, (while of course at the same time taking real-world steps to remedy the situation if need be).
Why are you blogging?
I’ve asked myself this question many times. First, I am terrible at journaling, and am constantly forgetting to take photos. Seriously, I have dear friends I’ve known for 7 years and I still haven’t taken one “selfie” with them. And I’m not particularly camera shy – just so busy enjoying the moment that I sometimes forget to photograph the moment. So having a blog helps me stay focused on the need to document what we’re up to. Also, during the years when I was researching worldschooling and full-time nomadic living, there were many families whose blogs were invaluable to me. I would love to pay it forward by helping another family in turn. Lastly, I do it for financial reasons. We earn through the product sales, advertising, and affiliate programs. Our “web presence” for Silver Lining Life also drives business to our consulting company and provides me with leverage to approach companies for “comps” or discounts in exchange for exposure, reviews, etc. Lastly, lastly (is that a thing?) I do it because I enjoy it (or maybe that’s firstly?). Note: I often do more photo journaling on our facebook page than I do writing out blog posts. Feel free to check there for a lot of great resources and to follow our adventure.
Where are you guys going next?
As you probably know, we left our home in the Bay Area in 2007 to open a company on the East Coast. We spent a few years renting homes in North Carolina, and also in Arizona, where we have business connections. We then spent 18 months RVing the USA, with the exception of a month in Montreal to visit Alex and his girlfriend, Kelly. February of this year we put the RV in storage, and flew to Europe. We travel light and stay in AirBnB, comped rentals, and homes where we do house/pet sits. We’ve explored Italy, Greece and Turkey, and will head to the UK for June and July. We will let things unfold naturally after that. Maybe we will return to RVing, maybe we will apply for EU residency, or head to Asia…We will let you know when we do! 🙂
Update: We came back to the States in July of 2016. Dan returned to Scottsdale, Arizona, while Jen traveled in the RV for another 6 months, including a jaunt to Montreal to pick up our dog, Sonia. We have since parked the RV in between Los Angeles and San Diego, and now use it as a vacation cottage. We have a home base in Scottsdale Arizona, from which Jen is traveling regularly with the kids, and speaking at worldschooling and homeschooling conferences. Jen and the kids just spent just under 3 weeks in Merida, Mexico touring the local sites, sampling the delicous food, connecting with old friends and making new, and speaking at the Project Worldschool Family Summit. In September, Jen will also present at the Family Adventure Summit in British Columbia.
How do the kids go to school?
They don’t. They attended a great play-based pre-school in Marin County California, but after that they’ve had a wide variety of charter, public, private, online, homeschool and even ‘unschooling’ or child-led learning. We call what we do currently worldschooling. It’s a thing now. Google it, and you’ll find over 100 articles on major press sites, and countless personal blogs as well. (Or join the Worldschoolers facebook group Jen helps admin, over 27,000 other families have!) The short version (or at least our version) is that we consider travel and real-world experiences a critical component of our children’s education. We’ve found the kids love learning and can learn in any setting. But they learn a lot more when they’re THERE in person, and when they actually have INTEREST, and not just cramming for a scantron test. For us that means lots of field trips, and lots of online learning. With courses available from top universities like MIT, Stanford and Wharton, and tons of learning platforms like TED, Discovery, National Geographic, Youtube, DIY.org, ABCMouse.com, Time4Learning.com and more, there’s no shortage of interesting things on the internet, not only for the kids but for Mom and Dad too.
How much does it cost?
When we were RVing, we spend $67/month on “rent” for a membership at Thousand Trails family of RV resorts, which includes water and electric. That’s after purchasing a membership for a few thousand (there are a TON of different options, write us if you’re interested in learning more). When RVing, we spend $30/month on propane, which could be less but we cook with propane instead of electric because we don’t want to tax the old wiring in our “vintage” rig. We drive less than we did when we were commuting to the office from our “sticks and bricks”, so our gas bill typically comes in under $100 a month, though that will increase substantially once we’re on the move more often. Health insurance, vehicle registration and insurance, and groceries all cost the same as they did before. We spend less on “stuff” and clothing. Most people would spend more on activities, but at this point we get a lot of what we’re doing “comped” which is slang for free or or steeply discounted in return for providing a little marketing in the form of an authentic review of our experience. Also, we aren’t “camping” we’re mostly staying at RV Resorts. Remember that old-timey vacation resort on the movie Dirty Dancing? The resorts kind of remind me of that. Like little self-contained towns, with pools, hot tubs, tennis courts and pickle-ball courts, fitness centers, dog parks horseshoes, basketball, mini-golf, bowling, movies, crafts, classes, activities, organic produce stands, duck-pin bowling, geocaching, fishing, boating, hiking, biking…and on and on. We really only have to leave to buy groceries if we want, though of course we’re all about getting out and exploring too! Bottom line, you can penny pinch, or learn how to earn enough that you don’t have to stress as much.
What about Community and Socialization?
Some people get so frustrated after hearing this question hundreds of times over the years, that you are may receive a snippy response. The reason being that once you are homeschooling, worldschooling, pursuing your passions, etc., it is so exceedingly easy to meet some of the billions of people on the planet, and especially those also attending the classes and seminars and such related to your passions, that to think this is something that can’t be done just starts to feel ludicris. This is especially true when compared to the “normal” alternative, of sitting in school segregated based on age, not interest. Same for adults! While some work friendships are deep and authentic, the majority are often stressful due to competition or the need to toe the company line, or to interact with people that flesh out a goal-oriented team, rather than people who may share your hopes, dreams, and way of life. We should be the ones asking others how they possibly make friends under those circumstances!