In today’s interview we speak with Martin and Lorena Cagnotti  two expat Argentinians who made the decision 13 years ago to move from their home town of Buenos Aires to the hubbub of Mexico City. After 7 years there they have now settled into the idyllic seaside community of Playa del Carmen where they are raising their two children through unschooling.

We met up with them to discuss living in one of the world’s largest cities, why they moved to Playa del Carmen and to talk about many of the myths and fears round home schooling and unschooling children and why they feel it has been the best thing for their development.

You can follow their adventures and ask them questions about living in Playa del Carmen at their website, http://thenomadicadventures.com . If you’re a family and into home exchanging with other families of similar age then check out their new home swapping website www.familyhomeexchange.com

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What I learned from speaking with Martin and Lorena:

  1. Mexico City has an unfair reputation as an unsafe place to visit. The Cagnotti’s loved their time there and had no issues with safety. Mexico is a city of extremes in wealth and poverty yet all seem to live together side by side with no ill feeling or tension.
  2. Playa del Carmen offers a quieter lifestyle than the busier party town of Cancun only an hour away. If you’re after a slower pace of life it’s certainly an option with an increasing number of expat families and retirees settling there. Like any holiday town it has it’s tourists areas and local areas and it’s important to get out and about and explore beyond the beaches if looking to shift there (if you want to know more about Cancun check out our interview with Jen and Jay Kerwood)
  3. Unschooling is not about leaving your children to run amuck. It is really about letting them discover what they are interested in then showing them how to learn the relevant skills to help them. By understanding why they need to learn and how to practically apply it, it gives their learning more purpose and gives them a reason to learn.
  4. Unschooling or home schooling doesn’t mean your children are outside the curriculum indefinitely. In Mexico they are still able to pass exams that allow them to tick the right boxes for further education and as Lainie Liberti also spoke about more and more colleges and universities are accepting children who have been raised in an unschooled environment.
  5. As Alyson Long and Andrew and Daryl Grant will also testify to unschooling or home schooling does not leave your children lacking for social interaction. The Cagnotti kids still attend classes in art and music and interact more often with other children who are being home schooled or unschooled than they would have done in the classroom environment. They love what unschooling has offered them and wouldn’t change what they are doing.

Check out this episode!

Not all expats move to cut costs and living the expat life doesn’t have to mean living on the smell of an oily rag. Today’s interviewees have transformed their lives from management consultants slogging the 9 to 5 and longer, to internet marketing experts who have built themselves a digital empire and given themselves the lifestyle and freedom they’ve always wanted.

In 2013 Andrew and Daryl Grant left the Gold Coast, Australia to enjoy the benefits of Bangkok, taking their two pre-teen children into a new way of living that an online business gives them the freedom to pursue.

Today we discuss with them why they love Bangkok, how home schooling their children has provided them with a better education than they would have received in school, and they share some of the secrets of how they built their own online businesses.

You can get some great advice on starting your own online business from their website resources at www.ourinternetsecrets.com

What I learned from speaking with Andrew and Daryl:

  1. Although Bangkok has a pretty good transportation system the Grants have mastered the art of driving locally and purchased a car. It has enabled them to travel much further than the BTS system would allow them and they feel they’ve got to know the city much better for it.
  2. Bangkok is interesting in the sense that it acts like a series of villages. The way locals interact with each other – and the Grants – displays the sort of small town feel that a city of this size normally wouldn’t have
  3. Daryl feels incredibly safe there, more so than in Australia, and has no qualms about allowing her 15 and 13 year old to travel around the city on their own
  4. They have found by home schooling the kids they get the opportunity to offer them so much more than a standard curriculum. Travel among other things is a big part of their education and the children have enjoyed some unique experiences they would never get in the classroom.
  5. They shared some great advice for building an online business including choosing a niche that you can be the expert in, setting up a business with continuity where you can be paid over and over for your services, and be persistent if you want results

Check out this episode!

From Greeks Islands to the Emerald Isles; Our Family Sabbatical in Greece and Ireland

Tina Lavelle had traveled Europe when she was younger, and the urge to return had never left. Her husband Ralph had grown up in Ireland and both felt a desire to leave their suburban Australia lifestyle for some freedom abroad. In 2015 they packed up their two children, rented out their home and firstly headed to the Greek island of Zakynthos where they enjoyed 4 sun filled months before heading for Dublin where they are now settled in.

We joined Tina to discuss the process of schooling her children locally in both countries, how accommodation sharing sites like Couchsurfing and Helpx have provided them with much more than saving money and how you can self publish a book of your adventures while away.

You can check out their blog at http://kouklahouse.com where you’ll find their book “ On a Greek Island; A Season in Zakynthos”

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What I learned from talking with Tina:

  1. Kids are so adaptable when it comes to schooling. Tina’s children have spent time both in Greek school and now in Irish ones during their journey. Like the Wagoners , Scarlett Thomas and Danna Bowman they found their children can adapt quickly to a new environment in local schools
  2. If you’re looking to earn a little money from your adventure then why not write a book and self-publish? Tina’s husband has written a story of their life on the Greek island of Zakynthos and published via Amazon. Although not likely to fund your entire journey it can provide a small top up in income. Check out our interview with Virginie Carmichael who has also self-published several books
  3. Couchsurfing has been a great way to get around and get to know cultures. Even as a family of four they have been able to enjoy the benefits of local hospitality. They have also used Helpx – another unique accommodation sharing site where people can trade accommodation for work. This allows them to stay longer than couchsurfing.

Check out this episode!

The economic crisis of 2008 was a catalyst for so many of our interviewees to up sticks and hit to road. Lainie Liberti’s marketing business worked with green entities and non-profit organizations who were among the first to feel the pinch. With her business struggling and her 9 year old son Miro not enjoying his school environment Lainie decided they would hit the road for a 12 month adventure through South America.

8 months into the trip they both realized they were loving it enough to continue but savings were starting to dwindle and Lainie knew she needed a more permanent means of educating Miro. She discovered unschooling and became an instrumental advocate for children being world schooled from the environment in which they travel.

8 years on she and her teenage son are still loving their South American adventure. We caught with Lainie in Mexico where she shares the experiences of what made her hit the road and how their unique partnership and approach to education has provided Miro with an environment in which to thrive.

You can find out more about their adventures at their travel blog http://www.raisingmiro.com and learn more about the world of unschooling at http://projectworldschool.com

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What I learned from this interview:

  1. Whether you believe in life outside the education system or not this interview is worth listening to. Lainie has not only gone against the normal approach to education – what she calls radical unschooling – but has thrown the normal mother/child relationship on its head with the partnership arrangement the two have to travel. Everyone has their own opinion on what is right for them but there is little doubt, in Lainie’s case, that she considers it has been a success in raising Miro. Other interviewees such as Talon Windwalker and Alyson Long can vouch for the benefit that unschooling and world schooling has offered.
  2. A blonde woman and a child in South America sounds like a recipe for danger and many people warned Lainie before leaving that she was taking a large risk. In most cases these people were well meaning but were not speaking from personal experience. In 8 years of travel the pair have had one break in – something that may have happened just as easily in Los Angeles.
  3. Unschooling is becoming more accepted by colleges and universities and doesn’t mean children have to turn their back on higher education if they go down this path. Even ivy league schools are starting to look at unschooled enrolees who often approach their higher education with more enthusiasm and better background knowledge than their mainstream counterparts.

Check out this episode!

If you want a simple life there can be few places better to move to than a village in Romania. For Alyson Long and her family of two young boys frustration with the education system led her to take her eldest out of school and, with the families new found freedom, they set about a world travel adventure using their savings of $20,000.

After the first year which saw them sidetracked to the United Kingdom for family reasons they eventually visited Romania, which they promptly fell in love with. They are using it as their new found base and are in the process of purchasing a property while Alyson’s husband tops up the coffers periodically with temporary chef work in London.

We caught up with Alyson where we discussed the benefits of living in a Romanian village and how she brings up her children in an unschooled environment

You can check out Alyson’s blog at http://worldtravelfamily.com

What I learned from this interview:

  1. There is an increasing move by many parents towards using the unschooling approach to raising their children (see our interview with Talon Windwalker). Those that follow this path speak highly of the benefits of doing so and how their children are more responsive to their learning environment as a result.
  2. Romania still offers an old style of living. Cities like Bucharest are modern large metropolis’s but you can still find shades of 19th century life in villages like the Long’s where horse and cart is not uncommon and basic utilities can’t be taken for granted
  3. We’ve discovered yet another way to make money on the road – temping. Alyson’s husbands skills as a chef sees him as a man in demand and he can pick up some short term work pretty much as he likes. The Long family use this as a good reason to visit London and replenish the coffers before heading off on a trip. Living in rural Romania keeps the costs down and means he doesn’t need a fulltime job to sustain their lifestyle

Check out this episode!

Most people would love to take a year off and experience another culture. The reality is however few give themselves permission to do it – especially where there are three young kids involved.

For Michelle and Keith Damiani a one year experience for their family in Spello, Italy was something they had planned for prior to having children and saw no reason to change their plans once the kids arrived!

In 2012 they embarked on a one year journey that became more than just covering distance – it was a trip that affected every member of the family deeply – providing both Keith and Michelle with a new perspective on life and their children with increased confidence from taking on a new challenge and coming out the other end as winners.

We caught up with Keith and Michelle to discuss their experiences, why they chose to put their children into Italian speaking public schools, how Keith handled the hospital system after a short bout of pneumonia and the secrets to coping with returning home at the end of the journey.

You can catch their journey at Michelle’s blog http://michelledamiani.com where she has written a book “Il Bel Centro: A Year in the Beautiful Center”

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What I learned from talking to Michelle and Keith:

  1. Sometimes we can be too protective of our children. Much like the Wagoners Michelle and Keith chose to enroll their children in a local school rather than an international school which provided them with a deeper experience and a chance to learn the local language. Although a sink or swim moment all three children came to love it and gained invaluable confidence as a result.
  2. Citizenship is an option if you have long term Italian decent. Although there are boxes to tick and the process can be time consuming it is worth considering if you want to spend a long period of time in any part of the Schengen zone. If you really want to speed it up follow Keith’s lead and move on over!
  3. As other interviewees like Daniele Le has discussed there is a huge difference in culture between the more competitive work environment of the US and countries such as Spain, France and Italy where culture is heavily focused around enjoying life and creating a community.
  4. Returning from an overseas experience can be a pretty tough landing. It took the Damiani’s a while to settle. Michelle’s advice is to accept how you’re feeling and look for opportunities to view your home environment through new eyes.

Check out this episode!

If you are a digital expert who talks to their clients about being location independent it certainly helps if you can show them by example! That’s precisely what Michelle Frost and her husband Simon did when they embarked on a long term trip around the world with their 3 teenage children.

The Frosts left Australia just over 12 months ago and have traveled through Asia and Europe spending long periods of time in different locations living much like the locals. They have successfully home schooled their children with the support of their school back home who felt the children would be richer for the experiences they would encounter.

We caught up with the Frosts in their current location of Formello, Italy where they had just spent the day delivering the olives they had picked to the factory to be pressed – ah the joys of travel!

You can find out more about them and their journey via their blog at http://upsticksandgo.com or get their tips and advice on being a digital nomad and building your audience at http://mission-mojo.com/ and http://michoninternational.com

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What I learned from speaking with Michelle and Simon:

  1. We’ve said it before when we interviewed the Curtis’s but kids really are a reason to travel. Their relationship has strengthened as a result of spending quality time together and creating memories that they will never forget. Like the Morgan family they found their children were richer for the experience of traveling as a family.
  2. I liked Simons take on safety – as he says everyone basically wants to be happy so why would they gain from hurting you? You still need to be wary for the 0.0001% who aren’t but most people you pass are just like you
  3. I didn’t realize the reciprocal medical benefits between Australia and the UK and Italy meaning your medicare card in Australia can be used for healthcare in these countries – that’s definitely a benefit
  4. If you plan on transitioning back to normal life (even if temporarily as the Frosts are) then you need to rebuild your income stream for the higher costs of living you might encounter back home. They have spent the last couple of months building up their digital business so they can recommit to it more fully when they return.

Check out this episode!

If others can make money online why can’t I? That’s the question that Sharon Gourlay asked herself in 2013. With her kids still of pre-school age she knew she had a window of opportunity to give up her job, build an online income and move overseas, enjoying the world while living off her digital income.

Within 12 months Sharon had started to get results – she has since built her online business up to $5000 per month and growing while she enjoys living in Penang (very affordably) and traveling the world from her base with her family of 4 (also very affordably).

In this interview Sharon shares the story of how she built her blog, how she finds living in Penang, and gives some tips on how to monetize a travel blog which she also shares via her website www.digitalnomadwannabe.com . You can follow her blog at www.wheressharon.com

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What I learned from Sharon’s interview:

  1. You can build a blog worth $5000 per month. We know from our interview with Yeison and Samantha that this is possible. Sharon did it by having a plan as to how she hoped to earn it and working hard on targeting to her market.
  2. SEO is important. Sharon focused on this part of building her blog, knowing that it would take time but would give her strong long term benefits so that she could eventually just focus her time on maintaining her business
  3. Invest in learning what you need to learn. Sharon spent all the initial money she made from her blog on educating herself further
  4. Diversify your income. Sharon has been closed down by an affiliate company so it only emphasizes that you don’t want to rely entirely on any one source of income – you never know when Facebook, Google or someone else will decide they don’t like what you are doing – and remember; with many of these large companies you are considered guilty until you prove you are innocent.
  5. Write quality content. As Audrey Scott and Daniel Noll said quality is the most important part.Too often when looking to earn online income or build traffic it becomes a focus about looking for tricks to build your business. As Sharon rightly says it isn’t just about the number of website visitors but whether you are getting the right visitors who will take action. Don’t become fixated on page views either.
  6. Look at Norwegian airlines for budget flights. I just priced a fare from Bangkok to Oslo at $US152. They also offer transatlantic deals – may be well worth a look
  7. You can travel Europe on under $100 per day as a family of four, its all about traveling slow and looking for affordable food and accommodation. Crack those nuts and the cost can drop substantially.

Check out this episode!

How does 12 months traveling the world with 4 children sound? What if you had to spend 10 of those weeks together in a combi van? For some people this would be too much of a challenge – for the Morgan Family; Jarred, Iri and their four children aged 5 – 13 years it’s been the making of them as a family.

The Morgan’s left Perth, Australia in December 2014 on a one year journey around the world, starting in Bali, heading up through most of Asia, then heading to Europe and Great Britain before leaping across the ditch to Canada and the United States where we caught up with them visiting family in Wisconsin.

The catalyst for their journey was the death of a young relative with leukemia. On the way to the funeral they discussed their own future and the opportunities they could give their children to live life to the fullest – and an adventure was born.

You’ll love this interview about how a normal family were able to transform their experiences and relationship with each other while on the move.

To follow their journey make sure you catch their blog at http://morgansgotravelling.com

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What I learned from speaking with Jarred and Iri:

  1. Google flights are a good option for seeking out airfare deals. The Morgan’s found some cheap deals looking at smaller airlines heading out of smaller destinations including a cheap flight from Ireland to Canada. All up they have spent around $US5000-$7000 getting their family of 6 from A to B during the 12 months.
  2. If you’re thinking of a long sabbatical like theirs they recommend doing it in steps. A weekend away, then maybe a week to an established holiday destination before you commit to being a family crammed in a small space for a period of time. Small irritations can become bigger when you’re on the road.
  3. The benefits for children are every bit as good as for adults. The Morgan’s have home schooled and have been able to provide their children with many real life examples during the journey. More formal learning can be accessed online

Check out this episode!

If you’re worried about being a victim of the next round of redundancies why not take the bull by the horns and fire yourself! That’s what todays interviewees Alan and Heidi Wagoner did.

Deciding that it was only a matter of time until one of them faced a corporate axe they terminated themselves, sold up the home and with their two younger children relocated to the picture postcard seaside town of Almunecar, Spain.

The children enrolled in a local school without knowing any Spanish and within months were reveling in their new school environment. The Wagoners recently took several months off to travel Asia home-schooling their children along the way.

We caught up with them back in Spain where we discussed the Spanish lifestyle and how to integrate your children into a new culture and environment.

You can check out their blog along with the costs of their new lifestyle and how they raise their children at http://wagonersabroad.com

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What I learned from speaking with Alan and Heidi:

  1. Faced with the challenge of having to learn a new language, Spanish and continue their schooling the Wagoner children seemed destined to struggle during their first year in Spain. But in fact they blossomed, demonstrating that challenging the mind with a new language can expand the brains capacity in other areas as well. As Matt and Hannah Curtis identified in their interview children really are a reason to travel.
  2. We hear it so often from Spanish expats but the Spanish really do live to enjoy life. Money takes a back street to lifestyle with family and children taking top priority in small towns like Almuñécar
  3. During their year away home schooling proved a wonderful way to give their children school lessons with real life experiences. Like the Billy and Scarlett Thomas they chose to put their children into public schools rather than international ones and they thrived as a result.The Wagoner children did research, made power-points of their experiences, worked their math through currency conversions and learned a little more of the local languages where they traveled. It’s hard to imagine the classroom providing them with such a well-rounded education.

Visa requirements are not too onerous for non-Europeans with the initial 90 day visa in Spain providing time to meet the requirements of applying for a 12 month visa. This can then be extended to 2 year and 5 year once the initial period has ended

Check out this episode!