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Great Britain
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How mum took her two kids out of school and spent five years travelling and doing charity work

INCHING our way along the packed footpath, I wondered what was causing the rush-hour chaos.

In the past I’d have grown agitated, but as my husband Rob pointed out the culprit, I grinned. We were in Thailand and just ahead of us an elephant was walking leisurely along.

Since leaving the UK five years ago to travel the world, this kind of surprise is our new normal.

Back in 2014, we were living in Cheltenham and it seemed like everything was going against us.

After a traumatic labour with Summer, I struggled with PTSD, and Rob was working constantly. We barely saw each other, so when Rob lost his job as a buyer and our landlord raised the rent that August, we took it as a sign.

We’d always wanted to live abroad so we decided to try six months in Cyprus, which I’d visited as a teenager and fallen in love with.

As Summer was only 15 months old and Istria two, we didn’t need to worry about taking them out of school – it seemed like the perfect time.

We only had £1,000 savings, but we reasoned life was much cheaper abroad, and I could still work as a photographer to bring some money in. Days later we put down a deposit on a villa and set our leaving date for early September 2014 – just two weeks away.

I don’t think our friends and family realised we were being serious about going until the day we left! We sold our belongings and gave valued items to loved ones to look after.

As the plane landed in Cyprus, nerves exploded in my stomach – until Rob turned to me and smiled, and I realised everything would be OK. Adjusting was hard, though. Rob missed working and we had so much spare time, but we soon settled in.

The weather and our lovely villa helped – we’d previously lived in a terraced house, but rent there was so much lower we could afford it.

Swimming in the sea and watching flamingos fly over the lake, we knew we’d made the right decision. Spending so much time together made our marriage stronger and the children were happy, too. So at the end of the six months, we decided to extend our stay.

After three years living in Cyprus, where I worked full-time as a freelance photographer and life coach, we started getting itchy feet and decided to explore the world. So in November 2017, we flew to France.

It was tough leaving as we’d made good friends, but we knew there were more adventures on the horizon. We lived in a chateau and fell in love with the food, while the girls started learning French. It felt like a fairy tale.


BTW

In 2017 more than 130,000 Brits emigrated from the UK.*

The number of children being home-schooled has risen by 40% since 2015.**

Sources: *ONS **BBC

From there we moved to Thailand in June 2018, helping look after elephants at a rescue sanctuary, which had always been a dream of mine.

Rather than sending the girls to different schools each time we moved, we decided to teach them ourselves. I worried they’d fall behind, but by the time she’d turned six, Istria had taught herself to read.

Both of them pick up the local languages, too, and help us count our money when we are at the shops or out for dinner. They learn about different cultures, cities and animals, and they always make friends with other children, so I’m not worried about them being lonely.

Of course, we have boring days indoors, too, when the weather is rubbish, and we miss our friends and family at home. But we’ve flown back for special occasions and social media helps us stay in touch.

After four months in Thailand, we stopped in China for a few weeks, before moving to a friend’s farm in New Zealand. Each morning I’d wake to help the children groom ponies on the farm, then we’d swim in waterfalls nearby.

Last month, we flew to stay with friends in Perth, Australia, where I still work as a life coach and Rob has started working as a screenplay writer to fund our travels. On the way we stopped off in Sydney for a few days, and we’ve enjoyed family time on some amazing beaches.

I still have to pinch myself that we’ve spent five years as nomads.

There are so many places we still want to visit, such as South America and Mongolia, so we don’t have any plans to settle down yet.

With all the problems in society, I’m glad our girls are getting to meet so many interesting, kind people and see such amazing things. We’ll continue to school them in this way and hopefully they’ll learn the world isn’t such a bad place.

First look inside Singapore Changi Airport’s Jewel – the £951m hub with 280 shops and restaurants, an indoor forest and world’s tallest indoor waterfall
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