[Note: this page / links still under construction. It’s a tough question!]
The simplest answer to this question probably centers around recognizing a window of opportunity and jumping through it.
We had moved to Annapolis in 2013 chasing an excellent job opportunity for Tacco and wanting to try something new. We had been beginning to throw down roots in Anacortes, WA and felt like if we were going to do any sort of wandering prior to settling for good, the time to do it was while the kids were young. It was an experiment of sorts. Though both of us had lived in many parts of the country and even Europe and North Africa, we considered ourselves West Coast people (or at least Rockies-and-West people), and wanted to test that theory.
I won’t say that the experiment failed, as we thoroughly enjoyed our time in Annapolis, got to reconnect with some family we we hadn’t seen nearly enough of, and both of us had particularly rewarding professional experiences. But ultimately we decided we would move after our Annapolis time was done. Which brings us to the aforementioned “window.” If we were moving anyway, and in truth we weren’t even positive to where we’d be moving, why not take advantage of neither of us being tied to a particular place for work?
That idea led to travel, which led to various variations on the how, how long, and where of traveling for a year. For several months the talk was fun and theoretical, until at some point, much like our decision to move to Annapolis originally, we realized that we might very well be talking about a real thing. It flourished from there.
Regarding the kids and homeschooling, that was a decision that flowed from the decision to travel and not the other way around. Though we’ll almost certainly return the three of them to public schools after our year of travel is done, we were intrigued by the idea of trying our hand at educating our kids for a year, especially against the backdrop of travel and “life experiences.”
The girls (Kindergarten and 3rd grade, respectively) we weren’t as concerned about, as we were pretty confident that material would be simple to cover, and sliding back into 4th grade / 1st grade would be pretty transparent. If anything we’re hoping they don’t get too far ahead! 6th grade for Keeper was another story though.
Flight had a youth pastor growing up (later an influential pastor and author) whose family chose to pull each of their kids out of 6th grade to homeschool her or him during that year. He later called that “The Best Idea Ever.” The more we thought about it, the more we realized that very few people think back on 6th grade year as one of their favorites. We did a very informal poll of friends and family and most of them offered “worst year ever” or “horrible” or something of the like to honor their respective 6th grade experience. With each response we liked the idea of homeschooling for that year more and more. When my tour teaching at the US Naval Academy came to an end, Keeper had just finished his 4th grade year. We had a choice to start the roadschooling adventure then or wait a year. We opted to postpone the trip for a year to give Keeper the opportunity to finish his elementary school experience in one place, but also for us to get our collective act together (see the massive planning evolution here…).
The additional year allowed for us to really crystallize things We were able to:
1) get our sticks and bricks house ready to be put on the market;
2) research and tour potential houses on wheels before purchasing (you can read a little about our process here);
3) come up with a general year-long flight plan around the country taking into consideration weather, seasonal festivals, weather, once in a lifetime experiences, locations of family and friends, weather, etc. (how the flight plan took shape can be found here…);
4) develop a game plan for homeschooling throughout the year (our thoughts on curricula and roadschooling is discussed in this post here…);
5) planning for and executing the maiden voyage in Davista following our purchase (what we didn’t know but wish we had is discussed here…);
6) live in a museum (our recommendations on how to make that a more tolerable experience can be found here…);
7) finish 283752 projects that were at an 82% completion rate;
8) enjoy living in the Annapolis area under fewer constraints dictated by Uncle Sam (here are some of our favorite things to do in the area…);
9) knock out a few trips of a lifetime (check out our international adventures here);
10) and practice being present so it wouldn’t come as such a shock when we deployed in DaVista.
Many of our friends and family have offered a wide range of responses to this year as we were formulating our plans – everything from disbelief to envy to how’s that gonna work? Two weeks into our adventure, I’m loving the family time as we’re sorting out the answer to the last question…