Lonely Planet Writer

Discover how this family travels the world full-time while educating their children

For Paul and Kim Black, travel has always been part of their story. Having first met 15 years ago in a hostel in Melbourne, the couple have had many adventures together all over the world, and even spent their honeymoon camping in Europe for six weeks. Today, even though they now have two children in tow, the couple has worked out a way to incorporate exploration into their daily lives, selling their house and their worldly possessions and embracing “worldschool”, an idea that sees travel, experience, and diverse cultural immersion meeting formal learning to create a unique educational experience for young people.

The Black family in a sampan Boat on the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.
The Black family in a sampan boat on the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. Image by Paul Irwin

Making the decision to dedicate one year to full-time travel, Paul and Kim set out on a grand adventure at the beginning of 2018. “We decided it was time to stop talking about how to make long-term travel a reality for our family and just do it. We sold our house, our cars and a lot of our stuff. We bought a one-way ticket to Singapore and planned the first part of our adventure,” Kim Black said. The trip began with 13 weeks in Southeast Asia, which saw the family travelling to Kuala Lumpur and Borneo. Throughout this time they managed to see orangutans, sun bears and proboscis monkeys in the wild, as well as take part in rainforest hikes. After that, the Blacks visited Thailand, doing some island hopping and driving around the northern part of the country to see the Golden Triangle before visiting Vietnam and Cambodia.

The family at Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
The family at Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Image by Kimberley Black, Backpacks and Sunhats

When it comes to educating their children while travelling, Paul and Kim follow the New Zealand curriculum, while also taking the opportunity to allow their unique experiences to teach. The family has learned about diverse topics such as elephant conservation in Thailand and wildlife in Borneo, as well as taking part in cooking classes. Kim even blogs about her experiences on her website Backpacks and Sunhats, writing entries such as “10 ways to worldschool while travelling”.

The Black family at a waterfall in Munduk, Bali. Image by Kimberley Black, Backpacks and Sunhats

“Lots of people assume we only learn about other cultures, languages or countries, but that is far from the truth. We lug around a pile of workbooks covering maths, science, English and social studies curriculum for their ages. We subscribe to online learning programmes for them and keep to a routine of schoolwork every day, regardless of weekends or school holidays, with occasional exceptions for busy travel days. We seek out museums and educational opportunities at every destination we visit. We take the responsibility of their education very seriously and have so much respect for their teachers that laid the groundwork,” Kim said.

Spotting wildlife on the Kinabatangan River in Malaysia.
Spotting wildlife on the Kinabatangan River in Malaysia. Image by Kimberley Black, Backpacks and Sunhats

Having completed the initial phase of their trip, the family are currently spending some family time in the UK, and plan to travel to Europe in late May with a tent to do a driving tour of Spain. “We’ll also take our daughter Siena to Siena, her namesake, and revisit some favourite places from our honeymoon. We’ll also visit friends in Europe who’ve invited us to see them as part of our trip!” Kim told Lonely Planet Travel News.

The family’s adventures can be followed at Backpacks and Sunhats, their blog and website.