Two boys sit on the grass in the shade in front of El Castillo, the largest pyramid structure at Chichen Itza

What is worldschooling?

If you’re thinking of taking a family gap year, or considering any form of long-term travel with kids, then the phrase ‘worldschooling’ has probably been on your radar.

One flick through Instagram will give you a whole heap of posts from families who are already embracing this life. But how do they actually do it?

And what actually IS world schooling? In this post we’ll talk about what worldschooling means, how it can support world family travel and how we approached it on our family gap year.


What is worldschooling?

Worldschooling means different things to different families, and one of the most important things to understand about it is that there is no set (or correct) way to world school.

At it’s core, world schooling involves educating children IN the real world – showing them different cultures, ecosystems, foods, animals, historical sites – in-person, rather than teaching them about these things within the confines of a classroom.

Rather than reading about rainforests in a classroom, world schooling can allow children to truly experience the sights and sounds of the rainforest for themselves.

Worldschooling can stretch across many years of full-time family travel, or it can be for a much shorter term.

Some families that worldschool already opt for full-time home schooling when they’re not on the road. Others (like us!) mix worldschooling with traditional school back at home.

It’s about finding a balance that works for your family.

Young boy stands next to a table of flora in Costa Rica


What kinds of families world school their children?

All kinds! We’ve met families who travel full-time, families taking a break for a few weeks to world school, families like us on a gap year. There is no particular ‘type’ of family – apart from the fact that at some point everyone has taken action to build a slightly different path in life.

Some parents have a background in education, others like us have none! We are certainly not experts and our only other prior experience with home schooling was during COVID (which – like a lot of people’s experiences – wasn’t great). I was incredibly nervous about schooling the boys while we were away but we’ve grown in confidence over the year and found ways that works really well for us.

How do children socialise during family travel?

We found that giving the boys opportunities to socialise was one of the biggest challenges of world family travel. The boys adapted really well to life on the road but there were times when they definitely needed some kids their own age to play with!

Luckily we discovered the World School Pop-Up Hubs which gave us all the chance to meet other people and socialise (see more below). Through this we found out about the amazing worldschooling community based on Koh Lanta in Thailand. We adapted our travel plans to spend some downtime there hanging out with other families.

There are also a large number of worldschooling groups on Facebook which will give you LOADS of info on informal meet-ups and hubs all over the world. Tapping in to these communities was one of the best things we did! 

What other options are there for schooling while travelling with kids?

Whilst worldschooling can be an immersive, amazing experience there are lots of ways to build other educational practices in to family world travel. Many families opt for a blended approach to world schooling – taking the amazing educational experiences that travel brings and supplementing it with other ways of learning.

 Short term enrolment at international school

We wanted to balance world schooling with the opportunity for the boys to experience school life outside the UK. You can read more about why we made this decision and our experience here.

Not all international schools allow temporary enrolments but they can be found, particularly if you can commit to at least a term. We found schools in Malaysia, Thailand and Bali where we could enrol the boys for a term.

Worldschool pop up hubs

As more and more families choose to world school their children, a whole range of world school hubs have emerged. These can be found all over the world!

Some – such as these world school pop up hubs – focus on bringing families together to provide a social experience for both kids and adults. We attended one in Penang in February 2024 and it was a fabulous experience! The boys loved having the chance to meet other kids and we found that meeting so many like-minded families was a truly inspiring experience. They run hubs all over the world each year and these are low-cost so are a great way to tap in to a community (we paid US$140 for the four of us for one week in Penang).

There are more structured world school hubs which also provide educational activities alongside the socialising. The cost of these can very enormously but they can provide a community and education/co-working all rolled in to one. The Boundless Life scheme is growing in popularity and offers a complete package of accommodation, schooling and community.

Online school

These have grown in popularity since COVID and there are various options available now; we met several families on the road whose kids are enrolled in either full-time or part-time online schools. This can work well in terms of giving structure to kids who might benefit from this, and for older kids (secondary school aged in particular). There are options where you can enrol kids for a term full-time, right through to options where you sign up for one module of teaching for just a few weeks. The costs of this can vary greatly so you’ll need to do a lot of research to figure out what might work best for you kids AND budget!

One of the drawbacks of online schooling is that you’ll need to make sure it works for you in the countries you are travelling to. Sometimes the time difference can make online school tricky!

Online tutoring

Hiring a specific online tutor can give families more freedom as to where/when online classes take place. This approach can also give you one-to-one tutoring. For primary aged kids this can work really well, as one tutor can cover different elements of the curriculum.

Alternative schools

There are also less formal, unofficial alternative schools that have been set up by like-minded families.

You can find more information on these – as well as many of the hubs mentioned above – in the world schooling Facebook groups.

Are there any barriers to worldschooling?

Not all countries formally recognise homeschooling – in the UK this is perfectly legal. This means that in the UK you can officially register your children as homeschooled while you travel. But many countries would not allow this, so it’s important to check with the education authorities where you are based.

We were also lucky that the school the boys attend in the UK is under-subscribed – and has been for some time. This makes it much easier for us to deregister them in the knowledge that there is space for them when we return.

The other obvious barrier to worldschooling is money. You will need to either a) save hard to finance world family travel or b) set yourselves up to be able to work remotely as you travel.

We talk more about how we funded our family gap year here: Our total budget for a family gap year (2024)

Boy looks through binoculars at rainforest beyond


How does worldschooling work for us?

Whilst we really value the immersive education that travel can provide for the boys, we also recognise the value of a traditional school environment. Our boys both enjoy their school life back in the UK; they love their friends, clubs and enjoy being part of a secure community.

This is in part why we opted to travel for a defined period of time. This allows us to offer the boys a long stretch of worldschooling and all the learning opportunities it brings. But it also allows us to balance this with their school time at home in the UK.

Our approach to worldschooling during our family gap year has been:

  • Planning our travel to include lots of engaging, educational opportunities for learning. These have included things like trekking in the rainforest, visiting Chichen Itza, learning to dive, snorkelling with sharks, seeing nesting turtles and so much more!
  • Working through the White Rose Maths scheme of learning for their year groups. We purchased the whole year of workbooks for the boys before we left the UK. Each lesson comes with a corresponding video with a teacher online. We were really keen to ensure that the boys didn’t fall behind in maths so we felt that this would allow us to keep them on track.
  • Regular writing via journalling and blog posts. Plus country/animal fact files, stories and letters
  • Lots and lots of reading!
  • Six weeks enrolment at Pelangi School in Bali
  • To give the boys some freedom in what they WANT to learn. For our two, this has meant enrolling in an online Minecraft coding school (via Code Kingdoms) and learning a language via DuoLingo

As well as just keeping on top of the basics of maths and english, we also really wanted the boys to experience school in another country.

They got to spend time with children from all over the world and a short block of time away from us. We all really benefited from this break from travelling!

Read all about our decision to enrol the boys in international school here.


A few tips for worldschooling as part of world family travel

  • Educational experiences can happen anywhere, anytime! Having the time together means we have way more time for in-depth discussions with the boys about ALL kinds of stuff!
  • For the more formal elements of schooling we wanted to achieve (ie maths) we needed a base for at least a few days – and the longer the better. Getting the boys to knuckle down to some work was much easier when we could build a bit of a routine somewhere.
  • YouTube videos are your friend! We made a playlist for each country that gave the boys some context about where they were

Thinking of travelling the world with kids?

If you’re planning long term family travel then check out our other posts for inspiration on where to go, how to approach schooling and what to pack!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *