Traveling Around the World with Teenagers

Our big trip around the world was a good four years in the making. We had retirement plans to coordinate as well, so it wasn’t going to happen over night.  Of course, traveling around the world with teenagers complicated our finances a bit.

I relied on travel blogs for most of my inspiration and information. Especially family travel blogs. It was a bit frustrating (and surprising) to learn that nobody really travels long term with their teens. Let alone three of them.

RTW Travel – Missing a year of High School is not such a big deal.

Seriously, I even have some data to support this. We have three kids of varying ages and at different stages in their education, two older girls in high school and a boy in grade school. They all missed a year of formal education and now they’re back in school as if they were never gone. Almost.

Hannah was 16 when we left and missed Grade 11. 
Emma turned 15 in the first few months of travel and missed Grade 10.
At age ten, Ben missed Grade 5.

Those are some serious grade levels there. Especially for Hannah. 

Family Travel RTW Ayutthaya Historical Park Thailand
Ayutthaya Historical Park Thailand

RTW Travel – Early Acceptance to University!

We’ve been back for a few months now. Hannah is in Grade 12, the last year of high school here in Ontario and her qualifying year for University. In November she received an Offer of Admission to two programs that she applied to for September 2019 enrolment. These were her top two choices and at the school that she wanted. It’s an Early Acceptance based on her grades to date and contingent on maintaining her average. She was offered a scholarship to boot.

Angkor Wat Cambodia

RTW Travel – What about the Maths & Sciences?

Although I encouraged her otherwise, Hannah has a passion for International Studies, History, Political Science and helping the underdog. After her Undergrad, she intends to go to Law School.

Emma loves Math and Science. But she’s only in Grade 11 and is even finishing up a Grade 10 prerequisite. She has time to complete the advanced STEM courses in a physical school rather than online while we were traveling. This was one difficulty we anticipated prior to leaving on our RTW adventure. 

RTW Travel – Intent to Home School

We did not formally (or even informally) home school the kids. We did have to sign an Intent to Home School declaration with the School Board to satisfy their requirements with the province. It was actually pretty cool when the school board found out our plans to travel around the world with teenagers as the administrator I spoke with went on about how much the kids would learn.

Emma and Hannah both took courses in summer school in the year prior to our trip and again upon our return. They also completed a few credits each semester online while we were traveling. Because of the streams of education they were interested in, combined with their completed credits and what was offered in summer school, the girls didn’t complete any of the online credits with our specific School Board. This makes sense – Not every Board has the resources to effectively deliver every course in an online venue. As a result, Hannah and Emma have an interesting transcript.

Christ the Redeemer Rio de Janeiro Brazil
Christ the Redeemer – Rio de Janeiro Brazil

We were expecting some troubles when we returned.

Murphy’s Law and all. This was going a bit too smoothly. 

Like I said, we did not home school. Though in the planning phase I expected to have to home school to some degree, especially for Ben who wasn’t taking any online anything. I read a bit about World Schooling. And Unschooling. I reviewed the Grade 5 curriculum that Ben would be missing. 

In the end, Ben read way more books while we were traveling than he did at home. We visited amazing sites, museums, art galleries, temples and cathedrals all around the world. How better to learn about the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge than in person at the Killing Fields in Cambodia. This was a profound experience for all of us. World religion, sociology, geography, history, languages – it was all there every day with no effort on our part. And certainly there was no effort for Ben. He did complain about having to write a few stories. And his blog post on Burgers Around the World is long overdue. Even his math got a natural work out. He was fascinated by currency conversions. 

Lantern Festival, Chiang Mai Lantern Festival
Lantern Festival Chiang Mai

Just to be sure, when we returned to Canada, we bought the Grade 5 Math Curriculum workbook and made a half-arsed attempt at going through it. Imagine the indignation at having to do that over the summer holiday!

So, toward the end of summer we were driving by Ben’s school and I saw some activity. I pulled over thinking I would run in and just get the ball rolling. There must be some paperwork to fill out.

I literally walked out five minutes later. Ben was enrolled in Grade 6. There was nothing to submit. Just like that. I’m still perplexed. 

Full Disclosure

There was a down side. A few cricks.

Ben was previously enrolled in French Immersion in Grade 4. He missed Grade 5 so it never occurred to me that they’d put him in a Grade 6 French Immersion program. Well, they did. And he is struggling a bit. His teacher thinks it will work out and we’re prepared to pull him out if required. There are other ways of becoming a bilingual Canadian.

Speaking of that. 

In the second semester of Grade 10 (just months prior to our world trip) Hannah went to France for three months on a French Language Exchange. Her partner lived with us three months at the beginning of that school year. Hannah came back completely bilingual, with amazing memories, a second family, and an exceptional accent. 

But she was booted out of the French Immersion program! Not enough hours of French language instruction to meet the provincial qualifications. Absurd, I know.

So there you go. Not everything was a bed of roses.

Family Travel RTW Machu Picchu hike
Emma – Machu Picchu


This RTW trip with Rob and the kids is something I will always be thankful for. It was … simply amazing.

We got tired. And we were excited to come home. We were even happy the endless travel came to an end. But, when we get talking about it, reminiscing, recounting moments, it just makes us want to do it all over again.

Certainly it took some planning. And some ambition and commitment, especially from the kids. We even had some complications.

But we have absolutely no regrets!

Are you thinking of traveling around the world? With teenagers?

Thanks for stopping by!

4 Replies to “Traveling Around the World with Teenagers”

  1. Congrats Hannah on your early acceptance Aunty is so proud of you… all of you actually… so many amazing”life “lessons… things they really don’t teach in school anymore!!!!

  2. You all had an Excellent trip! Well planned, and executed! Great Job Colleen. Your kids are going to remember this for the rest of their lives. When I talk to them now I can see the wisdom they have all gained from this amazing trip.

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