Making Money as a Worldschooling Family
Until you travel abroad, it’s nearly impossible to know how to calculate the costs of traveling to another country. As a result, it’s important to have a financial cushion or at least to really know your resources when you first hit the road as a worldschool family. Nomadic perpetual travel costs more at first because you make more mistakes. As you go along, you learn how to save money (which is just as important as making it), but before you leave, it’s important to either have a saving account with enough funds to get through a designated period of time traveling, a job that will be able to fund your travels, or a combination of both.
How any given worldschooling family makes money remotely depends on their unique skills and talents. Making money is a very personal thing, but as technology has improved and as people are able to connect more easily from one country to another, working remotely or seasonally has become much easier and within the grasp of most families who really want to make worldschooling work. There are money-saving resources for worldschool families and there are money-making resources as well. Below is our remote work story and you can read more about our travels and the challenges we faced over the years at our worldschooling blog Bruised Banana.
At the end of this article, I provide a list of important financial resources both for saving as well as for making money while traveling.
Our Remote Work Story:
John and I have always traveled, even before our daughter, Lydian, was born. Our first nomadic experience happened in 1997 before we were married, when John was hired as a professional touring musician for Karen Breiner and the Midnight Express. At the time, I was working as a staffing coordinator for a company called Western Medical that provided relief workers (CNA’s and nurses) in hospitals and long-term care facilities. I was good at my job and my boss didn’t want to lose me so I was able to negotiate a deal where I worked on the road with a beeper and a cell phone! I worked 24 hours a day, literally, but kept my job. As John drove from Minnesota to Arkansas, I was able to make phone calls and do my staffing job on the road.
The reality of working while John and I traveled from one gig to the next was challenging to say the least (often, I received phone calls 10 or 20 times throughout the night to find staff for health facilities and then we drove 14 to 18 hours the next day), but we learned that it was possible to work remotely. And after that experience, we became committed to this lifestyle. I grew up on a farm and my dad worked seasonally. He was always available when our family needed him because the farm work would wait. That’s not to say it was without stress, but rather that my dad’s work was flexible. The desire for flexibility in terms of time and location has always been a priority for John and me.
When Lydian was old enough to travel, we began worldschooling. At this time, we owned a web development business and a seasonal Halloween attraction. We had flexibility, but our funds often fell short of our goals. Our monthly income varied a lot, which was incredibly stressful. When we wanted to travel abroad, we had to put the business in the hands of other people. John and I tried many things and developed, over time, into serial entrepreneurs. But eventually, John discovered oDesk.com, a website he’d used for years to find computer programmers, even though he’d never considered signing up as a programmer himself!
This website, oDesk, now known as Upwork, opened doors for us. Instead of having to hit the streets to do sales, John was able to sell his services to clients from home. I was able to take on my own clients (rather than doing writing for the web clients John got from doing local sales in Nebraska and Colorado). Suddenly, we had the freedom and flexibility we wanted. And we had adequate funding to make our semi-nomadic lifestyle easier.
We continued doing our seasonal Halloween event for 14 years until we moved to Mexico (we returned to the U.S. to put on the event one last time before closing it down officially). In 2013, we started a health blog called AlivenHealthy about healing methods and treatments that are not widely publicized in the U.S. and other western countries. After 5 years of adding content to the blog, Jennifer and Lydian wrote a series of books called The Cancer Cure Catalog for cancer survivors and the newly diagnosed who are in search of either low-dose chemo or no-chemo, no-radiation therapy options. The blog took off with articles about diseases that are extremely difficult to treat using conventional medicine or that appear to have no cure according to western models of medicine. We created an affiliate marketing program for this blog to keep it going and through this experience, learned how to monetize a blog to create a passive income source for our family.
In 2017, we relocated to our favorite city in the world, Guanajuato, Mexico. We left behind several thriving businesses and a 16,000 square foot fully renovated public school building to move to this amazing new city. After releasing our lives in Nebraska, we bought a building here in Mexico situated within walking distance of the centro in Guanajuato and only steps away from everything we need and we made it into an apartment complex with classroom spaces so that we could start working on our next project: Devela Worldschool! Before we kicked off our first season, we traveled to Southeast Asia and made a 4-day pit-stop in Myanmar where Lydian, then 18 years old, met and fell in love with her husband, Naing Naing. The two of them were married in May 2019.
How to Make Worldschooling Affordable: Resources
Saving money is almost as important as making money when you’re a worldschool family traveling abroad. So below we’ve listed some important resources to get you started toward making this lifestyle more affordable:
World School House Swap, House-sitting, and Pet-Sitting Websites
These websites act as a middle-man between prospective house-sitters, pet-sitters, or house swappers and property owners. Signing up at these sites can help traveling homeschoolers and worldschool families find cheap or free lodging in locations all over the world.
CouchSurfing.com is a social network that sometimes provides free lodging or cheaper lodging opportunities to worldschooling families. The CouchSurfing concept is a little different than property rental or house-sitting.
Work Exchange Programs for Worldschoolers
Work Exchange programs make it possible for worldschoolers to find lodging in exchange for work. On WorkAway.info, many of the opportunities also involve a food stipend.
Property Rental Websites
After a few house-sits and work exchanges, you may want to take a month off and just rent a property while you’re traveling abroad. There are a number of different property rental websites out there all across the world to help you find high-quality, furnished homes or apartments.
Remote Work Websites
People all over the world work remotely doing a diversity of different activities from virtual assistant work to writing or video production and computer programming. Check out the variety of different work opportunities at each of these sites and let them sink in for a bit. It takes some time and energy to post your profile at these sites, but if you really want to make a commitment to doing remote work, make the effort! Working remotely offers many rewards!
- Create and publish Udemy classes.
- Start a blog and do affiliate marketing.
- Rent out your home.
Worldschooling communities provide support for traveling homeschoolers. By networking with other families through these worldschool hubs, you can sometimes find remote work opportunities, come up with money-saving ideas to fund worldschooling. There are worldschooling communities all over the world, but each one is different. Most of the worldschooling communities were created by worldschooling families. Some offer lodging as well as education, others offer only educational opportunities.
Mexico is a great jumping off point for worldschooling families and traveling homeschoolers because there are several worldschooling communities as well as an annual worldschooling summit in operation there. In addition, travel is affordable, and the Mexican culture is incredibly rich and multi-layered. That’s why we decided to create our own worldschooling community in Guanajuato, Mexico. Worldschooling Mexico is a great way to get your feet wet traveling abroad as a family.
Below is a list of worldschooling communities throughout the world:
Devela Worldschooling Mexico (Guanajuato City in Central Mexico)
Anahata Worldschooling Community Mexico (Yucatan near Cancùn)
Abraxas Fun (San Jose Tzal near Merida, Mexico)
Sembrando Vida Eco-Village (near Mazatlan, Mexico)
Altos Eco Village (Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay)
Worldschooling Andalusia (Southern Spain)
CADÌ Community for Real Life Learning (Eco-Living Project in the Spanish Pyrenees)
Porto Grana Worldschool Hub (Greece)
Mitananda H.O.F (Austria)
A Cielo Aperto (Italy — website is in German)
Unter den Kiwis (Portugal – hosted by a German family)
Die Lernwerkstatt Berlin (Berlin, Germany)
Devela Worldschooling – Myanmar
Green School Bali (Indonesia)
Lombok Learning Village (Indonesia)
Worldschooling North America:
Manitoulin Worldschooling Community (Toronto, Canada – contact info ManitoulinWorldschooling@gmail.com)
Camp Stomping Ground (near Binghamton, New York)