The Nomadic Choice - Our Unschooling Journey from a House to a Bus

Week-14-56

Why would you leave a perfectly happy life to move into a bus and go travel full time? Welcome to our story, our core values, our reflections, and our doubts.

I have several times been asked the question: Why did you begin traveling, and why did you choose the bus to begin with? That is: What is the background for the lifestyle, you have now?

It is an interesting question.

A tapestry of reasons

A bit like, when I try to explain our unschool life, it is overwhelming to answer, complicated, nuanced, and intertwined. To cover it all, I would need to write a book.

The thing is: Every choice we make in this life, has multiple reasons. In human life, there is no such thing as A happened because of B and B only. This applies to both chosen actions and spontaneous reactions. And to make things worse, our reasons change as we go through life, as we re-think our story in the light of what happened, and as we understand more when we move on.

I don’t think we are re-writing our story; it is more like the Danish philosopher Kierkegaard said: We have to live our lives forward and understand backward. It is just how it is.

So, how can I share the background for our full-time travel life, and yet be authentic? I will have to begin by being clear on two points:

I shall share the points I right now see as the most important, and I shall try to be clear as to what we thought before vs after we left.

The beginning.

At some point, the universe was born, and everything began. Our story of traveling is just part of this whole thing, and our personal story about it probably began, when we started living together. When we did our first weekends out of town, we would always talk about traveling, about seeing the planet together, about being free to go wherever we wanted. This was 14 years before we actually did it.

Things happened. We had kids, we bought a house, and we lived with as much travel as we found possible, yet we were locked by everyday life in Copenhagen, and our travels were limited to vacation time and weekends. We had a good life, a great life.

My inner Gypsy, my Mediterranean genes

In my personal life, there is another story. Maybe two, actually. The Gypsy, and the Winter Blues.

I have always traveled. With my parents, and when I became a teenager (16) I started traveling on my own. It is calling me this moving around. The way the mind wakes up, the way, horizons open, the nuances of life, the cultures, languages, people. There is something deep inside of me, that can not sit still. Something very hungry, very alive. The world is so big. The restrictions of staying in one place are hard for me to live with.

The other element, the Winter Blues, is one of the points, that was very clear for us BEFORE we left. The winter blues got worse and worse over the years, to the point, where I could live my summer days afraid of the winter coming. There was no escape, even when I did my best: I could meditate and run and eat healthily, take my supplements, and use light therapy, yet the winters were heavy, dark, and depressed.

There is no way to know, why I get the winter blues so heavily, but I see my family suffering the same, and I wonder if it is all about the genes, that entered our family sometime in 1925 when a young and beautiful sailor met a poor yet strong young woman in Copenhagen. This man is listed as “unknown” in the books, but he is clearly from somewhere around the Mediterranean, or from the Middle East. That is somewhere between 2,500 and 3,000 km south of Copenhagen.

This short love story in the summer of 1925, between the big wars, when there was still hope and light in the North of Europe, was short, and we know very little about it. But it did make a huge difference; it led to the whole line of people in my family, who all bear the same dark eyes, the same vulnerability to the lack of light, and some parallel spirit, harder to describe.

It seems like the generations are spinning around and around, and now … finally, I have to let go and fly off in a new direction, maybe even going back to some location roots. We will never know.

A turning point: the 20 minutes cure

In 2013 we did a spring journey over Easter, going to the French Riviera for ten days. ⅔ of the way down, somewhere in the French Alpes, we stopped for a cup of coffee, just a 20-minute break while driving south. It was the 23 of March and six months since we had had real sunlight. The way the 20 minutes cured my state of depression, my deep and heavy emotions, my tired eyes, and my slow movements made it clear to my husband, that we had to do something more serious about getting real sunlight in the winter. Made it clear, that I was not just being negative, but actually suffering on a physical level from lack of light. To me, personally, it was less clear, as I always lived with a level of denial, I did not really want to know how bad it was or how dependent I was on having enough light. Realizing this would have huge consequences, plus I would have to admit being out of control of my own thoughts and feelings, which is a very unpleasant thought. Luckily I am married to an intelligent guy, who sees things clearly

Another turning point: Cancer free

As you might know, I am a cancer survivor. The contrast between my gratitude for being alive and my heavy emotional state in the winter was just too big. In 2015 I was declared cancer-free, and it was a turning point for us, in many ways. When I realized, I had gotten my life back, it became close to unbearable, that half of my days on this planet would be affected by the winter blues, and also that most of our days together would be restricted as to where we could go and how many hours we would be able to share.

That year we went five weeks to Tenerife over the winter, to see if a big winter escape would cure the Winter Blues and restlessness.

It didn’t.

But it did help. A lot.

It just did another thing as well. It made it very clear, that life was so much better when A. we could be together 24/7, B. We could be outside, C. There was enough sunlight. Not prioritized list.

It did make us want to make a major change. After this experience, we started working more directly to free ourselves from location restrictions. It took 3 years before we felt ready. The many preparations are too much for this, but I can share, that the major thing was the money question, and the fact, that our eldest daughter was accepted at a very special writing school as part of the university, and we felt obliged to stay and support that. She is a great talent, and we are grateful.

The downside is, that she grew up and left home before we left. It is not easy, but it is right for all of us.

The unschooling – another chain of events.

Seven years ago, our second child did not start in school. This was not the first radical choice in our life, but it was VERY radical. At least, we felt it at that point. Over the years, we learned to be unschoolers, and our third and fourth children never even considered the school.

Unschooling is like water, in the way, it gets in everywhere in life. The unschooling changed all of us in so many ways. As unschoolers, we live outside of the box, and it makes us reflect even more and from a different perspective on all of the many aspects of life. Over the years, it made it more and more clear, that the price of the freedom I and the children had, was my husband’s hours at work, and that we REALLY wanted to spend more time together.

We would not really accept the premise and have experience; premises can change.

Another way of putting it is that we realized, we wanted to have way more hours together than possible with a day job-based economy and life, where we could not move because of a mortgage. We wanted to travel the Earth with our children, while they were still children.

A simple hack to get going.

In one of our travels, while working towards full-time travel, we met a couple traveling in a campervan, also unschooling their two daughters. Wonderful people, from Brazil actually – and they gave us one piece of great advice: Set a date. You will never feel ready, so you need to set a date.

We knew we had to get going, so we listened and set a date a month after our daughter finished her education. We were at La Palma, one of the Canary Islands, at that point, and when we came back to Denmark in the cold winter, we bought a bus. Six months before our date, we bought the big red bus, and that decision made everything very solid, concrete, and clear.

I have to admit, we were scared. It is very confronting. I remember sleepless nights and a lot of doubt. Now, in my red bus under the Mediterranean sun, I am grateful, we did it anyway. Very grateful.

A final comment on the travel style.

I know I owe you all a walkthrough of the bus, and a bucket full of pictures from our everyday life in a bus. I know all the details are interesting, and I have meant to do this for so long. The thing is, our adventure is so interesting; all the time, something is happening, and there are so many stories to share.

For this context, I will just share, why we chose to travel in a bus conversion.

It was the thing we could think of. Letting go of so much safety and everyday life, we thought, we needed to travel with a home. We had a lot of experience traveling, and the challenge of accommodation is always present. As we are vegan, gluten-free, organic, AND do not eat additives, we are always a bit challenged, when it comes to food. Being a family of five, the food thing is a lot of work, and it gets very complicated if we do not have a home. A home to store food, and to cook food, and to clean after. In order to have a big kitchen, we reasoned, we needed a bus.

Also, we wanted to always sleep in the same bed, especially for the children; we thought this to be important. To take them out on a full-time traveling journey, we thought, they needed the element of a home, the safety of going many places, but always coming back to sleeping in the same bed.

Could it have been an RV / campervan? It could. Technically. But in real life, we just did not feel it was right. We wanted to do the more charming bus conversion to have more space and a less plastic feeling.

So we bought a bus. In the summer, after my husband started his one-year sabbath, we did the bus conversion under the grace of great friends, who hosted us during the looooooong process. It did take 8-9 weeks, depending on how you count it, and it was … meaningful.

Now, we have been living in the bus for six months, though six weeks we were at Gran Canaria.

On this exact day, writing this text, I feel very vulnerable and off, as my mother suddenly died yesterday, and my emotions are chaos.

One thing I do know, is I want to keep sharing, keep reaching out and try to inspire.

So I keep writing, even though I have to pack up and fly back to my home country to say goodbye to my mother.

May the sun shine on you!

Cecilie-Underskrift-300x133

Cecilie Conrad

Mi casa es tu casa - Our Transformational Journey Living with Strangers in Gran Canaria
Unschooling and responsibility

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