Get to Know the Netzer Family
Meet the Netzer family, a family of five who have embraced worldschooling despite being unable to travel full time due to work commitments, at every opportunity this family heads out into the world to explore and when at home takes every opportunity to use the world as their classroom.
Mom Alison, has always love to travel. And when her children came along, she was determined to introduce them to everything this world has to offer. Since they were babies, they have gone to wonderful destinations, seen amazing sights, tried incredible food, and have been exposed to many new cultures and lifestyles. In today’s interview, Alison speaks about the logistics of worldschooling part-time how she incorporates learning from experience into her children’s lives and gives real action steps that other families can use to begin a Worldschooling adventure, even if it can’t be full time. Let’s meet Allison now.
My name is Alison Netzer. We currently live in Baltimore, Maryland. We have three kids, one is 15, one is 14 and one is 10. The oldest is a girl. We moved here from Philadelphia about 10 years ago, probably a little longer. We are both working parents. The kids are in school full time and my husband is married to his job here. So we can’t really get up and go all the time. But when we have a moment we go wherever we can, whether it’s a day trip, whether it’s a road trip, or whether it’s even a little further.
What is Worldschooling?
My definition of world schooling is exposing family and kids to other cultures, and getting them out there showing them that not everyone lives the way they do in the United States where, you know, I feel like we live in the suburbs. Unfortunately, I’m not a suburb person, I’m a city person. So I’m like I can’t stand it. but I want to get them out there and show them that one lives a little bit differently and things don’t always work the way we want them to work and sometimes, you know, when you do travel or when you do experience something new it may not go exactly as its planned and that’s okay. You have to roll with it. You have to You know, sometimes change your plan for the last minute and that it’s okay to do that. also my idea of world schooling is, you know, introducing them to new foods to new languages to history to different geographical places.
How do you Worldschool?
Our Worldschooling is vacation based only but we try to kind of get off the beaten path and not do your typical all inclusive or cruise type vacations. So we’ve been lucky enough to take our kids through Central America and started South America over to Asia, a little bit of Europe but haven’t done much there yet. for family of five plane tickets can be quite expensive. But also even just being at home, when we can’t be out is introducing our children to different types of food. Like for dinner, I’ll make something , that’s Based on Belize, or, a nice Israeli dinner consisting of hommas and things like that, and Israeli salad, which is not the same as our salad and you know, really try to introduce, like, Thai food or Chinese food that I cook, not from takeout. So to me that helps them to learn that other cultures, make foods with different spices, so , then we can have a discussion around that. And then also books, books are really important in my family. So my youngest son just finished reading about the Myan and Incin and Aztec cultures, an age appropriate book. But that was his reading for a class project, which I thought was really interesting that he took that upon himself. He was like, Oh, I really want to learn more about the Incin and Myans and we thought great, we’ll find you a book. So Some of thet also is some things we can bring into the house because we can’t travel full time.
So we get away about four, maybe sometimes five times a year, whether it’s for a long weekend, or even longer. We just did an extended family vacation to Peru in December, and that was really epic and wonderful. but we in the past have actually gone away for three weeks, three and a half weeks at a time, which was really wonderful. My husband just changed his job. So his availability is not so great. And I basically, told my current employer that I travel and if you’re gonna keep me from doing that. I can’t be a part of this organization, I will do my work and I’ll do it diligently. But when it comes time to travel, I travel. So I would say, right now, we’re fortunate enough to still be able to go away for two weeks chunk, I don’t forsee the three or four week chunk anytime soon just because of my husband’s new job. But also with the kids schedule, this tends to screw us up a little bit too. As they become more involved in activities. It’s really a problem. so we’ve done three and a half weeks before, but now it’s about two weeks, sometimes a week here, or even a long weekend. Like I said,
How do your kids learn?
Our kids are actually in a dual language program. And so that really helps them to understand, while they’re in school to understand other languages, other cultures, it’s been great for them, actually, our two older ones are now on their third language. So that resource has been really wonderful because we cannot travel full time they get the exposure to to other languages, which has been really great. And then along with language learning, you’re also learning about different cultures, but when they’re home we’ll do a lot of play. You know, sometimes we’ll just watch a movie that’s based in another country or in another language, which is really fun. When we plan trips, we tend to get our kids really involved. Our 10 year old loves to plan the trips with us. So we get them involved in the whole planning process, even down to the packing process. And like for example, we went to Iceland, it was when Wow, Airlines was still in service. and I found this deal and I’m like, Oh my gosh, a week before let’s just go there was really cheap flights. So we got the kids involved in the packing process, because basically said, we’re not bringing suitcases we’re not paying that extra money. So now we’ve got to figure out how to pack in a backpack in a day pack enough clothes for, you know, those five days in Iceland. So let’s figure this all out together and how do we layer, what’s the best way to layer our clothing and it’s just something that they can take with them when they get older, and they can think remember back when we went to Iceland and we had to pack I can now bring this into my whole learning process. So you know, like I said, movies and getting them in the planning process, down to packing and then, of course in school.
Why did you start Worldschooling?
We’ve been traveling with our kids since they were babies. And it was our thought that who cares how young they are, they can travel like kids adapt, probably better than adults do. So my husband and his grandmother actually lived in Israel. And so he really wanted, them to see his grandmother. She was getting older. So we did a number of trips with them to Israel, to visit family and then also tour around. That being said, we also managed to do like layovers in France one time and our youngest was a baby. Our two older ones, were still toddlers, and, just getting them used to the fact that it’s hard to travel with the different times but that’s okay. You’ll be okay with it. they’ve adapted really well and It wasn’t a thought process. We just did it. For some people, it’s really hard for them to wrap their brains around bringing babies they won’t remember, I think but they have the experience, and they learn to adapt and to be more flexible when traveling, when you start them so young, so we just went we didn’t even think twice about it. Why wouldn’t you bring your kids? I think there was one time my husband and I traveled alone, where we didn’t bring the kids and the whole time we talked about the kids. That was the end of that.
How did friends and family react?
Very interesting. The family was very open to it. They said that’s great, how are you going to bring all your stuff? I said I don’t know, that doesn’t bother me, we’ll just figure it out as we go. This is what really got me was a friend’s around the area I live they were like, well, why would you travel with kids so young it’s such a waste. And that’s really what motivated me to actually start my blog. Just because I was thought, why wouldn’t you travel with your kids at such a young age? I mean, you only get them for a certain amount of years. And it flies by it goes by so quickly that, of course, I’m going to spend this time with my kids, of course, I’m going to have these memories and even if they don’t remember, they have the pictures to go back to and be like, wow, look, what I got to do when I was two years old, like my parents really involved us. And so it almost enraged me that my friends were like, why would you even bother taking your kids on trips? I was like, why would you? My whole mentality is I’ve got a short time. I’ve got a short window with my children and they’re gone. on their own, and independent. And, I want to savor her all that time with them. So that was my friend reactions, but my family was like, yeah, of course you would.
What qualities do you think your children developed because of Worldschooling?
I think they’d become more open to different cultures because of our travels more open to the way things work around the world, but definitely more open to different cultures and and different people that not everyone’s the same and not everyone thinks the same way and not everyone does the same things that we do and, and that’s okay and embrace it and enjoy it. And you know, they’ve also become very open to trying new things like trying new foods. when we were in Cambodia we went to a market where they bought deep fried silkworms and popped them in their mouth as we were at a silkworm factory. And I’m like, Mmmm we’re eating silkworms. at a silkworm factory, but, I know so many people that would just never, ever go near a deep fried silkworm and yet my kids were like yeah, we’ll try of course this is so exciting. So, they’ve become more open to try new things to enjoying different cultures just to be more well rounded, more accepting.
How do you maintain your relationships with each other?
It definitely has drawn us closer. We love sitting around the table. Friday nights are big dinner night. So, , we try to do as many dinners together as we can. But with the kids schedule, it’s never workes out lately, but definitely Friday night is our big night we all spend together and we tend to reminisce about a lot of our trips and talk about what we would have done differently what we would have done the same what it brought to us. and, and sometimes we get to the point where we haven’t been traveling in a while, like, oh, gosh, we really need to spend some time together like we have a couple of days coming up in March. We haven’t planned anything, but we know that we need to To really reconnect as a family because everyone’s so busy back and forth lately, and I’m like, let’s just go on a road trip up to Connecticut or Rhode Island or something that can just bring us all together. So it really has built a wonderful bond.
What does it cost to Worldschool?
So if we don’t have to buy airline tickets, and we use points and that really helps. But definitely we know that it’s going to costs anywhere from $5,000 to $7,000 for a week and half and that’s US dollars, of travel. One of the things we have done in the past is we don’t go out to eat while we’re traveling, maybe a meal here and there but what we really tried to do is eat breakfast in the hotel or, an Airbnb wherever we’re eating go to the markets, get the local food and plan your meals at the hotel. lunch is not always possible because you’re traveling a lot during the day but definitely dinner like when we were in Iceland we really had to keep costs at a minimum because it’s so expensive there so we did a lot of Airbnb s and we went to the market and, fortunately for us, the kids were like, yes, we will have ramen noodles, you know it was like their treat because we’d never give it to them. but they were so thrilled. I’m like yes, you can have that this time because It’s so much cheaper. so that’s really great. it helps if you eat breakfast in in your room or in your Airbnb or dinner and maybe just do lunches out. that helps a ton but you were looking at five to $7,000 per trip and sometimes that does include airfare.
What are your tips and tricks for traveling as a large family?
Budgeting is really tough. Flying abroad for five is really the crux of the budget it’s just plane tickets are ridiculous. So a lot of times we don’t eat out very often. We tend to stay home we tend not to go out we don’t buy frivolous stuff. You know my clothes come from Target half the time. I’m I’m good with it. so really just Managing to keep a budget by not eating out by cooking at home saves a ton of money and then we use points I’m not one of those crazy point person I don’t follow others tips and tricks about getting points but we do use points we’ll put a lot of things on the credit and pay it off, to get the points. So that helps a lot we’re planning the summer we’re trying to get to Europe and even by using points, we just couldn’t even do it. So that’s why we might head back to Central America because it is more affordable. And, when we stay at places, if we have to stay in a hotel, we all stay in one room. My daughter is now 15 is not so thrilled with that anymore, but It saves a lot of money. So we tend to do it that way or airbnbs now is a great way to budget a trip.
Do you buy travel or trip insurance?
The only time we did trip insurance was when we went to Thailand and Cambodia. We really haven’t done it. Thankfully we did it when we went to Thailand in Cambodia because our youngest broke his ankle while he was there. So we were able to reimburse the medical bills we paid. No, I’m sorry, he broke his heel. He broke his ankle and Iceland. again, these are the things that happen when you travel with children, things always happen. Our youngest has broken a couple bones on our trips., we typically don’t get travel insurance, but we did for that one trip. it’s something I’ve been considering more and more now, especially, with Coronavirus going around, this is serious and flights could shut down before you know it and you’re kind of screwed. If you don’t have that backup plan. So I think moving forward, we’ll probably start adding trip insurance. knock on wood. We’ve been lucky thus far.
What medical needs have you had while traveling?
My youngest brother because heel in Thailand, they did not catch it there. They did not catch the break. And so we had to carry him piggyback for a couple days and then he just hobbled along and he was okay. He was a really good sport about it. And then when he broke his ankle in Iceland, he jumped down from a bunk bed and landed funny and we luckily his boot was tight enough, his hiking boot that we could kind of set his ankle with the boots so we macgyvered it. And then, we’ve had kids that have been sick a lot on trips, like in Peru, we all got upset stomachs in Peru. But my husband, luckily is a physician. So he managed to pack antibiotics and just kind of like threw it our way and was kind of like just deal with it and take it and you’ll be fine. We had a sick daughter when we were in Thailand. She had a fever one day. And so fortunately, our plane seats got really messed up. And so it was all luck. I mean, they basically put us in one of the lounges, the VIP lounges, and she just slept ,we were stuck at the airport the entire day. She slept in this gorgeous lounge with food. So it’s all been luck and you get sick you definitely, definitely get sick when you travel and you just have to realize that you can go to pharmacies, a lot of times, not in America, but overseas, you can get antibiotics over the counter. Not in the US. But you really just have to be vigilant. Is this an illness, it’s gonna pass. This is an illness where you really have to take it seriously and take them to the hospital. So, but it happens.
Where can we find you online?
So my blog is five family adventurers. And I started it because like I said earlier, a lot of people in my area, said why would you travel with children? And I was thought why wouldn’t you travel with children? So it really inspired me to write about our travels to tell everyone that it’s okay to bring children, here’s how to bring children and you know, here’s what you can do and things aren’t always going to go as planned. And kids may not adapt to sleeping so well and that’s okay, because eventually they’ll get on a schedule. So basically, it’s a blog about Traveling with children where we’ve been, some tips on where to go, telling the readers what the best way to travel is, giving them what we’ve done and, hopefully helping them with their planning. And I do it for fun. a good friend of mine was a big blogger, very famous blogger, and she lives around the corner from me, and she made it look so easy. And so I thought, oh, I’ll do this. It’s so easy. And it’s so not easy. It’s a ton of work. So if you think that people are just throwing up information and not spending time on it, you’re really wrong. It’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of editing photos, a lot of SEO, which I’ve had to kind of teach myself. And just the writing, writing is really hard. I didn’t realize that it would be so challenging and it’s been a great and wonderful challenge. So I’ve enjoyed it. I’m having fun with it.
What would you say to someone considering Worldschooling?
I think that traveling is just the greatest gift you can give to your children to your family. And it really creates just such wonderful memories and bonding experiences just really brings you close. And you know, you always have a story and there will always be a mishap and there’ll always be something that doesn’t quite go, right. That’s okay. That’s kind of what makes the experience what it is. You know, you can plan and plan and plan and then things don’t always go the way it’s supposed to. And, you just have to roll with it. Instead of getting upset. You really just have to roll with it and know how to deal with it. That’s part of the whole travel experience. Because it’s not coming back. Kids are getting older, they grow so fast. You’ll never think that when they’re toddlers it seems like forever when they’re toddlers, but they also tend to sprout and grow so quickly. So if you have the opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and just enjoy it, enjoy the time you have with them. I would say if you can do it, do it because like I said earlier life is so short. And if you have the opportunity seize it.
To find out more and connect with the Netzer family, check out the links to their websites below.
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