Global Family Interview with Kyla Hunter

 

 

We’d love to meet your family. Tell us a little bit about your tribe.

We’re a Canadian family of four who love travel and adventure; Kyla (mom), Randy (dad) and daughters Calais (7) and Kacela (5). We like to seek out travel experiences that wouldn’t typically be classified as “family travel”, and find that getting on the road less traveled provides us with greater opportunities for authentic experiences and cultural exchanges. We’ve spent the last 5 years creating a life that we love at home, that also allows us to spend chunks of time away traveling.

 

Where do you call home? And, how long have you been travelling?

Home is a small town in Northern Alberta, Canada. It’s not the most convenient base for traveling, but it’s a great place to raise our kids, and the airport is only 10min from our house! Currently, we’re 6 months into a “family gap year” with full intentions of returning to our normal lives when the year is over. However, I expect we’ll take every opportunity to continue to travel as much as possible once the year is done.

 

It’s obvious that travel is very important for your family. Why is that?

As globalization occurs at a rapid pace, the ability to understand the world is becoming more and more important. On the surface, many cultures are Westernizing, however they bring with them their own backgrounds and beliefs. It’s one thing to read about different cultures, but it’s completely different to experience it for ones-self. Our kids are incredibly fortunate that they will gain this experience first-hand, and really be able to internalize it. I think it’s entirely possible to raise global citizens without traveling, but it’s way more fun to use it as an excuse to travel!

 

What are the three biggest benefits of your travel lifestyle? What have been the challenges?

I love that we’ve been able to create a life for ourselves that balances the stability of home with the benefits of travel. Our biggest travel benefit is time as a family. It gives us the opportunity to spend an incredible amount of uninterrupted time together. Home is fantastic, but there always seems to be a never-ending list of distractions. Everyone is busy with school, work, homework, activities, etc. Travel lets us break free from this, and actually spend our time together.

The second benefit is the ability to grow, experience and make memories together. Bonds and relationships formed when traveling are different. To have this special connection as a family brings us that much closer together.

The third benefit is that travel allows us to directly shape how our children are developing as individuals. There’s less influence from peers and other adults, which lets us steer them in the direction we want them to go. Hopefully this is solidified enough when we get home that they’ll continue to mature in the direction we’d like them to go!

The biggest challenge has been to stay present. We’ve done so many amazing things, and have so many fun things planned. Sometimes it’s hard to be present and just enjoy the moment. It’s a work in progress, for all of us!

 

What are your top 3 places to travel with children?

This is a hard one!! I don’t think I could pick just 3, because different places are good for different experiences and different ages! Luang Prabang tops the list of family friendly cities in Asia. It’s quiet, which is unusual for many Asian cities, so there’s less worry about the kids running out into the street and being run over by a motorbike! There’s also a massive variety of activities for every age and interest. And, to top it off, it’s a super-cute colonial city.

France as a whole, is a fantastic country to travel with kids. It’s not uncommon to see kids eating in even the fanciest restaurants. The French tend to be quite adventurous with their own kids, and treat them like little adults. They accept traveling families wholeheartedly. There’s history, culture, great food (that even picky eaters will like), playgrounds, big cities, quaint little villages, and so much more. It really has a bit of everything.

The Oregon Coast would be my third choice. It’s wild and unpredictable, and there are so many open spaces for kids to run. Portland has a great market and fun vibe, Newport has a kid-size aquarium to learn about the ocean, and Tillamook has delicious ice cream.

 

Aside from education, what are some ways you see your children being positively influenced by travel?

They’re so adaptable to different situations, and travel has played a big role in this. If we end up somewhere without electricity or a mud floor, it doesn’t even phase them. When we hop on a local bus that has twice as many people as seats, they’ll happily sit on a stranger’s lap for the journey. They’ve learned to be okay being uncomfortable (for short periods of time), which I think is really important. Both girls have developed a lot of confidence traveling. They know how to handle themselves in a variety of different situations. It’s also resulted in them becoming fiercely independent! Neither one wants help getting in or out of vehicles, or carrying their backpacks.

 

How do you connect with other worldschooling families?

We absolutely LOVE meeting up with other worldschooling and traveling families. The internet is such a great resource for this. We’ve met families on Instagram (one that we traveled with for over 2 months!), as well as via family travel groups on facebook. I’m a pretty friendly person, and I don’t shy away from reaching out to people if I think we’re going to be in the same area. The family travel community is incredibly special. It’s open, friendly, and the kids are so used to being on their own or only with their siblings, that age, culture and language differences don’t seem to stop them from playing with other kids.

 

Do you strive to travel sustainably? If so, how do you do this?

We strive to travel as sustainably as possible, and we’re constantly getting better at it. One of the main things we do is bring reusable eating utensils! In my purse, I have 4 sets of bamboo chop sticks, 4 bamboo straws and 2 sporks (a spoon/fork/knife). We also carry fabric shopping bags and Tupperware style containers in the daypack, and we have reusable water bottles. This has greatly reduced the amount of garbage we produce while traveling. Next, I’m on the lookout for reusable produce bags, because every time we buy fruit from a market, or road side stall, it’s put into a small plastic bag. That’s somewhere we could improve, but it’s difficult to find small, reusable bags in Asia.

 

What do you see as important areas to focus on in educating children? Do you see any gaps or opportunities in the way we formally and informally educate children?

This is a loaded question!! My mom’s a teacher, so I always feel a bit guilty talking about the downfalls of our education system. However, it’s not the teachers, it’s the system that’s in place. It’s outdated, undervalued and underfunded. We have our kids in traditional school when we’re at home, and I think the social education they get from being at school is invaluable. The issue is in the way things are taught. School does a great job teaching kids to learn facts, and not think for themselves. And this is okay, as long as we’re giving them the opportunity to learn how to think at home. As technology advances, the ability to think “outside the box” is going to become increasingly more important, and traditional school does the opposite of this. Travel, however, is great for providing “outside the box” thinking opportunities!

 

Have you read any of our learning capsules?

Of course!! We love them. I’ve been using them as part of our “worldschooling curriculum” this year. We’ve visited a few countries with capsules so far, Thailand and Nepal.  Before arriving in each country we read the capsules with the girls. I then used them as a resource once we were traveling in the country. We’re currently reading the “India” capsule, because we’re headed there next week! We’ve got a few more downloaded for our upcoming adventures.

 

 


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