Lainie Liberti of Raising Miro is a single mum who wanted her son, Miro, to learn about the world. So in 2008 she sold her Californian business and took the then 9-year-old on the road. They have been travelling ever since and covered 12 countries in South and Central America including Belize, Chile and Panama. (They currently live in Cusco, Peru where they have been for the last 7 months.) Lainie tells suitcases&strollers about why she chooses to dedicate her life to permanent travel with kids.
Since you don’t have a house and must budget for the long term, where do you “live”?
We try to avoid the tourist experience as that isn't as satisfying for us.
[We like to] rent an apartment and live with locals, how locals do. We eat with locals, shop with locals and engage with locals as our way of being immersed in the culture. But no matter how hard we try we will never be mistaken as a local. So we embrace our differences and live each day with respect and gratitude for the communities we live in.
How can you afford to travel permanently?
We live day to day. We earn a small income from our websites such as Raising Miro and I can always take on small freelance projects. [Liberti used to own a branding agency.] But working for me is no longer my life's purpose. We live on as little as US$500 to US$1000 per month and we live comfortably and always have what we need.
How do you decide where to go and how long you will stay?
We tend to base all of our decisions on inspiration, when and if it strikes one or both of us. Miro was inspired to live in Lima, Peru, which we did for 8 months. He was craving the city, restaurants, the ability to take classes and wanted a contrast to the previous year, where we lived in small towns and villages in Peru and Ecuador.
We've typically traveled overland, so choosing the “next” destination has usually been based on geographical constraints. However at this point we're talking about jumping continents for the next destination.
[Thinking of quitting your job to be a permanent traveler with kids? Here's how to do it. Check out the suitcases&strollers interview with a dad who did just that here.]
Is there a bigger picture plan for where to go?
There really isn't a longer term plan. We look at the planet as our home and it's there for exploring. We don't feel as if we are in a rush either so we remain guided by our inspiration and have the freedom to act on it. Can you imagine living your life in such a manner? It's refreshing, actually.
Where does Miro go to school?
We are “unschooling” or “natural learning”. Miro has no predetermined curriculum and bases his studies around what interests him. He also learns naturally from being in the world, interacting with people and following his interests without even trying to learn.
Is it unsettling that Miro doesn’t have a permanent stable home?
Children adapt easier than adults, so growing up in this lifestyle is what he knows. I feel he's receiving an advantage over any child who does not have a global view. He's engaging with multiple cultures, learning new languages, volunteering, traveling and enjoying his childhood. How could that be a disadvantage?
Is it harder for Miro to maintain relationships and friendships as a permanent traveller?
We both have friends throughout the world that we connect with daily. Miro's best friend is a teen, his age, that he's never met face-to-face. He's also part of a travelling unschooling family and, while his family is based in Asia, there seems to be no distance between them when they connect via Skype. The world is truly global and these two boys are going to be more prepared than those without a global experience.
What does Miro gain being a permanent traveller that he wouldn’t get from a more conventional lifestyle?
Miro is learning from the world, really participating in the world and receiving a “real world” education in exchange. My son has the opportunity to experience his own humanity through volunteering, connecting with people young and old and stepping outside of his comfort zone. In contrast to most Americans, Miro is learning that consumerism and ownership is not that important. [For instance, he] has seen the supply chain from sweat shops and cheap labor in economically challenged countries.
Miro also experiences within himself a sense that he can really do anything in his life that he desires.
Why do you think it’s important for kids to travel?
It's important for anyone to travel, young or old, to realise that world is not a scary place. There is much to explore and experience outside of your comfort zone and people across the globe want the same thing – meaningful connections with one another, dignity, health and love.
When do you think this adventure will end?
We have said we will travel until Miro turns 18 (and I subsequently will turn 50). But it's an open-ended trip and we travel as long as we are inspired to do so. Miro may not want to travel with me after 18 – neither of us can predict the future. But this is our lifestyle of choice and it works for us.
Your top 3 tips for how to travel with kids on extended family holidays?
Learn how to tap into your inspiration together
as a family and individually. That will guide the family, and bring you closer
Learn how to listen to your intuition. When you do, this is your family’s way to remain safe and secure.
Live in the moment. Don't over plan the trip. Give yourselves the permission to have down time, to travel slower, to immerse yourselves if you are enjoying what you are doing. Remember, the journey is the destination.
To read the suitcases&strollers interview with Lainie's son, Miro Siegel, visit The Permanent Travellers, Part 2
To find out more about other families that choose to travel permanently, read the suitcases&strollers story The Permanent Travellers, Part 3, The Permanent Travellers, Part 4, The Permanent Travellers, Part 5 and The World's Most Travelled Toddler