- Brittany Peterson is a mom to three kids who are 9, 7, and 2 years old.
- They family has been traveling the world non-stop since 2018 when the dad had a work trip to China.
- This is Peterson’s story, as told to Ronny Maye.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Brittany Peterson. It has been edited for length and clarity.
A typical day for our family is simple. We eat breakfast, look at our schedules, and then get our day started. This could mean that my husband, Jomari, is doing some remote work, or that I’m taking the kids out for an activity such as going to a museum, a theme park, or a play space.
Afterward, Levi, our oldest child, does some homework, followed by dinner and bedtime. The difference to our lives is that we could be going about our day anywehere from our home in California, a few states away, or on a completely different continent. We are global citizens and travel with our kids to show them the world.
It all started in 2018 with a trip to China
Our start in international travel as a family began with a business opportunity my husband had in China. It was an amazing opportunity, but he would have missed both Thanksgiving and our youngest son’s first birthday.
We decided to go with him, traveling to Hong Kong, Zhuhai, Wuhan, and Beijing over the course of two weeks. While we had already traveled with our oldest son, in 2018 we decided to travel with more intention of adding cultural and educational aspects.
This trip did just that and was absolutely life-changing. Though he was only 5 at the time, Levi still regales that visit. Since then, we have considered moving to Spain or Portugal permanently because our time there was amazing.
Our travel struggles are a little different
Most parents will agree that traveling with children can be challenging. Our biggest struggle with traveling so often has been ensuring our boys can adjust to different environments. Both Levi and Eli are autistic; they can be very sensitive to lights, sounds, and the number of people around.
A sensory overload can easily trigger a full-on meltdown if we don’t give them the space or time to adjust. One experience that comes to mind occurred with Eli during a trip to Italy. We made the mistake of visiting the Duomo di Milano during the busiest part of the day, and the number of people and multitude of different sounds immediately overwhelmed him. Going to a quieter area helped him adapt to this new environment and allowed him to calm down.
Despite this, we’ve been able to check off 20 countries and states for Levi, and 15 countries and 19 states for Eli. Our daughter, Ozelia, has visited 10 countries and 18 states. What works best for us is traveling during the off season, planning fewer things during the day, and being extremely flexible with our plans in case the kids need time to decompress.
Education is an adaptive experience
The perk to traveling is that we can fully immerse ourselves in different cultures by engaging in customs, cuisine, and more. As this translates to our children, they are essentially getting a hands-on experience with the things that interest them.
When homeschooling Levi, we looked up the educational milestones for his grade level, using that as a foundation for his curriculum, then added electives. He was able to choose a topic he wanted to learn more about with a preference for prehistoric times; and we added geography, art, and Black history as the other electives. Levi had the freedom to decide when and where he wanted to do his assignments. We want our kids to enjoy learning instead of feeling pressured to meet a standard.
Our children are learning to respect diversity
People often view the world from the perspective of the culture that they grew up in. We want our children to have broader exposure so they can be comfortable in any part of the world. By traveling to new cities, states, and countries, they can love and appreciate everyone’s culture as well as understand and respect diversity.
Even when a culture is completely different, it can still be beautiful; that’s what we are instilling in them. It is an adrenaline rush to navigate a foreign country with children, but our adventures as “The Leo Travel Family” have been an immeasurably wonderful experience. Earlier this year, we took on 7 countries in 36 days and embarked on a 30-day cross-country road trip, and we have so much more in store.