By Nathalie Bonney @nathaliebonney
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Videographer / director: Tim Wood
Producer: Nathalie Bonney, Ellie Winstanley
Editor: Sonia Estal
From Bali’s beautiful beaches to the ancient pyramids of Egypt, the King family have seen them all.
Since they began their nomadic lifestyle in February 2015, parents Paul and Caroline King and their two children, Winston, six and Henry, four, have travelled to 26 countries - to educate their children with ‘global unschooling.’
Paul, 39, from Cambridge and his wife Caroline, 35, packed up their large family home in Sweden and the boys swapped classrooms for some of the world’s best natural wonders, galleries and museums.
Paul said: ‘This year has been amazing – we’ve seen so many amazing places and been able to stay there long enough to actually see what normal life is like there.
'We stayed in Bali for three months, two weeks in Borneo, six weeks in Egypt. Italy about a month, and other places for less time.’
Spurred on by the lack of education options they were happy with, Paul and Caroline decided to not only move countries but to sell up the family home and most of their possessions for a radical new nomadic way of living.
The parents believe in global unschooling and decided to leave Sweden - where Caroline is from and where they lived for nine years - because they found the Swedish school system too restrictive.
Caroline said: ‘We started to teach our older son to read when he was one. In Sweden you learn the alphabet when you are seven so we were visiting maybe 20 schools and asking what will they do for Winston and their answer was ‘he can read a book for the year above.
‘We didn’t think it was ethical for our children to be forced to go to school when they didn’t want to and they were forced to learn things that they already knew or didn’t want to learn.'
She added: ‘We were also travelling three-four months for the businesses because we import cashmere, hammocks and rugs we need to travel to the factories and the school wouldn’t allow us more than 10 days holiday per semester. So we decided we had to leave Sweden.’
With Caroline typically taking on more of the schooling duties, the children learn in a variety of ways - from craft projects, reading and learning how to code.
Caroline said: ‘In the countries that we go to, we do projects so when we went to Pompeii we learnt all about how that happened and we visited pyramids in Egypt.
‘Instead of reading about it in a book the boys see it for real. So it’s much more interesting. I remember when I was in school I thought it was really boring to learn about the Romans. I was falling asleep at the table.’
Caroline and Paul’s own experience with school differs - while Paul ‘quite liked’ his time at school although still thinks ‘a lot of it was a waste of time’, Caroline had a less happy time.
She said: ‘I have mixed feelings about my own schooling. Some years were better. As I got older it gradually got worse and I wasn’t so keen on it.’
By contrast, Caroline and Paul argue Winston and Henry are benefitting from the many different people and places they come into contact with.
Caroline said: ‘They get to meet a lot of children from different cultures and they are not afraid to talk to adults either.
'Our children get to see lots of different cultures and how people live. They learn about different religions and why people live like this – they get to meet so many people. ‘
But if the boys eventually decide they want to go to school, their parents won’t stop them.
Caroline said: ‘We talk a lot about school almost every day because we are interested and actually would like to find a school that fits with our beliefs we just haven’t found it yet.'
It took Caroline about six months to sell off the King’s possessions through online and yard sales. ‘We sold roughly 90% of our stuff,’ she said.
Caroline said: ‘We had a really big house in Sweden. It was 300 square metres plus a barn and a huge garden to look after. Putting all that time into making the house look nice and gardening and things like that - it takes such a big chunk out of your life.
‘I just hated it in the end. It was horrible to have so much crap that you’ve been given. People kept giving stuff to us and we had so many things that we never used. So it was nice to sell it and give it away.
‘There’s really not an item that I regret getting rid of.’
Travelling light, the family’s total luggage amounted to a large 20kg suitcase full of clothes and wash items; a box of Lego; and two backpacks to carry other bits and pieces including crayons and a small selection of toys for the boys as well as the tech needed to work remotely.
Caroline said: ‘We have three computers, one tablet that we bought during the year and we’ve got two phones. We have two kindles, one for the adults and one for Winston and Henry.’
Now the Kings regularly clear out items to keep their weight allowance down - as well as updating the toys to meet the boys’ changing interests.
Often sharing one room between the four of them on their travels, the type of accommodation the family now stay in is considerably smaller and simpler than their Ravlan home.
‘It’s much nicer to stay in a smaller place and have more time and money to move around than being stuck in a big house - even if it’s really lovely and nice,’ said Caroline.
Paul and Caroline describe themselves as advocates of peaceful and attachment parenting – and their roaming way of life suits these lifestyle choices.
‘We consider ourselves peaceful parents, which means we don’t use any force- we don’t hit the children and we try as much as we can to be respectful. Raising voices and things like that could affect them in the future so we don’t want to cause the stress. We’re trying to be as peaceful as possible,’ said Caroline.
‘I breast-fed Winston, he is six now, until he was four and Henry, I’m just feeding him if he hurts himself or if he has something traumatic, that’s how I calm him down. And he’s four and a half,’ she added.
Travel plans are ‘quite unstructured’ according to Paul, with itinerary based on the cheapest flights; their businesses: My Pashmina, Hammock Heaven and the Real Rug Company; and the children’s interests. Czech republic capital Prague is their base for the summer.
Paul said: ‘Where we go is based on the kids’ interests – so for example they were very into volcanoes and we went to Italy - and the cheapest flights: we went to Borneo because we had to leave Bali for the visa - and Borneo was the cheapest.'
Caroline said: ‘We have to be quite flexible and sometimes we have to try to fit things together and it usually works out one of us will have the children and one does the business side of things.’
Prior to settling in Sweden, Paul and Caroline had enjoyed travelling round the world as a couple. They met in Kashmir, where shelling from the Indian and Pakistani sides forced them to take cover on a hillside.
The couple then backpacked through Nepal, even buying a donkey - ‘We thought it would carry our bags but it was the laziest donkey ever,’ Paul said - before eventually settled in Cambridge for a few years. But their wanderlust has never gone away and now they are travelling as a four piece.
Paul said: ‘You can’t be quite as spontaneous but on the other side when you travel with kids people are nicer to you.’
Their adventures; however, haven’t been without event. During their time in Thailand, three out of four of the family suffered stomach flu; more dramatically, in Colombia, Henry was hit on the head by a coconut.
Caroline said: ‘It was a massive coconut - like four or five kilos at least, not like the ones you see in the shops. Henry wasn’t even sitting under the tree and it fell down and hit him on the side of the head. If it went a few centimetres either way he would have been dead. That left us in a bit of shock.’
Overall, the family have zero regrets about their radical decision and claim others are envious of their life.
Caroline said: ‘All the time people say, ‘Oh, we also want to do that’, we just tell them back, ‘So do it then.’ Then they come up with all this different excuses just that they have, whether it’s work or family or they don’t have enough money or anything like that. But the truth is if you don’t just do it, then you are never going to do it!’
For now the Kings will continue travelling the world, working and learning as they go.