Updated June, 2011
Ours is an open-ended journey of education, discovery and adventure. After more than thirty countries, five continents, a couple hundred thousand miles, one stolen backpack, no lost luggage (yet), more than three dozen UNESCO sites, and too many spectacular moments and interminable night flights to count, we can’t imagine our life any other way.
Family Vagabonding: Field trips around the corner and around the globe. Getting to know our planet and the people with whom we share it.
The first inklings of our family’s open-ended roadschool adventure came during our graduation trek through Europe, summer 2008, before sending our older son off to college. It was one of those travel highs that stays with you long after the bags are unpacked and the bills paid. It persisted, hanging around through the next school year, lackluster academics, and a sense that surely we could do better. Summer 2009, we took the leap, bid farewell to the kids’ private school and set off to Australia, officially launching our ditch-school-and-travel roadschool adventure.
Not a take-a-year-off-and-see-the-world trip, we decided to try something different. Shift our lifestyle, spending large chunks of the year on the road, coming home from time to time (often for sports seasons or other obligations), then heading back out again. Our goal is to forge a new “normal,” where travel is an integral element of our life, not something we do to “get away” from it all, and education is something that happens everyday, everywhere, not just in a classroom.
It’s from our very special little beach town that we launched our Family Vagabonding adventures. We’re your typical American family — mom and dad, two kids at home, two off to college. Family Vagabonding is our family’s journey of discovery, education, adventure, and yes, family bonding.
In the early days, we chose to celebrate this quest for discovery by each selecting a pseudonym, based on the spirited adventurers — both real and fictional — whose stories captivated us. With this most recent redesign and relaunch of the site, we’ve decided it’s time to come out, retire the pseudonyms, and simply hang on to their spirits.
Here’s a bit about us, both by pseudonym and in real life.
Nellie Bly (Powell): Adventurer, Feminist, Writer. In our family, Nellie is part big picture / part nuts-and-bolts. She’s the one dreaming up the adventures, putting together the family travel guides, finding the roads less traveled, and setting the sails for adventure. Like the spirited reporter who elbowed her way into the halls of journalism, our Nellie is part entrepreneur, activist and adventurer, and enjoys the poetry of words strung together to tell a story, evoke a feeling. Just as the real Nellie Bly might be credited for one of the first travel blogs, when she wrote daily chronicles of her adventures in her Around the World in 72 days for the New York World, our Nellie’s writings take you with us as we explore the planet, and our own backyard.
Columbus (Fred): For us, he’s the rudder, the compass, the safety net. He’s the one that makes it happen, charts the course, and gets us where we want to go. He’s single-minded, yet open to endless possibility. He’s the one that just gets it done, every single time. Husband, partner, father and friend, he is fiercely loyal to his family and wonderfully supportive of our sometimes crazy whims and outlandish adventures. Coumbus – well, truth be known, the choice was more of an Ohio thing than a philosophical connection – but somehow the elements of part explorer / part rascal seem to fit just fine.
Sacagawea (Emmi): Spirited, adventurous, determined. That’s our daughter. Nine when we started our adventures, she explained her choice this way. “I chose Sacagawea because I think she is simply amazing! She sailed across waters with a baby on her back, climbed mountains, acted as an interpreter, and so many other cool things.” (Historical interpretations may need some work, but the spirit seems to fit.)
Dundee (Austin): Twelve when we set off to Australia, Austin is the mischievous rascal with a huge heart, curious mind, and clever spirit. “I chose the name Dundee because the name just fits me. Dundee is an explorer, a wild-man who tries new things. I’m just like that!”
So that’s us. This site is an ongoing work in progress. Thanks for stopping by, and please be in touch from time to time. If, like us, you’re out there on a similar quest, let us know where you are. Who knows…maybe we’re in the neighborhood.