On Hate Mail and General Snobbery

I was around sixteen when I wrote the post 10 Ways Worldschooling Has Ruined My Childhood.

Sixteen year old me, blogging for you guys.
Sixteen year old me, blogging for you guys.

We were in Thailand at the time, at the start of what would be a two year trip through Southeast Asia and Oceania. I remember that it seemed like every week that Mom or I would get a comment from someone who was legitimately concerned that my parents were screwing up my childhood. The common consensus was that my brothers and I would come out of this whole travel thing seriously socially impaired, die in a tropical forest of some infectious disease, be kidnapped and forced into prostitution, suffer emotional trauma due to the lack of peer interaction, or some other such unlikely tragedy.

I suffer from a severe case of sarcasm. I can only be told that I’m going to be a disaster due to my unconventional upbringing so many times before the snarky comebacks start to slip out. Seriously. I did try to play nice for a while. I wrote a post called Education and Friends on The Road: My Thoughts in response to one such comment, and another called What About School?  just for those interested in what I’ve done for my education besides travel. And then I ranted out my frustration with 10 Ways World-schooling Has Ruined My Childhood. Guess which one got the most publicity? Go figure.

Every few months someone in the travel community shares that post and it does the rounds again. And every time, there are some people who think it’s awesome, and then there’s the group that thinks I’m a “privileged brat” who’s hating on their way of life. Want to see some of the comments? It can be pretty amusing. I’ll keep it anonymous:

 

“I’m all for world travel and learning experiences, but this article appears to have been written by an overprivileged, self-admitted snob looking down her nose at other people (children?) who could only dream of having the means to go where she has gone. Thanks for the cautionary tale. I plan to take my daughter as many places as we can, but will keep a close eye on her attitude so that this entitled snobbery doesn’t take over her personality.”

 

“You are young, so you can be forgiven for a lack of perspective. However you should know that your post reads just like an adult posting “10 Ways Traveling To All The Continents (With Evidently No External-Imposed Responsibilities) Has Ruined My Social Life In My Hometown of Toledo, Ohio.” Do we think this person has made a better choice than those of us still stuck in Toledo’s West End neighborhood, or, do we think they have different resources? Would we choose to simply travel the world and soak in the educational experiences along the way if that were an option for us?”

 

“I travel and you only become a snob by your choice, you are giving an awful perception of what living life really is. You’re a child and when you become an adult you will look at your experiences in the right way….hopefully.”

 

“Good for you and your money! Way to make HARDWORKING wives of skeptical homeschool husbands look even worse that we shouldn’t be homeschooling because we can’t possibly give our children that type of an education.”

 

“It is important when you can’t afford the plane tickets because you don’t work! ;)”

 

“Of course, being able to PAY for it all is rather important. Oh, and food, clothing, medical care etc. For all of these things one needs income. For income, one needs some sort of job. For a job, one needs some sort of education – because low paid jobs for uneducated workers doesn’t fund airfares at today’s prices. So..I guess the real question is how are you planning to sustain your lifestyle? The bank of Mom and Dad tends to close in your twenties.”

 

So, those of you who are of the opinion that I’m an uneducated snob! This one’s for you!

First off, I want to thank you. I’ve gotten a lot of entertainment out of all the hateful and/or highly critical comments you’ve shared with me over the past two years. I’m not even being insincere here. I got another one last night and had a good laugh over it. Also, a few of your comments (the more rational ones) have led me to think more deeply about a few subjects, which is always appreciated.

Secondly, I’d like to re-state the fact that 10 Ways World-schooling Has Ruined My Childhood was never intended to lifestyle-bash people who live perfectly wonderful, “normal” lives back home.

Did you know that until I’d made my eleventh trip around the sun, I lived among a small community of incredible folks in New Hampshire, U.S.A.? My life wasn’t so different from that of many American kids. Since then, I’ve spent time with a wide variety of families who all embrace drastically different lifestyles. I have Guatemalan friends who live in two-room houses that they share with their chickens. I have American friends who live in beautiful high quality houses in Hawaii, and friends who barely scrape by and have beautiful, joyous lives regardless of finances. I have friends who travel full-time like I do, and friends that travel whenever they find the time/money to.

Some Aussie buddies.
Some Aussie buddies who travel part-time, and are awesome 24/7.

The point being that your life is your own, and I’ll never be the one to tell you that you’re doing it wrong; that my life is better/cooler than yours. If there’s anything I’ve learned from my experiences worldwide thus far, it’s that there is no one “right” way to do it. Rather, there are many unique and equally adventurous ways to live. This is your very own choose-your-own-adventure story. Ignore my opinion. Ignore anyone who tells you they’ve got it all right, because that’s the surest sign they don’t. For my sake, for your sake, and for Pete’s sake, just live the best you can and give it your best shot every day. You’re not screwing everything up. You can do it. Have some faith in your ability to rock your corner of the world.

Affording It

This seems to be the underlying issue most people have with my family and others like us. From what I can tell, they feel like we’re attacking their financial situation/ability to give their kids good things in life too. I don’t feel like it’s even necessary for me to say that this isn’t the intention (seems obvious), but I’ll say it anyway.

It’s a common assumption that those of us who find a way to travel full-time are financially gifted above the norm. In some cases, it’s true. But most of us aren’t. Most of us have to work our tails off. Some blog. Others find a way to convert the skills they have into businesses they can take on the road. Everyone has their own tips and tricks, but what many people don’t realize is that there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes to make this life happen. We don’t stay in five star hotels. We make sacrifices that most vacationers don’t make; social, monetary, time-related, comfort-related sacrifices.

Traveling in style? Not always...
Traveling in style? Not always…

I’m considering writing about this sometime soon. In the meantime, yes, I realize that I am a child in our family and therefore don’t have all the financial information. If you’d like to ask my parents some questions relating to that aspect of our lifestyle, check out their website. But in the meantime, know that:

  • We aren’t independently wealthy.
  • My parents work very hard to allow us to live this way.
  • We’re often living on the cheap, and things like the Sydney Opera House are splurges. Traveling slow is cheaper than moving every day, so we don’t get anywhere very quickly.

Education

So apparently I won’t be able to get a job in order to sustain travel of my own in the future, nor do I have any idea what work is, because I’m… uneducated. Not sure where the logic on this one comes in.

Working on Journal No. 1, in London.
Working on Journal No. 1, in London.

I have higher math skills. I’ve done all the typical high-school work, and then some. My mother was a teacher in a variety of settings for a few years, so is more than qualified to teach me. My list of extra-curricular activities is extensive due to the opportunities I’ve lucked into/been gifted with along the way. I am a published author. I’m TEFL certified. I’ve spoken in front of hundreds of people about world issues and the importance of travel. I started taking college courses at sixteen, and am currently neck-deep in the process of transferring to Queen’s University in Canada. As far as work in regards to travel goes, I’ve already self-funded and taken multiple international trips on my own. I write, teach, edit, and manage other websites. While my education and childhood has unquestionably been a gift I had no part in bringing about, I have certainly taken those gifts and used them to the best of my ability. I have worked hard. I have accomplished things of my own accord.

Without any trace of irony, how would you say my education has been neglected?

In general, I’ve found the people who read my blog to be interesting, well-educated, supportive folks who are all incredible in their own way. Some are farmers or builders, others are innovators, designers, or entrepreneurs; and ALL share a love of the world and the incredible experiences that we share just by living in it together. And honestly, many of those who leave skeptical comments on some of my articles do so from an educated and respectful perspective.

But…

While I respect your opinions and am 100% open to discussion and to learning from all of you, I really don’t feel the need to defend my lifestyle to those of you who have a problem with it. It’s not like you’re going to see me hating on you for living your lives. They are, after all, YOUR lives.

In case you were wondering, this is my "Seriously, people?" face.
In case you were wondering, this is my “Seriously, people?” face.

So, the question stands. Am I a privileged brat?

You’re free to decide that for yourself. But make sure you a.) know satire/sarcasm when you see it,  and b.) have had more than a 1 post experience with who I am, first!

 

(Unless, you know, you’re Mr. Randy Wood. He can call me a brat whenever he wants ;) )

13 Replies to “On Hate Mail and General Snobbery”

  1. We know the haters all too well, but for our daughter, our travels have been nothing but beneficial. She has scholarship offers from several universities and a standing offer from a travel agency to pay her tuition and living expenses to attend school in Israel, and to later lead their groups of Chinese tourists. (She spent her junior year of high school attending university in China, so she speaks fluent Chinese.) She has no diploma, no GED, no SAT, no ACT. It’s a different path, but a completely valid one and I’m confident that she will be successful! Best of luck to you young lady!

  2. Nobody says you’re attacking their way of life. What some of us are saying is that the tone of your original post sounded a lot more like bragging than a sincere attempt to inform or enlighten. It compared your way of life to other, more “normal,” kids, and found the lifestyle of others wanting, and your lifestyle perfect and wonderful.

    If only everyone could be as smart as you and your family and travel the world!! This is how your post comes across.

    You can be forgiven for this because of your age. I wrote some insensitive things when I was sixteen. But I am surprised your parents haven’t talked with you about the boastful and my-lifestyle-is-better-than-the typical-kid tone of your original post.

    Finally, this is not “Hate Mail”. Don’t add more simplistic shallowness to what has already been written

  3. Charles, thank you for taking the time to comment repeatedly both here and on the other post. Some of your comments have led me to think about a few things concerning the original post, which is great.

    First off, I can understand how someone whose first introduction to my character was that post would think that I’m being boastful. But as I said, that post was satirical. Tongue-in-cheek. A rant in the general direction of those who truly think that my lifestyle is going to ruin me because I won’t have friends, an extensive wardrobe, a “real” education, character, the same hobbies as other kids (which is ridiculous. When have “other kids” all had the same hobbies?), or the security of living in a proper house for years at a time. As crazy as it seems, there are people out there who think that way. So to be quite honest, the post was not originally intended to inform or enlightened. I’d already written two or three of those, and nobody paid them much mind. This particular post was never meant to go viral, either. It was, simply put, a vent.

    Secondly, you contradicted yourself. “Nobody says you’re attacking their way of life…” “…(the post) compared your way of life to other, more ‘normal’, kids and found the lifestyle of others wanting.” Isn’t that the same thing?

    Lastly, my parents had no need to talk to me about my boastful tone, because unlike most of those commenting, they get it. They know me. They know I have a great respect for other ways of life, and am generally quite open to answering questions about our lifestyle in a sincere manner. They also are right there with me responding to the folks who think travel will ruin the lives of me and my brothers, and understand why I might feel the need to write a satirical response.

    Thanks again for your time. :)

  4. I’ve been enjoying this website for some time, and I have to say, as an educator and an entrepreneur, that any time folks decide to pursue a different path, there are always angry, defensive folks who immediately take umbrage.

    I respect EdventureGirl as an adult and a writer, but she’s also the same age as many of my students, and I don’t like – not one bit – the tone of the many “mature” adults who are outwardly attacking her for sharing information that is useful to so many people. If you don’t like the blog, you don’t have to hate-read it, and if you don’t like your life, you can certainly change it.

    One small example: When people find out that I purposely downsized to a smaller home, or that I don’t have cable (or a television), keep a cheap mobile phone and plan, eat mostly plant foods, and buy clothing at the thrift store, they respond with superior snark. However, when I and my family use those savings along with carefully collected credit card/frequent flyer miles to travel, I’m suddenly the subject of scorn for having the ability to travel.

    We all make choices, folks. Some of us want to watch the world on big-screen cell phones, and some of us want to go out and see it for ourselves. Either choice is perfectly valid, and none of us should be judging the choices our neighbors make.

    Many of the parents nastily posting out their gripes are setting a terrible example for youth and using EdventureGirl as a scapegoat. It has to be said.

    Get over yourself, move on to the next blog, and let this young lady continue to grow up in her own way. This blogger’s experiences are about *her*, not you. Her posts aren’t indictments.

    The time you spend harassing her could be spent being grateful for your own blessings, or planning another chapter in your own life.

    Here’s a great place to start: This dude literally wrote the book and has a lots of info on cheap travel at http://chrisguillebeau.com/category/travel/

    Be kind, folks.

    1. “When people find out that I purposely downsized to a smaller home, or that I don’t have cable (or a television), keep a cheap mobile phone and plan, eat mostly plant foods, and buy clothing at the thrift store, they respond with superior snark. However, when I and my family use those savings along with carefully collected credit card/frequent flyer miles to travel, I’m suddenly the subject of scorn for having the ability to travel. ”

      THIS. I have the exact same experience, as a round-the-world parent who makes a living writing about both simple living and travel. They pair together beautifully, and yet sometimes the connection is missed by others.

      I’ve loved every single thing you’ve written, EdventureGirl, and am sharing them with my 10-year-old girl to encourage and inspire her. Greetings from Munich, where we’re currently exploring! :)

  5. This again? This is all just so annoying to me. I thought the somewhat snarky tone of your original post was simply sarcastic and responding to people who are indignant about your lifestyle.

    People just assume that ‘normal’ or ‘mainstream’ is the right way and anything that deviates from the norm is somehow categorically wrong. Even though we lived a very modest middle-class lifestyle with ups and downs, my Dad had a job where we could fly for free. We had to get really creative about where to stay once we got there to afford it. As a result, I’ve never equated needing money with travel since I’ve always done it with very little to no money. Today I travel nearly for free through work/writing opportunities, travel deals and frequent flyer/hotel points.

    I don’t understand why people make it so difficult or stubbornly refuse to believe just about anyone could do this if they wanted to. You could also sell your house, most of your belongings and get a nice RV and homeschool your kids on the road. Many, many people do this and don’t even work remotely – they just exchange services for free ‘camping’ or set-up shop and temp for a month.

    I assume the people sending you hate mail do not realize thousands of families live a similar lifestyle as you – they’re just not blogging about or they’re not actively reading such blogs.

  6. Hi Edventure Girl- Firstly be proud and be boastful if you want to- you have lived and embraced an amazing opportunity and the best thing of all your still young. Every reader will take what they need from your blog, some will fell threatened, some enlightened, others will get mad and jealous and lash out and thats all ok- that is there stuff!

    For me I loved hearing about your take on it all, I am a mom of 2 young kids age 3 and 5 and in two weeks we are off to travel the world full time! We have rented out our house and given away all our things and will be setting of from London to see the world and educate our kids along the way. It is on a budget, we do not have millions of pounds to spend far from it but as you are well aware we have realised that it will be cheaper for us to see the world then pay for all our bills at home and go on a holiday once a year! We just plan to travel slow and smart.

    My biggest fear is has been how will this effect our kids- so it was a delight to read your blog and hear about your travels. I can only hope that my little girl will grow up to be as accomplished and as confident as you.

    Keep with it, keep writing and I can’t wait to follow more of your journey.

    Ali

  7. Love it! You’re awesome. That’s all I can say :-)

  8. We would always welcome you if you ever come to Jakarta (where I work) or Bandung (where my family lives) in Indonesia. This is my first year homeschooling my 5 year old son and we would definitely be glad to listen to your travel stories at our humble house.

  9. As a long time sailor, my first experience with people who spent much of their childhood traveling was cruising families. One couple at Bumfuzzle.com, who are now a family of four, were early pioneers of the whole travel blog thing. They had folks who just posted awful comments about them. Even after spending over three years traveling the world in a 36ft. catamaran, they were often ridiculed, and given all sorts of advice about their “dangerous behavior” They were also branded “entitled brats” and all kinds of labels by people who had never met them.
    I have formed the opinion that most people are not living a satisfying life, when compared to the lifestyles they read about. The very fact that they search for stories about the life your family has chosen, seems to indicate that. I realize that for some people a lifetime of travel would not be possible, but being willing to live with fewer material things, is within easy reach for most of us. That first step is something that seems to be a real obstacle for many folks in my experience.
    Your family has provided you with a rare opportunity, which it seems to me you have fully embraced. The way you write about your experiences, with joy, and confidence about your ability to navigate your life, is amazing. I am sure that your parents are very proud of the person you are, and feel justified in the lifestyle you all shared.
    Fair winds
    Magic

  10. I just came across your blog, and you are absolutely darling. I have serious wanderlust building up here and I home school my two boys. It is a dream to hit the road and travel/world school them. I love your personality and your stories. I am so glad you have had the freedom to explore/adventure/discover. It is something I am praying I can provide my own sons. Hearing your heart on the matter is beautifully encouraging. Also, I am sorry for the negativity you face. I’m sure you know it is just a part of life. Sometimes, when a person reads something that stirs their soul, and their own desire is awakened, it is a scary thing; especially when they don’t have the means or gumption to make it happen. Enjoy many more adventures.

  11. I just read your ’10 Ways…’ post from a new share (you’ll probably get more folks coming over from Millennial Revolution). First post of yours I have read. It was immediately apparent to me that it was a well written snark with some nice virtual eye rolling thrown in. I didn’t have to know you or read your whole blog to hear the sarcasm.

    I’ve never been able to fathom why some folks aren’t happy unless they are tearing someone else down.
    And I find really amusing that people basically said your opinion about being a kid growing up traveling with non traditional world schooling somehow wasn’t valid because you weren’t an adult/mature/experienced/whatever… errrr…. right….

    Your post was assuredly not snobby (except for the cheese, of course, but having been to Italy as well…). I’m looking forward to reading your more of your blog!

    Cheers

  12. Bozena Warzecha says: Reply

    My kids also traveled a lot since young and all have amazing lives now, are highly educated and are self supporting. One of my daughters has just won “the best job in the world” with 3rd home where she will be paid to travel for 3 months to luxury accommodation worldwide and make videos of the experiences. They are unconventional, but love their lives. They envy NOBODY anything. But other people envy them and say that they are “lucky”. There is no luck in that at all.
    People also envy us, the parents. We are now housesitting in Europe, making money online (self-taught). We don’t need a lot, because when you are a housesitter, you get a lot of your stuff for free. We have been judged to make loads of money off our enterprises and that is why we can afford to travel. Makes me lough all the time.
    We do some woofing and spend some time between jobs in cheaper countries, which is also wonderful. When you get into it, it is quite easy.

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