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A Boundless Year: How we packed up our family and travelled the world for a year.

September 26, 2023
5 min read
Justine Janssen

Five years ago, I wrote the goal down on paper.

Life was flying by. My partner and I were rushing past each other on our way out the door with a laptop in our bag and a child on our hip. I had no idea how it would happen, but I wrote it down anyway.

“Pack up our family and travel around the world.”

Planning our Adventure

A couple of years went by. We had another child, and in the blur of pandemic lockdowns, we took another step toward our travel dream.

We started reaching out to families that had completed world trips and started asking them questions.

All the families we interviewed told us how incredible their trips were and how grateful they were that they took the leap. However, they also shared how isolating and challenging the experience could be at times.

Kids wanted friends. Parents wanted space.

This feedback led us to explore short-term schooling or camp experiences that we could integrate into our trip.

In December 2021, I serendipitously saw a post about Boundless Life in a Facebook worldschooling group. It hadn’t launched yet, and we weren’t sure if it was real, but it sounded like the perfect way for us to start our trip and get our feet under us. We met with the team, signed up to start in Portugal, and delayed our start until September to welcome our fourth child.

Becoming Boundless

Arriving in Sintra, September 2022

We arrived in magical Sintra in September 2022 with our four kids. Our apartment was set up with everything we needed and the local team was professional and welcoming. What blew us away though, was the community. The families and staff that we met through Boundless became dear friends.

We had planned to travel most of the year on our own, but we signed up for a second cohort to end our travel year with Boundless in Syros, Greece. The combination of adventure, cultural immersion and community that Boundless provided was a gift and we knew we wanted to experience it again!

4 Months of Solo Travel

Our family explored Morocco and Egypt as part of our independent travel.

Between Boundless Life cohorts, we visited Morocco, the USA, home (Canada), Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt. We alternated between longer multi-week stays and shorter “stop-over” visits. We loved the adventure and exploration of these 4 months. Our favourite days were the ones where we hired our own guide and got to know the locations better while having some flexibility to meet the needs of our 4 young kids.

We coordinated our trip to meet up with several Boundless Life families we had met in Sintra. Those reunions were THE BEST. The lives that our Boundless friends are building are inspiring and getting to see them ‘in the real world’ is extra special.

A Boundless Sintra reunion in Bangkok, Thailand

We homeschooled for about an hour each day while the little kids napped, and focused on being present and exploring each destination. Changing locations frequently required a lot of flexibility from our kids, which was especially tough for our toddler.

Two things that helped were:

1) Being clear about what is going to happen and when to get them ready for a change (e.g. “In 2 sleeps we will pack our things and go on an aeroplane to x place and you will sleep in a new bed”).

2) Sticking to some of our favourite advice — “outside good, inside bad” wherever possible.

We found that the parts of our trip where we couldn’t play outside safely could be especially exhausting and isolating.

After our four months of solo travel, we were very much looking forward to re-joining Boundless Life in Greece — Safe play outdoors! A home that fits our family! The education programme! Friends!

Our Second Boundless Cohort

Our family in Syros at the end of our travel year.

We came into the Greece cohort with sky-high expectations, after falling in love with Boundless in Portugal. Could the magic of that first cohort be recreated? 

We knew that we were going to meet lifelong friends and that the time would fly by, so we quickly started planning dates with other parents while our kids were at the Education Centre. We had taken our time getting settled in Sintra, but this was the last stop of our year-long trip and we were ‘all in’ to make the most of it. We said “yes” to as much as we could and fell in love with the island, the locals, and the Boundless families.

I could not be more grateful.

I love these people.

They have changed my life.

Parents and local team of the Boundless Syros April 2023 Cohort ❤

The Boundless families and communities teach us so much about what’s possible in work and life.

They teach us about parenting and friendship and being open to different possibilities.

There is no competition or jealousy.

Everyone supports one another.

We left Greece with lifelong friends.

Lessons from our year abroad

This is it. We get one precious life. Live it! We are responsible for our lives and our choices. Don’t get stuck! Time moves, even if you don’t.

There are a thousand right ways. Homeschool, worldschool, public or private school. Work for someone else, yourself, full-time, sometimes. Live abroad, or in a van, or the home your grandparents grew up in. There is no one right way to live, and meeting people who do things differently from you makes the impossible possible.

There is SO MUCH JOY in community. (I feel the tears start just typing that). The people. I love them. My heart swells just thinking about them. I thought this trip was about our family and our kids and the adventure we were having together. All that did happen and it was amazing, but what I didn’t count on (and what I do believe is the Boundless magic) was how deeply I would fall in love with the people we met. Parenting in this community for six months was the greatest gift of our year abroad.

The smiles say it all! 

And Now?

We are back in Canada and settling into a new school year. We want to be deeply rooted in and contributing to a community. We hope to use what we learned through our travels to show up differently where we live.

We also recognize how transformative our Boundless experiences were and are actively making adjustments to our work and lives to head back for our third Boundless cohort this coming Spring. I can’t WAIT to make new friends and hug my old Boundless buddies tight. Just over 200 sleeps…

Coming Up! 

Look out for Justine’s second guest Blog where she will be sharing some of the many tips and tricks her family has collected whilst travelling with four young children - including a baby! 

If you have been inspired by Justine’s story, reach out to us! We can help turn a dream into a plan.

At Boundless Life we build a collection of thoughtfully designed communities located in beautiful destinations around the world comprised of private homes, co-working spaces, a education system based on experiential learning and locally adapted recreational hubs where like-minded families can develop connections, work, sustainably explore different parts of the world and be immersed in the local cultures.

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