Round-the-World 2021

preview page

Show map

Seven weeks. Six countries. One adventure of a lifetime.

How much of your life is actually under your control, and how much is a result of time, place, and culture?

If you’re from North America, then you’ve grown up in an exceptionally good place to be a homeschooler, unschooler, or alternative school student. But what if you were born somewhere else in the world? What would your life and education look like? Would you be the same person you are today?

We’ll explore these questions by traveling—quite literally—around the world. Welcome to the most ambitious trip that Unschool Adventures has ever offered: Round-the-World 2021.

When

7 weeks in January-March 2021 (specific dates TBA)

Where

Thailand, India, Israel, Germany, Brazil, USA

Who

9-13 participants (ages 14-19, flexible)

LEADERS

Blake Boles and a female trip leader (TBD)

Cost

$7,750 plus flights & lunches (see FAQ)

Full details arriving late 2019

Join our email list to know when we announce full details & applications.

Unschool Adventures with a school in Nepal, 2014

Trip Purposes

Every Unschool Adventures trip is created with specific purposes in mind. Here’s what we’ll set out to accomplish.

Looking through other people’s eyes

What’s it like to grow up in Thailand, India, Israel, Germany, and Brazil? What’s expected of kids and teenagers there? How much freedom do they have? What kinds of opportunities await them as adults? What kinds of school alternatives exist? And how, exactly, do these cultures define education?

The term “education” may sound boring, but don’t be fooled. This trip is a chance to dive into fascinating questions like:

  • What does unschooling mean in countries like India or Thailand where many people still struggle to access quality primary schooling?
  • How much can self-directed learning be integrated into the public school system, as Israel has attempted?
  • When homeschooling is illegal, like in Germany, what are your options if you truly dislike school?

We’ll answer these questions by meeting young people—both inside and outside of schools—and by talking with educators (both traditional and alternative) in each country.

Sometimes these meetings will be scheduled and formal (like when we interview someone as a group), and sometimes they will be unscheduled and informal (like when we see some friendly-looking young people in the in a public place and start chatting with them). Sometimes you may be called upon to talk about your own education and upbringing, either formally (like a scheduled presentation about unschooling that we give to a school) or informally (like when a teenager asks you, “so you don’t go to school?”). Almost always, you won’t be having these conversations alone—your fellow teens and trip leaders will be there to back you up.

Make no mistake: this will be an intensive amount of learning in short amount of time! To help make sense of it all, we’ll debrief and share our experiences each evening with trip leader-facilitated discussions. We’ll ask each other hard questions, respectfully challenge each other’s beliefs, and push toward the truth.

By the end of this adventure, you’ll return home with a strong understanding of what “education” means and how you fit into the global picture. By looking through other people’s eyes, you will change how you see the world—and therefore how you see yourself.

Making new friends

On this adventure we will prioritize meeting other teenagers, both conventionally and unconventionally educated. This is a chance to make new friends all across the world: friends you might stay in touch with, friends who might visit one day, or friends who might invite you to visit!

The trip leaders’ job will be to find good social opportunities, and your job will be to make the most of them. If you have some social anxiety, don’t worry, because this is a team effort. It also helps to remember: You are super interesting to foreign teenagers! Why? Because you are a teen who doesn’t go to regular school, who’s traveling around the world, and who is curious about them. With a setup like this, you’re bound to make positive connections!

We will also strive to offer a few homestay experiences on this trip, in which you’ll get to spend a few nights with the families of the new people we meet. Short-term homestays are tricky to setup for large groups—and we always want to keep everyone within a safe distance so that trip leaders remain accessible—so we can’t guarantee homestays, but we’ll try hard to make them happen.

Unschool Adventures with high schooler students in Salta, Argentina, 2012

Doing A Bit of Touristy Stuff

On this adventure we’ll be visiting some famous capital cities, and while we will do a little bit of touristy sight-seeing, our primary mission will be to meet teenagers and explore systems of education. Mentally prepare yourself to not see everything that the guidebook tells you to see—because we’re on a mission!

Honing your independent travel skills

Every Unschool Adventure is designed to build independent travel skills by giving its participants more freedom and responsibility than the typical organized teen travel program. On this trip you’ll enjoy lots of time to wander around cities (only the safe parts, of course) with fellow participants, attempt to communicate in unfamiliar languages, and get to know new people of all ages. You’ll walk from this trip as a more knowledgeable, confident, and savvy traveler: someone ready to embark upon your own adventures in the not-too-distant future.

Where We’ll Go

We’ll spend one full week in each of the following cities or their nearby areas. We won’t know specifically which schools we’ll be visiting until ~6 months from departure; below are a few possibilities.

Bangkok, Thailand – Moo Ban Dek
New Delhi, India – Butterflies
Tel Aviv, Israel – Democratic School of Hadera
Berlin, Germany – Demokratische Schule X
Sao Paulo, Brazil – Projeto Âncora
Boston, USA – Bay State Learning Center

Everyday Activities

While each day will be different, here’s a typical schedule:

  • Breakfast provided by UA
  • Morning group check-in
  • All-group activity (e.g., school visit)
  • Lunch (your choice)
  • Free time for exploring / sight-seeing / relaxing / hanging out
  • Dinner provided by UA (participants cook and clean-up)
  • Evening group meeting and discussion

How We’ll Stay Rested

If you’re asking yourself, Will I be exhausted and jet-lagged all the time?—we share your concern! And we have a plan.

This trip will be a marathon, not a sprint. To manage our energy levels and avoid burn-out, we will:

  • take one sacred rest day in each country: no school visits, no obligations: just eating, sleeping, and hanging out (but if you do have lots of energy, you’re free to go out!)
  • let you opt out of all-group activities if you’re feeling especially tired
  • take it easy on travel days; we won’t “hit the ground running” right after a long flight
  • check-in every night about our energy levels and modify our itinerary as necessary to avoid burn-out

Jet-lag will undoubtedly be a challenge when we cross the Pacific and Atlantic (which are 7-10 hour time zone shifts), but aside from those flights, our time zone changes will be more manageable (1-4 hours each).

The bottom-line is: Yes, this will be an intensive amount of travel. Yes, you may develop a newfound love for coffee. No, we won’t drive each other mad with exhaustion. Yes, it will be worth it.

Unschool Adventures in Chile, 2011

Affording This Adventure

This is the most ambitious trip that we’ve ever offered, and it’s also the most expensive (considering both the program fee and airfare). Here are a few tips for affording this trip:

  • Start saving now! We’re purposefully advertising this trip far ahead of time in order to give you time to save for a large investment. Teens: the time to get a job is now :)
  • Plan a fundraising campaign. U.A. director Blake Boles wrote a short guidebook (here) about raising money for travel through crowdfunding. Following this advice, previous U.A. teens have raised multiple thousands of dollars toward their adventures! If you take a similar path, Blake will personally help you fine-tune your campaign for maximum success.
  • Apply for a $1000 work-trade. We’re offering two work-trade position on this trip: one for a photographer, another for a videographer. Your mission will be to document the trip. If you have experience with taking high-quality photos or producing short videos, you can ask for one of these positions upon applying, and if accepted, you’ll save $1000.

Using This Trip for Academic Credit

On this trip you’ll by learning a ton about education and its related domains of philosophy, psychology, history, and politics. While Unschool Adventures does not issue academic credits, we can help you frame your trip experience in a way that will look good on a homeschooling transcript or make sense to a school official. (Our photo and video documentation will also help in this regard.)

For those who would like to use this trip as an excuse to dive deeply into academics, we’ll happily suggest a few books and documentaries that you can start reading and watching before the trip. We’ll also support (but never require) any documentation of the trip that a participant may elect (e.g. through writing).

Frequently Asked Questions

Who are the trip leaders?

Blake Boles, the founder and director of Unschool Adventures, will be one of the trip leaders. Our second trip leader will be a woman, and we’re hoping it’s Ari Kosel… but only time will tell! We won’t have a trip assistant on this adventure.

Learn more about the leaders here.

How much is the airfare? What are the additional costs?

The $7750 Unschool Adventures program fee includes:

  • Breakfasts and dinners
  • All accommodation and ground transport
  • All UA-sponsored group activities
  • Laundry (once a week)
  • Trip t-shirt

In addition to the $7750 program fee, participant costs include:

  • Group airfare purchased through the U.A. travel specialist, estimated at $2900-$3400
  • Domestic airfare (purchased independently) to Los Angeles and from Boston (for the start and end of the trip)
  • An international mobile data plan for your phone, so you can stay in touch with the group (via Whatsapp) every day
  • Personal budget for lunches and snacks (we suggest $5-$10 per day)
  • Personal budget for souvenirs, toiletries, and activities that are not sponsored by UA (your discretion)
  • International visa fees (anticipated to be minimal)

Why did you choose these specific countries?

We chose our route through Thailand, India, Israel, Germany, Brazil, and the US for a number of different reasons. First, safety. We only choose destinations that are approved by the US State Department. Second, round-the-world airfare is expensive. By sticking to the busiest airports, we’re keeping our travels costs as low as possible.

Third, we want to offer a full diversity of languages, cultures, income levels, and educational systems. The countries selected do that quite well.

Fourth, we’re focusing on destinations with established alternative education organizations that would be open to meeting with us. When designing this trip, Blake consulted with Jerry Mintz of AERO to form the itinerary.

Finally, we chose places that will have decent—maybe even great!—weather in November and December. Okay, Germany and Boston will be a bit cold…but the others will be lovely!

Is it possible the itinerary may change? Yes! Since the program is so far away, it is possible that we may change one or two of the destinations—but we don’t expect to do a full overhaul.

How will my child stay in touch with loved ones at home?

The world is a very connected place now. We will have wifi access in virtually every location, although it may not always be fast. Participants can expect to be able to to send messages and emails everywhere we go, unless we’re visiting a more rural school for the day. Additionally, we ask that everyone brings a phone with an international mobile data plan, so that’s even more coverage—even if you may sometimes not have reception.

What will the accommodations be like?

We’ll typically stay in youth hostels with bunk rooms (3-8 beds per room) and shared bathrooms. Teen participants may sometimes may sometimes share rooms with participants of other genders or with trip leaders; they never share rooms with strangers. We only stay in well-reviewed hostels.

We will also strive to offer a few homestay experiences on this trip, in which you’ll get to spend a few nights with the families of the new people we meet. Short-term homestays are tricky to setup for large groups—and we always want to keep everyone within a safe distance so that trip leaders remain accessible—so we can’t guarantee homestays, but we’ll try hard to make them happen.

Can the teens go anywhere and do anything during their free time?

Unschool Adventures gives its participants more freedom, responsibility, and opportunities for self-direction than the typical trip-leading company. We’re also still responsible for your safety, and to that end, we have some basic non-negotiable guidelines for unsupervised time:

  • When you go out, we ask you to stay in groups of 3 or larger—that means no solo wandering, sorry!
  • We require you to spend the night in UA-sponsored residences, and we sometimes won’t let you go out in small groups after dark (if we feel it’s too risky).
  • While we don’t have formal bedtimes, we do ask that you act like responsible young adults. If we see that you’re not getting enough sleep to participate in our group activities, we’ll firmly request that you get your act together.
  • We have zero-tolerance rules about alcohol and drug consumption or possession.
  • Potentially dangerous activities (e.g. renting bicycles) always requires trip leader approval (and sometimes parental approve in addition).

How does U.A. manage the risks of letting teenagers independently explore large cities?

If you’re nervous about the thought of letting your child wander around New Delhi, Bangkok, Tel Aviv, Berlin, or Sao Paulo—we understand! And please know that we have more than a decade of experience in safely facilitating this kind of exploration, in cities such as Buenos Aires, Barcelona, Bangkok, and Kathmandu.

First of all, your child will never be walking around cities totally on their own—see the “Can I go anywhere and do anything during my free time?” FAQ above. We require that all participants stay in groups of 3+ and have at least one phone with them. (We do make an exception for the “one person / one block” rule which allows a participant to quickly run down to a corner grocery store, for example, which is on the same block as our residence.)

Secondly, we’re not doing this blindly. We only allow participants to independently explore areas that are known to be tourist-friendly, and only during the day. The majority of uncomfortable incidents happen at night, in the wrong neighborhoods—so that’s what we avoid. (To know which areas are okay, we rely upon local contacts as well as time-tested guidebooks.)

Finally, we encourage you to consider the risk of letting your teen independently explore any large city, whether in North America or abroad. There are always risks involved with such travel; we believe the biggest ones can be mitigated with clear rules and consistent communication. The personal growth and empowerment that comes from this kind of independent exploration is huge—we’ve seen it over and over again. That growth comes with normal risks.

If you have further concerns, we’ll happily address them: write to blake@unschooladventures.com anytime. The trip leaders will also host a videochat parent Q&A session shortly after applications open.

What’s the shower, bathroom, and drinking water situation?

We’ll have warm showers and western-style toilets available everywhere we stay. In countries where tap water isn’t safe to drink (Thailand, India, maybe elsewhere), Unschool Adventures will provide bottled drinking water.

Do I need any special visas or vaccinations?

Our group travel specialist will take care of visas, although you might need to fill out a few forms. There may be some small fees associated with obtaining visitor’s visas.

Regarding vaccinations, we strongly recommend that you follow CDC guidelines and will require that every participant has all basic vaccinations.

What gear do I need to bring?

We’ll provide a full packing list upon registration. You won’t need anything special for this trip—just clothes, toiletries, and electronics. Please don’t bring larger electronics (e.g., a laptop) or musical instruments before checking in with trip leaders first.

Can you accommodate my special diet?

We can accommodate vegetarians, vegans, and gluten-free (but not celiac) diets. Please remember that while traveling, it’s not always easy to cater to special diets—the more restrictive your diet, the more flexibility and patience you’ll need to have a successful trip. Don’t worry, we’ll make sure you always get enough to eat!

What happens if my child needs medical attention?

Unschool Adventures will compile a full list of well-rated medical facilities for each destination (which you can browse if you’d like). We’ll be sticking to major metropolitan areas that have Western-grade medical facilities. If a participant requires medical attention, a trip leader will accompany them to the nearest facility and immediately contact their parents/guardians. Safety is Unschool Adventures’ top priority, and our company has maintained a perfect safety record (i.e., no one has every gone to a hospital) ever since our first trip to Argentina in 2008.

When is the program fee due? How about the international flight?

A non-refundable deposit of $2000 is due after interviewing + getting accepted to the trip, circa March 2020. A $2000 payment is due circa August 2020, and the $3750 final payment is due October 2020.

The program fee is payable by check or money order; you may also pay by credit card with a 3% surcharge.

The international plane tickets purchase happens 2-4 months before departure date, facilitated by our group travel specialist. Plane tickets are payable via credit card.

If you require a payment plan to make this trip feasible, please write to blake@unschooladventures.com. Please note that all payments must be made before departure date, without exception.

How likely is this trip to happen?

While the majority of Unschool Adventures trips that we offer do end up running, sometimes a trip fails to meet minimum applicant numbers by the priority application deadline, and we must cancel it. If there isn’t enough interest in running this trip, we will know approximately 8 months ahead of departure time. This also means: if you’re interested in applying, don’t wait! Send in your application before the priority application deadline.

How do I apply? I’m ready to do this!

For now, hold tight—this is just a preview page :) When the full details are announced, applications will open.

When applications do open… Applying is easy! Click the big “Apply Now” button, fill out the online application—please note that the participant, not the parent, must fill out the application—and pay the $30 application fee. Apply by the Priority Application Deadline for your best chances of joining the trip!

Shortly after the Priority Application Deadline we’ll conduct our first round of Skype interviews with trip leaders. We do these brief interviews to ensure that you’re a good fit (in terms of motivation and preparation) for our adventure and to answer any questions you may have about the trip. Read more about preparing and interviewing for an Unschool Adventures trip.

After completing interviews with those who applied before the Priority Application Deadline, we’ll make our first round of enrollment offers. You’ll have two weeks to make up your mind about joining the trip. After that, we’ll start interviewing those who applied after the Priority Application Deadline and offer enrollment on a first-come, first-served basis.

More Questions?

Email Blake anytime at blake@unschooladventures.com.

Unschool Adventures in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2012

Go top