The Meanderthals

What JUST GO means for Rose and Anthony

In 2013, Rosariet (Rose) Swagemakers and Anthony Watanabe took their two young sons out of school in Canada and planned a one-year world trip.

Over the next 12 months they travelled to 14 countries and today the family is making a new home in Bangkok, many miles and many worlds away from their former lives in Toronto.rsz_rose_and_ant1

As one of the people featured in our book, Just Go! Leave the Treadmill for a World of Adventure, Rose shares her thoughts on what “just go” means to her:

“You reach your mid-forties and then what? You take stock of your life, envision what the next 20-30 years will look like and… If you are like my husband and me, you take your kids out of school, leave your comfortable life with wonderful family and friends, put your thriving 10-year old business on hold and follow your dreams to embark on a one year trip around the word.

The schooling of our boys (8 & 10 years at the time of travel) was the consistent, #1 question we were asked on the road. Homeschooling, world or road schooling, un-schooling…there are many options available, so if you are two firstborns like my husband and me (with strong convictions of “education is everything”), you over-prepare with spreadsheets of resources to “teach” your children so that they hopefully don’t fall behind.

Looking back now, a year after our travels; we would do it all again and leave all formal education behind. We would focus on world or un-schooling (the kind where knowledge is gathered through first hand experiences).

We did, however, teach our sons. Here’s how:

  • We visited 14 countries, 52 cities, and visited 12 UNESCO World Heritage Sites; history, culture and nature at its best.
  • We volunteered at an Elephant Conservation Park where they learned about animal cruelty & developed a passion for animal conservation.
  • We taught them to give back. They both taught an English class in a small Cambodian village, made a roof out of bamboo leaves for a family in need and gave of themselves.
  • We taught them how to surf, snorkel (with huge turtles, sea-lions and white-tipped fin sharks), zip line and rock climb.
  • We taught them the love of music. We now have a family band with a great guitarist and piano player.
  • We taught them a new language. The boys took language classes in Peru so, besides speaking English and French, they now can also make friends in Spanish.
  • We encouraged them to eat local foods and delicacies. They eat everything now, even guineau pig (Peruvian delicacy) and crickets (Thailand).
  • We taught them to become excellent navigators. Leave our oldest son in the Beijing subway and he will find his way back.
  • We taught them (and ourselves) to overcome fears. Did I ever think I would jump off a cliff and go paragliding? Not in a million years.
  • We taught them that family time is precious, that there are many work-life balance models that work, that people all over the world are similar to us in their dreams and hopes.

After our year of travel, we decided to settle in Thailand. We set up an extension of our Canadian business and are focusing on helping the ASEAN region operate in a more sustainable way. Our kids are back in school and they didn’t miss a beat. They have great friends, excel academically but most of all, they now have a unique perspective of the world with its gorgeous nature, its enriching cultures and most of all, its wonderful people.”

For more about Rose and Anthony and stories from other people featured in Just Go!, get it here in paperback or ebook.

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