Teaching Traveling: Looking for an extremely inexpensive way to travel the world? Meet a pair of teachers who will explain how they use a home exchange to stay in new cities for free as a family! Ferrand family, tell us about yourselves.
Ferrand Family: Hello, we’re Audrey and Fabien. We live in Northwestern France, are both 35 years old, and have been teaching, respectively, since 2005 and in 2006. I work in a medium-size junior high school and teach 6th to 9th graders. Fabien has taught in several different schools. He has taught junior high, high school, and even vocational school classes. We have three children, aged 6, 8, and 9. We are currently traveling around the world using home exchanges!
TT: Fascinating! How did you learn about using home exchanges to travel?
F: We began thinking about home exchanging 3 years ago when we started planning our world tour. With three children, we decided the concept was ideal for our family. We had just finished renovating an old barn and thought it would be great for families, because it’s big with a lot of bedrooms. Sure enough, as soon as we listed it on HomeExchange.com (a site we love), we began receiving swap requests from large families, often with 4 or 5 children. We were immediately excited about this concept, and it has become the only way our family travels.
With HomeExchange, you pay one low yearly fee, then can exchange as many times as you want for free after that. There’s 24/7 customer support, a guaranteed exchange in your first year, and a 14-day free trial if you want to check it out. We highly recommend it!
TT: So cool. Talk to us about your current world tour.
F: We started thinking about doing a world tour in late September 2015. For our family, it was very clear that it could only be possible through home exchanging. We began planning our trip and searching for members to exchange with in October. We continued our research all year, sending and confirming exchanges, and are still looking for exchanges in the USA (San Francisco and New York).
TT: Wow! How many countries will you and your family be visiting? How many home exchanges have you organized?
F: This year, our family will be visiting China (Hong Kong and Huizhou : 2 exchanges), Vietnam (1 exchange), Cambodia, Thailand (1 exchange), Burma, Indonesia (1 exchange), Australia (2 exchanges), New Zealand (3 exchanges), Argentina (1 exchange), Chile (1 exchange), Bolivia, Peru, the United States (San Francisco and New York: we’ve connected with a lot of members but haven’t yet concluded exchanges), and Canada (1 exchange).
In four of the countries we’ll be visiting: Cambodia, Burma, Peru and Bolivia, home exchange has not yet developed much or is banned.
TT: Are you only doing home exchanges or will you also be staying in hotels?
F: Our world tour is primarily home exchange based through HomeExchange.com. In Asian countries where we’ve only organized one exchange, we plan to visit a lot, usually for about 15 days, before reaching our exchange destinations. By doing this, we’ll have the opportunity to cover a lot of ground and better discover the countries. In countries where we won’t be exchanging, we’ll be traveling as nomads, with our backpacks, sleeping in guest houses or with host families.
TT: Amazing. How do you fund your travels?
F: We have been saving money for this trip, and were also able to take training leaves of absence. In France, we are entitled to one year partially paid training leaves, and we’re taking this opportunity to better our foreign language skills. This being said, we still have all the fixed costs related to our home and taxes. We could have rented put our house to cover costs, but we opted for home exchange, which allows us to save money, especially in expensive countries such as Australia or New Zealand.
TT: Brilliant idea to take these travels as training leaves. Now, tell us one moment from your travels that was powerful.
F: We are only at the beginning of our trip, just 15 days in, but I think one of the most powerful things we have seen so far is the symphony light show in Hong Kong. It’s a nightly show they do from 8:00 PM – 8:20PM. The show includes an orchestrated play of light on the huge skyscrapers of Hong Kong and was truly a magical moment for our family.
TT: Beautiful. How have your travels impacted you as a teacher, and in your current career?
F: We are well aware that we will come back changed, even different. And this includes as teachers. This world tour offers us so many opportunities, we are open to everything. We feel prepared to go and teach in a foreign country, or to create European projects in our own establishments, such as Erasmus+ for example.
We believe that this opportunity will bring enrichment to our respective schools. The French education system is currently evolving in so many ways, we feel that the mastering of languages, and the experiences we will have, will be enriching and added bonuses for our return.
TT: So true. How have your travels Impacted you as a person? And your children?
F: We hope that our world tour will make our children more curious and want to travel to discover the world. We hope they will be tolerant, open to the world and its diversity. We hope they will understand the importance and necessity of mastering languages. In short, we have a lot of hope, and want this to be a beautiful experience, helping them to become beautiful and respectful people.
TT: What advice do you have for teachers who are dreaming of travel, or travelers dreaming of teaching?
F: I would tell them to jump in and “taste” the open-minded and unique travel concept of HomeExchange.com to see the world. I would tell them not to be afraid, that we are the ones who create fear. I would tell them that traveling with their family allows you to rediscover them and yourself, to live together, to learn more about yourself as well as them. Don’t be afraid — the world is beautiful and people are good. In China, the Chinese proved it to us time and time again, helping us all the time, as soon as they were under the impression that we were lost or needed assistance.
Teaching in another country gives you necessary tools to live differently, exchanging with colleagues about how things are done in their own schools. It means questioning yourself as a professional, changing your own behaviors and ways of functioning. It also means seeing your students differently and helping them look outside of their comfort zone. In short, it’s a beautiful and open-minded way to travel, and I think our world today needs that.
TT: Thanks so much, Ferrand family! Readers, what questions or comments do you have? Do feel free to follow the Ferrand family’s travel blog on their journey.
The author, Lillie Marshall, is National Board Certified Teacher from Boston who has been a full-time public school educator since 2003. She launched Teaching Traveling in 2010 to share expert global education resources, and over 1.6 million readers have visited over the past decade. Lillie also runs Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog, and DrawingsOf.com for educational cartoons. Do stay in touch via subscribing to her monthly newsletter, and following on social media with the links below!