Meet: Laura Georgieff, Worldschooler, Full-Time Traveler - The Expedition
Laura Georgieff and her family in Riga, Latvia.
Laura Georgieff and her family in Riga, Latvia.

Meet: Laura Georgieff, Worldschooler, Full-Time Traveler

You will rarely find Laura Georgieff’s family sitting still, she says. 

The family of five loves to travel so much that the kids were born in three different countries (Ava in the U.S., Mark in Switzerland and Elin in Germany). For the past dozen years, they’ve been living as frugally as possible to save money for traveling.

In early 2020, they made a big move. Laura and her husband, Christian, quit their corporate careers in Orlando, Fla., and started homeschooling so they could travel the world full-time. 

“The first three months went according to plans,” Laura says. They started to feel the impact of the pandemic while in Australia, with about a week left in the country. Their plan had been to spend the next nine months in Asia; instead, they boarded a repatriation flight to Europe. (Laura is originally from France.) Cost: $5,000 per person.

After spending two months in lockdown, they were able to travel through 20 countries in Europe. 

“We took that as our silver lining,” Laura says. With most of the world still shut down, they headed back to the U.S. 

Though their 18-month trip was cut back to nine months, the Georgieffs recently bought an RV to continue traveling closer to home. 

“We are hoping to be back on the road full-time in May 2021 and plan on seeing as much of the lower 48 (and maybe Alaska) as possible!” she says. 

She shared how the family learns on the road, her favorite apps, and the secret to traveling full time. 

Our travel style, in three words, is…

Adventurous, off-the-beaten path, active. 

We never let having kids…

Be a defining factor in our lives. We traveled before kids and having them just meant having a new (much better) outlook on destinations. 

While traveling the world full-time, we lived off of…

Renting our main home, as well as a few home rentals we own in Orlando. We didn’t want to work during that trip, preferring to fully enjoy the destinations. When we returned to the U.S., we purchased online businesses to be fully flexible and be able to make a living while traveling. Once we start RVing around the country, we will need to take it slower because of the businesses. We will still rent our main home as a way to sustain ourselves, but having the businesses will give us an extra financial safety net. 

Before we left home to travel full-time, we only purchased…

The tickets to our first seven countries—thank goodness, since we pretty much lost all of those tickets because of the pandemic. We were going to play it by ear after that and buy one-way tickets to the cheapest next destination from each country. We left with a list of 28 countries we wanted to visit, but with no set plan. Turns out we only saw four of those 28. 

The biggest thing we learned from full-time travel was…

Be flexible. Stay calm, focus on the big picture, the learnings, the experience, and the quality time spent with your family. Everything else can be fixed and those bumps along the way make the stories you tell when you get back. 

My advice for families who would like to travel full-time is…

Don’t wait for the perfect time to quit your job—there is no such thing. Don’t wait for the perfect age for the kids—there is no such thing. Cut down on expenses today to make it happen. Quit your job or find one you can carry on online, and homeschool the kids! Then book a one-way plane ticket and enjoy life! We have lived frugally for 12 years, not with that trip in mind, but just knowing that we loved spending our money on travel. It has allowed us to purchase real estate and be debt-free, giving us the freedom to travel full-time. 

We started homeschooling in January 2020 as we were leaving on our world tour, and honestly…

I never want to go back to schooling in school 🙂 I was NOT the homeschooling mom and always said it wouldn’t be for me and I couldn’t do it. It was, however, the only solution to travel internationally. We fully embraced it and loved it. We schooled the kids on math and language arts. Everything else came from our experiences and they learned SO MUCH more than they ever did in school! During the trip we schooled the kids every single day, including weekends. They’d wake up in the morning and do 1 to 1.5 hours of work, and then we went on with traveling. We actually worked through the school year quite quickly and everyone evaluated very nicely at the end of the year. 

Some of our favorite hidden gems in Florida are…

The state’s natural springs, which are stunning. We also have beautiful beaches in state and national parks. Near Orlando, we love Bok Tower Gardens—a Florida botanical garden with the most beautiful playground you will ever see. It reminds us of German and Swiss playgrounds. 

Something that would surprise most people about Florida is…

The amount of outdoor activities we have. You can paddleboard with manatees, kayak through bioluminescent plankton, canoe amongst (peaceful) alligators, walk through spanish moss forests, watch dolphins from your beach towel, and more. We just have SO MUCH untouched nature that must be explored! And then of course, we have theme parks 🙂

You will NOT find us in luxury hotels unless…

We are partnering with a destination. Luxury for us is being able to travel to off-the-beaten-path places. We take great pride in finding a $50/night Airbnb in a place no one knows about and exploring parks that blow our minds away. 

My best luxury-travel-on-a-budget tips are…

One of my favorite tips is to shop Airbnbs for the month, even if you only plan on spending two weeks. You’d be surprised—many places will offer 60% off if you book a whole month. You could be saving a ton of money by booking a month and leaving early. 

Airbnb and Vrbo are the way to go in most places—they’ll typically come with a full kitchen and will save you a ton of money by not having to eat out. There are also many platforms out there with excellent programs. Booking.com, for example, will reward you for booking with them and give you member discounts that add up to quite a bit when you spend every night in a rented accommodation. 

If you’re looking to travel with an RV, look up RV relocations (same with rental cars). You can score an RV for free or as little as $5/night by doing a relocation. And lastly, fly with hand luggage only: That saves you an easy $150 per flight for a family of five (plus countless hours waiting at the carousel). It is worth investing in quality cabin luggage.

If I could change one thing about how people travel it would be…

Plan less!! Planning less gives you so much more in travel. Go with the wind, your mood, your envy. Get to one place and if you love it, stay there an extra two nights. Don’t like it, leave. Be flexible and enjoy yourselves!

The most important lesson I want our children to learn from traveling is…

To realize how privileged they are. Traveling has opened their eyes in ways staying home never could have. They saw Fijian children travel from a different island to attend school, and that was a privilege for them. No one was whining about school, and they slept on the floor with no A/C, at age 6, missing their parents until Friday night. They saw Eastern European children pulling their belongings on chariots pulled by horses. They understand that they are the lucky ones, and that keeping up to those standards takes work. It can all be gone in an eye blink if we stop being focused. 

They also understand that “things” don’t make you happy. They’ve lived for a whole year out of one suitcase—a small bag of loose Lego pieces, three pairs of shorts, three t-shirts… Happiness comes from experiences and relationships, and they know how little they need to be happy. Two of our kids have been robbed of all of their possessions… and they understand what losing everything means… The lessons travel has taught them are endless and hard to put down in words. 

We especially love…

Off-the-beaten-path destinations. We rarely want to visit cities… we are much more interested in landscapes and nature. Destinations like Cape Verde, Fiji, Bulgaria, Latvia, are exactly what we are looking for. We want to see the real world and understand how people live in different parts of the world. And the kids just follow on. 

My motto is… 

Everywhere is kid-friendly enough for us to visit with our children. 

The destinations at the top of our bucket list are…

Antarctica, the Galapagos, and Greenland. 

Our favorite travel apps are…

GoWhee and Google Translate. GoWhee is a crowd-sourced travel app by families for families. We find lots of local gems around the world—from playgrounds to hikes—on it. It has been an awesome resource during our travels! 

And Google Translate has been the best app to have on hands! It’s saved us from a few grocery store mishaps and parking tickets. We used it in nearly all countries where we didn’t speak the language, to translate signs right from our phone’s camera to live translations while speaking with locals. It is free and a must!

Other families can learn more about us at…

We document a lot of our travels on our blog and on Instagram at @frugalforluxury!

Sara Clemence is a freelance journalist, formerly travel editor for The Wall Street Journal and news director for Travel + Leisure. She's the author of Away & Aware, a guide to mindful travel.

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