Welcome back to my #RealMomsWhoTravel series where I share the real life stories of real moms, who love to travel with their kids and family. This week I am excited to introduce you to Shannan from Captivating Compass.

Shannan and her family are originally from Oregon in the US who now live in Scotland. They homeschool their kids so that they can travel every chance they get. Here is Shannan’s interview as part of the #RealMomsWhoTravel series.

#RealMomsWhoTravel – Captivating Compass

Welcome to the series, Shannan. Please share a bit about who you are, your family dynamics.

Hi! I’m Shannan I blog over at Captivating Compass where I inspire families to learn on location using the world as their textbook. We are a family of four, two kiddos aged 10 & 13 living as expats in Scotland and traveling as much as possible throughout Europe. After multiple trips to various parts of Europe, it became clear to our family early on that living, learning about and exploring the world around us was a top priority. But the journey from dream to reality is never a straight line, is it?

I have always loved to travel and learn about the world around me and grew up taking long (like 6 weeks at time) trips with my family. My first overseas trip was in 1995. I honestly thought it was going to be the trip of a lifetime. The one and only time I would get to see a little piece of Europe. Little did I know that 2-week trip to the UK at Christmas time would unleash a passion for travel that would change my life and the life of my family forever.

captivating compass family travel

Rewind To 2012

With a first grader and a toddler, I never dreamed of homeschooling. We loved our neighborhood school and everyone associated with it. However, my kids both got ill. My first grader had to withdraw from school in order to recover from her illness and surgery. We participated in an online charter school for the remainder of the year to keep up.

We honestly figured we would start again at the brick and mortar school the next fall. Over the summer someone told me about homeschool co-ops. I fell in love with the ideas of community days and independent family learning. Homeschooling became our new normal.

Fast Forward To 2015

After a series of life-changing events, we re-kindled the dream to raise our family overseas. Between 2012 and 2015, that dream had nearly been snuffed out and forgotten. But with renewed direction, passion and a “no regrets” lifestyle, we packed up our family in 8 suitcases and 8 carry-ons and moved to Scotland. People thought we were crazy. We are. We’re that kind of crazy that makes you want to live life to the fullest.

We started with a dream. Cultivated a plan. Then we hit the “Go! “button when the timing seemed right.


Now we homeschool and travel as a family from our home base in Scotland as much as we can. With 28 days mandatory time off each year, that’s way more holiday time than we know what to do with most years.

Even after four years, we are still settling into the European lifestyle of work hard, play hard. My husband works in our local town, but when the itch to travel needs a good scratch we grab our passports and find the cheapest flight to anywhere. Literally. It’s kinda like playing spin the bottle with your passport. You never know who you might end up with, or in this case, what city or country you might be experiencing next weekend. The travel version I love. I never was much for the original version….


What was your best family holiday to-date?Where, when, what?

Our best family vacation to date was spending New Years 2017 and most of the month of January with friends in Switzerland. With the 21-day Swiss Rail Pass we were able to see almost every corner of Switzerland on day trips! We would catch an early morning train. Be to our destination by 9 or 10 am and spend the day enjoying the city and region. We focused on the best museums we could go to for free, and local markets to keep things affordable. We would grab food from the local market to eat for dinner on the train home. At the end of the day, we would top it all off with a hot drink and conversation with our friends each evening.

We were able to take day trips to Basel, Bern, Lucerne, Lausanne, Zurich, St. Gallen, Rheinfall, Appenzell, and still have plenty of time to hang out sledding and hiking with our friends. I love slow travel for this reason! The pace is gentle and there is plenty of time to enjoy the out of the way places.

homeschool captivating compass

Give us your top 3 bucket list destinations for future family travel.

I’m all about slow travel so I have a tendency to think in regions rather than single destinations.

We would love to head to Germany and then into eastern Europe & down through Slovenia & Croatia. We would also really like to explore Scandinavia and the major cities on the Baltic Sea. Finally, I’d love to spend some time in sunny Portugal or Spain, since I’m cold all the time in Scotland.

What is your number one piece of advice for travel with kids based on your experience?

Stay Captivated! Don’t rush (except in order to not miss your train!). Slow down the pace of travel and really enjoy a location. Staying long enough to get a feel for the culture, the food and people beyond the tourist zone makes the most memorable and affordable travel.

Keeping up with schoolwork is so much easier when travel itineraries coordinate well with the kid’s current academic studies. The facts, figures, and details stick in their brains when they lean on location using the world as their textbook. Digital coursework & online classes make travel and learning easy to accomplish. But even if you can’t homeschool, staying captivated and engaged with the world around you is totally doable.

Bio: Captivating Compass

Read more family travels by Shannan from Captivating Compass where she blogs about learning on location using the world as your textbook.

captivating compass logo

Thanks to Shannan for taking part in our #RealMomsWhoTravel series. I love hearing how families manage to combine travel and educating their children, and this sounds like an ideal solution if you ask me! Please grab the badge at the bottom of the post to display on your blog if you want to.

Please follow Shannan from Captivating Compass …

Shannon has a ton of useful and practical information on her family travel blog, not just about the many destinations they have visited, but tips and advice on all aspects of family travel.


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