Teachers Emma Tryon, 36, and Peter, 37, decided to take their children – aged four and a year and a half – on an adventure around the world. They wanted to introduce them to other cultures and the natural world – breaking away from a traditional British class environment.
Both teachers, the couple “home-school” their children on the go – from yurts, hostels, treehouses and hotels – visiting 18 different countries with their families.
The family have been traveling since their eldest was seven weeks old and have been jet-setting ever since.
Children have learned to cook in Morocco, surf in Thailand, do charity work in Cambodia, swim in lakes in Kyrgyzstan, hike in Switzerland and learn ninja skills in Japan.
Emma, who taught design and technology in Sheffield, Yorkshire, said: “All we need is a pen and paper – the world is our classroom.
“We teach our boys the basics – like math and English – but traveling the world allows us to go beyond that.
“Our sons experience things they would never have had the chance to experience in the UK – if they had a traditional upbringing.”
The couple hiked with their eldest son in Japan to teach him about Japanese snow monkeys and they even stayed at an off-grid eco-home in Morocco to teach him about sustainability.
Adventurers Emma and Peter met while hiking in Cambodia in 2011.
Together they have traveled to over 50 countries, including Colombia, Japan and Indonesia.
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They got engaged in Thailand in October 2011 and married in Corbridge, Northumberland in August 2012.
The couple returned to the UK in 2016 to visit family, but Emma became pregnant and their short visit turned into a more permanent family.
They both worked several minimum wage jobs until Peter got a more permanent role teaching high school science.
The couple found they had quickly returned to a “normal Western lifestyle” – before realizing it wasn’t for them.
They continued to make long trips back with their eldest from the age of seven weeks. Seeing the learning opportunities of their shorter journeys inspired them to embark on their full-time adventures.
They only packed the essentials and donated everything else they didn’t need – before leaving for Thailand in August 2021.
Emma said: “We tried to settle down and live a meaningful life.
“We did what everyone strives for – a home, a marriage, kids – but it never felt right for our family.
“We love having the freedom to travel and experience new things.
“We didn’t want our family to be tied to one place.”
Domestic life did not suit the fearless couple, and the social expectations and norms of Western life did not match what the family wanted.
“My baby cried every time Peter went to work because she missed him so much. It was really sad, and we just didn’t want that for our family,” Emma said.
When their eldest son was old enough to start school, they realized the family would have to start spending even less time together.
The family decided to defy expectations and live their life the way they wanted.
They gave away their things and now they only have what they can carry on their backs – they only check one bag between them at airports.
“Possessions weigh you down,” Emma said.
“We travel light and teach the boys to value experiences over material possessions.”
During their travels, the family has visited 18 different countries – and they don’t plan on slowing down any time soon.
They take math lessons by visiting local markets and science lessons by hiking in the jungle – and teach the boys about plants and the natural world around them.
Although it may seem like the family is on a long vacation, she makes sure her days are structured with a routine and are full of education.
Emma said: ‘When we wake up in the morning we start the day with a bit of exercise and then we read with the boys. Then we have one-on-one time with them.
“With our eldest it might be math or English lessons, and with our youngest it might be playing together and singing songs.
“We may be on the beach while we teach and learn – or by a beautiful lake, in the mountains or in the middle of a forest – rather than stuck between four walls.
“In the afternoons, we organize educational activities, whether it’s visiting elephants and learning to roll a toilet with elephant poo, or teaching them how to swim in the ocean. “
Speaking about how they make their lifestyle work in practice, Emma said: “It’s a simple and surprisingly affordable lifestyle.
“Street food in Asia is really healthy and cheap, it’s the equivalent of £1 a meal and there’s no washing up at the end which is great for me.
“Life will always have its challenges. Running a household has so many logistical challenges and it just wasn’t me – I was terrible at it.
“I could see people around me doing domestic life so well and being so content, but I didn’t feel like it was going to be our path. It didn’t feel like what we were made for.
“We choose our own challenges by living the way we do, it works for us.”
In Thailand, the couple taught their boys about conservation by spending time at a Thai elephant sanctuary.
They learned about Thai culture through art classes with local artists. They also took Thai cooking classes with their sons and even learned how to make paper from elephant poo.
In Japan, their eldest son learned about the culture while staying at a Buddhist monastery on Mount Koyasan. He also discovered the Japanese snow monkeys by walking in the hills to find them.
In Morocco, boys learned to live sustainably by spending time in an off-grid eco-house.
Peter and Emma saved up by living in the UK, living humbly to fund their adventures.
They now work as digital nomads, running a website called thebackpackingfamily.com and they share their journey on their social media and Youtube channel The Backpacking Family.