A while ago Matthew Morrison reached out to us as he and his family were doing an extraordinary thing, they were traveling around Europe during the COVID pandemic. Naturally, we wanted to hear their story.

We will be posting a multi-part series of their adventures, we hope their stories give everyone some happy vibes during this time of global aviation meltdown.

Planning the trip

As we planned our trip, we researched as many contingencies as possible, mostly from my military background. Wherever we travel, we have a contingency plan. We know where the authorities are and how to contact them. We have the US embassy info. We have registered with the US embassy STEP plan.

We know where doctors and pharmacies are and try to prepare ourselves as much as possible with the local environment. Fortunately, we never have to use these resources, but we have them if we need them.

There is honestly a hint of anxiety and nervousness when we travel to a new country for us as parents.

Traveling is the most challenging part. How we are getting somewhere, customs, and the possibility of getting covid are on our minds somewhat. However, I guess that is our job to worry, think about the worst-case scenario, and plan for the contingencies – all the while to keep the experience lighthearted and fun for the kids.

Fortunately, we have been prepared for everywhere we have traveled, and things have gone smoothly thus far. Once we have arrived at every destination, our apartment hosts, the local people, and our experiences have been overwhelmingly positive and welcoming! As for living in a new country during a pandemic, it’s actually been quite pleasant.

Croatia was covid aware, but people were living their lives as normal as possible. That was a pleasant change for us. No anger or shaming or politics involved. People complied with the rules and restrictions and went on with their day. If you were outside and without a mask, no one yelled at you or criticized you. They respected your choice and decision and minded their own business.

Our Story so far

We have been traveling and world schooling our kids for 6 weeks now, and it has been a work in progress, but we have gotten into a good routine. Our typical day starts with waking up while our friends and family back home are retiring to bed. Brooke and I enjoy an espresso, then breakfast for the kids.

And then world schooling begins. It took a while for our kids to get into a routine on the road and understand that school was still the priority. We typically plan for a full morning of school, lunch, and an hour or two more of study. Then we let loose and explore the town we are in, go to the beach, explore a museum, or just get an early dinner in town.

We plan ahead for our travel days and try to get the kids to work ahead of their timeline as much as possible; that way, if there is a day when school can’t be done, like when we are traveling on the ferry, they are already ahead and don’t miss any work.

The time difference does make it challenging at times, but we make it work. We have had some Zoom meetings with teachers while the kids were eating dinner, and Brooke and I may have been drinking vino in the background, haha, but it gets the job done.

This has been the longest that our family has been away from the US and home.

Brooke and I savor and appreciate the experience and opportunity immensely. We have two kids who are mostly teens (13&11) who appreciate the daily experience, adventure, and fun but miss their daily lives back home and friends. Brooke and I understand that and empathize with them. However, we are extremely proud of our kids; they are very open-minded, understand and appreciate different cultures and customs without judgment, are apt to try new foods, and have been extraordinarily resilient in our travel fluidity. Whether they realize it or not, world schooling during the pandemic has been a success so far.

Both kids have learned about the Roman Empire, Middle Ages, and currently, we are experiencing the Renaissance era from its birthplace in Florence, Italy. We have walked ancient streets and palaces in Croatia, visited the War Museum in Dubrovnik, stood in the Roman Colosseum, walked the Roman Forum, been blessed by Pope Francis on a rainy Sunday in Vatican City, have seen the works of Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel, his statue of David, stood in front of Rembrandt’s and Leonardo Da Vinci’s, and walked in awe through 13th-century basilicas.

Parker can explain Yugoslavia’s fall, the history and hardships of Croatia since 1991, and describe the monuments of the Roman Forum in detail. My sweet McKenzie can speak a few phrases in Croatian and now Italiano!

Of course, there must be some message we are trying to deliver?! Brooke and I relish our journey every day and are thankful for what our family is able to experience.

Our adventure and timing are not right for everyone, but right now, it is right for us. We have learned that in life, you can’t live under the heavy blanket of those trying to influence you, but that you must live your life under the influence of your own choices. The pandemic has been bittersweet – economic hardship, loss of jobs, sickness, lack of schooling, emotional stress, etc. In some weird way, we have been able to take advantage of all the negative and turn it into a positive for our family.

I don’t know what is waiting for us back home, with my job uncertainty, our kids’ schooling, or the economic forecast, but in the meantime, we are enjoying living our lives abroad, world schooling our kids, and taking advantage of the positivity the world has to offer!

About us

Matthew – 45 years old. Born in Honolulu, Hawaii. My father was in the Air Force, so we moved around quite a bit when growing up. We lived mostly around the US, but we also lived for 3 years in Australia. I was used to traveling from an early age and have continued to enjoy traveling throughout my life. I went to college in Arizona, where I met Brooke one summer. Post-college, I entered the Air Force and went to flight school. I was a fighter pilot in the Air Force and flew F-16’s for 20 years. I served during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars in the early 2000s. In the last 10 years in the military, I was in the reserves where I worked part-time as an F-16 instructor pilot. I retired from the military reserves in 2018. While in the military reserves, I got hired on to a major U.S. airline in 2007. I’ve been with the airline for 13 years and am currently a Captain. Our industry has been crushed by the pandemic, and many of my peers at other airlines are being furloughed and without jobs. I have enjoyed traveling my whole life since I was a child and throughout my military and commercial pilot career. I am very grateful for this opportunity in such unprecedented times!

Brooke – 40 years old. Grew up in Prescott, Arizona. She took many trips as a child and has always loved to travel as well. She went to college in Arizona, and post-college worked as an event planner until our son was born. Today, she enjoys volunteering at school and raising our two kids as a full-time mother. We have traveled together around the US, Korea, Thailand, New Zealand, France, and Costa Rica. We take frequent trips back to Hawaii to visit my family. Brooke loves adventure and experiencing new places also. Brooke is an avid kayaker and skier.

Parker – 13 years old. Born in Phoenix. Loves the outdoors, biking, camping, theatre, and playing video games with friends. He has recently developed a growing interest in history.

McKenzie – 11 years old. Born in Phoenix. Loves dance, theatre, gymnastics, and acting. Also looks forward to outdoor activities such as camping and kayaking. A complete lover of dogs, cats, and all animals!