A couple sold their home, pulled their kids out of school and went on a European road trip - in search of a “more valuable” education.
Carl and Ruth Jackson struggled through the Covid lockdowns and vowed to make the most of their freedom when it came.
The parents, both 43, then took their three children out of class and put their £535k home in Swindon, Wiltshire, on the market.
It sold quickly and they used the cash to buy a £60k campervan - which they used to travel across Europe.
Carl and Ruth, who run a signage business, say they have no regrets - and believe kids Maisie, 11, Pippa,10, and Marley, five, learnt more on the road than at school.
The family visited 28 different countries in total, from November last year to August this year.
Carl said: “We had talked about going travelling since we’ve been together.
“But it’s one of those things you think you’ll do it, but it never happens.
“I was the stumbling block, but one day Ruth just said, ‘Let’s go’. And then I just thought, ‘Why not?’. So off we went.”
The couple decided on the plan in July 2022 and managed to sell their house in the same month.
They then bought a six-berth motorhome for £60,000 - complete with a tow car which goes behind it.
Carl said: “When we started, we made no bookings at all. We only knew that we wanted to take the kids to Lapland.”
After a dry run to Aberdeen, the family set off for Calais in November 2022 and drove through France, stopping off in Dunkirk and seeing war memorials and museums in Ypres.
They then drove towards Scandinavia. Later, they stopped in Lapland in time for Christmas, before spending New Year in Helsinki.
They also explored eastern Europe, flew across to Perth, Australia and Bali before travelling to Greece and Italy.
They had no concrete plan throughout their trip and barely booked a thing. Instead, they say they would just “wake up and drive”.
Carl said: “We followed our nose.
“We had a dream to show our kids more of the world and demonstrate the real world is out there after Covid.”
The Jacksons say they have no regrets about taking their kids out of school to go and see the world.
Carl said: “We want them to be more open-minded.
“Sometimes the media and news can be all dull and negative, we wanted to demonstrate to them that you can go out there and have great experiences.
“You also don’t need a shedload of money.”
The pair homeschooled their kids while on the trip and were supported by their children’s school, who provided them with online resources.
Carl said: “We arranged a meeting with the headteacher of our kids’ school and were waiting to be told off.
“He was surprisingly absolutely supportive, he even said he had done something similar.
“We have a rather more relaxed regime than their school.
“It wasn’t an eight-to-three situation and is three to four days a week at most, but the kids do make use of their downtime.
“We genuinely believe they are got a more valuable education from all these new cultural experiences.”
For Maisie, Pippa, and Marley the trip was a dream - crowned by Marley getting his Top Gun t-shirt signed by Tom Cruise himself while the family were staying in Rome.
Carl said: “The kids have loved every minute of it.
“They have loved meeting different people and trying all sorts of different foods.
“They have seen diversity in all forms, including the weather.”
The family got back to England in August 2023, just in time for Maisie to start secondary school.
Carl said: “We fully appreciate we are very fortunate to have done this but would tell anyone who is able – definitely do it!”
Their mega-adventure has seen them go to France, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Czechia, Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey, India, Australia, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Spain, and Portugal.
The final stop-off was in France.
Carl said: “It’s good to be back and get back into work.
“I have found a new drive to get on again, it’s been really nice to come back and see everyone.”