With parents working overtime and kids staying holed up in their rooms working on homework, it can be tough for families these days to feel truly connected. That’s why the Jackson family decided to cast their old lives aside for a while as they travel with their kids on a journey around the world.
UK-based couple Chris and Donna Jackson came up with the idea last spring.
“We weren’t seeing a lot of each other as a family,” 35-year-old Chris told Lincolnshire Live. “We wanted to do more things together and do it before the kids got too old.”
So Chris quit his job as a paramedic with the London Ambulance Service so he could spend more time with his wife and young daughters, 8-year-old Ellie and 6-year-old Miley.
Donna had just completed her training as a pediatric nurse, so it seemed like a good time to take a break from the usual routine and take the family on a six-month adventure.
In July last year, they headed off to the first of the five countries on their itinerary: the USA.
This meant taking their kids out of school for a time too, but the Jacksons believe it was well worth it.
“They are still young enough where it won’t affect them as much leaving mainstream school,” Chris explained. “The kids would be studying about animals and nature in their books at school, but this way they get to see them up-close and stand next to them so they can actually be in the book.”
So far, that mindset has been paying off with the kids learning science from seeing natural phenomena face-to-face.
“How much can you learn about volcanoes in a classroom, compared to when you can see one right in front of you?” Chris told the Mirror.
“Then in Costa Rica we got to see a number of different animals and the children got to ask about what they were and why they make the sounds they do—it was great,” Chris told Lincolnshire Live.
— JellyBeanTV (@JellyBeanTVUK) October 31, 2017
Of course, the family realizes that there are certain subjects that nature can’t teach, so they’ve planned accordingly.
“Education is important so we are making sure they are still learning Maths and English,” Chris assured.
Chris and Donna are smart people but they have no real teaching background. Fortunately, they know somebody who can help them out, should they need it.
“If we do need help our daughter’s head teacher has said she is more than willing to help and is only a message away, which is fantastic,” said Chris.
Chris started a family YouTube channel called JellyBeanTV in September 2016, and by the time they were ready to set off on their travels almost a year later, they had amassed over 6,000 subscribers, who tune in to watch the family’s vlogs about their daily lives and fun challenges—and now travel adventures too.
This meant the family could fund part of their travels by exchanging hotel stays for exposure on their social media channels and website JellyBeanTV World, where they post updates on all of their latest exploits.
But the family still has to travel on a shoestring, and sold all their possessions before heading off, leaving each family member with just one suitcase of possessions.
Chris has managed to turn family and travel vlogging into a full-time profession to support their adventures.
Had an awesome day at Zion National Park doing the riverside walk and wading through The Narrows. Absolutely beautiful place. Had no service all day so couldn't post any pictures ❤️❤️ . . . . #travel #travelvlogger #traveltheworld #utah #instadaily #igers #photooftheday #picoftheday #iphoneonly #sun #summer #family #familytravel #familyvlogger #travelwithkids #travelfamily #bestoftheday #adventure #adventurethatislife #love #cute #beautiful #igdaily #instagood #sisters #beautiful
JellyBeanTV now has 28,000 followers on Twitter, nearly 12,000 subscribers on YouTube, 50,000 likes on Facebook, and 106,000 followers on Instagram: a huge network of fans support them on all their adventures.
So far, the family has visited Canada, the USA, Costa Rica, Aruba, and the Bahamas. They plans to go to Asia next for after a brief stop back in the UK.
They’ve swum with dolphins, gone on safaris, visited planetariums, and explored national parks. What they’ll do next, nobody knows, but it’s guaranteed to be a lot of fun.
“People always keep saying to me that they really want to travel, it sounds amazing, but I’m scared,” Chris told the Mirror.
“I’d say don’t wait—there is no good time to do it, there’s no right moment in life, the only person to affect change is you.”