This interview is the fifth installment of our Child and Teen Travel interview series. Launched with an in-depth interview with Hannah Miller of EdventureGirl.com and The Edventure Project, this series strives to provide a look at what long-term travel is like for children and teens through the eyes of the experts…. the kids themselves!
Ever wonder what it would be like to drive all the way from Alaska to Argentina? Kyah, age 10, is in the process of doing just that! She is the oldest child of the 7 member Denning family, a nomadic family driving from Alaska to Argentina in a truck fueled by vegetable oil. As they go, Kyah and her family strive not just to enjoy the scenery, but also to help those they meet in meaningful ways. They have worked on several projects including a solar heated hot water project and another project to build a composting toilet for a rural family in Guatemala. When the Dennings are not exploring the beaches of Central America or volunteering their time with locals, they run the website DiscoverShareInspire.com. Be sure to check out their site for updated information on what Kyah and her family are up to!
You have been to some amazing places with your family! What is it like to travel full-time with your four siblings?
It’s really fun and sometimes boring and sometimes really exciting. Something that I really like is that we’re always seeing something-like the pyramids and ruins, slot canyons, beaches and mountains and museums. We’re not in the truck for too long. So like, we only drive for a long, long time when we’re trying to get somewhere. When we’re in the truck, we color, make up games, write, talk, listen to music and dance (because we’re not always wearing seat belts.
Where do you all sleep when you are traveling?
We have a camper that my dad built and up above the cab there is a place where we can sleep. My parents sleep in the roof top tent with my baby brother.
Your family is in the process of driving from Alaska to Argentina. If you could choose, where would you choose to go after you complete your journey to Argentina?
Back to India! But it would be kind of cool to do it on a boat, wouldn’t it? (To Mom: Yeah, let’s do that! After the trip, lets get a boat and go to India. What do you say?)
I heard that you really liked India. What did you like about it?
I liked everything about India — like how they dress; and how cheap everything is; and that you can put flowers in your hair; and that you don’t have to wash utensils (you just wash your hand); and everything was spicy, just how I like it! I liked that I had the same color of skin as the Indian people (but they did not have the same hair as me) But in Belize they had the same color of skin and my hair. I liked that too.
You attended school in India too, right? What was that like?
The first day, it was very hard to understand what they were saying, because their English had an accent. But after a little bit, I understood them and I really liked to be there and I liked just knowing that I was in a school. I liked it. But my friends from the United States said that that school is nothing like school in the U.S.
Do you like attending school or homeschooling better?
Homeschool. Because that homework was terrible! All they would make you do is write. Now that I’m in homeschool, I can do what I want, learn what I want, because they don’t know what I want to learn, they’re just teaching all the kids the same stuff. I can tell my mom what I want to learn about and we can learn about it.
What does homeschooling look like for your family?
I wake up, grab my book and read. Then I help clean up, we eat breakfast and do our family devotional. Then we do chores, then we do our studies — reading, writing and spelling (sometimes we will do a spelling bee). We learn about history and sometimes art, and one of my favorites – math. Then I cook, because I love cooking. It sort of counts as reading too because you’re reading recipes.
On some days, we go on field trips with other homeschooling families. One day, we went to go and get a pig for a humanitarian project we’re doing with some other families. For our project we wanted a sow that was pregnant. But we found a female pig that was in heat. When a female pig is in heat, she gets swollen up. We took her up to a farm in Solola (Guatemala) and tried to get her pregnant with a boar. One of them was too ginormous, the second one was too afraid, so we did not get her pregnant. So we bought a piglet, then we took them both up to the project. That day was really different, to go up and see these disgusting pig animals, but it also makes it very cool because that ‘school’ trip is something that other kids don’t get to do!
What have you learned about your family while traveling with them?
I’ve learned that my dad is very hyper, exciting and fun. He’s just like a kid, except in a grown-up costume. My brother Parker likes to draw and sing. My other brother Kimball likes to build things and to listen to stories. My sister Aaliyah likes to play house, give make-overs and dance and listen to stories. My baby brother Atlas really likes to eat and to play ball, and to talk! My mom likes it when people comb her hair and when somebody needs help, she’s always there to help- especially Atlas.
Your family focuses on helping people as you travel. Can you tell us about some ways your family has helped others? What does it feel like to help people?
One of the projects that we have done is help a family in Guatemala grow food and raise animals so that they have food to eat and can earn more money by selling the food that they grow and meat from the animals. While you’re helping the person you feel so happy and you know that you’re helping somebody else.
Have you made friends while on the road? Is it hard to leave your friends when you have to move on to the next place?
Yes I have. I have made lots and lots of friends. Sometimes it is hard to leave, but the other thing is that I always know I will make more friends!
What is the best food you have tried on the road?
Ahh, that’s hard… Uh, this is so hard… One of them is pupusas, a food from El Salvador.
What is the oddest food you have tried while on the road?
Oh, grasshoppers! Fried grasshoppers! But one of the most delicious things. I ate those in Cholula, Mexico.
Do you know what you want to be when you “grow up”?
A traveler. I want to travel just like my parents.
What is the one thing you absolutely cannot travel without?
Uhhh, I don’t know… I don’t know what you absolutely need. You can travel with a pair of underwear and that’s it. But if you didn’t have underwear, you could still travel. You just need money, because you can buy everything you need, anywhere you go.
What happens when you get sick on the road?
I go to my mom and ask for doTERRA oils… that’s what I do. And I sleep while I’m sick.
Is there anything else you would like everyone reading this to know?
That they can send me more questions!!
There you have it! All you need to travel is underwear. We completely agree, Kyah. What are you waiting for?!