My name is Tanya Lea Parker, my daughter is Quan Yin Lucía. She was born in early June of 2012. My mother gave birth to me in early September of 1975.
My parents are from Mobile and grew up in the surrounding areas of Alabama and Mississippi. We are descended from a blend of immigrants who arrived mostly from the United Kingdom in the 1800s and settled in the southern United States, mixing with the Cherokee, Creek and Choctaw tribes. My folks left the south in their early twenties to work for General Electric, and my father’s ensuing career as an electrical loads specialist in the burgeoning steel industry of the 70s and 80s led to a childhood overseas in South Africa, Australia, the Netherlands and Taiwan.
I was born in Virginia, halfway through their first overseas assignment. My mother returned to the USA to give birth to me, and then at six weeks I took my first flight. My whole life since then has been in movement around the planet.
Where abouts in the world are you right now?
We are soaking in the sun and turquoise waters of Riviera Maya, Mexico. We left Colombia in November to visit family for the holidays, and came here on a whim in early January.
What do you love about this place?
What is unique about this placement that we haven’t had access to before is a community of other worldschooling families. The discovery of this group of people is what led me to get a place and stay here for a while. There are families who live here full time, some who come back every year and others who are passing through. We all have in common that we have detached from our home countries and come out into the world with our children.
Anything you don’t like?!
I have zero complaints about this area. Nothing negative that is happening here can be isolated to this part of the world. It shares the challenges that all of the world’s tourist zones have in common: pollution, developing infrastructure and economic foundations with disregard for the local residents in favor of growth that builds tourism, environmental irresponsibility, etc. We live here and everywhere as observers and participants who bear the responsibility of leaving a minimal footprint and contributing as we can to the local community. I hear and witness much criticism, mostly by retirees and other expats. It is my experience that on the whole, the new school of digital nomads and worldschooling families tend to have a higher regard for the communities we move through.
What are the three most challenging aspects that stand out?
For my daughter and I, the challenges are in what we give up in order to live this way.
The experience of growing up with animals
Growing a garden
Having a home to decorate and equip with creature comforts
I can do all of these short term in the places we stay, however there is a deep embrace that comes from a home that you return to over and over, where the plants come up every year, where you can learn and grow with the cycles of nature and have animals close by to love and learn from.
My daughter and I are on this journey partially because we love being out in the world and choose this over institutionalized education, but also because our resources at this time don’t cover the costs of living in the US! As a single mother without support from my child’s father, choosing to educate my child at home (and therefore needing to work from home), my choice has been to use the income I have generated to live in a different economy, learn other languages, connect with other cultures and be free. At some point as my resources grow, I would love to have both, especially if we can create that base in community with other worldschoolers who would like a nest to land in occasionally. But until then this is our life and we love it.
How’s the food!
There are so many options because Playa is such an international smorgasbord of peoples. It is one of the most cosmopolitan populations on the planet right now. When we first get to a place we taste everything and have a fling with the local food culture, but then we always settle into a homey routine that combines our favorites from the local flavors and ingredients with a way of eating that keeps us healthy. I love to shop at farmers’ markets, and eat the local fruits. I try to avoid the standard grocery stores here and everywhere around the world as they are mostly toxic dumping grounds, I get a few basics from them. The ones here have a decent health food section, and there are also at least two stores I’ve found in Playa that offer a range of organics, superfoods, supplements, and natural versions of what we like to eat.
Any funny, interesting or daunting experiences along the way?
We started traveling together in 2014 and the words funny, interesting and daunting kind of sum up what life has been like. I stayed still with Quan Yin the first two years of her life for many reasons: she is my side of the family’s only grandchild, and I wanted her to feel the strong foundations of family in her life before moving out into the world. I also had specific issues that kept us close to home, like needing donor breastmilk for a large part of our early breastfeeding journey and relying on a local network of moms that supplied it to us. Once we arrived at her second birthday, we started to release our attachments to the place she was born. I had spent my pregnancy with her in transit from Hawaii to the states to Australia, where I planned to give birth, and ended up in the last hour coming to my sister’s home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where I birthed Quan Yin in her living room. The first travel we did together was around the US on a tour for the Zulu Birth Project that I developed with my colleague Zinzile Seepie from South Africa. The next year we went overseas for the first time together for the Human Rights in Childbirth Summit in Johannesburg that we created with Hermine Hayes-Klein, international advocate for the rights of mothers and midwives. The following year we spent six months in Western and Eastern Europe. I took Quan Yin to the places I lived as a child and in my twenties, and was able to introduce her to lifelong friends and meet their children for the first time. In 2017 we spent half the year in the mountains outside of Medellin, Colombia, where we loved our little cabin so much that I kept it and continue to pay for it until we can get back again. I would love to rent it out to other families who are trying out worldschooling, it is in a beautiful community and safe area full of flower growers, artisans and mountain folk, yet really close to Medellin and all its resources. There are plenty of arts classes to get kids involved in so they can learn Spanish and meet other families.
In between our trips we have spent time with family and rested, growing our resources and energetic reserves for the next adventure. We will leave here this summer after Quan Yin’s sixth birthday and see what happens next!
Can you give us 3 tips for making it work?
Understand the international laws that govern where you can be and for how long.
Do the work to uncover and upgrade your personal belief system about what is possible.
Get your passports ready and connect with other families who are already on the road!
Do you have any financial tips for travelling?
Remote work is at a peak. If you are disciplined and have some reserves to back you up, go ahead and work for yourself. If you don’t have savings and want a stable income to rely on, reach into the world of location independent vocations and see what works for you. It can be the very staid world of online English teaching, or the more cutting edge worlds of nomadic tech support, it can be investing, affiliate marketing, cooperative economics, tour guides, life coaching and mentoring, ad infinitum. There is so much out there once you start excavating your own strengths and asking your being: ‘if I let you out of this cage, what will you do?’.
What do you miss, if anything?
Can’t miss what we’ve never had! I want a home, I want land, I want permanence, but maybe that’s not what this earthly life is about for us at this time.
What advice would you give to other Mamas planning on travelling with their tribe?
Learn the secrets of cheap flying, get travel insurance (Global Allianz is really low cost and covers everything from flight cancellation to hospital visits to emergency repatriation), and always travel with a set of basic home remedies that help you with the unexpected health curves that come up when you travel. I travel everywhere with L-ascorbate vitamin c powder (for infections, viruses, etc.), vitamin d3 for enhanced immune support, probiotics, essential oils, and always always the Pegasus HOmeopathics bluebox, an all-in-one kit that covers over 100 common ailments and keeps us out of doctor’s offices and pharmacies.
Where can we find you?!
I am at lovetanyaparker.onuniverse.com, a simple portal for people to reach me regarding all that I do. If you would like inspiration and instructions on how to get yourself and your family out into the world, you can reach me there. Otherwise stay connected with us at
To book a stay at or place in Medellin you can find details here
Hope to see many of you out here!