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Pop-Up Prep

Updated: Feb 23

We’re so excited to create these opportunities for worldschooling families and want your kids (and you!) to have the best possible experience. Here are some suggestions to help your pop-up go smoothly!

Pre-Pop-Up Planning

Join the WhatsApp Communication Groups: Do this as soon as possible, WhatsApp links are typically emailed 2-3 weeks prior to the event. You can mute the conversations until the pop-up starts, but it’s really nice to have everyone participate in the groups ahead of time (even if you’re just there to read the intros). Participants who join late will not see messages previously posted and it saves us time forwarding pertinent information from the admin. Thanks!

Clothing & Footwear: It’s helpful to dress in colorful clothing. It is easier to track kids at the park and adults while we walk from place to place. Also bring comfortable shoes…we’ll be walking and exploring so please make sure you and your kids have appropriate footwear.

Meet & Greet: Do your best to attend the first activity of the week, this is where everyone makes their initial connections with others. Past participants have reported that if they’ve missed the meet-and-greet, they think they would have enjoyed the week even more if they had met everyone on the first day. Of course, it’s not the end of the world if you can’t attend. Worldschoolers are a very welcoming group, we understand travel plans don’t always line up… regardless, it’s just nice to all go through those first moments together.

Pre-Reserve Entrance Tickets as Necessary: Double check if there are any attractions you want to pre-book. Those with booking requirements are highlighted in the itinerary.

Downloaded Map: Download a Google map of the entire area. If you ever run out of data on your SIM card or have a poor connection to the cellular tower, this is invaluable. Driving directions, local info such as grocery stores and petrol stations, and the ability to follow a location pin are still accessible offline. Not all the map features work (walking directions, public transport directions, restaurant reviews to name a few) but the live map with your location is super helpful.

Download Other Relevant Apps: Depending on your pop-up destination, it may be necessary to use other apps for money exchange, ride shares, public transport routes, or translation. These may include Venmo, PayPal, Uber, Grab, Blablacar, Rome2Rio, Google Translate, Wolt, etc. Wolt offers delivery services and their hours for local businesses are much more accurate than Google Maps when you're looking for a restaurant or grocery store that currently is open.

Familiarize Yourself with Pictures and Names: Browse the Family Directory and the picture introductions in the WhatsApp group. This way you’re familiar with a few faces (and even better, names!) before the first meet-and-greet.

Mobile Data: Though our participants typically have mobile data via a local SIM or eSIM (Airalo is a recommended company*), sometimes families only have access to WhatsApp via WiFi. Please let the group know if they need to watch for you due to no mobile data. *Referral code at end of article

Conserve Mobile Battery: Consider bringing a portable charger. When you’re in a new area, it’s typical to depend on map apps which drain the battery. Having a back-up power source is comforting, you’ll know you still have enough power to use your map to get back to your rental. Also, turn off your map whenever you’re not actively using it, consider using low-power mode on your phone, and beware if your phone starts using 'roaming data'... all help preserve battery life.

Pop-Up Know-How

Every pop-up will be different in numerous ways: Size of the group, personalities of the families, ages of the children, ease of transport, weather conditions, varying participation levels, interests of the kids, expense of eating out or stopping for a coffee…you name it! Here are some things to consider before and during your pop-up week:

Group Dynamics: Our events attract a wide range of traveling families and we vary enormously: how we educate our kids, how quickly we travel, what sort of work hours we keep, how outgoing or shy we are, etc. Sometimes groups quickly bond and everyone feels like long lost friends within the first day! Other times it takes a full week before we really get to know one another and feel more connected. It’s just the nature of these events and diversity of our worldschool community. However, the more effort you put into connecting and chatting and playing, the more you will get out of the pop-up. Step out of your comfort zone and talk to everyone!

Create a Socializing Plan: To help you and your kids adapt more seamlessly, practice introducing yourselves. Pick a few conversation topics you’re excited to talk about or interested to learn about. The more willing you are to share and connect, the easier it is for others to do so, too.

  • Travel Destinations: What are some of your favorite countries? Where’s your favorite beach / hike / museum / playground? Where did you like the food the best? Any place you wouldn’t return?

  • Travel Strategies: How do you incorporate your kids’ interests while traveling? What travel hacks have you learned? How long do you tend to stay in an area and why?

  • Lifestyle Information: How do you manage work hours with traveling? What sort of education is currently working for your kids? Do you have a home base? If so, what are the benefits… if not, what are the benefits and is there anything you miss?

  • Personal Information: How did it feel when you entered the worldschooling lifestyle? What criticisms have you needed to address? How do you support your family’s needs while traveling? How have those needs changed over time?

  • The Obscure: What’s something you learned while traveling that you never would have learned otherwise? What’s the weirdest thing you’ve eaten? What is something surprising you pack no matter where you’re going?

  • Kids’ Stuff: What kind of games do you like to play? Have you ever seen dinosaur bones? What was the craziest ice cream flavor you’ve tried? What can you draw? Can you stand on one foot? Can you stand on one foot while winking your eye? Can you stand on one foot while winking your eye and snapping your fingers? Etc.

  • Teens’ Stuff: Have you met other teens while traveling? If you could organize a trip with a group of teens, where would you take them and why? Where was your coolest selfie? What topic do you know a lot about and could teach me something new? Where have you traveled that you’d like to go back to as an adult?

*Pop-ups in Penang 2023 (PC Judy Thomas) and NYC 2022

Take Care of One Another: Be aware of anyone on the sidelines, this goes for kids and adults. It’s our responsibility to show our kids that they can watch for others who aren’t part of the group and how they can invite others to join them. If you already know a few families at the pop-up, it may feel really comfortable to hang with them because it’s familiar… but please remember what it was like at your first gathering. Take an active role in drawing others into the conversations and games. Also, if your family is on the shier side, do not feel afraid to say so. “Hi my name is Rachel and I’m naturally shy, can I join your conversation / game / table?” And more outgoing people??? It may be really hard for a shy person to introduce themselves. Try bringing them into the group before they need to ask.

Alterations Due to Circumstance: We do our best to have a seamless plan in place for every event we run. However, life happens. Occasionally things go awry: transport strikes, miserable weather, unexpected closures, or increased entrance fees (these have all happened during our events). The hosts and I do our best to find appropriate alternatives, sometimes within a matter of minutes. We ask for your patience and flexibility when adjustments need to happen. Thanks so much!

*Pop-Ups in Veracruz 2023 (PC Sarah De Santi) and Istanbul 2023

Group Decisions: Also, from time to time, the group makes a decision on the spot – if the kids are playing well and everyone is enjoying the park, it’s totally fine to skip the next activity on the itinerary. Our goals as hosts are to create the time and space for families to socialize, so sometimes the itinerary takes a back seat to this. Remember, families are free to break off from the main group to follow their own interests, so if there’s something really important to your family, you can include that and rejoin the group afterwards.

Flexible Schedule: Our signature “join what you like” itinerary is one of the design aspects that attendees like best. There’s no pressure to participate in every single event. While we have some awesome go-getter families who attend every activity on the schedule (ha! - I don’t even do that), others may only attend a handful due to their interests, energy levels, work/school schedules, travel dates at the pop-up location, jet lag and sleep schedules and meal times, etc.

Occasionally we have attendees who feel that they’re missing out on meeting people because another family cannot commit as fully to the pop-up. Again, that’s just the nature of our diverse lifestyles. If you’re feeling this way, please reach out to the families you want to get to know better and ask if they’d like to join you in the evening sometime. But don’t feel bad if they decline, sometimes our attendees have non-negotiable work schedules they need to accommodate.

*Pop-Ups in Veracruz 2023 (PC Sarah De Santi) and Osaka 2023 (PC Ken Nakahata)

Meals / Snacks / Other Food Questions: We know not every family has the same travel or meal budget. Therefore, we try to build in opportunities to bring a lunch from home, picnic, stop at a grocery store, or find inexpensive meals (food trucks, snack carts, low-cost cafes, food courts). Set mealtimes are rarely planned into the itinerary. We might have a morning activity followed by a “lunch break” for families to refuel. Typically, the itinerary will note what’s available in the area whether it’s an assortment of local cafes or a well-stocked grocer. Feel free to eat as your family needs to, it’s always fine to tell the group you’re going to take a break, grab a meal, and rejoin everyone afterward. Some other families may opt to join you, too! Also, each destination varies in whether they have reasonable prices for dining out. Please do whatever is appropriate for your family and budget... there will always be some families dining out as well as those who choose to picnic and cook at home. All's good!

Become Part of the Community: If you’re in the area early, you're likely not alone: pick a park and invite other early arrivals to join you. If your family is going to eat out, send a pin and ask others to join. If the teens want to split off for a coffee, check in with other parents to see if that’s okay with them. The more involved we are with each other facilitates that connectedness between us.

Ask the host if they need any assistance with moving the group from place to place, locating a public restroom, gathering the group for a group picture, etc. It's super helpful if a family volunteers to be the line leader or the last person in line to keep the rest of the group in front of them.

*Pop-Ups in Osaka 2023 (PC Sandra Cai), Veracruz 2023 (PC Sarah De Santi), & NYC 2022

Our Hosts Are Not Experts: Because we provide pop-ups all over the globe, it’s likely your host is not local and is just traveling through the area like you! We carefully research each location to look for pitfalls, but there is always chance of a surprise: the highly-rated museum is super tiny, the beach doesn’t have umbrella rentals, the botanical garden is closed for a private event, the walking route is a muddy path, there are no public toilets, etc. A local host may (or may not) have that info, but please cut your host some slack if there is a hiccup during the week. Overwhelmingly, our attendees come to these events to socialize with other like-minded people and sometimes that means socializing through a few unexpected moments.

Expect Some Waiting: There will be times during the week when waiting in line or waiting for a family to arrive is necessary. The good news is that lines don’t feel so long with friends. Kids tend to play and adults tend to chat and get to know one another. In the case that a family is late for an activity, it’s 50/50 whether the group will wait for them. If there is a timed entrance for an attraction or other obligation to accommodate, the host may start the next activity and set up a live location pin in the WhatsApp to help the stragglers reunite. Other times, it’s easy to just wait at a park or subway station for the latecomers and begin the activity together. Either way, the waiting doesn’t feel like waiting and everyone eventually finds each other.

*Pop-Ups in Osaka 2023 (PC Ken Nakahata), Porto 2023 (PC Rebecca Thompson), and Athens 2022

Walking in Groups: Sometimes we have a large group walking through the streets. It may be a bit simpler to break into smaller groups during the walk (this often happens naturally as you chat with the family next to yours). If you ever stray from the group, you can ask the host to set up a live location pin to get you back on track. Additionally, set up expectations with your children ahead of time.. kids frequently want to walk with friends. If you get separated for a moment, it's likely they're just with another portion of the group. However for younger kids, your family may need to make a rule to hold hands with a parent or keep each other within eyesight.

Find Places to Sit Down: Your step count will likely be through the roof this week! We’ll be walking and standing a lot over the course of the week and sometimes our feet take a beating. We highly recommend looking for benches and tables while you’re hanging at the park.. or spread a blanket on the ground to rest your feet whenever you can.

PS An essential oil foot rub in the evenings is heavenly!

*Pop-Ups in NYC 2022, Veracruz 2023 (PC Sarah De Santi), and Florence 2023

Guided Tour Etiquette / Solemn Places Etiquette: Many of our children do not have experience with listening to a teacher on a regular basis. That's totally cool and we certainly want kids to be kids. However, if the group takes a guided tour, please gently remind the children that they need to keep the noise level down so that the rest of the group can hear.

Also, please instruct your children on proper behavior when we visit religious, meditative, or places with grim historical pasts. We know the kids are having fun with their new friends, but there are definitely times we need to emphasize respectful behavior. This is the responsibility of the parents, not the host.

Send Your Host Some Positive Messages: This is just a reminder that your host has stepped into a leadership role because they know how essential it is for our families to have these social opportunities. This role, surprisingly, may be outside of their comfort zone.

Please send them some encouragement and gratitude during the week… we know you appreciate the time and effort it took to mobilize multiple worldschool families to the same location at the same time, but it’s really nice to hear it from you directly! Thank you, and we’re grateful to you, too!

We never know what sort of connections we will make in life, but worldschool connections are some of the most genuine and profound. We look forward to welcoming you into our mobile communities. Here are our Upcoming Events and some FAQs about our gatherings.

Have other tips and tricks to share? Please say so in the comments!

*Airalo is one company that offers embedded SIM technology (eSIM) for mobile data access. You do not receive a local phone number with their service like you would with local SIM card. However, you purchase data by the GB for a certain region and time period. This gives you access to app-based communication, internet browsing, and even hotspot capabilities.

Our family has successfully used their eSIMs in France, Japan, AsiaLink (18 countries), and Australia. There is a minimal learning curve to install each new eSIM you purchase, however once you know how, it's quite simple. There are other companies out there (some with cheaper options throughout Southeast Asia). For $3 off your first purchase you can use my referral code: RACHEL6363 (I also get $3, thanks!) and then use your own referral code for subsequent family members.

*Merida Pop-Up 2022 (PC Chong See Ming)


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