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Pop-Up Recap: London 2022

When we first scheduled our London event, we seriously wondered if anyone would come. Who exactly goes to London… in November?


Apparently, LOTS of people! We had 26 families (including 5 returning families) join us with a total of 116 participants. Our guests hailed from Poland, England, Austria, Australia, Portugal, Mexico, Argentina, the Cayman Islands, and all across the US.

*We never got a full group photo, but here is a portion of us on the Thames River Cruise


These are our largest numbers to date, and I give our London crew a huge pat on the back for navigating the ins and outs of group this size... including a day when The Tube was closed due to transport strikes (more on that below).


Every pop-up has its own unique feel and I’d say that London falls into the “I want to do it all” category. Though we encourage families to take breaks when needed, the London crew really went all out with trekking around the city, finding the playgrounds, weaving in some historical and cultural experiences, and being open to exploring wherever the group was headed. London provided the framework and we all wholeheartedly said, “Yes!”

*Shots from Battersea Park, Albert Bridge, Mudchute Farm, Tower of London, & Jubilee Gardens


Our pop-up started with Bonfire Night celebrations including fireworks at Battersea Park… and from there the adventure continued: Mudchute Farm, Tower of London, the Sky Garden, loads of museums, the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, a Thames River cruise, gardens, cathedrals, the London Eye, a handful of markets… plus time to hang out at playgrounds and cafes!


There was no room for a dull moment, and by the end of the week we were all happily exhausted!

*Shots from Battersea Park, National Maritime Museum, Jubilee Gardens, London Eye, Buckingham Palace, & Tower of London


To keep things interesting, we even had a day of transport strikes which shut down the underground. Nearly everyone relies on public transport in London so these closures can create major travel delays. Fortunately, we had prior notice and our group helped each other figure out the buses, boats, and overground rail services so we could carry on with our activities. However, some families ran into additional snags and others immediately brainstormed and offered suggestions to help them find their way through, or provided condolences for those who just couldn't make connections.


For seasoned travelers, we know what it’s like to bump into difficulties like these… but for the families newer to worldschooling, it was advantageous to have the group to lean on while we navigated these issues together.

*Pics from the Science Museum, Hamley's Toys, and an overground rail.


We're often asked how it is possible to coordinate a group this large. Part of it is having a thoughtful schedule where there is room to gather as well as space to run and play. However, because London weather can be unpredictable, we carefully selected both indoor and outdoor options each day. This worked out exceptionally well as some museums had areas where the kids could create, draw, use computer simulated instruction, and run off some steam (duck-duck-goose in the Tate Modern, anyone?).

*National Army Museum, National Maritime Museum, Tower of London, & Tate Modern's Draw Room


We made a few minor itinerary adjustments due to rain, but overall, the weather cooperated with non-rainy days and good visibility, we even had some sunshine and blue skies!


A second part of large group management is we certainly don’t mind if a few families stray off on their own… our London families took advantage of the theater districts and attended performances including Mamma Mia, The Lion the Witch & the Wardrobe, and Harry Potter & the Cursed Child! It’s super fun to have these experiences together and the communication groups help families to connect ahead of time to organize these add-on options.

*Views of blue skies from the Thames, Sky Garden, Chinatown, & Princess Diana Memorial Playground


We also set up communication groups for families with younger children and those with older children to help create connections… however there are no set rules on this. Kids often connect across age groups and certain families are drawn to others for many different reasons, so age isn’t necessarily a determining factor. However, it’s a nice place to start making connections especially if younger kids are looking for a playground while older kids are looking for a coffeeshop.

*Thames River Boat Cruise


London had lots of highlights – fireworks, watching all the kids create art at the Tate Modern and Maritime Museums, enjoying an informative Thames River Cruise, kicking through the streets of Camden Town, sipping mulled wine to take off the chill in the evenings, playing in the playgrounds and toy stores, or for this mom, overhearing kids say how much they enjoy visiting museums when they can do it with their friends.

*Thames at full moon, Camden Town, Regent Street, London Eye, Covent Garden, & Tower of London


But there is something else that really sticks out to me as a highlight – it’s how quickly we can create community among strangers. When people living unconventional lifestyles gather, it’s so easy to strike up relevant conversations and even deeply discuss setbacks and struggles within knowing each other for a few hours. But what was really apparent in London was the handful of times when someone in our group needed help or advice.


We had two random medical incidents (head-meets-lamppost but didn't need stitches & a surprise squirrel bite) and a lost tween (who was waiting patiently at the meeting point). When these situations arise within our ‘normal’ surroundings we know who we can turn to for help, but when we’re traveling we often expect to figure things out on our own. However, as soon as someone posted a request for help, the pop-up families were fast to respond with advice, assistance, recommendations, google map pins, and kind words. It’s really amazing at how quickly we connect and allow ourselves to be supported when we’re willing.

*Shared meals, experiences, & shenanigans


These families didn’t need to reach out to the group, sometimes it's hard to ask for help. However, I'm so pleased that they felt comfortable asking for help and the group responded. I was super impressed with our pop-up’s kindness and care, it really felt like our community was an established, well-oiled machine and not just a gathering of strangers.


And not only that, but I know some of us have already reunited with each other as our travels continue. That’s my favorite part of any pop-up… connecting with families we know we’ll cross paths with again (and again). We all enrich each other's travels!


Wishing everyone well in their onward journeys and we can't wait to see where we meet next!

*Sky Garden, Tower of London, Parliament, Chinatown, Tower Bridge, & the British Museum


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