Tom & Gillian McBain and Family

Meet Tom and Gillian McBain, Founders of World Schooler Exchange


The story so far…….


Having both lost a parent early on in our lives, we knew from first-hand experience how fragile life could be. However, we still followed the well-trodden path like everyone else – we had 2 cars, the big house, and the big mortgage to go with it. We both worked full time in different cities 45 miles apart. Inevitably we never saw each other or had any time available to do the things that we wanted to do.

When we were kids we watched our fathers working all available hours, never seeing their families, making plans for their retirement. We learned a valuable lesson from them – we had to live our lives in the present and not save the things we wanted to do for ‘sometime’ in the future. Sadly for both of our fathers, that ‘sometime’ never came.

World Schooler ExchangeWe decided we had had enough of working for other people and wanted to get rid of the long commutes so we had more free time. Early on we didn’t quite know how we were going to make this work, then once we had a family, of course, things became even more complicated. We did know we wanted to be around to pick our kids up at the school gate every day, be there for every swimming gala or cheering them on at their basketball matches. In a nutshell, we wanted to be there for our children whenever they needed us – so we had to find a way to get out of the employment rut we had got ourselves into.

Since we both had a background in travel and tourism and an interest in real estate – starting our own accommodation business in Scotland seemed like the logical next step. The city we were currently living in – Stirling is a University city. So firstly, we focused our business on student properties we could rent out, then we moved into luxury serviced apartments providing accommodation for transient workers and holiday makers.

Ten years later we had a thriving business that requires minimal input. By running our lives this way we could choose when we wanted to work, fitting it around our kid’s needs and our interests. Once this business was established we then realised the desire for travel we had when life was less complicated was still there. The next challenge was to figure out how we could continue to explore the world with a growing business in the UK and young family. Through trial and error, we now have a solution that works for us. We still use Scotland as a base, however, we can now manage our business remotely and leave our home for periods of between 2-6 months every year to travel overseas.

Tom & Gillian McBainOur ongoing search for suitable overseas family accommodation inspired me to build a platform for others in the same situation to pull together our knowledge and resources. World Schooler Exchange was born to make World Schooling easier for everyone. I wanted to create a website that would provide solutions to the questions I needed answering when I began travelling longer term with my family. This would include information on swapping houses, renting homes directly from other travelling families, learning about ‘schools‘ which would take children on a short-term basis, swapping knowledge of travel summits and retreats and learning hands on through travel in a meaningful way.


You can read the full account on why we started World Schooler Exchange here – The WSE Story

This is our story. Are you ready to start yours?

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