As we have shared plans for our upcoming 6.5 month journey, many people have asked about both the inspiration behind it and about our planning process.
Why? Tim and I have always loved to travel, both solo and as a couple, and we want to share that with our kids. We want to discover the far reaches of our big world and give the kids a perspective that extends beyond their community. We’re ready to break out of our routine, learn new things, grow closer as a family and have the greatest adventure of our lives! Childhood is fleeting and this will be a special bonding time for our family before the kids are pulled in many different directions and, ultimately, away from us. We’ve also been inspired by groups such as Meet Plan Go, which encourage and facilitate “career breaks” for individuals and families. It’s been helpful to realize that we aren’t the only ones who have considered something like this, and that it doesn’t have to be just an idea.
Why Now? The kids are at a golden age to travel with us. At ages 8.5 and nearly 11, they are old enough to schlep their own gear and participate in most things that we’d want to do. They will remember the trip and be shaped by the experiences. Our oldest child has a curiosity and interest in history and other cultures and we are hoping this rubs off on our youngest. They are both readers, which is important for academics and entertainment. They aren’t too old; if they were in middle school or beyond, it would be more difficult and complicated to take them away from schooling, friends and activities.
Have We Travelled Abroad Before? Tim and I have travelled widely, having been to about 40 countries each, but as a family we have only been on one international trip, going to Costa Rica when A.J. was nearly four and Charlie was six. Although everyone enjoyed the trip, we realized that the kids were too young to appreciate a different country! When asked about his favorite parts of the trip, A.J. remembers “the monkey butts and watching Tom & Jerry in Spanish.” We didn’t have to get on an international flight to give him that experience! For this reason among many, we decided to wait a few years before launching a big trip.
What’s Involved in Planning an Around the World Trip? It’s been a part-time job for the bulk of 2012. Our first steps were deciding on the itinerary and how much time we needed in each country. Then we started figuring out how the macro transportation: how to get from country to country and how to travel within each country. After that, we started to think in more detail about what to see in each place, how many days it would take and where to stay. We read reviews on Trip Advisor, got ideas at Lonely Planet, garnered tips from travel blogs and reached out to people who had been there and done that. Gradually we got more and more detailed, down to train schedules and vegan-friendly restaurant ideas! Thank you to everyone who shared their experiences. I hope to give back by sharing ours.
Are the Kids Excited? Kind of like their parents, they have mixed feelings. They are sad to leave their friends for so long; and Charlie, almost 11 years old, will miss 5th grade camp and graduation from elementary school. They will miss their dog, our house, spring sports and grandparents. It’s also hard for them to put this journey in context and understand what it really means to pack up our lives and hit the road. They don’t quite grasp the breadth of the adventures we are undertaking, but Charlie’s excited to see the animals on the African plains, learn how to cook Pad Thai and set eyes on a painting by Vermeer. A.J. looks forward to visiting Kazakhstan, the country of his birth, and to the adventures that await in New Zealand. Tim and I have the advantage of having travelled extensively before, so we have a bit more perspective on what is in front of us. For the kids thought this will be entirely new, and so don’t really know what to expect.
What about the House and Dog? We’ve got family staying for some of the time as well as house sitters lined up to make sure the place stays secure. Our dog will be staying on a farm in Northern California with a couple that takes in dogs, some of them for long-term boarding. She’ll get to run and play with other pooches while we are away. We’ll bring her home to us the week we return!
What about School? Our school district and the kids’ teachers have been very helpful in this regard, coming up with a plan to help us ”road-school” the kids for the remainder of the year. There are many online tools from Khan Academy to interactive math games to help us along. We will be doing school work for an hour or two a day (even weekends) so they can keep up with their peers.
What about Tim’s Job? Tim is finishing up his contract at work and will be taking a career break while we are away. We have talked about taking this trip for many years and have been putting money aside to make it happen.
Interested in Taking Your Own Trip? For a very comprehensive list of travel planning and resources, click here for a posting from another travelling family. They have shared very extensive lists and ideas on how to plan and budget for an RTW trip.