As we’ve told friends, family, and strangers about our trip around the world, there are some common questions that most people ask. Here are answers to those FAQs:
Why are you going?
We are going on this trip to take a step away from regular life and the trappings of the default US lifestyle. Jeromy worked very hard for many years and we have an amazing life, but there is so much more out there to see and do, and we have been blessed with the opportunity to take our family to have those experiences. One of my favorite travel quotes is “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” I love to experience new things, new cultures, and meet new people. I feel like I am a more complete person with each experience. I also believe that it will give our kids an opportunity to learn in a way not possible in a tradition classroom setting.
How do you plan a trip for a year?
Jeromy and I have been working diligently during the past 6 months or so since we decided to take this trip. We’ve become very experienced negotiating websites like Lonely Planet, Trip Advisor, Booking.com, Air BNB and more. We’ve read books, blogs, and articles, we’ve listened to podcasts and talked to everyone we know about places they’ve been. While this has definitely helped, we know that no amount of planning will be able to teach us things we can only learn on the road. Beyond the fun choosing of destinations and booking hotels and activities, there are a lot of boring practical issues that you have to take care of when you are going to be gone for a year. We were fortunate to come across the website bootsnall.com early on in our research. They put together a 30 day email course for people planning to travel around the world with their family which helped us create an initial framework to build around. To take a look at our “Family Round The World Planning Checklist” from that site go here Round The World Checklist for Families.
Where are you going?
Here is a link to a Map of places we are planning to visit through Tripline.net. If you visit the website you can zoom in and see exact locations. I didn’t include dates (in case there are any would-be stalkers reading our blog) and of course things may change, but we have it pretty mapped out through SE Asia! We haven’t spent much time on South America yet, but we know the general areas we are planning on going. Tripline.net has calculated the distance we would travel to over 53,000 miles and that doesn’t include all the traveling when we are in an area! The earth’s circumference at the equator is about 24,900 miles…That means we will be traveling more than twice the distance around the earth on our trip!
If you will be in any of these areas or would like to meet up with us, we would love it! Or if you have any insight or information we would love any tips, advice, or must see/eat things that you know of. Please comment on this post or send us an email. It is always better getting an insider’s perspective! Below is a general outline of where we will be going:
- Europe (3 months): Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Czech Republic, Germany, Holland, Belgium, France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia, Montenegro, and one month in Greece
- Africa (2 months): Zambia, Botswana, South Africa, Swaziland, and one month in Capetown
- India (3 weeks): Jodhupr, Udaipur, Narlai, Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore, Goa
- Southeast Asia (3 months): Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Borneo, and one month in Bali
- New Zealand
- South America (3 months): One month in Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Columbia and Panama
Why aren’t you going to some places?
We often talk to people and when they find out we aren’t going to a certain place they say, “But you have a whole year – you have to go there!” Well, a year is a lot of time to travel, but not as long as you think. While there are times we will be staying only a few days in a city, there are also times we will be spending a whole month. We want to have a variety of travel experiences and especially have some time built-in to recharge. Being gone for a whole year is much different from being on a one or two-week vacation. Also, we don’t view this as the only time we will travel abroad. While we probably won’t plan another trip for a year, we still have spring break, summer, and Christmas vacations to travel with our family for years to come. We have a lot of travel to look forward to even after this trip is over!
What are you doing with your house?
We found a wonderful couple that has the ability to care for the house and property, who will be renting our home while we are away. This allows us to leave all our furniture and decor, yet still have someone we trust watch over the place and take care of it in our absence.
What about school?
We will be “World-Schooling” on our trip. In each place we will go our kids will be learning about that place. Just planning the trip my geography has increased amazingly! We met with each of our boy’s principals and they were both very supportive of our trip giving us resources, ideas, and well wishes. Some examples of how we will learn along the way are: Choose a painting in the Louvre and write a report on it. Read The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, then go to the house where she hid from the Nazis. Study the Vietnam War, then go to Vietnam and visit their museum on the “American War.” Visit the birthplaces of the Grimm Brothers and the castles that inspired their stories, then write our own. Study an animal then view it in its natural habitat (we will be doing safaris in Africa, India, and Indonesia). Math is the only subject in which we will be using a more set curriculum. We will be using Singapore Math for Tyler and Luke and BYU independent study for Parker. They will not be behind a year when they get back and it’s our plan for them to re-enter La Center Schools with their peers in the fall of 2017.
Don’t you think Luke is too young, he probably won’t remember it?
The perfect time to do something doesn’t exist. There are always positives and negatives when considering the timing of when to do something, certainly when it comes to a RTW trip for a year. Even though Luke will be too young to remember many of the specific details of our trip, his brain is developing very quickly at his young age. As he is exposed to such a large variety of languages, cultures, environments, and people, his brain will be developing to include that in how he processes the world and experiences it in the future. Yes, it is true that he may not really remember the trip, but he will be forever changed by it.
Will you be safe?
We take the safety of our family very seriously and have considered carefully the places we will and will not be going. The US Government has a website you can register with called Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) https://step.state.gov/step/. It allows you to register with US Embassies in the country/city you will be traveling to receive important safety reports, it helps them contact you in the case of an emergency (natural disaster, civil unrest, or a family emergency), or helps them contact you in the event someone from the US needs to contact you.
Also, we went to a travel clinic and got all the appropriate immunizations for each of the places we would be going. The kids weren’t too excited about that part of trip planning, but we got to go to Salt N Straw ice cream afterwards, which helped soften the blow.
What if you decide you don’t like it?
If we feel like we are going to quickly, we’ll slow down. If we don’t like a place, we will leave. If we want to stay a little longer in a place, we will. While I don’t foresee us straying drastically from our schedule, I am an ardent believer in the phrase, “Man plans, God laughs.” If we had always stuck to the plan we had in mind for our lives, we would never have been in a position to be on this trip in the first place.
Why a year?
Why Not? Actually, a year seemed like a good amount of time to really feel like we were getting away, without interrupting our kids lives too drastically. They will only miss one year of school, friends, and activities which is some ways seems like a long time, but in reality goes by so quickly.
How do you pack for a trip like that?
Very carefully! We are each only bringing a carry-on backpack. Tyler’s is 36 Liters, Jeromy, Parker and I have 46 Liter packs and Luke has just a little 20 L pack. I’ll do another post about what we are packing, but we did a trial run in Washington DC for spring break and it went really well.
Where will you stay?
We will be staying in hotels, houses, apartments, trains, airplanes, and on boats. Mostly we tried to find apartments or houses so we could have a kitchen and at least one bedroom. We decided against staying in hostels since the last one we stayed at in Merida, Mexico (2015) had at least three resident cockroaches and our room was only supposed to sleep five! Thanks to great sites like Booking.com and AirBNB.com we have been able to find some great places to stay so far.
How will you travel?
We will travel by planes, trains, boats, taxis, Ubers, rickshaws, elephants, camels and cars. There were some areas where public transportation is better and we will use that there, but there were other areas where we wanted the flexibility of a car. Also, when you are travelling with 5 people sometimes the cost of public transportation can cost more than private.
What about souvenirs?
I’ve had a lot of people ask if we will be sending back boxes of souvenirs or how we will carry them around with our limited luggage space. The answer is, we won’t be buying souvenirs. Our souvenirs will be the pictures we take, this blog, and the memories of experiences and people we meet along the way. I’m sure we will be replacing some clothes, and I am not planning on packing jewelry so I can buy some along the way. Also, we will probably let the kids keep a coin from each country if they are interested as a keepsake. One of the goals of this trip is to teach the kids that having material things doesn’t make you any happier. If we were buying a bunch of souvenirs, that would defeat that aim.