Life is short. A phrase we’ve all heard on and off throughout our lives, but really rises out of the youthful fog and takes on clarity / new meaning as we approach middle age. Over time, this sentiment has shifted and evolved, inspiring a range of ideas – from buying a houseboat and traversing the American river system to traveling via trains, planes, and RVs to twelve different countries in twelve months.
The final plan includes traveling for just the right amount of time during 4 thoughtfully chosen months, December 19th 2015, April 15th 2016. We will (mostly) miss the Minnesota winter and still be back for Wesley’s baseball season (our strongest family compass bearing during summer months)!
There are the many what-ifs – the kids’ school, the effect that time away may have on business, the safety and security of a mostly comfortable life, and, yes, the expense. Ultimately, we determined that we would regret not trying something so we scratched a few conventional plans such as remodeling our basement and started planning our travels.
The kids seem to be at ideal ages with open-minded curiosity and appreciation of new experiences. We will be homeschooling them, but let’s face it – this is an “edu-vacation” even without added instruction. Each day will have new sights, sounds, and tastes. Their worldview will expand with each new country, city, and mile marker we pass throughout our journey.
What about our home?
We have a family friend staying at our house that will be looking after our mail, plants, snow removal, and most importantly our family cat Slim, “Sliminator” as he’s most often referred. Wesley and Slim are very close and tears were shed more than once as our departure day grew closer. Frankie has a love for Slim, but even more for stuffed animals. Despite tears on her side, we implemented a “one stuffy” rule for this trip.
What about school?
Michelle is taking the lead role here, but basically we are homeschooling and if there was a type I would say it’ll be the “lite” version. Their focus will be on reading, science, and math during the total three months of class they will miss. Their school and teachers have been very supportive, in fact both teachers were excited and encouraged correspondence from Frankie and Wesley. They will be ambassadors of sorts, sharing what they learn along the way through writing, drawing, and photos on our blog.
We are somewhat limited as far as weight and our ability to bring books, therefore plan to use iPads and apps that have been recommended from their teachers as well as online resources. The kids certainly aren’t strangers to iPads and while they’ll be handy resources for learning, they are have proven invaluable for idle time amid travel in the past. We are going to do our best, however to limit “screen time” as simply looking out the window will offer something new and foreign from their lives at home.
Dad, Age 42
Time seems to fly just a bit faster every year. As a self-employed photographer and director I’ve been hitting it hit hard for quite some time without taking time to enjoy the true “fruits” of being a freelancer.
Here’s to the unknown, taking the less obvious fork in the road and enjoying life while the kids are young… And able to carry their own suitcases!
Mom, Age 49
I am ready to shake things up a bit. I can’t wait to shirk our routine and embrace this opportunity to explore some more of the world — and ourselves.
While we’re abroad, I plan to homeschool Wesley and Frankie. I’m looking forward to the challenge and connecting on a deeper level with the kids.
Son, 5th Grader
I’m really excited to see my friend in Japan and my cousin in Paris. I’m also looking forward to touring the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings movie sets in New Zealand!
What might be difficult is not knowing the language in each country. I am a huge baseball fan and it will be hard missing out on what’s going on in the MLB.
Daughter, 3rd Grader
My hobbies are writing, creating art, and gymnastics. I hope I’ll find time to practice on our trip.
What will I miss the most? I am going to miss my cat, Slim. I’m also going to miss my friends, my teacher, and my room at home.
What am I the most excited to see? The Mona Lisa and Stonehenge!