Last week we announced our family of four is planning and documenting a trip around the world (complete with a podcast)…
With this exciting expectation comes the obvious truth – we need to plan.
In our relationship, my husband is usually the planner. One year while we were dating in college, we flew down to Disney World and Kyle had planned everything down to the tee. Rides, fast passes, timing, restaurants, hotels…etc.
I was impressed.
Then we got married and started a small business back in 2008 that required us to do major research for our clients. And then we had kids. And we homeschool. So guess what? I embraced (and now enjoy) researching and planning. There’s only one problem with this. With the amount of information produced and published on a daily basis there’s way too much information within our reach.
I could spend days and days researching for our trip but is that really how I want to spend my time? No.
My kids deserve time with their mom over the next 6 months before we embark, not a mom who’s constantly perusing travel websites (but let’s be honest, I would LOVE to do this).
So where do we even start? How do we sift through it all and decipher what tips and info are important to us?
Kyle and I enjoy a bit of spontaneity when we travel alone. BUUUUT being spontaneous doesn’t seem nearly as exciting when you’re responsible for little humans.
As parents we all feel part of our duty is to offer a certain level of comfort and safety. So ample water, food, clothing and a bed (or tent) to sleep in at night feel pretty essential. The thought of scrambling around after dark in a foreign city after a long bus ride, carrying our sleeping 4 year old and dragging along our 8 year old while falling asleep ourselves doesn’t sound super awesome to me.
So we won’t be planning every. single. detail. But we do need to get some of our ducks in a row.
Here’s a list of the things we ARE researching that are important to us:
In order to save money we’re researching and purchasing several flights together through Airtreks for now. Small connecting flights, bus and train rides will mostly be planned and purchased as we go.
2) Accommodations (homes)
We use sites like HomeAway, Airbnb and OneFineStay because we prefer to stay in homes versus hotels whenever possible. There are a few reasons for this:
First, we like our space. We spend a TON of time together and do so even more when we travel and so, like any normal human beings, we crave a bit of piece and quiet and ability to sometimes shut the door and have adult conversations –– among other things. 😉
Second, having a kitchen saves money and keeps you healthy. It’ll be impossible to make all our meals in a kitchen (and we’re excited about trying local restaurants wherever we go) but having the ability to start up a stove and whip up healthy breakfast or dinner for our family is priceless. Which brings me to…
Third, it’s simply more peaceful. You can set a routine much like back at home. Sweet, simple mornings, rest time and naps, you can homeschool and host people with the extra space, the kids can run around the yard or the neighborhood, if there is one. I feel like you get a much better feel for the local culture this way as well because you’re not sharing the building with thousands of other tourists.
3) Traveling Light
We’re each bringing one backpack. That’s it.
There’s really no need to bring massive bags with items we may or may not need (especially when traveling to multiple countries). Researching which items we’ll truly need – which isn’t a lot, really – and helpful travel tools like laundry detergent strips, lightweight tech and safety items is already helping us craft our packing list.
We’ll also be traveling down to the Southern Hemisphere during January (their summer) and swing up into the Northern Hemisphere into March and April (late winter/spring). We’re considering having our winter gear shipped to our location in Europe. I won’t be caught in Iceland in March without a jacket and boots and have to purchase them at a premium price. NOPE.
There are also plenty of items we can purchase as we go. All the places we plan to visit have access to all the basic necessities we’ll need. And I won’t feel guilty if we purchase something we really need but already own back home half-way through our trip.
4) The MUST-SEE Stuff
We wouldn’t want this to be the only time in our lives we visit an amazing country and miss the one or two things on everyone’s “list.”
And everyone’s must-see “LIST” is very different.
We’ll try to honor each other when choosing which places make sense to travel to and experience. For example, I prefer natural outdoor wonders, historical and art museums.
My husband prefers experiencing how locals live and work and the culinary experiences (think pubs, local coffee and restaurant hotspots). In Ireland, for example, he loved driving on the left-hand side of the road. I mean LOVED it. I, however, had knots in my shoulders from hours of driving 80 miles per hour with stone walls mere inches from my face and preferred personal reflection at the ruins of a 12th-century stone church.
Our kids, on the other hand, want to see what they’ve researched and read about. Our 4-year-old daughter keeps asking when we’re going to see the Aurora Borealis (because her name, conveniently, is Aurora). Our son would like to see works by Michelangelo and Leanardo da Vinci and go snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef.
HOWEVER, and that’s a big HOWEVER, we won’t be trying to see and do everything. We’ll see what we can, do what we can, and won’t stress if we can’t.
Because, with kids, not everything goes as planned. As we all know, that’s just LIFE.
5) Finally, Who to Serve
We recently learned an acquaintance of ours runs the Love Volunteers organization – matching volunteers with projects worldwide. Voila!
We aren’t being given this opportunity to travel around the world if God didn’t want us to help and love on others. So we’re signing up with these guys to help us find the best fit for our family to serve others together.
And in regards to homeschooling, we won’t be bringing much.
Traveling, mapping and experiencing different cultures will be the best teachers life has to offer. Sure we’ll need a notebook to journal, maybe some watercolors and a workbook so we don’t fall behind in math. But many essential “subjects” can be covered in life, in reading or online.
I’ll also be giving in and purchasing two Kindle Paperwhite e-readers. One for me and one for our 8-year-old son. (I know I’m totally old-school and LOVE me some tangible books and haven’t bit this bullet yet). And we’ll see if we can link them up with our library. Books are amazing but FREE books are even better.
That’s enough for now. Since we haven’t actually left yet, there’ll be a million other things I’ll want to research but hold myself back from.
Because my time now and before we leave is more important spent with the kids, not planning for a million things I’ll never be able to predict.
Until next time,