Since being home, we get tons of questions about our travels when we get together with friends and family or we meet someone new who knows about our story. Here are all of our commonly asked questions, answered.
“What Was Your Favorite Place?”
This is always the first question someone asks. We’ve been to a lot of places, so what was the best?
New Zealand. Without a doubt, this was the most beautiful place we visited, and this country matched our personalities perfectly. Here was a country that was gorgeous and offered all of our favorite things to do…hiking, bungy jumping, paragliding, gazing out over insanely beautiful vistas, wine tasting, and so much more. Just driving the roads here was pure joy.
All the hype you ever heard about New Zealand is true…put this place on the top of your list!
“What was Your Favorite Moment?”
This is a tough question…there were so many great moments. And this is a question that we are divided on.
Tim’s answer is hiking to Everest Base Camp in Nepal. The accomplishment of a family of four to get to EBC is something to be proud of. Tyler and Kara were only 11 and 10 years old at the time and were the youngest people we saw on the trail in 11 days. They handled the conditions very well, but it was tough. The altitude, the cold temperatures, the living conditions…trekking to Everest Base Camp was the most challenging thing we did while traveling.
Tyler, Kara, and I would answer that our favorite moment was bungy jumping (see, already we are talking about New Zealand again!). Tim and I were terrified when we made that leap off of Kawarau Bridge, but Tyler and Kara made it look so easy. Tyler even got a running start before he made his leap and then did a front flip as he plummeted through the air. Kara loved the bungy swing so much that she was the only one of us that went back for seconds.
One of my favorite things about traveling is that it sets you up to go outside of your comfort zone. Trekking to Everest Base Camp and bungy jumping were moments that smashed our comfort zones to pieces.
“What was Your Worst Moment?”
Getting dengue fever in India. That one sucked. It had me feeling miserable for over a week and gave me several almost sleepless nights as I dealt with odd, painful skin sensations. If this was the worst thing to happen in 13 months of travel, I really can’t complain. There are so many worse things that could have happened.
“How Long Did it Take to Plan?”
In 2009 I read a book about a family that traveled the world. I was curious about their journey but I also thought they were crazy… “who quits their jobs to travel around the world for a year?” Over the next year, I kept thinking about their story and how it really wasn’t that crazy. Actually, the more I thought about the idea, the more I liked it. A year after reading the book I told Tim about the idea and he had the same initial reaction…you’re crazy!
It took us years of talking about it, and the more time passed and the more our love of traveling grew, the “crazy idea” began to sound more like “an amazing opportunity.” Still, to make that decision to give up our comfortable lifestyle for a year of travel followed by a future of uncertainty had Tim and I afraid to make the leap. It was terrifying, giving up a lifestyle that we worked so hard for.
But we did it, and it was the best decision of our lives. In June 2013 we made the decision to give it all up for a year of travel. All of a sudden, our future took on a new shape. We were looking at a future that was uncertain…it was invigorating, terrifying, and so very exciting. It took us one year to sell our house, sell our cars, put our careers on hold, and plan out the first six months of our trip. This was a stressful but immensely exciting time, full of anticipation.
“What was it Like Being Together All of the Time?”
We were together, almost all day every day, for 396 days. Yikes!
That’s both a good thing and a bad thing. Tim and I were able to spend huge amounts of quality time with our children, and this was one of the best parts of the trip. What a gift to be able to create so many memories with Tyler and Kara.
At the same time, it was hard being together all of the time. Especially for me. I like my space and I like my time alone, and I really wasn’t getting it. I’d take walks and get out on my own, which helped, but being with my family 24/7 was a big adjustment for me.
For Tyler and Kara, being forced to spend so much time together, actually became closer. With no friends around to play with they were forced to interact together, and I am hoping these close bonds they developed will remain as they grow older.
“What About Sex?”
This is the question that everyone is thinking but very few people ask.
Yes, we did have sex…creatively. How did we do it, when 90% of the time we were all sharing one hotel room with one bathroom?
Fortunately, Tyler and Kara don’t really think we have sex anymore. The bathroom became our place of sexual rendezvous, late at night, once we were sure that Tyler and Kara were asleep. Nothing like Mom and Dad tiptoeing to the bathroom for some nighttime activity.
As the trip went on, Tim and I got tired of waiting for Tyler and Kara to fall asleep. We would tell Tyler and Kara that we had to do some “trip planning” and not to disturb us. Then Tim and I would disappear into the bathroom and there you have it.
“What was homeschooling like?”
Fabulous. I never saw us as the “homeschooling type of family,” but in order to keep Tyler and Kara’s education going we had to homeschool them for a year. And we loved it.
We had 160 lessons to complete with extra days set aside for the occasional tests. We started at the very beginning of the trip and completed their year of schooling by March 1. Lessons would average 2 hours, giving us plenty of time during the day to also get out and see the world (this is where their true education came from this year). Tyler and Kara learned to self educate themselves and learned valuable study skills.
Now that we are home, the school days feel very long to Tyler and Kara but they have adjusted well. Both of them are doing very well and Kara has actually advanced to a higher level of math.
“Did you ever feel in danger?”
Nope. We were never robbed, assaulted, or harassed in any way. Our belongings were never stolen out of our hotel rooms, we were never pick-pocketed, and no one really ever said an unkind word to us. Of course, we took precautions. I left my wedding rings with my mother in the US, we kept our belongings locked up in the hotel rooms, we did not wear any fancy clothing and jewelry, and I kept my camera in a bag when not using it.
The world is a much safer place than the media would have you believe. Most of the people we met were kind, helpful, and interested in talking to us. It was not people we had to fear, it was traveling conditions that put us in danger, such as drinking water, ill-prepared food, mosquitos, and road travel in certain countries. It wasn’t until we got back to the US where we felt uneasy again, almost like we had to watch our back.
“How did it change you?”
I think our whole perspective of life is different now. We are more thankful and more grateful for the things we have. We are happy having less stuff. What we want is to make more memories. I can tell you (sorry friends and family) that I am not a big fan of Christmas shopping this year. I would be completely happy not exchanging gifts but just getting together for the holidays. Being away for Christmas last year taught us that the holiday season should not be about how much stuff you get, it should be about spending quality time with friends and family.
Tyler and Kara now view the world with a more global perspective. Tyler talks about living and working in a country other than the US. Kara is anxious to get out and see more of the world. It will be interesting to see how our travels shape the future of Tyler and Kara.
They have seen a lot with their young eyes and it takes a lot to faze them now. For better or worse, they’ve seen live frogs being skinned in Vietnam, chickens being decapitated in India, phalluses painted on the walls of houses in Punakha, Bhutan, extreme poverty in various parts of the world, extreme beauty in others, and the list goes on and on. Tyler and Kara have matured a lot and realize how fortunate they are to live like we do in the US, a lesson that most kids and many adults don’t truly get a chance to learn.
While traveling, we considered escaping from the US and relocating to a new country (Australia, New Zealand, and Germany sure seemed to fit us perfectly!). As we traveled, we learned that each country has its own set of problems, just as the US has problems. Being away from the US for a year made us appreciate our country more.
“What’s it like to be back?”
Great, actually. Which is a total shocker for me. I truly thought that we would be one of families that leaves for a year and comes back seven years later.
Eventually, the savings begin to dwindle, and we were traveling at such a fast pace that we began to get burned out. Yes, we could have kept traveling, slowing our pace down, working while we travel, but there were things about our life in the US that we really missed. So we came home.
Once again we have a house (we love it!), jobs, school, and are starting to add in all of the crazy busy kid activities into our lives. It’s fabulous. And we are so lucky to be able to have all of this.
“Would you do it again?”
Another one year trip around the world? Probably not. One time was great, but it was exhausting, especially how we did it, traveling to a new place on average every three days. But, the idea of 6 months abroad sounds very tempting, but not in the near future. As parents, we want Tyler and Kara to have some stability for the next few years, especially with high school right around the corner, and paying for college is looming out there in front of us. Long-term traveling is on hold right now; the short-term trips will have to do.
“How do you top it?”
Good one! We have only been asked this by one other person but this is a question I ask myself all of the time.
I go through life always trying to make each year better than the last. So how do you top a one year trip around the world?
In the short-term, I am not sure that we will. But I love the challenge of having conventional lives again, with work and school, trying to add in as much travel, recreational activities, and quality time with friends and family as possible. We will keep ticking items off of our bucket lists, learning new languages, and taking up new hobbies. We also want to help you travel more, to help you stretch those comfort zones, to tick those items off of your bucket lists.
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