brave enough to start

family of five who can, should and definitely will, see more of the world

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Lists, lists, endless lists

Sadly I don’t have that British Airways napkin any more. Somewhere in the chaos of our busy lives it has been lost or thrown out, which is a shame as I feel a bit sentimental about it now.  I can’t remember all of the places that I first listed, thinking naively that a whole year would be enough to see pretty much everywhere we’d ever talked about visiting.  It turns out that the world is a bit bigger than my imagination first envisaged and a year, well, that’s a whole lot shorter. The website helps would-be travellers make realistic round the world travel plans, whatever their timescale and (theoretically, at least) whatever the budget. Having thought through your “why” (something that I’ll have to save for a later post), bootsnall suggest that you try to identify your “must sees” – those places that are key to your travel experience. I suspect my original list contained must sees on 5 continents and involved a lot of back tracking so that we were always in each place at the most beautiful time.  It didn’t take long to realise that such a relentless pace of travel was never going to bring us the relaxed and enjoyable family bonding experience that I’d been romanticizing.

Anyway, the must sees, as of today, include:

1) Boston in the fall. This one is an absolute priority for me. Nick has been to New England before with work but it will be a first for me and the boys. They are all excited about seeing the home of the New England Patriots and I can’t wait to see the colours; I’m imagining something close to the glider scenes from the remake of The Thomas Crown Affair!

2) The Canadian. Whimsical notions of an Orient Express style trip across the continent enjoying leisurely dinners, whilst the children behave impeccably as they delight at the sight of the Canadian wildlife….Or, more realistically, a four day train trip, squeezed into the cheapest available seats where the calls of “are we nearly there yet?” are only punctuated with “I don’t care if there is another moose”…

3) New Zealand in the Summer.  The idea is a camper van taking about 6 weeks to drive across both islands.

4) Japan for cherry blossom.  Nick and I lived in Osaka for almost two and a half years, a decade ago.  John was born there and we have since been back with both John and Teddy but neither remember the trip.  We are really excited to see the country we enjoyed so much all over again through the eyes of our children.  Living abroad undoubtedly changed the way we think about things and what we want to do with our lives; including introducing our children to the benefits of travel and we hope that the boys will experience the same joy we did when they discover more about Japanese life and culture.

5) Borneo for the Orangutans.  This one is a bucket list item; something I’ve wanted to do since the first time Nick and I visited Gerald Durrell’s zoo on Jersey over twenty years ago. Sadly there may not be many more generations who have the opportunity to see these majestic men of the forest and educating our boys in the importance of conservation is justification enough for us to go.

So there we have it – our big 5, as it were.  Within each stage of the trip there are more lists and before we can set off there is a to-do list which is so long I’m actually frightened to write it down.  Over the next few months the big priorities include sorting and reducing all the junk in our house, further investigating accommodation options for the first leg of the trip and trying to decide if we’ll opt for a “round the world” flight ticket or whether it will make more sense to buy individual flights…

Lots to do!

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This time next year

On a flight home from Gibraltar in May 2013 Teddy, our middle son, asked an innocent question: “Why do we have to go home now?”  The question coming because Nanny and Grandad had waived us off at Gibraltar airport and had another week in the sunshine ahead of them. I answered without thinking “Because, Teddy, you have to go back to school on Monday.”

The words seemed to linger in the air longer than expected.  And inside my head the sentence continued “or do you?”  I scribbled a note to Nick who was sitting with the younger boys on the row behind – Wouldn’t it be great if we could just take the boys out of school for a whole year and travel with them?!   I don’t remember exactly what he replied but by the end of that short flight home, I had a brief itinerary of all the places we could see with a year to travel, mapped out on the back of a British Airways napkin.

Excitement built over the next few weeks as I googled every example of extended family travel that I could find, delighted to uncover families who felt as we do but who had been brave enough to start. In the evenings I pored through their blogs and websites reading about how their experiences were changing them as people and tightening their bonds as families.

In the back of our minds all the usual objections and hesitations rumbled: What about the children’s education? What about our jobs? How will we pay for it? What about our house, our possessions, our commitments? But not once have I ever thought that those challenges would be insurmountable.  Some of the answers took months to come as we talked, planned, mulled things over, revised and changed our plans until we found solutions that felt right for us.  Even now, with a year to go, I still don’t have all the answers but, perhaps unexpectedly for me, I’m not worried.

So here we are in September 2014, with solid plans to leave in September 2015 for 10-11 months, if our budget allows. One conclusion that all the thinking and planning has led me to so far, is that this blog is important. It serves many purposes: Firstly I want to be able to look back and remind myself of how we felt when the whole adventure was still ahead of us, which is why I am starting now. Our children will still be quite young when we leave; John will be 10, Teddy will be 8 and Alex, just 4, so this blog is also for them; a record of the year we spent all together.  For me, writing is the next best thing to talking and, if I’m honest, I do far too much of both! So it might be that I use the blog to think through the options occasionally and if I’m lucky, there might be one or two people who read it now and again who can help with any dilemmas or difficult choices we might face.

Tomorrow I’ll fill you in on the itinerary, which, if all goes to plan, will begin on or about 24th September 2015.  365 days and counting; I can’t wait!