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!