w r i n k l e d
ADVENTURES IN TRAVEL, WRITING AND AGING GRACEFULLY
ADVENTURES IN TRAVEL, WRITING AND AGING GRACEFULLY
Since we announced our travel plans, we’ve received lots of questions. Here’s my attempt to answer some of the more common ones.
1. Where are you going?
We start in Ireland, and then head down to Portugal, Southern Spain, Morocco, Rome and Turkey. After that we have a general idea for SE Asia beginning with Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Bali, Hong Kong, Korea and Japan. After that the itinerary gets looser. It’ll be something like Columbia, Panama, Costa Rica and Mexico. Originally we were chasing weather, trying to avoid monsoon season in Asia, but we are open to suggestions and leaving things intentionally unplanned to allow for some spontaneity.
2. How did you pick the locales?
It started with a world map and a stack of post-it notes. Chris and I marked every place we thought we’d want to spend a month, both favorite (Ireland, Andalusia region, Vietnam, Thailand, Marrakesh) and new locations (Rome, Turkey, Bali, Cambodia). The initial idea was to travel slow and to mix it up between rural, small, and large cities. We invited the kids to make suggestions, which is how we ended up with Costa Rica and the birding mecca, Pipeline Trail, in Panama. Oona was not interested in participating and there is a 50% chance that she will run away to live with her best friend before we embark on this adventure.
After considering safety (India, Egypt), route logic/weather (Croatia, Great Wall/China), age appropriateness (Galapagos, Macchu Picchu) and most importantly, price (Paris, Normandy, Australia, New Zealand), we removed post-its until we arrived at the above itinerary. We’ll get to the other locations at a different date.
3. How long did it take you to plan this trip?
We’ve been talking about taking a gap year forever, but settled on this year, mostly because it coincided with Isoo switching to Middle School. It also seemed like a good time to sell the house. And the kids are at the right age – before Isoo starts high school and Oona is finally capable of keeping up with us. We hope both will remember this trip.
We actively began planning the trip in April, when we listed the house. Honestly, four months is not enough time to sell a house, get rid of 8 years of crap, plan a trip of this range and say our good-byes without feeling borderline crazy.
4. What are you doing with your stuff?
The house and car are sold, as is most of our stuff (see post regarding The Great American Purge). Part of this trip, is for us, about living with less and enjoying the freedom that comes with it. Being unfettered by our stuff is a huge step in rethinking our values and priorities, and will hopefully, leave us open to new opportunities.
5. Will you work?
Nope. We’re deliberately using this time to spend time with the kids, read, write, learn about other cultures and make new friends. Both Chris and I are at the point where we’re ready for a new professional challenge (or in my case, any professional challenge) and this year will be our chance to think about what comes next career-wise.
6. What about the kids?
They will be homeschooled. As long as they keep printing the answers in the back of the book, I think we can handle the math. Otherwise they will be expected to read and both will keep a blog. We will have some “research projects” along the way, but most of their learning will be experiencing the world around them.
7. How are you a paying for this?
This is the most common question. We live pretty cheaply - one car, modest home, I cook almost every meal, we seldom have a sitter, the kids get to take whatever classes they want, but otherwise we don’t buy them presents, and the kids and I are mostly outfitted in fashions by Target (Chris is only slightly more fancy). The last couple of years we’ve taken to driving to most of our vacations. We managed to sock away Chris’ bonuses, tax returns, and cashed out some stock and a small inheritance to help fund the trip. We have roughly $40k allocated for start up costs such as flights, health insurance, immunizations (which cost a whopping $3,600 with another $1,000 for malaria pills!), technology, monthly storage costs, etc. For the trip itself we’ve budgeted $250/day which includes the cost of local transport, housing, food, entertainment and incidentals. Extremely challenging to manage for a family of 4 in Europe and large Asian cities, but easier in SE Asia and South and Central American (minus Costa Rica). I have no idea how realistic this budget will be (especially since we have picky children who can easily waste $100 worth of food/day); only time will tell. But if you get a mass email saying we are stuck abroad, broke and please send money, you can safely assume that it’s not a scam.
8. How are you packing for this?
Excellent question. Three years ago we took the kids backpacking in Europe and mistakenly brought too much luggage. We’ve learned our lesson and this time, plan to bring one carry-on suitcase and backpack/person, plus one bigger checked suitcase of games, school books, meds, etc. As we’re going to hit all four seasons (thanks to our last minute addition of Cappadocia, Turkey), we’re going to go big on layering and then purge and buy as needed, which will be a necessity for the kids since they grow so fast anyway. And yes, I finally broke down and bought a North Face puffy jacket and some hiking boots. See, travel is changing me already!
9. Are you coming back?
I hope so.
10. What will you miss most?
My pillow, babysitters, privacy, girls’ nights, sushi, having to not mentally convert everything to dollars/ Fahrenheit/ English/ American measurements. Most of all I will miss my friends and family. Please visit!