A trip around the world is more than a family vacation. It’s the stuff dreams are made of. But it can be more than just a dream. If you’re planning–or wishing–you could take your kids on a trip around world, here are just a few things to think about.
To Plan or Not to Plan?
This is one of the first questions a family planning an around the world trip has to consider. Do you want your itinerary, travel and accommodation plans set in stone? Or do you want to fly by the seat of your pants?
Your choice will be based on a number of issues including your personality and that of your travel partners, whether you’re traveling with children or even what type of accommodations you plan to stay in.
I’m a planner by nature, I was traveling with children and I wanted to stay in apartments, so planning ahead worked best for us.
Where in the World Will You Go?
Where do you want to go? How long do you desire to stay in each location? Are you looking for a slow travel experience? Is it easy or even possible to get from point A to point B? These are just a few of the questions you need to ask yourself when creating your itinerary.
Exploring these issues is work; but it’s fun and exciting work. During the planning stages, I found myself checking my emails five times a day to see responses from all over the world from my various requests.
It’s not all fun and exciting. There also are the tedious issues of obtaining passports, applying for visas, health related issues such as vaccinations, preventative health care and worldwide health insurance. Time spent on this preparation could be the difference between a good and bad experience.
What About the Kids?
If this is going to be a family affair, you’ll need to think about schooling issues. Already a homeschooler? Then you have it made. If not, you’ll need to check with your school system to determine how best to handle your situation. One thing is for certain; Regardless of what your school administrators believe, your kids will learn more on the road than they would sitting in any classroom!
What Are You Leaving Behind?
Planning for what you’re leaving behind is equally as important.
Do you own a home? Will you sell it, rent it, or leave it vacant? Who will be responsible for its upkeep in your absence?
Do you own a car? Will you store it, sell it, loan it out?
Who will handle your mail and finances while you’re traveling? Technology makes this much easier to deal with than ever before, but the issues still need to be addressed and resolved.
Will Your Relationship(s) Survive?
Not to get too personal, but how is that relationship between you and your travel companions, be they friend, spouse or child? Traveling is fun, but it’s also stressful. And you will be with these people 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for how many days???
This is not one of those things to do to fix a shaky marriage or to reconnect with a child with whom you’ve had problems. You need to be in the best possible place with your traveling companions before leaving and have steps in place to keep it that way.
How Will You Pay For It?
If you’re still reading at this point and I haven’t scared you off , then it’s time to think about how to fund this adventure.
Saving is going to become your new best friend. It should be easier than ever to save because you have something specific you’re saving for. Saving for a rainy day is tough – what exactly does that mean to you anyway? But saving for an around the world trip, now that’s something you can sink your teeth into. It’s much easier to sacrifice that daily latte, weekly manicure, or Saturday night out when it corresponds to a meal in India, a night in Thailand, a museum in Buenos Aires.
The other issue to consider regarding budget is that you are in control of the cost of this trip. Trying to do it cheaper? Stay in hostels. Eat in more. Avoid Europe and other high-cost countries. Fly less and use more ground transportation.
Staying mostly in apartments and doing a lot of our own cooking was one way we kept costs down. We also made sure to balance our more expensive stays with ones that were cheap, keeping the overall cost of our travels down.
What Happens When It’s Over?
You will have an incredible experience where you learn more about yourself, your travel companions and the world, than you ever thought possible. You will have a lifetime of memories (and photos) and you might consider it the defining point of your life. But, no one but those who traveled with you had that experience, In many ways, you will feel alone upon your return.
The world of your friends and family went on in your absence and you were not a part of it. Likewise, they were not a part of yours. A handful of people will feign interest (some actually will be) but for the most part, you will need to devise a two to three line answer for the question, “How was your trip,” as that is about the most they will really want to hear.
You’ll look at your pictures, reread your journal, talk about this experience or that experience at the dinner table but it will always be a part of your life that seems incredibly special and incredibly segregated from the rest of your life.
Reentry will also bring you stability, calm and boredom. I was getting used to changing cultures every three weeks. Now, I’m stuck in the same one. The people I interact with here at home on a daily basis may be wonderful, but they are the same people I interacted with yesterday, and the day before and will interact with tomorrow and the day after that.
My kids act as if they were never gone. I, on the other hand, feel staid and restless. I sense a big change is just around the corner, so I just need to figure out where I’m going to travel to next while waiting for that big change to occur.
Iisa Shusterman is a world traveler, blogger, speaker, arbitrator and author of Around the World in Easy Ways; A Guide to Planning Long-Term Travel With or Without Your Kids. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband Marty, their daughters Siena and Avocet and their pet rats Rue and Pearl.
In June, 2008, lisa Shusterman, her husband and their daughters set off for a one year trip around the world. Over the course of the year, they visited forty locations in seventeen countries, spanning six continents.
Around the World in Easy Ways is about what it took to make a trip of this magnitude happen. It covers what you need to know in order to travel: establishing an itinerary, budgeting, what to pack, health issues, schooling issues, accommodation considerations, taking care of what you are leaving behind and how to be with your family 24/7 and live to tell about it. This is a “how to” book for travel; short or long term, with or without kids.
And this is a book about living your dream. Whether your dream is long-term travel, short-term travel or something completely different, Around the World in Easy Ways will inspire you to reach for the stars and make your dream happen. If Iisa and her family can realize their dream, what’s to stop you from reaching yours?