This was no ordinary vacation; instead what we called our “Cosmos” (around the world) journey with our kids was a lifestyle change that lasted over four months, from September 2003 to January 2004. During that time we visited 12 countries, comprised of England, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania, India, Australia, Brunei, Thailand, Cambodia and France, plus a prelude stop in New York City to begin the journey. What also made this vacation of sorts extraordinary was the fact that we brought our then 13 and 10 year old daughters on this trip, home schooling them in the process.
The video above provides an overview of what it was like to travel through five continents, combining the sights of the trip along with studying on the road.
One of the purposes of the trip was to be an educational experience, combining history, archeology and nature into the itinerary. Care was also taken to choose destinations that were safe, fit within our budget (about $400 a day) and still contained elements of the original culture. Preparation for the trip took over three years and was focused on two fronts: the actual travel details and the schooling. To plan the itinerary, we spent countless hours reading guidebooks and travel magazines and surfing the Internet to determine the best places to visit, taking into account what to see, the climate and culture. Everyone, including the girls, had a list of ‘must sees’ that were taken into account. All of this was entered into a master schedule and budget. As much of the trip was pre-booked as possible, but reservations for the last month were secured on the road, when the lead times were shorter. We worked closely with our daughters’ school principal and teachers to plan the lesson curriculum, including determining the needed books, project materials and testing strategy. To save weight we purchased the books and then cut them up, dividing them into an initial portion to take with us and placing the other set into a box that would arrive halfway into the trip while in Australia. Tests were administered on the road and the results were emailed back to the teachers.
Destinations included such famous sights as the Taj Mahal, Eiffel Tower, Sydney Opera House, Ayers Rock, Victoria Falls and Angkor Wat. Mixed in were two safaris, in Botswana and Namibia, as well as a multiple day trek in the Sikkim (India) region of the Himalayas. Cultural experiences included visiting villages and families in Zambia, Thailand and India. Plane travel was minimized and over 2,000 miles on the ground were each covered in Africa and Australia. A big part of this included train travel in Africa, India, Australia and Thailand, where seven nights overall were spent sleeping on en route.
What we accomplished was to gain a real feel for a variety of the world’s people, customs, food, religions, natural wonders and historically significant sights. Integrating our childrens’ education into this experience also gave them a real world view of what they were studying as we moved from country to country and a real appreciation for how much of the world lives. We also got to know our daughters at an important time in their lives and created a bond between all of us that still exists to this day.