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How did You Plan your Around the World Trip?

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Planning Discussions and Financials

When we first began discussing our 4 1/2 month around the world trip with our family in 1999, we wanted to get away from everyday life, experience the world, be with our daughters (12 and 10 at the time) and learn something in the process. It was that simple. However, planning it and actually making it happen were anything but that. Once we made the decision to take that trip, it took thousands of hours of planning, discussion, support and faith to make this happen.

The thought of taking such a journey was daunting from several standpoints. First, there was the financial situation. We were well-off, but not rich. A trip like this would not be cheap and we could not afford to go first-class the entire time. Second, there was the girls’ education to worry about. How would we keep up with their studies while we were gone? Would taking such a trip hurt them academically? And, last, there were our jobs. Could we ask for a leave of absence? If we had to quit or couldn’t get our jobs when we got home, we would need money to live on for a period of time. We would have to save for that too.

Right away, we built a strict financial budget that required us to keep our old cars, fire the house cleaner, and minimize restaurants and other leisure expenses. The one thing we didn’t cut back on was travel. The trips we took from 2000 to 2002 were all part of a progression scheme that we thought was important to exposing our family to international travel. Through our planning and the funneling of any extra raises and bonuses to our savings account, we were able to meet our goal of putting aside about $70,000 for the trip and potential unemployment afterward. We were also able to pay off our house, which would be useful for lowering our fixed expenses while we were gone and after we returned.

Educational Concerns and Safety

As far as education went, we tried to build the journey around areas and activities that would provide a balance of ‘real-life’ educational opportunities. We knew, for example, that the girls both studied Eastern Hemisphere history in 5th and 7th grades at their private school, which is when we went, so we definitely wanted to build the trip around that part of the world. Working closely with the school principal for over a year was essential to making this a reality. In the last few months leading up to the trip, we also met with the teachers for that year to ensure that our plans aligned closely with what the class would be learning in the girls’ absence.

The world was also a scary place, especially after September 11th. We needed to balance a sense of adventure with staying safe and mitigating risk. We tried to keep this in mind as we planned our destinations. Even though we started planning and talking about places to visit a couple of years in advance of the journey, we didn’t settle on the final destinations until about six months before we left. Things kept changing, due to world situations, such as the Iraqi War, the SARS epidemic and travel advisories put out by the US Government.

The Trip and its Aftermath

Well, we finally took the trip, which we called ‘Cosmos’ (visit the Cosmos link for more information about the actual journey) from September 2003 to January 2004. Looking back on it all five years later, that trip was an unqualified success, from the standpoint of us all getting through it safe and sound and the effect it had on the two of us, as well as the girls. They have become well-rounded young adults who carry a true world view and appreciation for what they have in relationship to others they have seen. They have both continued to travel, Lauren as an exchange student in Russia for six weeks in 2006 and with her school in villages for a month in Malawi in 2007, and Kristen volunteering at an orphanage in Mexico. We were also able to take a three week family vacation to Peru in 2005 and had a wonderful time, allowing us to all add our sixth continent in the process.

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