Even more than five years after we took our 4 1/2 month around the world trip with our girls in 2003 to 2004, we still get questions about what the circumstances were leading up to that journey and why we decided to do it.
Global Travel Inspirations
We received our initial inspiration from several sources. The first experience that influenced Darren and me was during a backpacking trip in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. On this trip, we met a couple who was on their honeymoon. They were hiking the John Muir trail from Yosemite Valley to the top of Mt. Whitney, a distance of about 210 miles. The husband explained the he had just sold his business and that they planned to climb Kilimanjaro (the tallest peak in Africa) in two weeks. After that, they planned to tour Europe for six months.
We were also greatly influenced by Michael Palin (of Monty Python fame). He has made several travel documentaries and we watched them all. These included “Around the World in 80 Days”, “Pole to Pole” and “Full Circle”. We admired how he used public transportation and was able to mingle with the everyday people of each country that he visited. His time in Africa, on train, bus and ferry was especially breathtaking.
In the summer of 1998 we rented a motor home and drove around Colorado for two weeks as a family. We had a great time visiting national parks and camping in the forest. One day, we were driving around Estes Park, just outside of Rocky Mountain National Park, when we noticed a recreational equipment store with a sign indicating a free Nepal slide show that night. We decided to come back to see it. We were mesmerized with the scenery and the stories that the presenter told. In addition to being the store owner, he also led treks to Nepal and Switzerland.
Making the Decision to Travel Around the World
Finally, all of these influences culminated at Los Angeles International Airport in March of 1999. After only have traveled to Europe, we were breaking out to take a two week backpacking trip to New Zealand. Darren had just returned from the pay phone to check his work voicemail while I waited at the gate for our 8pm Friday night flight. We had both worked all day and had raced to the airport. We would be coming back home on a Monday and going right back to work the next day, to maximize every minute of our time away. We both began to discuss how hard it was to leave work. There was so much going on and it would be so depressing to return. How long would it take to really get away from it all? One month? No, too short. How about longer than that? Well, maybe three or four months. At that length of time, you could really see the world and put work and everyday life behind you.
Was it possible to leave everything for a multi-month trip? If we did this, we would have to take the girls. How could this happen with their schooling? When would be the best time to go, given their ages? What about our jobs? What about our house? The questions kept coming. It was both an overwhelming thought and a challenging one at the same time. Over the next two weeks of our New Zealand trip, we discussed the possibilities. By the time we got back to California, we figured that it was possible.
How did we actually plan this type of trip to make it really happen? See our article on How Did You Plan Your Around the World Trip for the details.