If you have read part 1, Plan Now For Your Extended Family Trip, and are moving on to this blog you must be intrigued with the idea of taking your family on an extended trip, and why wouldn’t you be. To leave your working world behind for at least a year while you and your family have the adventure of a lifetime is an idea worthy of being curious about. This type of trip however goes so far against the thought of traditional family life that you, and people you may share this idea with, will come up with a multitude of reasons not to do it. These are essentially fears of making a change in your life and it can be crippling. If the idea of travelling with your family gives you a shot of energy then you must at least try to get past this fear. I have listed common reasons why the idea of extended family travel will be dismissed and my thoughts on the matter.
Concern: Why do you need to travel the world? What are you looking for? All you need is right here.
My Answer: If you have travelled, I mean outside of the resort holiday, than you will probably have the same opinion as me. The benefits to you and your family are immeasurable. Bonding with your family, enjoying an active lifestyle together, and gaining a new perspective on this confusing world, are just a few of the benefits of taking your family out of your comfort zone and exploring the world. If you have not travelled before than try it. Take a trip to a location that has certain characteristics different from your hometown. Maybe this place has a different spoken language, or a different cuisine, or is located in a different ecosystem. Don’t plan a whirlwind vacation, instead try and mimic the pace that you would do on an extended trip. See a few sights, enjoy the local pace of life, and immerse yourself in the culture. Plan a few highlights that draw people to the area but make sure you leave plenty of time to discover the hidden gems. You will know soon enough if an extended trip would be a worthwhile venture or not.
Concern: The world is not safe for my family; I cannot put them at risk.
My Answer: Stop watching the news. Everywhere you go you can find yourself in trouble, including your own home town. If you are aware of your surroundings and use some common sense and you will be fine. We travelled in Indonesia after their economic collapse of 1998 and we had no trouble at all. We did however see a pickpocket attempt on a western tourist because he showed off a considerable wallet bulge and heard of a traveller in the sailing group we were with who was robbed while carrying a fancy purse and wearing an extravagant pearl necklace. Both incidents probably would have happened in the wrong part of your hometown and could have been avoided if common sense was used. Can you do everything right and still find yourself in trouble, of course, but if you pay attention to warnings on government lists and play it smart while on the road the chances of trouble will be slim. Having kids along does not make you more of a target and people will be more willing to help you out.
Concern: I cannot quit my job and put my career on hold.
My Answer: The thought of quitting a perfectly good job can be inconceivable to some but it is really that bad? If you are good at what you do then you should have no problem getting a job when you return. If you are not good at your job than why are you doing that job in the first place? Budget accordingly to include plenty of job search time when you return. You may even be able to talk your way into a leave of absence, an overseas transfer, or perhaps a remote working arrangement. If you are unsatisfied with your current job than it should be an easy decision to leave work and see the world.
Concern: Kids won’t want to leave their friends.
My Answer: No they won’t want to but they will get over it. They will still be friends when they get back, the true friends will anyway. Anyone who is partaking on such a trip needs to be excited of what is to come and the easiest way is to get everyone involved in the planning. Get your kids input early on and make sure you include activities and locations that they specifically want to do or see. I spent a year in Australia with my parents when I was 16 and I had a fantastic time. Our days included a lot more snorkelling and surfing than they may have liked but those were my conditions. Not only did I keep my friends when I went back, I met new friends I still have today.
Concern: Being together for so long will drive us apart.
My Answer: Oh you will have your moments, no doubt about it, but more often than not a family returns from an adventure of this magnitude as a much tighter family unit. If they are involved in planning the activities than they cannot help but having thrilling moments even if they were stuck with their parents. If you have a fractured relationship with your child before you go than it will be tough but the right trip can only help to bring you closer together.
My Answer: I have heard this one most of all and I never fully understood it. I think this has to do with the idea that when you are parents you have to be responsible and that means acquiring wealth. Can you not be good parents without material wealth? What should you do with your house? Sell it? Rent it out? Do a home exchange? Get house sitters? Do whatever fits into your budget and you are comfortable with. Sell everything else that you can live without or you can buy again when you return. You will most likely not buy everything back as your priorities will have changed.
Concern: I have parents or other parents who count on me for help. I do want to leave them for so long.
My Answer: I have to be careful with my answer on this one to avoid sounding like an insensitive jerk. I understand not wanting to be selfish if this person, or persons, depends on you but I feel that it is OK to be selfish in most situations. I know that I would feel awful if someone was putting off a dream just to help me. It is a small world and easy to stay in touch and return quickly if you have to.
My Answer: Look into all options before you go and see if an alternate solution makes sense. With the communication technology today homeschooling or correspondence education can be an easier option than you may think. How about spending your year in one country while you kids attend a new school? You will not be able to go to as many places that way but you will learn a lot about your prime destination. If you decide for them to skip school altogether for a year it does not mean they will stop learning. Kids will absorb so much in their time on the road that they will probably become better students when they return. Lessons learned abroad will in many ways be more valuable than what they would have learned if they stayed home.
Concern: We cannot afford this, we are not rich.
My Answer: This is the biggie and the concern you will have to work at the most. The next two blogs will look closer at financial aspects extended travel. To make this type of trip work it will require a lot of planning. The first Step is look at travel options and to decide on a realistic trip. If you want to take a year off and do everything on your ‘must see’ list than you will not have the money nor the stamina to fit it all in. Plan a slow and realistic trip. Lisa and I traveled for fourteen months and visited five countries. Would we have had more fun if we had seen 50? We probably would have quit part way through due to exhaustion and would not have arrived home debt free. Calculate the budget for a realistic and slow paced vacation and once you do the math you may be surprised how much you can do in a very reasonable budget.
Are we past these fears? Great! Let’s start planning that trip. The third blog in this series, Extended Family Travel – Fun Itineraries, will suggest some different options of extended travel and the fourth Blog will look closer and the financial aspect of such a trip.