Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Jason: Big Travel thoughts, hopes and fears

Before we begin our epic journey around the world, I wanted to take a moment to capture my thoughts, hopes and fears that I can use to guide the coming year and that I can look back on afterward and see how reality matched my expectations.

I certainly have a lot of fears at this point, so I'll start with those and then maybe can end on a positive note.  One big fear I have is under the general category of, "Oh no, have we made a horrible mistake?"  I just quit my job and rented out our house, so I'm officially unemployed and homeless now.  That in itself is scary enough.  But on top of that, we are leaving behind family and friends and are packing everything we need for a year in bags we can carry and spending a month at a time in completely unfamiliar countries, neighborhoods, etc.  That is uncertainty on top of uncertainty.  Add to that, I keep wondering -- have we saved enough?  Worst-case, we will just cut our trip short, but I really hope it doesn't come to that.

Given that we will all be living under a smaller roof and will not have our family/friend support network and will not necessarily get a break from each other, I'm worried about whether we will grow closer together or drive each other crazy!  We will definitely need to find ways of getting alone time and time together as a couple away from the kids to stay sane.

I have read stories of other traveling families that have experienced serious health situations on their trip so I'm a bit worried that this might happen to us and end up derailing our trip.  It helps that in one situation, the family managed to adapt to a broken leg and was still able to have an amazing trip, albeit different than they had originally planned.  Knowing that we can be flexible and adaptable is putting my mind at ease, but I do hope it's not something we have to deal with.

We have never homeschooled our kids before.  On top of that, we had nothing but frustrations the one year that we had to try to get our daughter to complete math homework.  I really hope that this is something that will go smoothly and that our kids will not be behind grade-level when they return.

Unfortunately, we are leaving for our trip at a time of geopolitical uncertainty as well.  Trump was just elected and seems bent on enraging our allies and cozying up to our enemies.  I hope that those abroad can see that most Americans are not like Trump and his ilk so we don't have to pretend we're Canadian!  I also hope that our country is not a nuclear wasteland when we return.  That all seems very bleak, but there has been day after day of sobering news about Russian compromise of the US executive as well as scores of trouncing executive orders.  One hope is that there will be a break from the constant stream of bad news.  I will definitely want to stay somewhat aware, especially as it impacts us while we are outside the US border, but can use a break from the daily bombardment.

Aside from all of the fears, I have a lot of hopes for the coming year.  That, of course, is what has driven us for the last 4+ years to do this trip -- what we hope that we will get out of the journey.

My biggest hope is that we will cut out all of the distractions (our things, daily routine, job, standard treadmill of kid sports and activities, etc.) so that we can experience each other and life in its raw form and gain perspective of what is truly important to us.  I've often contemplated questions of how I should be spending my time and I hope that this year gives me some "room to think" and consider what my true passions are.

I have some practical hopes as well.  I hope that I will get better at guitar and chess and that I will get back into art and drawing and music.  I used to draw and paint a lot, but somehow that creative side has gotten lost and overshadowed by my analytical side.  I want to rebalance those aspects of myself.

For my kids, I hope that they will try new things and get exposed to new ways of living they never would have known about.  I hope they try new foods and meet kids around the world that they can communicate with simply through the international language of play.  I hope they will get a better appreciation of the here-and-now and what they have rather than chasing after the next best thing or longing for what they don't have.  I hope they grow closer together and to us.  I hope we get to play more together - what kid wouldn't want to have a year with both parents not working to play more?  I also hope that at a minimum, they will take away amazing memories from this trip and will be subtly changed in positive ways they aren't aware of, yet.

A lot can happen in a year.  I'll do my best to bring about the positive impacts every day.  My final hope is that my fears are not materialized and that we will be far richer in ways I haven't even thought of!


  1. As we have traveled abroad for a year I would say that some of these may be true - at least one of you will have an illness on the road (I was hospitalized in Ecuador, Matt horrible in Egypt) but you will recover/adapt. Finding alone time is essential. You are unemployed now, but employers were excited to hire both my husband/I when we returned after a year abroad. We traveled a few years after 9/11 and true - instability is there, but always will be and glad to hear you still went in the midst of uncertainty. Just pretend you are Canadian (we did sometimes).

    Plus your dreams for your children are so true - best wishes to you all four on making memories!

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