The short answer is this: my husband is a professor and he is taking students to Thailand for fall semester and then he’s taking a seven month sabbatical where he will be focusing on international development in poor countries. And our girls and I get to come with him-yeah! But being able to travel the world for a year is more complex than that.
First of all, we are very lucky. Yes, travel involves lots more than luck and I will get to that later, but we understand that where we were born and the job my husband has that provides an avenue and means for travel is a privledge. When we had the opportunity to spend six weeks in Southeast Asia a few years ago, I got choked up several times just thinking about how blessed we were to be able to have the experience of traveling in foreign countries as a family.
But luck is only part of it. We really want to travel, so we make it a priority. My husband is a professor at a small university. I am a stay at home mom. We are not rolling in money. We’ve had to chose saving for travel over other things: new cars, new furniture, brand named clothes, going to the movies more than a few time a year, going out to eat regularly, etc. And honestly, it is an easy choice to make. Rand and I both want to travel, so we keep a strict budget and think about what we are gaining when we chose to give up something we would really like to have for something we want more.
But getting to this point hasn’t all been easy. We worked really hard. My husband spent the first 11 years of our marriage in school. First, finishing his undergraduate degree and then getting a Phd. I’m not gonna lie. It was rough. We had very little money then and now we have a mountain of student loans. But now he has a job where he can get paid to travel (take students to Thailand for the semester) and can take time off (sabbatical) and use that time to travel long term.
While Rand was working hard in school, I began homeschooling our kids. There is a long story behind why we decided to homechool. The short version is that Rand thought it would be a good idea, I wasn’t so sure, but when our oldest turned five, I figured that I couldn’t mess up kindergarten too badly and we have been homeschooling ever since. The fact that we homeschool has made it easier to uproot our 12, 14, and 16 year old daughters and drag them around the world for a year. And we aren’t really dragging them. They are almost as excited as we are. Yes, they are sad to leave their friends and the oldest had a small meltdown the other day because, well, because 16 year old girls are emotional. But they are not leaving school and traditions and activities. And the world will be their school for a year, so that’s pretty cool.
And then there is the work of getting ready for this undertaking. Choosing backpacks, and shoes, and clothes. Getting our house ready for renters. Making a plan for where to travel when. Figuring out visas and train schedules. And much more.
And now it’s time to go. The hard work, the luck, and the desire have all come together. On June 11th, we get on a plane and our adventure begins.