Putting your careers on hold and taking your kids out of school to travel the world elicits a variety of responses. These have ranged from the enthusiastic: Wow what an amazing experience for your family! to the more cautious (borderline sceptical) Really?! Well that’s different…
I suppose that’s the point, this is different. We’ve made the conscious decision to take a non-linear approach to our lives at this moment in time. University, career, marriage, home, kids. We’ve followed the ‘normal’ path, it’s a good one, but now it’s time to alter that course before returning to it in the future.
As a result, we get a lot of ‘what-are-you-doing-about’ questions:
What are you doing about work?
What are you doing about school?
What are you doing with your house?
These kinds of questions are usually preceded by - where are you going and for how long? So here, we’ll make the effort to provide some answers.
At the moment the plan is to travel for seven months, spending about six weeks on each continent (except Antarctica). We intend to chase the sun which is helping direct our decisions on what to bring; primarily shorts and t-shirts with only a few heavier items for layering – a necessity for Jody and Avery who are always cold.
We begin in Central and South America. The first stop is Costa Rica for a bit of a beach vacation to get our travel legs under us before moving on to Panama, Ecuador and Peru. Next, we’re targeting Brazil for Carnival if the challenges of obtaining tourist visas are overcome (stay tuned for that post!). After that we head westward through the South Pacific/Oceania for some tropical adventures, a visit to Middle-Earth and marsupial cuddling before moving on again to South-East Asia, Africa and Europe. The plan is a full circumnavigation before we head home.
It is an ambitious idea that we’re holding to for the moment. That said, there is enough flexibility in our approach to make changes on the fly to either speed up or slow down our travels as required. We’ve been warned that living out of a backpack soon loses it allure so that may influence our pace and number of destinations. We’ll let you know how it goes.
In terms of work, our employers offer self-funded leave of absence programs. These have allowed us to set aside pre-tax wages for use in the future while on leave. In order to take advantage of these programs we’ve made some career decisions and shifted roles within our organizations in order to guarantee participation. Jody, in particular, made a choice to leave a wonderful secondment to get the appropriate approval – it may take a lifetime for me to make this up to her. She’s amazing. I’m hoping the experiences we have travelling can go at least part of the way to balancing it out.
Participation in the leave programs has allowed us to set aside funds that will take care of all of our home expenses while we’re away (house-sitter, mortgage, insurance, property tax, etc). Between this and our own travel savings plans, we’ve been living well within our means for the past several years. We’re pretty sure you can tell when we started to seriously save for this trip by the out-dated state of our wardrobe!
When we return, our careers will be waiting for us and we’ll be able to slip right back into the positions that we leave at the end of 2017. We’re already looking over the horizon to when we return to regular life (and full wages!) having started a ‘when-we-get-back’ list for all the things we’ve put off.
As for school, the girls will away January through June 2018. We’ve been in contact with teachers, principals, and the school board while investigating the whole spectrum of options available to us to continue their education while on the road.
Some of the most enthusiastic and supportive responses to this life decision have come from our daughters’ educators. We are extremely fortunate to have such great teachers in our daughter’s lives. We intend to maintain some contact with school and will put the girls through their paces an hour a day with specific focus. The rest of it we'll incorporate as we experience, discuss and reflect through journaling. We’ll have another post about our approach to school on the road, but overall we aren’t too concerned, they’re pretty bright kids.
Lastly, we bandied about the notion of renting out our house. But after some discussion that invoked a naked guy on our couch (Eww! - Jody won that argument), we’ve decided to go down the path of a house sitter instead. Our insurance company is good with it and our slick new security system gives us peace-of-mind. That combined with a super responsible friend of the family who’s taken on the role of house sitter, we’re really comfortable with this approach. Besides, it cuts out about a 1000 extra things for me to do in the last few weeks before departure.
Only 15,000 things to go...
We're the Danchuks - follow our explorations and family adventures in a wide world (2018).