Category Archives: RTW

Chiang Mai Flower Parade

One of the favorite events that we just stumbled into last year about this time was the Chiang Mai Flower Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand.  Parades, music, flowers, and dancers. This huge festival happens usually in early February and will be held February 7-9, 2014.

We just happened to be in the area and saw it on the schedule last year. The parade went right by the Inn where we were staying and we sat outside and ate and took in the amazing sights. The elaborate floats and costumes were stunning. Some floats display the history and heritage of the land, some pay homage to Buddah or the king and others represented organizations or trades. Each was fantastic and they provided us a beautiful gallery of photos to come home with!

Here is a collection of our pictures to enjoy. If you are in Thailand now – make your way to Chiang Mai to see the Chiang Mai Flower Festival.

The American Road Trip everyone but Americans take


While traveling around the world last year our family often met people who loved to travel, had been traveling or were about to travel. It was a common topic that bonded us to strangers in foreign lands while sitting in airports, restaurants, camper parks, and queues.

What often struck me was how many travelers from other countries, especially Australians, come to America and do a trip that most Americans have never done. We heard the itinerary over and over again. It was often the same and maybe varied in a stop or two, or by the amount of time they  took, but the flow of the trip was usually the same. Here is the sample itinerary:

Fly into New York (Always a destination.)

Drive, train or Bus down the Coast To Washington, DC (Always stop here.)

Drive, train or bus to Atlanta, Georgia (Always a destination! Token southern city.)

Drive, train or bus to Florida (Various locations from Disney to Miami.)

Drive,train or bus to New Orleans,Louisiana (Always a Destination, Token music and food city.)

Fly To Colorado (If ski season.)

Visit The Grand Canyon/Arches National Park, etc.

Drive to Las Vegas (Always a Destination. It wouldn’t be America if they didn’t go to Vegas!)

Drive, Train, bus to Los Angeles/Hollywood (Always a destination.)

Stop in Hawaii

Fly Home

(Sometimes this trip is in reverse order.)

Wow! We heard it from people over and over. Young students taking a summer trip before they start work, couples coming to explore America, and retirees taking a vacation.  The concept of a North American Tour was normal for people from other countries but being American, I had never thought of the “North American Tour” on such a grand scale.

Most Americans would be hard-pressed to drive their family to Florida for Spring Break and would never think to stop and look around on the way to get there.  Seeing the idea of the American Tour makes me think about the way I  live in the United States now that we are back.  I will try to appreciate our travels even if it is just out of the county – and not the country.

We tackled the 3 week drive across the country to start our year of traveling. We drove from Kentucky to Los Angeles and sold our car before hopping on a plane to start our Round-The-World adventure. We rafted the Grand Canyon, drove through Kansas, took in a baseball game in St Louis, MO. and saw Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas. It was epic and taught us a lot about traveling before we left our home soil.  I saw it as the start of our adventure. But I have plenty more to go!

I challenge my fellow Americans to try to hit the States on the above list if you haven’t already. Then try to hit all fifty!  Explore your home and surrounding areas! When we can’t travel abroad for whatever reason… travel closer to home.

Traveling is a way of life that can be enjoyed in foreign countries – or right here in the USA!

The gift of Travel- Thank you Honey for the best gift ever!!!!!

photoIt was our first Christmas home after two years of having Christmas’s on the road. Even though our time on the road had taught us to be more frugal and buy less we still found an awful lot of stuff under the tree on Christmas morning. Everyone was all smiles but there were shrieks of joy and surprise when we opened the huge surprise gift my awesome hubby gave us.

The gift was wrapped the same. There was one for each of us. We were told to open them at the same time. The kids managed to rip them open first and I knew it was something big. I saw the black book first. It was a cover for our well worn dive logs that we used on our recent Round the World adventure. When I opened it, out fell a paper detailing a trip booked for Spring Break to Bonaire, the shore diving capital of the world.  Each of had a different Bonaire guide book or dive information. It was amazing.

I have never been surprised with a vacation before and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I was getting so antsy to travel that I found myself constantly planning hypothetical trips. After a year on the road we had returned to the hustle and bustle of our Kentucky lives. School, sports, and family commitments now dominated our free time and we found making the time to travel abroad getting harder and harder.

We learned from the “Big trip” that in order to make it happen  you really just have to commit to the trip  and make it a priority. The other commitments will work out. Sometimes it is nice to have someone do that organizing for you!  What a gift! Thank you David for making the commitment for us. We are all thrilled!!!

Diving is our family’s passion. We did over 25 dives on our Round the World trip. (Read my post at 72andrising to learn about why we love diving with our kids!  )   Bonaire has some of the best shore diving in the world. Meaning one can rent a truck, drive to a dive site and go in right from the beach. No boats or guides needed. I can’t wait. I’m excited and ready for advice and suggestions from all who have traveled there!!!

In the mean time, I’ll be posting from the South as I’ll probably hit several southern states before we leave!!!  Merry Christmas!!

Making your trip happen – by making it a priority.

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Taking time off to take a vacation or travel to a dream destination is really hard for us Americans. We have a lot of pressure on us. We are a hyper-scheduled society and we like it that way. We have work commitments, school commitments, sports and tournaments to attend, family to see and annual family obligations we feel compiled to meet. These are things we feel we must do, but also things we like. They are what ground us and generally help make daily life good. There is nothing wrong with these things.

Having just returned from our year “off” – I have learned a few things. Being one of those hyper-scheduled families that was loaded down with commitments before we left, I completely understand how a schedule can come to dominate one’s existence. People looked at us as if we were crazy to pull our kids  from select soccer and leave our annual routine. Well, we did it. We took the year off. We had an amazing experience and we are back. We returned and things are pretty much back to the very full schedule we had before we left. We learned to let go a little and we enjoy an existence that is a little less crammed full, but it is still pretty busy.  We are, after all, Americans. We can’t help it. Schedules and routine are a real and normal part of our life here.

In the US, we typically get less vacation time than other Countries. (U.S. Workers Trail Rest Of Developed Countries In Vacation Time: Report ://  With an average of 16 days per year there is barely enough time to make it to every family get-together, hit the nearest beach or hiking trail for a week, and relax a few days on your couch – never mind visit another country. Taking an extended vacation from your job or career requires serious prioritizing.  One that requires closely examining your finances, preparing for an extended absence and/or taking a long hard look at your career choice.

So I am writing today to help you understand that I really get it. It is hard to break away. It is really hard to let go of a schedule and those commitments.  So, if you want to do it you have to just make it happen and say no to your regular commitments. You must prioritize your trip. It is really hard for us to do that in the USA. We are not encouraged to do it.  It runs counter to our societal “norms”. It might mean saying no to your friend’s wedding or your annual Fourth of July party. It might mean pulling your kids from a sports team for a summer or homeschooling. It might mean leaving your job. These things are terrifying and require a huge leap of faith. There will not be a lot of people in your community that really understand what you are doing. There will be lots of people who support you but are not sure what you are doing or how you are doing it.  Online you will find a huge group of travelers who have done it. They will understand and will help you through it. 

Take the leap. You can do it.  You will not regret it.

Start by making it a PRIORITY.


Normandy and look back at the post from our trip.

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My Dad took me to see the movie Midway when I was a very little girl. It probably wasn’t the most appropriate movie for a seven year old but Dad and I bonded over WWII forever after. I have always been fascinated by the heroism and dedication of the greatest generation and the war that gave us the freedom we all continue to enjoy today.

It has been a dream of mine to see Normandy for myself. To walk on the beaches, see the bluffs, touch the bunkers and pray for the fallen. My experience was better than I ever imagined. It was something that touched all of us differently and even Lee at ten said that it was the best tour of our entire trip. That about sums it up.

Enjoy the pictures but they don’t do it justice. It’s the stories of personal heroism that made this special and ultimately it was these individual acts of courage and bravery that won the war.

Breakfast from around the world!

Found this great photo on Pinterest! Breakfast around the world is usually a delightful experience….although I suggest you avoid the “western breakfast” when in Borneo and taking anti-malaria medications. The smell of baked beans on a nauseated stomach may not get you through the day! Go for mi-goreng instead!


Most Magical Place on our RTW trip?

We received a question from Fun Things @funthingsapp on Twitter asking us, what was the “most magical place” on our ’round the world adventure?  What a great question!

With our family, as with any family, you get four very different answers to most questions you pose. To this question my son and husband would both answer New Zealand. My husband will tell you because of it’s breathtaking beauty. We actually had to pull over in our campervan to admire the view at times or we were sure to run off the road.

My son will say New Zealand for a totally different reason. New Zealand is an eleven year old adrenaline junkie’s dream.  He was able to walk outside skyscrapers, roll down hills in giant inflated balls, jump off cliffs  and freefall 60 meters, luge down mountains and jet boat through Lord of the Rings country.  He visited with the indigenous Maori people and learned some of their customs, including the traditional haka.  There were dolphins and whales, kayaks, geysers, glaciers and hobbits. For him it was a massive island playground. Forget Disney.

My daughter would say Africa. She loved it. It was indulgent in the gift of life.  Animals are everywhere and they are the kind you dream about.  Lions, leopards, giraffe, zebras.  We awoke one night to find our tent surrounded by hippos grazing just a few feet from us. The people were wonderful, exhuberant and kind. The beauty was abundant. I remember being in awe of  fluorescent sunsets behind slowly moving silhouettes of a foraging herd of elephants. I find it hard not to agree with her.

For me, the answer is difficult. I’m torn. If I can differentiate between land and water (I’m a diver and underwater….well, that is a whole different post!)  then I will say Bali. I was struck while walking through the small streets in Amed and Ubud by the beautiful Hindu temples and private garden temples at each home. I felt like I had walked into a secret world. I loved seeing the flower offerings set each day or visiting a ceremony with elaborate costumes and mystical music. Bali is a magical place because life is lived on a different schedule there. Each action, each person, and each event is honored. Taking time to appreciate life is a conscious practice in Bali and in such a beautiful environment one can’t help but become enchanted.

Thanks for your question!!!

Thanks Funthingsapp

Feeding electric eels…eating grubs.

One of my favorite experiences on our Round the World adventure was our two weeks in the Amazon.  We did so many things that pushed us out of our comfort zones.  I conquered my fears of bats and bugs mostly because I didn’t have a choice.  The bats were huge and the bugs were everywhere.  It was hotter than I have ever been and we hiked and traveled far into remote  jungles to see the mysteries of the Amazon.  We all ate grubs and piranha to try local delicacies, and because… we caught them.  We fed electric eels in a mud hole because… we could, and when else would we get such an opportunity!

It was these experiences that are best told by my ten year old. His blog was mostly short videos of our adventures captured by his sister.

The link to his grub video is here.

I have attached his eel blog below. Enjoy!

Electric eels are shocking

Feeding Electric eels

So we found ourselves miles up the Amazon River getting out of a boat to hike. We hike about 15 Minutes and we already saw 3 different of birds. We hike for 2 hours and we have seen 20 different birds. We get to this this small double decker dock and we go fishing! We caught 7 fish. We also saw 4 caiman! Then we hike for another 30 minutes. We got to a puddle that was 1 square foot. I almost jumped in it but then I see an electric eel come out! It was huge. They were gray with a red bellyAt one moment in time there were 5 in the puddle.Our guide says there were under ground tunnels so they have lots of secret places. We gave them the fish and you heard them shock it.It was amazing! I hope to do it again!


Bookshelf motivation: RTW planning part 2

If  you read our earlier post about our use of a map ( Traveling around the world, It all started with The Map. (  you know that we used lots and lots of books for motivation and inspiration. No doubt most of you travel lovers and  couch travelers have some of these on your shelves too. They are great motivators. We used post-its and corner tabs to mark our favorite pages . We downloaded dozens more onto our e-readers (*the best go to advice is from bloggers and e-books).  We read with interest other adventures. Research is  a necessary part of the planning. In the end there is no perfect book. There are lots of suggestions.  But alas, like parenting books, one will find the RTW travel guide that suits their travel style.

Most of these books we had for years. Some we bought to inspire and educate once the plan was in motion. None of these books made the trip with us. (Kindles and iPads came instead).  So send and link your favorites in the comments. Help inspire others! 20131016-105804.jpg

Travel Journey of the Week: Venice

We spent just a few days in Venice during our six weeks in Italy. I’ll agree that I was quickly in love with the city.  It is the little things that stand out about each city after you spend a year on the road. Ask my kids about Venice and one of their fondest memories was searching and taking pictures of pissottas.

Did you notice the slanted concrete slabs in the darkened corners of the walkways? They are called “pissottas” and they are an ancient Venetian  solution to people peeing in corners.  My kids called them pee bumps or pee corners.  They are everywhere.  Some are new. Some are old. Generally they slant downward so the would-be offender urinates onto himself and therefore is discouraged from attempting the act again. It may not be the doors of Charleston, SC or the doorknockers of Antigua, Guatemala but the pee bumps of Venice are unique and make for quite a photo.

Calle Corner peebumps p1020815