The smile you get when you hear from your traveler friends….

Today, I got an e-mail from Tam who was the mahout who taught us to ride elephants and bathe them in a river near Chiang Mai, Thailand. His note was a simple hello that was filled with kindness. He spoke of the weather and a new baby elephant. In broken English he said to say “Hi” to the kids. That note made me smile and took me quickly back to our day with the elephants, eating fresh pad thai in a bamboo hut in the jungle of Northern Thailand.

On Monday, we heard from friends we had traveled with on a live-aboard dive boat on the Great Barrier Reef. We became fast friends, quickly learning to navigate on a night dive through a swim-through with a moray eel on one side and a reef shark on the other.

There is something so special about a simple e-mail or Facebook message from a friend you have met on the road. It brings you back to your experience with that person and reminds you of your adventure. So if you have traveled and met someone special…or met a traveler and have befriended them, I suggest you reach out to them today!  Put a smile on someone’s face.

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Traveling around the world, It all started with The Map.

World Map

It all started with The Map.

We ordered a giant map. The kind you stick pins in. We hung it in our dining room. My husband and I had made the decision in our minds that we could do it. The questions that still lingered were plenty. Where? When? Would our 10-year-old and 14-year-old even agree? So we decided to buy the map. We took down a painting and replaced it with a large world map. It took up the whole wall. We passed it every day, several times a day.

The Rules:  Anyone in the family could put a pin on the map but you have to put something in a folder (or on pinterest or in Dropbox) about the place you wanted to go. Everyone had their own color. Guests came with suggestions and added to it.

The folders grew. The pins were added. Slowly the map started to fill up and we could begin to see the trip in our minds. The kids started to grow excited.

We put a shelf below the map with travel books like 1000 Places To See Before You Die and The Kids’ Travel Book to inspire us. There were no wrong pins and no limits, at first. The goal was to engage. To inspire. To motivate. The map worked its magic.

*Details on the specifics, the itinerary, the packing lists, the planes, trains, and elephants ,   and how we got our teenager to agree to leave her friends for year are follow-up posts.  Follow us and I’ll give updates  on what we did and how others are doing it.

Live your dream!

Travel Inspiration

Inspiration!

Helen On Holiday

birds

Gotta love ’em

I’m a sucker for travel inspiration quotes – I can literally spend hours on Pinterest – but I’m not talking about quotes in this post, I’m talking about proper inspiration and where to get it from. I sometimes, who am I kidding I ALWAYS, get the urge to want to go travelling – or at least add a destination to my already extensive bucket list – and I usually soothe my backpacker cravings with doing what I like to do best, research!  Today, I give you a list of where to look for some travel inspiration!

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A Mom’s First Stab at Processing the trip around the World

A re-blog from our trip blog.

A Mom’s first stab at processing the trip around the world.

Posted on May 29, 2013 by Anne Helmers Edit

We have returned home to an amazing whirlwind of friends and family. We are still jetlagged and have hardly had time to process the incredible experience we have had. We have read a lot about the transition process and realize that it is going to take time to acclimate and understand the effects our experience has had on us. In the meantime I have put down a few things about traveling that sum up some of the experiences I know have had an impact on my life.

Travelers: You meet amazing people on the road. The kind of people you meet while traveling are often other travelers. So you tend to share that love in common. Travelers are a strange and interesting kind of people. They always have great stories, come from varied and interesting places, and are generally interested in the stories you have to share. So they quickly make for good friends. Travelers welcome you back to their homes when you are in their country. Travelers understand what we are doing and usually tell us about those places in their countries that we really want to see, as well as places they have visited. They become quick and lifelong friends.

Locals: In addition to travelers, we have met many locals. There is nothing better than meeting friendly folks in their own environment. This is where you gain real insight into life in a different community. We’ve stayed in a homestay in the jungle of Borneo with a family. We’ve cooked Pad Thai with “Stumpy” in a hut in Northern Thailand outside Chiang Mai before elephant hiking . The kids played volleyball with the local children in the Amazon one afternoon – when we attended a dedication of a new playground in a local village. We went fishing with Rodney and his son, Harry, up their favorite creek in Australia. We celebrated Guatemalan Independence Day with our friends, Delia and her family and neighbors in a small town outside Antigua with a traditional Guatemalan-style backyard BBQ. We set off fireworks with friends in Bali on New Year’s Eve. In New Zealand, Laura Burton introduced us to her host family where she was living and student-teaching. Carrie and her family fed us and invited the children to school for a day. The DalMonte’s took us in and fed us home-cooked Italian meals and reminded us that family are the people you treasure most in this world even if they aren’t your blood. They made Cremona feel like it was a homecoming.

Stuff: I thought we packed pretty light for a year to start with. We had one rolling duffle and one backpack each. We then sent back or donated boxes of unnecessary items. We often left our big bags at a hotel in one city and traveled with just the backpacks for a few weeks and came back to the big bags. It really is true you can get everything you need wherever you are. We also have learned to lay off purchasing souvenirs – especially the junky stuff that seems to be sold in every corner of the planet. Most of our souvenirs of this trip will be memories captured in many pictures. Staying in warmer weather helped too. It wasn’t until we got to Europe that we needed “city” clothes and warmer stuff. Luckily things we’re on sale because it was spring, and we were all happy for some new clothes. Old shorts and “jungle clothes” were donated. For the most part…nobody wanted to see that stuff again. I was so surprised when I returned and saw the size of our house and the amount of stuff we had. It feels excessive. I feel blessed.

Food: One of the highlights of traveling is the wonderful and varied food. We ate so well I can’t say I lost weight. Especially in Southeast Asia and Europe where there are so many choices of food and everything is so incredible. Lee was so excited for Italy. Pasta has always been his favorite and upon arriving in Italy he declared he was finally “home”. We were also constantly on the move and very active and I felt healthier than ever before. I have noticed that in most of the 3rd world countries and in Europe the markets are so full of fresh food and the people always walk everywhere. It makes me wonder how we got so far away from it in the US.

Under the sea: We have had the chance to scuba dive over 25 times this year. I got certified when I was 18 and I have done more dives this year than the rest of my lifetime combined. I could do a blog entry just on comparing the beauty of each reef from Fiji, Australia, Bali and Thailand. Suffice to say that I have been as happy underwater as anywhere else on earth. I’m so glad we can do this activity as a family as it has been a truly amazing experience. The kids have become excellent and experienced young divers and it is fun that we can share this activity together. I expect and hope we will continue this sport for many years to come.

History: History comes alive when you travel. You can actually see the impact of exploration, migration, slavery and war on the faces of the people and the architecture of the cities. This is fascinating and enlightening.

Environment: If I wasn’t an environmentalist before this trip, I am surely one now. The impact of humanity on our world is staggering. Many places are far better at being environmentally friendly than we are. We visited several places and animals that I truly believe won’t exist in 25 years. I’m scared by what I saw. The impact of humanity and the lack of respect for our earth home is frightening. I hope something changes. I’ll be doing my part.

Togetherness: Living together and schedule free is a new concept to all of us. If you knew our lives a year ago we were about as committed to a busy schedule as anybody gets. Between school, work, volunteer-projects and sports we kept a very active daily schedule. Both our kids played select soccer so most weekends we could be found divided in two different cities texting play by plays. The past six months we were together 24 hours a day and at times in a room not much bigger than my old minivan. It amazes me that despite being together all the time we are never at a loss for conversation, we tend to actually enjoy each other’s company and really don’t miss the schedules at all. We are a real family. We fought plenty. Life was typical in those ways. But we are closer because of this experience. We were home less than 24 hours when Laney suggested we all play Monopoly. This makes me happy.

Sleep: I have noticed that we got more sleep than any of us ever did at home. I always heard about sleep deprivation buy we really did get 8+ hours every night. The kids are aware of how much sleep they really need. It will be hard to get it in as school, homework and sport commitments in the US do not make it easy for children to get 8-10 hours sleep that their bodies need.

Cussing: If you are thinking about traveling anywhere in the world be aware that your kids will be exposed to all sorts of language. I’m not just talking about the inevitable slip-ups that are part of being together for a year together. Australians curse like sailors. (Well, some of them are sailors! ) Australians curse all the time. It’s part of the language there. I even heard the Target lady describe on a loud speaker that one of the toys was a “Hell of a lot of fun”. They won’t curb their language for your kids as they expect you curse with your kids too. So be aware. In Southeast Asia, we had many experiences in several different countries where locals would be speaking to us in broken English and suddenly drop the “F bomb” right in mid-sentence. It is my hypothesis that most of these people learn their English from movies (and Australians) and believe Americans cuss all the time. They just use swear words for emphasis and don’t think anything about it. They probably don’t even know what they mean.

In summary, we have enjoyed the past ten months as much as any time period in the life of our family. We have done many amazing things, but more importantly we have done them together. We are a closer family for it. Our greatest souvenirs from this year will be out closeness and our memories of these adventures. While we have suffered heartbreak at times (most notably the untimely loss of David’s father and my cousin Craig) we have been uniquely connected and able to support one another.

We have also taken from those experiences the important lesson that life is short and every day is precious. Taking advantage of the time we are given is critically important and to do otherwise wasteful. More importantly, we hope to bring the same renewed sense of adventure and appreciation to our lives back in Lexington.

Beyond vacation: Sabbaticals allow families to bond and travel – NBC News.com

 

Beyond vacation: Sabbaticals allow families to bond and travel

Aug. 20, 2013 at 1:02 PM ET

NEW YORK – At this time last year, Graham Bodel was analyzing equities for Credit Suisse in Manhattan.

This year, his days look a little different. In recent weeks he has been walking along the banks of the Seine River with his wife, Alexa, and their two children, and strolling through the Jardin du Luxembourg or the Musée d’Orsay.

Paris is one of the first legs on a year-long journey that will take them everywhere from India to Australia – a huge chunk of time taken right in the heart of Bodel’s prime earning years.

“Honestly, it was the hitting-40 thing,” says Bodel, 42, whose kids are 7 and 5. “I didn’t get a sports car or a new girlfriend, but it does make you rethink your whole life plan. Taking a trip like this has always been a fantasy of ours, and now was the perfect time to do it.”

If you need any proof that the career priorities of Generations X and Y are different from those of the 9-to-5 Company Man of yore, look no further than people like Bodel.

Some are securing extended time off work, yanking their kids out of school and globe-trotting with their families. Call it a rebellion against cubicle culture, or an early midlife crisis, or a “mini-retirement,” as author Tim Ferriss dubbed it in one of his bestsellers, “The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich.”

Whatever you call it, it symbolizes one thing: Younger workers are not content to wait until their golden years for a significant break or to savor more time with their families.

“Most people at most times can’t do this, because real life intrudes,” says David Elliot Cohen, a publisher from Tiburon, Calif., who chronicled his own family’s trip in the book “One Year Off.” “But if everything aligns and you have a shot at it, you should take it. Because the opportunity to spend that kind of time with your kids may never come again.”

Companies seem to be adapting to a new workforce with different priorities. Sixteen percent of employers now offer unpaid sabbaticals, up from 12 percent in 2009, according to the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2013 Employee Benefits Survey. Another 4 percent even offer fully paid sabbaticals as a juicy perk.

Paid sabbaticals average about two months in duration, while unpaid stints are “all over the map,” according to Elizabeth Pagano McGuire, a founding partner at the consulting firm yourSABBATICAL, which helps companies design the programs. They appeal most of all to a younger demographic: Younger generations hold very different work attitudes than their older counterparts, including valuing time off, according to studies by Dr. Jean Twenge of San Diego State University.

Of course, in an economy where most Americans live paycheck to paycheck, taking an extended family vacation is a tricky financial equation. Your income will likely cease just as your expenses begin to include stiff charges like flights, hotels and restaurants.

‘No extravagant purchases’

So how can regular folks pull off such a challenge?

Plan years in advance. Vancouver’s Chris Boltwood, a finance manager for local utility BC Hydro, isn’t messing around: He has been planning his big family trip for four years, siphoning a percentage of his salary into a dedicated account. He has also arranged to rent out the family home for the six months they will be gone. He, his wife and their two kids (ages 8 and 10) plan to opt for family-run guesthouses and will focus on Asia, which offers more budget-friendly countries than Europe, once their trip starts in January.

“We have been living off a tighter budget over the last four years in anticipation,” he says. “Very little eating out, no extravagant purchases. And when it’s tough – and sometimes it is – we remind ourselves why we’re doing it, and generate that buzz to reset the compass.”

Give yourself a margin of error. Silicon Valley engineering manager John Higham wasn’t sure how much it would cost to travel the world with his family in 2005. He estimated the trip would set them back $100,000, so over 13 years he and his wife put away $120,000 to be safe. They also rented out their home while they were gone and took out a home-equity line of credit as a source of emergency cash in the event of a catastrophe.

“We never ended up needing it, but having that kind of fallback was a critical part of our financial planning,” says Higham, who ended up writing the book “360 Degrees Longitude: One Family’s Journey Around the World.”

Try to make reintegration seamless. You don’t necessarily have to quit your job or sell your home. See if your employer is amenable to a sabbatical or a leave of absence, and rent out your place while you’re gone.

If your boss says no, you may be faced with a difficult decision that could have long-term financial consequences, and should be made cautiously. You could be wanting to switch jobs anyway. Graham Bodel, for instance, was ready for a new position and fresh challenges, and timed his family’s trip so it began after he left his previous gig.

But if you can, take it easy on yourself and preserve the basic structures of your life. “Whatever you do, don’t sell your house,” says Cohen. “We did, and it was totally unnecessary. It made reintegration on the other end much harder than I expected.”

Finally, get the kids involved. Higham and his wife wanted to make sure theirs had a stake in the trip’s success, even though they were only 8 and 11 at the time.

“When the kids helped us save, too, it became a true family goal,” he says. “When they wanted ice cream at the store, they would say, ‘Can we really afford this, or should we save it instead?’ Enthusiasm about the trip became infectious.”

 

Beyond vacation: Sabbaticals allow families to bond and travel – NBC News.com.

Starting point for travelers: Vagabonding by Rolf Potts

Cover of "Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide ...
Cover via Amazon

The BOOK that started the idea of long-term travel for us. If you don’t have it on your shelf – go get it. Be warned: We gave it to two people and both have since embarked on their own version of long term travel experience. It’s really motivating! Not a “how to” as much as a philosophical guide.  Good for the soul of those wanting to get started!

http://www.vagabonding.net/book/

“Vagabonding” is about taking time off from your normal life — from six weeks, to four months, to two years — to discover and experience the world on your own terms. Veteran shoestring traveler Rolf Potts shows how anyone armed with an independent spirit can achieve the dream of extended overseas travel, once thought to be the sole province of students, counterculture dropouts, and the idle rich. Potts gives the necessary information on:

financing your travel time
determining your destination
adjusting to life on the road
working and volunteering overseas
handling travel adversity
and re-assimilating into ordinary life
Not just a plan of action, vagabonding is an outlook on life that emphasizes creativity, discovery and the growth of the spirit.

Rolf Potts funded his earliest vagabonding exploits as a landscaper and an ESL teacher. He now writes and speaks on travel-related issues for dozens of venues worldwide, and his travel essays have appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Outside, The Best American Travel Writing, and on National Public Radio. He keeps no permanent address, but feels somewhat at home in Bangkok, Cairo, Pusan, New Orleans and Kansas.

You can do it too! Long-term travel with family IS FOR EVERYONE. But everyone must do it in their own way.

My family and I returned in May 2013 from almost a year-long adventure traveling the world. We visited over twenty countries and six continents. We have two kids who were 10 and 14 at the time and we lived our dream. It has changed the way we look at life.

The truth is if you asked me three years ago if we could do this kind of trip I think we all would have said “no”. We were the typical American family. We were over-scheduled, over-indulged and way too busy to take a year off. There was no way our jobs, the kids’ sports, or our life would allow us to “up and leave”. Amazingly, once we made the decision to go – everything fell into place.

The specifics of why we chose to go and how we did it are in another blog. And truthfully they are unimportant to you. Every family’s reasons for going, how to go and where to go will be unique. Just like parenting choices, buying clothes or decorating your house. We have different styles of travel. There isn’t a “right way”. BUT traveling with your family is good. The benefits are plenty. Finding a way to make it priority and to make it happen will pay off. It will be the best decision you ever made.

This is why I am starting this blog. I am here to motivate and charge you with taking the first step. I want you to just say you are interested in traveling with your kids. Then help you find the way to make it fit with your lifestyle.

There are plenty of websites that will give you the “how to’s” and connect you to the people who have done it. I will help you navigate them. I will get help you stay motivated. I just want you to reach the point where you say “I CAN DO IT!”

We did it. You can too. You don’t need to do it the way we did. Just use us as an interesting story that motivates you. I’ll tell you a bunch more and maybe, hopefully you’ll find your own path!

If you want to read our story:
http://www.andtheyreoffblog.com

Before the trip!!!
Before the trip!!!

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#longtermtravel #travel #justdoit #travelwithkids #familytravel

Encouraging families to live their travel dreams!

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