About the Book

PREFACE

I’m writing this book because this is the book I wanted to read when I was planning our family’s year long trip around the world.  There were a plethora of guide books to tell you where to go and what to do, but I never found a “How To” book – one that would help me formulate a “To Do” list.  I knew there would be a myriad of details to attend to and I was looking for guidance.  Surely we were not the first family to take a year long trip and I wanted to learn what my predecessors already knew: what they had done right, and what they had done wrong.  I also craved advice regarding traveling with kids beyond the borders of Europe.

I was curious as to what thoughts and feelings had gone through the minds of those who had already done this.  Marty and I were a roller coaster of emotions over our 2 ½ years of planning and our year of travel.  Were all of these feelings normal?  Or were they signs that this was just the wrong thing to be doing?  Someone else’s well expressed feelings regarding a trip like this might have been a comfort.

There’s another reason for writing this book.  We did it!  We didn’t just think of this idea and sit on it, we made it happen.  If our story can inspire one other person or family to live out their long term travel dream, then the purpose of writing this book will have been fulfilled.

So here’s to you travelers who are thinking or fantasizing about a long-term trip.   May this book serve as a guide to make your life easier.  St. Augustine said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” Go forth and enjoy the Whole Book!

WHO IS THIS BOOK FOR?

If you are thinking about long term travel, this book is for you.  If you are curious about how to plan a journey of this magnitude, this book is for you.  Or if you want to vicariously enjoy someone else’s travel adventure, this book is for you.

People are choosing to make long term travel part of their lives: empty nesters, ready to stop putting their life on hold for their kids and start living their personal dream, individuals taking a sabbatical year, those between jobs seizing the opportunity to see more of the world, homeschoolers who are incorporating extensive travel into their curriculum. Maybe hitting the road is related to your work. Maybe you don’t fit into any of these categories but you’ve decided to live out a lifelong desire of extended travel.  If you are planning a long term trip, you will find the information in this book invaluable.

Have I covered everything you will encounter during the preparation for your trip?  Certainly not!  Will reading this book relieve you from reading guide books or doing additional trip research?  No way!  I don’t believe that book exists and I am certainly not going to claim that I am writing it.  But, if you are planning a long journey, you will glean a multitude of ideas from reading this book, possibly many you will read nowhere else.  And, you might just find yourself entertained along the way.

WHY WE DID IT

People thought we were crazy when we told them we were taking a year off to travel around the world.  Who takes a year off to travel?  I guess if we were retired with grown children and independently wealthy, they might have looked at us differently.  But no, we are not retired, we have elementary school age twin daughters and we are definitely not rich.  So what ever made us think of such a bizarre idea, and more importantly, what ever made us think that we could pull it off?

As we began to tell family and friends what we were planning, we heard mixed reactions.  Some thought it was totally absurd.  Other were fascinated but felt that it was not something they had any desire to do.  Others looked at us longingly and said, “Oh, I would love to do something like that!” I responded, “You can,” but secretly wondered if they too were struggling with the same issues that Marty and I needed to overcome in order to make this happen.

BLOG POST:

Thursday, January 1, 2009
FLUSHING OUT THE TRUTH ABOUT CHINA
Posted by lisa at 7:15 PM

We encountered our first one in Dubrovnik, Croatia, and walked away. Once we arrived in Africa and later India, we encountered more and they were harder to ignore but often we did. Now that we’re in China, it’s pretty much impossible to avoid. I’m talking about the infamous squat toilet! Easterners have been using them forever but for us Westerners, it’s just hard to get used to them. I don’t know why it should be such a big thing, essentially we squat to go to the bathroom anyway; we’re just used to doing it with a seat underneath us. Of course, when we visit a less than clean restroom at home, we don’t sit, we squat – so it’s kind of like the same thing right?

Our hotel has a “Western Style” toilet which means that it looks like a Western toilet, it flushes like a Western toilet but it can’t handle paper like a Western toilet. You therefore must wipe and dispose of your paper into a waste bin and not into the toilet. It sounds a little gross, but it’s not all that bad. The bin has a lid so it doesn’t smell and they empty the bin everyday. Once you leave the hotel however, it’s pretty much squat toilets everywhere.

In a decent restaurant, the squat toilet is not too bad since it is clean and doesn’t smell bad. They clean the “toilet room” quite frequently, but they use water to clean the whole bathroom and they don’t dry the floor afterwards. This causes a small problem, how to pull your pants down to use the squat toilet but not end up with the bottom of your pant legs all wet. Clearly you attempt to do this by holding on to your pants with one hand while you go to the bathroom and then wipe. You can often successfully get this far but then you are stuck with toilet paper in one hand, your pants in the other hand and you have to both pull up your pants and get rid of the toilet paper. The toilet paper bin often has a foot pedal but have you ever tried to push on the pedal of a trash can to open it while your pants are around your thighs and you’re trying to hold the bottom of your pants legs up to keep them from getting wet from the floor? The other option is to pull up your pants with one hand while you hold the paper in the other which then frees up your foot to push the pedal to open the can to put your paper in. Clearly we will not be in China long enough to master this art but we are getting better at it.

Public restrooms are another matter. Just like at home where public restrooms can be pretty dicey, the same is true here, only worse! Squat toilets have no water sitting in them so if someone does their “business” in the toilet and doesn’t flush, it is there to stink up the entire bathroom. Plus, these bathrooms are not cleaned regularly. I tried a public restroom just once. I walked in, gagged so bad from the stench, that I left and swore that I would rather use the side of the road if necessary.

The good news is that it is cold outside and no one is drinking a whole lot of water. Hot tea would be good but it is caffeinated so we don’t drink much of that either. This keeps our “needs” down to a minimum. The bad news is, practice makes perfect and I guess this is one thing that we just won’t perfect!