Tony, Posie and Noel’s Big Adventure
So, here’s the news…
On January 1, 2016, myself, my wife Posie, and our younger son Noel will be setting off on a ten-month, round-the-world backpacking journey. Goodbye Catskills, goodbye USA, we’re out of here until the end of the year.
The reasons are many. Posie and I are both 51, we feel fortunate to be part of what is surely the top 1% on the planet in terms of our lifestyle, and I certainly can’t complain about my life … but we each feel that we have seen so damn little of the non-western world. And much though we love where we live, we need a break from the less savory aspects of the USA. I need to see for myself whether my adopted country is as great as it claims in comparison to the rest of the globe.
We don’t have the income to travel the world in month-long blocks of annual vacation, and if we wait until Noel goes to college to travel, we’ll be pushing 60; I’ve had too many friends (and family) disappear unexpectedly or otherwise become incapacitated to have faith that something might not happen to one of us during that time. For now, our older son is happily ensconced in college, and we won’t be missing his graduation year; our younger son will be able to return to the same school he’ll be departing from. In short, the timing is as good as it gets.
As for any issue regarding Noel, I can’t think of a better education for an outgoing 11-year old than to see the world up close. After six years on my local school board, I’m fully aware of the limitations of public education, and ecstatic that by “home-schooling” him for two-thirds of a year, he’ll get to engage in true project-based learning, hopefully making a film as he goes. (We’re also serving as mobile guinea pigs of a sort for a tech-savvy education company, which will ensure we can keep up with the basics.) He is excited beyond belief.
We are hardly alone in taking our son on this journey, as I realized when I was introduced to the concept at Burning Man a few years back. As I type, there are literally hundreds, maybe even thousands, of American (and other global) families cycling, driving, taking public transport, trekking, back-packing and generally exploring the planet, with infants, toddlers, small children, tweens and teens in tow. Though none of them pretend that it’s easy, I’ve yet to encounter one who regrets it.
If all things go as planned, we will be going to Spain, Morocco, Tanzania, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia (and maybe Laos/Vietnam), Borneo, Australia, and New Zealand, with the hope of Hawaii on the way back to the States if we haven’t completely exhausted the budget.
How are we paying for all this? Well, and especially compared to just flying to London in the middle of summer, it’s not as expensive as you might think if you buy the plane tickets well in advance through a company that specializes in this kind of travel. Renting out our house will go a long way towards nightly accommodation in far-flung countries with a lower cost of living; we’re also cashing in some savings, and selling off the car and a number of possessions – after all, we won’t be needing all that “stuff” that accumulates over life when we’re living out of our backpacks. In a couple of places, we have a free base of operations, for which we are grateful.
We’re not gone until January 1, 2016. Plenty more time to talk about it. For now, back to work. And planning.