We are now at the end of a very special year. Looking back over the photos and videos we have accumulated, it is impossible to ignore the huge distance we have come, both in kilometer terms and in our personal development.
We didn’t book the usual “Round the World” tickets for this trip and we are very happy with our decision. It required a bit more planning and work during the trip, but we really appreciated having the flexibility to change our itinerary to fit our current situation. It’s impossible to know in advance which places we were going to want to stay longer, and which places we were going to want to leave sooner. We changed our plans on several occasions during the trip, either because we needed to recharge our batteries, or we just needed a short break to rekindle the spirit of adventure. This flexibility allowed us to prolong our stay in Thailand (we needed to recharge our batteries), and to shorten our stay in a few places that did not inspire us such as Bali and Argentina. We were able to get a good taste of life on the east coast of Australia, one of my favourite destinations on the trip, and also to end the trip two weeks ahead of schedule at the kids’ request, so that they can reunite with their friends and make the most of the summer back home. On the negative side, we had to do quite a lot of research and online booking on the various websites, but we have now developed something of an expertise in finding cheap flights, and also in reading between the lines of the various reviewing websites to know if a place is good or not.
Over the months spent on the road, we have also developed our own way of traveling. By staying in one place for longer, we come to realise how going around the various attractions and tourist traps doesn’t give you a very good idea of what the place is really like. Obviously, when you only have a week or two of vacation, it’s hard to avoid falling into this trap, but since we didn’t have this time restriction we could really appreciate discovering the way of life as lived by the locals, often some way away from the tourist trail. This form of traveling is called Slow Travel, and we adopted it completely. When you are traveling for an extended period, you almost don’t have a choice but to travel in this way since constantly moving from one place to the next and visiting multiple sites per day is tiring, not to mention the energy needed to adapt to each new culture / way of life.
This constant adaptation also allowed each of us to develop our problem solving skills. Between figuring out the Japanese rail network, negotiating in Spanish to change rooms, and trying not to get run over while walking the streets of Jaipur, we had to do all sorts of mental (and physical!) gymnastics. This was particularly evident in the kids. For example, Greg is now the champion for finding the wi-fi password wherever we go, in whatever language. As for Nina, at the start of the trip it was hard, but she can now go and order and pay for her own ice cream anywhere in the world!
Another change that we have noticed in the kids, very obviously, they are now pretty much bilingual. They did speak some English beforehand, thanks to daddy, but for the last few months, all family conversations take place in English. They even dream in English now, as we found out from Greg, who talks in his sleep sometimes! Nina is now worried that she won’t remember how to give presentations in French at school. 🙂
A last point which brought up many discussions during the trip is the environment. We already had a certain level of awareness before leaving on the trip, but to see with our own eyes how so much trash and pollution can disfigure otherwise magnificent landscapes really affected us. We also realised how much we waste, and we have decided to be a lot more careful with our consumption. My new rule will be, more than ever, to acquire only one quality item, instead of buying multiple cheap copies (that often have limited lifespans / utilities). It might seem obvious, but when you only have one small suitcase, pair of sandals, or headphones, it is much better to invest in a quality product, rather than buying cheap ones every two countries (as we have found out now…).
Coming soon to the blog: in Part 3, Gary will review our favourites by continent, in Parts 4 & 5, the children will each present their reviews of the trip, and in the final Part 6, some statistics and a DTT special film from Greg & Nina, summing up our amazing Light Year.