We’ve been home sweet home for more than a month now.
We’re back in our house in Ottawa, Canada and back to our pre-travel life.
Hints of fall and the end of our endless summer are everywhere. There are fresh apples at the market, a few leaves on our maple tree out front have lost their green, and school busses have joined the traffic. The mornings and evenings are getting cooler as summer winds down—our first tastes of frigid air in more than a year. Soon, our sun-kissed hair will darken, we’ll have to give up the comfort of flip flops, and L, who travelled the world for a year with a single pair of shorts, will have to put on pants.
But the season isn't the only change...
We first used Airbnb a few years ago for a one-month trip through Vietnam.
We stayed in a narrow, four-story apartment with an outdoor roof-top kitchen in Ho Chi Minh City; in a small house with a garden steps from the beach near Hoi An; in an apartment with bunk beds and a neat full-wall mural in the centre of Hanoi; and in a family home in the mountains of Sapa. Each stay went really well and these experiences sold us on Airbnb.
Since then, we’ve used the platform in more than a dozen countries on four continents and almost all of our stays have been great.
Okay, how about I answer some big, sort of awkward questions about our one-year trip around the world...
Many people have asked these questions and I’m sure there are a few more who’ve been wondering but feel weird about asking.
First, no, we didn't get major diarrhea.
Second, yes, we did get head lice.
Third, let's talk money.
We’re on our way home.
I’m in a hotel in Niagara Falls. Neither L nor I had ever seen the falls until yesterday. The three of us spent the evening watching them while fireworks lit up the sky.
Today, we're hanging out in the room for a while to watch the Canada vs. Netherlands women's soccer game. LJ is very excited to see two of her favourite players face off on the field.
This year, amongst all the amazing moments, it's often the simple ones that stay with me. Those moments of connection – to people, cultures, each other.
4/24/2019 0 Comments
There is much to love about the city of Luang Prabang in Laos.
It sits at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so it’s definitely picturesque. It also retains considerable French influence, has great food and every morning Buddhist monks walk the streets for the daily alms giving ceremony (tak bat).
After Thailand, we spent five days in this small city in north central Laos. I really liked the area and could have maybe stayed longer; however, it ended up being a good thing that we only planned for five nights.
It’s after dark and we’re whizzing around Bangkok in the back of a tuk tuk after a long day of exploring.
We’ve been in the city for just two days and will leave tomorrow morning.
“Mom, are we almost home?” asks a very sleepy LJ as she leans into me.
The highs and lows of long-term travel with kids
We had a great two-weeks in Bali, spending Christmas and New Years in Ubud, a town in the island's uplands.
It was strange and a bit difficult to be away from friends and family, but we managed to make the holidays very special and certainly memorable.
LJ actually picked this destination. We let her chose between Sri Lanka or Bali and she opted for the latter. We even let her pick our Airbnb (after I came out with four suitable and affordable options). She loved having a big say in our adventure and she made a great choice.
Travel on a budget
There's no compact money tree that fits nicely into a carry-on so we travel on a budget (I’ll likely talk more about the money specifics in another post).
And if we want to keep doing this for a year and not have to sell an organ or start busking using my not-remotely-amazing-actually-rather-painful musical talents, it’s important we stick to that budget.
It can be a challenge...
We spend a lot of time at playgrounds.
LJ loves to be outside, run, climb, hang, play soccer and meet other kids.
Playgrounds let her do it all…for free!
This world is full of cool playgrounds and discovering them has been a really fun part of travelling and exploring cities. So often we use them to take a break, motivate LJ to keep walking and even to give L and me some time to ourselves. It’s also so interesting to see the different approaches that cultures, communities and cities take to play spaces.
Before we left, we got asked a lot about how we would "do school." It was hard to answer because we weren’t quite sure what third grade would look like for LJ.
We started homeschooling her last year and looking back we’re glad we did. It allowed us to get a better sense of what works for her (and what definitely doesn't) before leaving home.
It also got our family into a rhythm of learning without school.
But homeschooling at home -- in a house with lots of space, in a city with lots of activities for homeschoolers, and in a neighbourhood filled with kids -- is different than homeschooling while travelling.
Our life now fits into three large backpacks and three smaller backpacks.
It’s both stressful and liberating.
We have to be vigilant about keeping track of our stuff, but having less stuff is rather calming and makes life simpler.
Honestly, packing for this trip was easier than expected as a little pre-planning went a long way.
My interview with LJ, age 8
Where are you going this summer?
I’m going on a world trip. I’m going around the world.
How do you feel about that?
I’m excited and I’m not excited. I’m excited because I want to know where I’m going to celebrate my next birthday and I’m not excited because I’ll miss my friends.
Enjoy and appreciate the process
I’m starting to freak out a bit.
We’re counting in weeks now and the to-do list is LOOOONG.
Less than 10 weeks until go time and it’s coming up fast!
The weekends are quickly filling up with regular life – birthday parties, soccer practice, trips to Canadian Tire – and there’s so much to be done before we fasten our seatbelts aboard that one-way flight. One day soon, we’ll wake up and it will be time for takeoff.
This summer, we take a new road.
Everything will change as we essentially start a different, though temporary, life.
But before I get to that, let’s back up a bit…
In April of 2016 my father died. He was 56.
In just 18 months, the monster that is cancer stole my motorcycle, Habs and country music loving dad. He was fairly healthy, active and at the height of his career.