We knew we wanted to take an around-the-world trip as a family. It would be the trip of a lifetime and we couldn’t be more excited to plan and take our 9-month adventure. But, like all good things, the trip had to come to an end and we had to return to Charlotte, North Carolina, and settle back in.
After living out of a suitcase, moving every few days, spending days at leisure, and seeing brand new things at every turn, we discovered coming back home was harder than leaving! If you’re considering taking a sabbatical with your family, here’s how we dealt with the return — hopefully we can help make it easier for you.
One of the biggest fears that prevents people from traveling is the fear of not being able to communicate. Visiting a country where English is not widely spoken can definitely be nerve-wracking: How will you find your way? How will you purchase tickets or order a meal? So many “what ifs” may run through your mind, but having visited numerous countries where we couldn’t speak the language, we discovered it’s much easier than you think.
This is EXCLUSIVE content from our book, How To Travel With Kids (Without Losing Your Mind)
After traveling the world as a family of three for 9 months straight, we had to cover three daily meals and snacks, all on the road. Eating out can get pretty costly, and it can be difficult to stay on budget, especially when visiting different countries. We found ways to keep our food costs in check, that you can use for a vacation of any length.
Read any of our blogs and you know we love to walk to get to know foreign cities. With a toddler, this requires a great stroller. Typical strollers can be big and bulky, which makes them difficult to manage when on the road — they have to be checked at the airport, they take up a lot of space in a trunk, a hotel room or a cruise cabin, and they are often too big to manage in crowded museums and attractions.
This is why a good travel stroller is necessary when taking a long trip, particularly umbrella strollers that are lightweight, compact and fold easily. The following collection of travel strollers are low in weight and can travel well. Better yet, these strollers have high marks from parents who actually used them on trips.
Once upon a time, you used to travel together. Romantic
weekend getaways, relaxing summer vacations. Then you started a family, and
ran out of time to do absolutely nothing. “One day, when the kids are older,”
you say, thinking about when you can travel again. To that, we say, “Go now!”
We loved to travel, too, and when Aarav was born, we made the decision
to keep on traveling while he was young. He’s traveled as an infant on
long-haul flights. He’s seen 41 countries before he turned 4. While we learned
a lot about traveling with a young child (read: What We Learned
on Our Sabbatical (And What it Means for Your Vacation)), we also discovered there are perks adults get to enjoy
when traveling with young children.
We cannot rave enough about Shanghai! Actually, we rank Shanghai one of our top five cities in the world. After visiting the more traditional and old-school Beijing, Shanghai was such a change of scenery. The city is very cosmopolitan, like New York City, Mumbai or Tokyo, and incredibly organized. This is a city that wants to be the financial capital of modern Asia and that goal is pretty evident in everything they do.
With a desire to be an international business city comes people from all around the world and from all over China. This means the food in Shanghai is to die for, coming from all the regions of China, as well as around the world! We had some of the best foods we have ever eaten while here. From its beautiful harbor, the energy of the city and its people, the illuminated skyscrapers and, again, the food (we seriously cannot say enough about it), Shanghai should be on everyone’s travel list. This is a city you do not want to miss. Go, now. We mean it!
When you take a vacation, it can be easy to overindulge and put on a few pounds. Cruises are notorious for all-you-can-eat buffets and lots of fruity alcoholic drinks, with passengers gaining an average of 5 to 10 pounds during the duration of one cruise. To take a 9-month trip around the world, however, we knew we couldn’t eat our way around the globe — although we definitely wanted to sample the local foods. We made a commitment before we embarked on our journey to do it in a healthy way. We promised ourselves we wouldn’t come back from our trip in worse shape than when we left. And we didn’t!
We know it’s tough to maintain your health on the road, so we’re sharing our tips on how we stayed healthy.
The best way to get your bearings in a new city is to join a walking tour. In practically every city we traveled, we took a walking tour to learn our way around and get insights from a local. But even more than suggesting everyone take a walking tour in a new place, we suggest a free walking tour. Yes, we understand the obvious reason, but there are many more!
One of the most often questions we are asked is about taking a gap year with our son. To travel 9 months together meant leaving our jobs and putting our home life on hold. We had to plan a budget, save for the trip, make tough decisions, and have a plan for life at home once we returned. It wasn’t an easy thing to do, but was it worth it? Absolutely!
It’s historical, a culture all its own, and, oh yes, the food is off the charts! Beijing is where the Ming and Qing Dynasties thrived with imperial families ruling for centuries. You’ll find palaces, temples, gorgeous parks, and, of course, various entries to the Great Wall of China. Not only is Beijing’s culture unique in how the country celebrates its spiritual beliefs — they once considered themselves between Heaven and Earth — it is also the center of communism in China and provides travelers with another unique perspective on the world.
Yes, although the language can be a barrier, we also found the people of Beijing to be extremely friendly to families, going out of their way to take care of children. It really is a magical city that everyone should visit.