How blessed are we to be on a non-stop family world tour since 2006? We actually started our "location independent" or "free range" lifestyle in 2005 when we sold our dream home and almost all of our possessions. It's definitely been the best decision of our lives! If I died today, I would be eternally grateful for the quantity and quality family time together and truly amazing travel experiences plus wonderful people that we have experienced together.
As many awesome adventures that we have had in these last 6 years, we are up for more and continue to love this travel lifestyle. We feel totally blessed that we have managed to explore 43 countries on 5 continents while staying on our $23/day per person low budget. As Tim Ferriss said long ago about us, "You don't have to be rich to live a rich life".
As Mozart gets older, now 11, (so we're realizing it is only 7 years until she is 18 - yikes!), we are especially grateful for the TIME together. Like the song, Slipping Through My Fingers, as parents of a tween, we are more aware than ever of the value of TIME together and how much more we have gotten by choosing this lifestyle.
I am especially happy with the TIME she gets with her father, so rare in this world. It was a scary and risky adventure when we set out to do this in 2005, stepping into the unknown, but for us, there is no doubt what so ever, that it was the right one. After this length of time, we can see the positive influence on Mozart and all of us, and that is gratifying.
It is typical of this time of year to review the past and look to what the future will bring. It is a good idea to consider where we have been, what we have learned and where we are going next. Here are some of our reviews from the first 5 years of our world travels as a family:
2011 pushed us all into new areas in tropical Asia including skipping our trilingual/triliterate 10 year old child from a fourth grade class in Spain in an all Spanish school to seventh grade in a 1000 kid all Mandarin high school in Asia. She was the youngest, smallest and only caucasian in the school. We were all a bit scared in the beginning, but it worked out wonderfully!
One of our great joys of 2011 was having Grandma do a long stay 3-generation travel visit with us in Asia for Chinese New Year. It helped her have an escape from mourning to build strength by being in an entirely new environment and allowed us to share our travel life with her.
Sadly, I have been dealing with some severe on again off again pain, dysbiosis and digestive problems ever since my Danish dentist gave me antibiotics in Spain in May 2010 which made me violently ill and my stomach has yet to recover. At times it has been a horrific challenge with pain at a 10 level on a scale of 1 to 10 and totally debilitating sometimes.
The good news in that is it has slowed us down, which has been a blessing in disguise as we have come to really enjoy this slower pace that has been forced on us. We have all really learned a lot as well as great challenges tend to do, so put our focus on gratitude for that.
We still managed to have some exciting adventures like several trips to Thailand, and being invited to tour Bhutan which we absolutely loved. We saw much of this unique and special country, the last Hymalayan Shangri- La, and will be writing more about our time there.
We were also invited to Jordan which was a thrill as it and especially Petra have long been on our list of places we wanted to see. We really loved Jordan, the food, the people, the sights and found it amazingly diverse and luxurious. We have many more stories to tell about our time in Jordan too.
Then we headed back to Madrid, Spain and onto Southern Spain where we all have dear friends that we have known now for 5 years. Kidlet was happy to visit and play with kids from our village and her Spanish school again. She lit up with delight when the Air Jordan flight attendant on the way to Madrid spoke in Spanish on the loud speaker, as we had all missed being immersed in her second language.
We spent most of the summer in Barcelona at our favorite resort ( also a bit in Andorra) where we also have dear friends that we have known for five years. We had plans to go to Romainia and back to Budhapest, but that flight had to be cancelled at the last minute due to my health issues.
We ended 2011 with spending a glorious 3 months with family and doing some cool world schooling here.( More coming about that!). Since we left in 2006, we have only been back twice and only for two weeks each, so this was a rare treat that each one of us enjoyed. Despite my health issues, being home for the holidays for this extended period has been a truly sacred time. Having lost fathers on both sides in 2010, it was important on many levels to have this extended stay.
We plan to be off to tropical Asia again as soon as we can and do deeper explorations this year all around Asia. We've already been invited to China and India and want to explore many places like Bali, but above all else we want to remember the joys of slow travel and how much going slower this year has enriched us. Our primary goals this year is to increase kidlet's fluency in Mandarin ( especially reading and writing) and get me healthier than I have ever been.
How about you? What are your travel plans for 2012?