The end of January marked five months on the road for our family. This is the halfway mark for our adventures.
In five months, we have visited eleven countries, been on sixteen airplanes, stayed in twenty-nine different dwellings (which means we’ve packed our suitcases that many times), ridden countless buses, taxis, metros, tuk-tuks, and trains. We’ve used seven different currencies (Jane can name them all and the exchange rates to USD!).
We’ve been on three continents–Europe, Asia, and Africa.
We’ve eaten at McDonald’s twenty-three times (I’m thinking about starting a blog reviewing the country-specific items on the McDonald’s menu), burger King fifteen times, Pizza Hut/Domino’s/Papa John’s nine times, Subway twelve times, KFC seven times, and Taco Bell three times (some of these numbers may be made up, but they’re probably close).
Four of the members of our family have celebrated birthdays overseas.
Our toddler has said goodbye to diapers, and our first-grader is reading and writing.
Our first grader has lost two teeth in two different countries-Spain and the Czech Republic.
Our older two have gone from a love/hate relationship to being the best of friends (OK, more of a LOVE/hate relationship, but they fight a lot less and play together a lot more)
Homeschooling continues to be a struggle–I’m working on the memoir right now: Raised Voices and Tears—A Year of Homeschool on the Road.
But our kids are learning something in between the tears and meltdowns.
Ashley probably knew this all along, but I’m learning that patience and positive encouragement go along way in helping motivate the kids–now it’s only about every third day that Nolan screams This is the worst day of my life! during homeschool.
We’ve found that the best recipe for a good travel experience (for our family anyway) is to stay in a place with a good kitchen and access to a good grocery store, stay for at least a week and preferably two to three, find some outdoor activities to do, and follow the tips that other travelers give.
The hardest things about travel are: homeschool, the constant packing and unpacking, late night/early morning flights, time changes, unfamiliar food for weeks on end, and being away from family and friends.
Ashley and I have only been really sick once (in Turkey, where we both felt like giving up the fight).
That experience in Turkey taught me that if you’ve been sick for a few days and start to feel better, don’t make your first meal barbecued lamb liver and lungs wrapped in intestine. That choice did not end well.
Aside from the severe GI issues in Turkey, everyone has had an occasional cold or sore throat, but Margaret, who touches everything and licks her fingers, is the one who’s been the least sick.
In every country, we’ve nearly always felt safe (a few brief exceptions), and found that the vast majority of people have been very helpful and kind.
I was worried about how others might relate to Americans, but when people ask our nationality and we tell them, the most common response is very positive, even excited.
There are so many great things about travel, but for our family the most valuable thing has been being together every day, all day (although an occasional break might be welcome).
Here is a picture of each of the countries we have visited