One of our long-term dreams was fulfilled when we travelled round the world during our sabbatical break as a family of three for 6,5 months: 20 countries in 189 days in five different continents. Many goals and dreams were achieved. But was it worth it? What did we gain (besides weight)? Are we done with travelling for a while? We listed ten perspectives that besides fulfilling our dream, brought us enormous joy.
1) Break from every day lives: we needed a break – you can call it a career break, a sabbatical or just a break from everything ordinary – in order to maintain healthy working capacity as well as to find joy in the way of working again. Especially for Petri in his 50s a break like this was the first in his 30 year old continuous worklife. I on the other hand had a couple of demanding years behind while trying to balance a demanding and very mobile career with a young child as well as studying while working.
2) A round the world journey was a life-long dream come true for us as a couple and individuals. I think it might be a dream for every person who loves travelling… It surely requires some courage to go backpacking without any specific plans or reservations with a child, but oh the so many incredible places you can spot in this kind of a journey! During our travel we were able to reach far away destinations we had only been dreaming about – and now they were there for us to see and explore.
3) Travelling with time so that you are not dead tired and exhausted before leaving for the trip and as tired after it since you have to “catch up” all the work you were supposed to do while enjoying your well-deserved holiday trip. On our typical holiday trip this normally happens leaving us really only a couple of days that we feel energetic enough to explore new surroundings. Especially in a destination in different time zone than your own. Now we were able to enjoy new places immediately after arrival since we felt well rested all the time.
4) Excercising together, healthy, relaxed and well-rested: even though we gained a few more “kilos of joy” than anticipated, we got to work out well-rested practically in every location. Most of it we got just by walking around exploring new territories. Every once in a while we took some serious work out sessions whenever had a gym available. One of our wishes was to be able to work out with time without having a constant minute schedule or one of the common viruses bothering. we practically got to spend the whole journey without being sick. We even avoided Bali bellies and other flus.
5) Long-term backpacking with very little gear is something every person should experience at least once. It hopefully teaches you to cope with less material. And seeing places with very little material and stuff perhaps helps you to open your eyes and see an alternative way of living too. I’m forever grateful that my growing son could see for himself how children around the world get along with so little materia around them. The amount of stuff at home feels breathtaking after a long journey, even though we don’t really consider ourselves very materialistic.
6) Exploring new cultures, geography and history widens the way you see the world, for a grown up as well as a child. Could there be a better way to learn about the world than to study and explore culture and history in different places and countries with concrete items and people in their everyday living environment?! Us practising roadschooling during our journey fulfilled standards in the new Finnish teaching agenda: we learned new things by doing and studying them in practice when ever we encountered them.
7) We got to spend time together as a family 24/7. When it comes to spare time, it’s quite unusual to be able to spend this much time together with your immediate family – so that we could actually all concentrate on each moment without any outside factors affecting it. Furthermore, even in a vacation mode and relaxed. And of course, we make a good team that actually wants to be together this much.
8) This journey – and even more so the weeks after homecoming – showed us and enforced the incredible amount of love and richness of social capital we possess and are able to enjoy due to our numerous close family and friends. Love is family and friends. Staying in contact while away was important, empowering and made us feel forever grateful.
9) Our journey was not only about exploring the world, but also exploring ourselves. When you get enough distance to your everyday circles, you just start to think about your life, who you are, what you do, what you would like to do in your life when you grow up and what kind of doing would get your there. We may be somewhat wiser on this matter – or happily just as confused as before 🙂
10) The last thing worth mentioning is constant travel fever. One could easily think that you’re done with travelling for a while after this kind of a trip with rushing thru 20 countries, but no. Quite the contrary! After being back home for two months now our travel fever is getting oh so high… Almost unbearable! Feels like we should be going somewhere soon again! Our mind is somewhere out there in the world, even though our homeland Finland is the most beautiful and cleanest and our life here is very nicely set up and ok. But willingness to travel will probably never fade away, just the opposite.
Would we go again?
Yes, in an instant! I and Petri would and could have easily continued travelling for another half a year, but it would have been much tougher for our son Leevi. Our original plan and dream was to travel for the whole year, but we only managed to fix a leave of eight months this time. Still, we would have loved to continue travelling for another couple of months. In that case we should have fixed longer stays in some places so that Leevi could have sort of settled down, met and played more with kids his own age in everyday activities and surroundings. On the other hand, kids adjust just as parents too, but you have to take into account different needs that kids have. Arranging roadshchooling would be a little more challenging as our competence would perhaps not be enough for higher shcool grades. But still could be arranged.
Our round-the-world journey went thru 20 different countries, which in 28 travel weeks means approximately only a little more than one week in each country. We did end up spending a month in three different countries though. However, in terms of feeling energetic and budget-wise, rushing thru so many different countries takes its toll. But, could we even calm down and take it slower? If and if, but had we had time to spend another 6 months on the go, we may have been able to settle down and spend longer periods still in certain places.
What did we learn from this?
If you have the urge, willingness and courage, you make things happen. We believe so.
You do need some capital/ cash/ money/ possessions to use, though we know people who embarque on similar journeys with very small budgets. Travelling style is a question of choise. We know ourselves quite well and made choises accordingly: we did not select the cheapest accommodation in hostels nor did we take on the most expensive extreme activities.
If and when you get to depart on a longer journey, we suggest you reserve as long time whatever possible. Half a year, even a year will pass by so fast and extra months in let’s say cheaper regions (eg SE Asia or Central America) will even out your budget in the big picture. So, if you ever get the chance to travel long-term, rather go for a longer than shorter one!
A break from your everyday life always involves risks – you can never know how things work out after it. The only thing constant in the world is change. So, a steady income, career, or “normal” living is never guaranteed anyway. And the biggest risk may be hidden in a situation where you do not pursue your dreams, take breaks or live your life to the fullest… getting stuck in a steady but perhaps unhealthy, boring or unpleasant track may be a bigger risk in terms of a more holistic health perspective to you or your close ones.
Gratitude. Besides for the enormous amount of love we feel for being surrounded with so many dear and near, we feel forever grateful for ourselves – for the courage, a little craziness and making things happen. That they are strong enough to get us up and do things that bring us joy, fullfillment and energy. That we live our lives here and now while enjoying the many possibilities we are able to affect. We may be able to better enjoy the little simple things in life now that we also know that dreams can come true and we can make them happen.