We’ve been traveling now for just over a month; we’re about to leave Europe for Africa; and the Christmas period is over – so now seems like a good time to consider how we’re going so far.
Experience. I guess the most important thing is that we’re enjoying ourselves. The boys are happy and that goes a long way to keeping Jennifer and me happy. Thus far we’ve seen a lot of things and had a good mix of fun activities. Our plan to generally stay about a week in a place is feeling about right at the moment.
Budget. We’re staying within our budget, which is pleasing. We had anticipated that we’d go over budget over the Christmas period, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. Of course, that could be more a function of generous budgeting rather than careful spending, but in either case it’s nice to feel we’re on track.
Packing. We seem to have the right stuff with us so far. We always knew that packing for so many climates was going to be a compromise and that was a good call. But the compromise hasn’t left us too cold or too hot. It has left our bags a bit more over-stuffed than we’d prefer, but that’s more about volume than weight so it’s not a major problem. We’ve used the stuff we brought, or can see where we’ll use it.
Technology. We could have managed without all that we’re carrying, but I have to say we’re pleased with what we have. Having an internet connection on the go is proving a real boon. Schoolwork, research and entertainment are all improved for having access to the Internet.
Lessons. The only thing we’ve really taken away from our first month of travelling is about the places we choose to stay. Our preference for country towns such as Ruhpolding has been reinforced. If we’re in the city, given how much we prefer walking about, we would really prefer to be central. Our stay in the Munich suburbs was not a real problem, but having to catch an infrequent train back home certainly felt like it limited what we saw and did.
Schooling. As far as we’ve had any problems travelling together, they’ve revolved around schoolwork – when we move from being parent to being teacher. The boys would prefer to do nothing at all; and we wont let that happen. Most of the schoolwork has gone fine and the boys have enjoyed it, or, at worst, tolerated it. Declan has melted down a couple of times, as is his wont. Callum lost it once. In both cases it’s been about writing. We’re focussing on getting them to write rich texts and both boys consider that an imposition. I can see why many long-term travellers choose to ‘un-school’, but we’ll be persevering with structured learning for some time to come.
Apart from that structured English and Maths, they are learning an awful lot about language, culture and history along the way. And one of the things I’ve loved about travelling with the kids is how much I’ve also learnt about the places we’ve visited. Having to research and then distill information for the kids has given me a firmer grasp of the history and culture of the places we’ve visited than I’ve had before.
So, as we sit here at the airport about to depart for Egypt and a different style of travelling for a while, here is a one-sentence summary from each of the others:
Declan: “It’s been an exciting month, but a tiring one too.”
Jennifer: “There’s been a lot of sleeping-in.”
Callum: “It’s like science museums have been following us!”