Family Life On The Road

 

IMG_1663 Well, exactly two months ago, we left Jamestown, Rhode Island on our 10+ month trip with eight suitcases.  Now, we’re two months into the trip, and I thought it would be useful to summarize how it’s going for us.  When we left, I don’t think any of us really knew what we were getting ourselves into, but we now have a good feel for what this experience is all about.  I’ll start with a few lists, and then add some color commentary.

Positive Surprises

It’s been easy to move from place to place, and we’ve enjoyed being “on the go.”  We’ve stayed in 24 places in two months, and — somewhat incredibly – that pace has worked well for us

Everyone, and I mean everyone, has been remarkably nice to us

We’ve had no real challenges with language barriers

Home-schooling is fun and highly-productive (most days :-)

The Far East has been incredibly interesting, but it’s from learning how people live and their history — not looking at sights

Visiting people who face extraordinary daily challenges has had a dramatic impact on us

This trip is more of an intense educational year instead of a vacation, and we’re working hard (especially the kids)

This trip will change our family forever

 

What We Miss The Most

Friends and relatives

Sharing home-cooked meals with friends

Organized sports, especially Fenway Park in October

A night out at a movie theatre with popcorn

Regular, frequent exercise (thankfully, the scales show kilograms!)

Watching Desperate Housewives on Sunday nights

 

What’s Surreal

Always being a half day ahead of East Coast time

Generally having no idea what day of the week it is, and often losing track of what month it is

Having almost no possessions, daily “chores,” or routine (other than schoolwork for our kids)

Never knowing where the bathroom is in the middle of the night

Being the only Caucasians in most of the places we’ve been

Watching a Sunday night baseball game on Monday morning — live!

 

Biggest Hassles

Charging batteries, lugging chargers, and internet access

Not being able to order stuff, especially books, on-line

Too many smokers

Finding the on/off switches for lights in hotel rooms

Finding a grassy area (or even some asphalt) to play baseball in

 

Prior to departure, my biggest concern was an itinerary that called for moving often from place IMG_1659 to place — generally every 2-4 days.  It’s turned out that, for our family, this hasn’t been an issue in the slightest.  We can pack now in less than fifteen minutes, we generally make good use of our time  to/from airports, and air transportation in Asia has been a welcome change from the U.S.   We rarely leave somewhere wishing for a longer stay, and are always excited about the next place.  There’s just been no wear and tear to date from the moving around we’re doing (despite being in 24 different locations in two months).  We have been relying on Small World Travel in Austin, Texas, to help us plan this trip, and they’ve consistently come up with great agendas for each country we visit.

Hanoi 180 Another surprise is how incredibly friendly people are.  I suspect it helps to travel with kids.  But almost without exception, the people we meet couldn’t be nicer.  It’s really made an impression on all of us, and it’s inspiring to interact with so many kind people in the countries we’ve visited.  Maybe I spent too much time in a highly-competitive business field, but I’ve been deeply impressed with the kindness and thoughtfulness of perfect strangers we encounter.  It also has underscored for us our responsibility to be a great ambassadors for the U.S. as we travel abroad.

IMG_0157 Another positive development has been the home-schooling we’re doing with our children.  We’re covering tons of material, and we can see the weekly improvement in our children’s command of the subjects.  We spend about three hours a day, seven days a week, on core topics, and have been — thanks to Elizabeth — very disciplined in our approach.  Also, since she and I are teaching the core subjects, we can reinforce those lessons throughout the rest of the day.  The kids seem happy with how it’s going, and both Elizabeth and I enjoy the time we spend teaching them.   I believe we’ll be better parents in the future since we’re really understanding how our kids learn.  We’ll have finished a full year of math, vocabulary, and geography by Christmas, so our next challenge is what to focus on come January.

Tasmania 020 Coming into the trip, we had high hopes for what we’d be seeing and experiencing.  But so far, we’ve been blown away by the trip and how educational and fun it’s been.  Even now, two months into it, we will often talk at meals about things we experienced on the trip.  Our kids are at the perfect age for this (ages 11 and 9), and Elizabeth and I are also young enough to have lots of energy for the travel.  This trip will be a part of our family fabric for the rest of our lives.

Tibet 242 In putting together our itinerary, we wanted to make the trip as educational as possible, and to make sure we all learn about life in very different countries and circumstances.  We’ve visited schools, orphanages, families living in acute poverty, a school for abandoned blind children, and facilities dealing with young children debilitated by the genetic consequences of Agent Orange.  I think our view of the world has changed dramatically as a result of these experiences.

Bullo River 135 Probably the best thing about the trip so far is the impact it’s having on our family.  We were fortunate over the past few years to have been able to spend a lot of time together, but nothing like this.  Our two children are with each other 24/7, and we were concerned prior to departure that they’d be at each others’ throats by now.  Our experience, though, has been the opposite.  The two children are having a great time with each other (most of the time :-) ), and we love being together each day. 

One striking thing about the trip has been how few possessions we need.  Everything I have fits in about 1 1/2 suitcases.  I use my iPod almost every day (usually listening to morning news podcasts as I do my exercises).  I have a limited set of clothes  (nothing dressy, and I spend most of my time in shorts), a few books to read, my laptop, and not much of anything else.  I don’t really miss any of the stuff I left behind (although I’ll occasionally visualize a great golf shot, which is the ONLY way I ever experience anything great in golf).  And, as we visit places and families who have so little, it’s reinforcing our view of how much any family really needs, and showing all of us what real poverty and hardship can be for so many people around the globe.

Adelaide Baseball 028 We’re a very sports-oriented family, and a year of travel poses challenges.  Golf and tennis, my two favorites, aren’t on the calendar for eleven months.  We’ve been following the Red Sox religiously, and it’s actually worked out well for our kids.  In the U.S. (east coast), young kids really can’t watch play-off games that start at 8:30 p.m.  But here, the games start early in the morning (7:30 a.m.), so we canBeijing 385 watch them easily.  And our little “Baseball Ambassadors” program has been great.  We’ve played with teams in Adelaide, Beijing, Shanghai,  and Bangkok.  It’s been a great way to meet kids in different countries, play some baseball, and do our best to put our country and the sport in a good light abroad.

 

It’s been great to share our experiences through our website and blogs, and we thank those of you who take the time to keep track of us.  It’s hard not having friends around, and the internet is a poor substitute for personal interaction, but it’s been a great way to keep in touch with people.  And it’s always a treat to hear from you, even a short note or quick question!

6 Responses to “Family Life On The Road”

  1. Garet Family Says:

    Ted
    I have been reading your blog regularly and love keeping up with your travels and activities. It really does feel like you are taking us along with the family. Thank you for the time you spend to make your trip real to us. I am enjoying your political comments as well as the travel descriptions. And your photos are wonderful. I especially like the videos! Hearing the sounds makes it all even more real. Love and hugs to all. Susan

  2. Bonnie Gilbreth Says:

    And how ’bout those Red Sox???!!!! i know you all are following closely. Teddy is having a hard time getting to bed.
    Love following the blog.
    b

  3. Danny Siegel Says:

    Hello Dintermiths ! How exciting to follow allyall on the adventure. I forward all the emails to Cindy, Tamarah, Ceileidh and Micah. We’re with you vicariously, and loving it. Thank you for sharing. Hope as are well,,,,,,,,,dan

  4. Tom Says:

    Ted,

    It is the day after Thanksgiving. This quiet day in the office provided me the time to read through your blog. I am so happy for your family!! Also your coverage of your trip is wonderful – you capture the virbancy of each experience so well. Thank you for including us in your e-mail blasts. Continued joy for your family – our prayers and positive visions are being sent to you for safe travel and enlightening experiences.

    Most importantly you remind us of the good fortune we have of the love and time with family – whether 1/2 a world away or at home. Keep visualizing great golf shots, your game will improve – as clearly your visualization for the Sox manifested in a World Championship!!! The power of the mind!!!

    All the best.
    Tom and Mimi

  5. shindell family Says:

    hi remeber us,
    we met you at the pushkar camel fair,were the family who is also traveling around the world. where else have you been so far? check out our blog @ shindelltravels.com

    the shindell kids

  6. paul ruice Says:

    Great Read well written
    http://www.mytennissecrets.com

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