Get out there: a case for leaving the country

So, this trip of ours. It probably seems a bit overwhelming, no? It does to us. I mean, we’re a family with three kids under 10, hoping to visit almost all the continents in one year (Antarctica might just be too expensive, unfortunately). But here’s what I told some friends recently: because the trip seems hard, and a bit too much, and a bit crazy, we now feel like we’re ready to do it.

queenstown new zealand
Queenstown, New Zealand

We’re not going blindly “for the adventure of it all.” We’re not throwing financial caution to the wind. We don’t have unrealistic expectations that the five of us will never get sick of each other, that we’ll never get homesick, that we’ll never second guess why on earth we’re doing it.

So why do it then?

denmark
Copenhagen, Denmark

Because the goods really do outweigh the bads. The five of us are going to learn so much about what we really need in life to thrive, how people around the world really are more similar than different, how to better listen, how to better learn, and how to die to ourselves.

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Patagonia, Argentina

I’ve had quite a few people tell me they love reading about our trip plans, and that they’d love to do something like this, but across the U.S. instead. Actually, now that I think of it, that’s been the most popular response—a certain air of respect for our bravery, but a preference for something a little less… multi-cultural.

Opera House Sydney Australia_5
Sydney, Australia

I get that. I do. In fact, I’d like to do that, too—we’ve explored more outside our own country than in it, and that’s a shame. We’d LOVE to do a year visiting all 50 states. But—and I make a pretty strong case for this in my upcoming book—I really, truly, adamantly believe you should leave the country. And that you should do it with your kids.

Victoria_Falls
Victoria Falls, Zambia

That’s a hill I’m standing on. I get that it’s scary to leave your own culture. I’m not saying you should live cross-culturally, or even visit a new country for very long. But it really is important to do it as a family at least once in your life.

Ethiopia
Ethiopia

You become so much more aware of your own choices and proclivities when you’re stripped of the ability to make them. You’re forced to deal, face-to-face, with the fact that you’re not the center of the universe. And to do that as a family, with your kids? What a gift. It changes your family’s entire dynamic, your own culture that, right now, feels so normal you don’t even notice you have a family culture.

cape-of-good-hope
Cape of Good Hope, South Africa

Really. Grownups, be brave. Save pennies in a jar. Talk to your kids about it. And mark an X on the calendar to go somewhere, for just a bit, that’s outside your home culture. Just do it. It may be hard and messy and unpredictable, but it’ll be worth it.

family

Get out there. There’s a lot of world to see.

globetrekking-smThis is part of my 31 Days to Family Globetrekking series.

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