How many of us dream of getting away from it all? Of just dropping everything in our lives and pursuing a passion? What holds us back? What will finally convince us to let go? For Jean Smith it was a PowerPoint presentation that persuaded her to surrender to her dream. Her dream of traveling the world.
In the summer of 2013, her husband surprised her with a media show, convincing her that it made sense for them to travel now and not wait until they were empty nesters. They would bring their four sons and pursue their mutual passion for travel. How could Smith resist? It was all there, neatly explained in slide after slide. “After seeing that we could travel for one year for about the same or even less than living in Michigan with a home mortgage, I was SOLD.” And soon their home was also sold. Smith and her husband began making plans to travel to nine countries from June 2014 to June 2015.
With four kids in tow, they felt compelled to do more planning than if it was just the two of them, making sure the family was secure with housing. Before they left they had the first half of flights and housing booked, homeschool programs researched and purchased, and passports and visas in hand. They booked all of their housing through Airbnb, which Smith highly recommends along with FlipKey or VRBO.
The family wanted a more authentic experience and did not want to live in hotels in the tourist section of cities. So they usually stayed just outside the cities. Smith found that these lodgings were also less expensive than hotels, have more space, as well as the ability to cook. They stayed 4–6 weeks in every location, and Smith describes it as the perfect amount of time to experience each location and culture.
Smith also recommends fully experiencing the culture in each country by attending cooking classes and sampling each culture’s food, visiting museums and landmarks, and taking tours. “Live it, breath it, smother yourself in it!” Smith urges.____
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