Back-breaking backpacks

“Oh my god, what have I done?”

Yep, that’s about the only thing running through my head today. What the hell are we thinking? We haven’t even left yet, and only now am I thinking about things I should have spent more time worrying about before making this permanent. Do I want to sleep with my head on a different pillow every night? Will our family become the world’s most easy target for petty theft? Did I really just quit a cake job after nine years at a Fortune 500 company? Why did I not know how ridiculously heavy these backpacks would be?

We have exactly 45 days planned of a 365 day adventure. There are three goals I set out when scheming up this plan:

  1. Take a break from ‘normal’ (whatever that means for you) and have the kind of adventure that most people have when they are young, childless and carefree.
  2. Spend memorable and quality time with our kids. (I recently read that 95% of the time that parents and their kids have together is all before they finish high school. Obvious maybe, but a stark reminder that our time together is somewhat finite.)
  3. Stick a whole bunch of pins into our travel map, which I think is cool.

We moved out of our home yesterday, marking just over three years living in Singapore. We now own less than 200 cubic feet of stuff, most of which is on a slow boat to a small storage unit. The rest we will follow us around the world. Making an international move in 2014 as an American family put us quickly into a minority group – less than half of Americans have a passport, let alone travel overseas. I’ve lost count of the number of American friends who think that Singapore is in China or Japan.

There are six days left before we officially depart. First stop is Copenhagen, Denmark, for five days. At the time that we booked, this was surprisingly the cheapest European location to fly four people from Singapore and two from the United States. This is the first stop of a whirlwind road trip where we hope to touch 20 countries in 45 days. While this is not the pace we have planned for the whole year, but it’s an exciting way to kick things off, sort of like a boot camp for travelers.

Right not we have two more suitcases than we can take, and none of us are able to carry our backpacks without risking shoulder injury. Our littlest wobbles precariously backwards when he puts his pack on. We are in dire need of heavy pruning. I thought we were at the barest of necessities already.

Maybe he knows I’m anxious, but my 10-year-old said, “I love you, Mom,” completely unprompted and not under duress THREE times yesterday. Could this be an early positive effect of this adventure?


Special thanks to Kara Keough, Peter Downie and Paul Uber for requesting this blog.

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