Road leading to adventure

…And We Leave *Next* Month!

I know that I had a plan in mind when I booked our initial flights to Iceland way back in early fall 2018. I didn’t want there to be too much downtime after school let out in late May, where we were all antsy and ready to kick off our gap year of family travel. And yet, here we are, less than a month away from our departure, and our children seem determined to teach me a lesson about living in the present. As in, they are still completely absorbed in school! And barely thinking about our trip! How dare they?! (Just kidding. I know they’re doing exactly what they should be doing. And I’m over here doing all of the trip prep, because #MomLife.)

Photo courtesy of a folder I found yesterday in Staples while obsessively and unsuccessfully searching for a waterproof folder for our travel documents

Also, major thanks to my friend Charlotte who basically serves as my voice of reason and Xanax in human form right now–she just keeps reminding me that I made decisions like this one FOR A REASON and that I should trust my gut and STFU. Actually, she does not say that last thing at all because she’s really, really nice. (But maybe she thinks it silently and whispers about how crazy I am to her sweet baby Henry after we part ways post-coffee date. Maybe.)

Background image also courtesy of Staples’ enormous selection of paper folders and tiny selection of plastic/vinyl/waterproof ones; all the random crap on top of it = what’s happening in my brain right now. #travelplanningoverload

So at this point, we have 28 days left until our departure on June 6th. The kids have a couple more weeks of full schooldays, and then things drift into the usual half-days/show up for two hours/parents drive your children all over town for end-of-school parties/etc, i.e. LIFE DISSOLVES INTO COMPLETE AND TOTAL CHAOS, right before life gets turned completely upside down by this trip.

Minutes after our first visit to Passport Health, when we received our typhoid shots and then learned that they didn’t actually stock the yellow fever vaccine in this particular location–so we got to go for a second vaccine appointment later that afternoon. Addie was definitely the least happy about our plans for the day…

What we’ve been up to:

  • The kids and I have sorted through their clothes. Turns out, like all kids are supposed to, mine have grown during the school year. The younger two are pretty well set in terms of hand-me-downs from their older siblings, but our eldest (a newly-minted 12-year-old) is down to about three pairs of underwear that fit, four pairs of socks–likely three of which have holes in them, five t-shirts, and about zero pants (which makes sense, given that we live in South Carolina and my sons seem allergic year-round to any clothing that covers the lower half of their legs). So we’ve got some shopping to do–but it’s going to be minimal shopping, as we’re traveling only with backpacks (family travel carry-on style, anyone?. We’d better find some stuff he really likes!
  • We have gotten mostly vaccinated. We were all up-to-date on all recommended vaccines for life in the U.S., but we recently got jabbed with typhoid, yellow fever, and Japanese encephalitis. I also got a bonus stab for Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), as I actually located my immunization history and found I was coming up on time for my 10-year booster. (I can barely find my car keys 20 minutes after I put them down, so I was shocked to come across my health records–which my current physician didn’t have, as they never made it to my new practice.) The shots came at a very hefty price tag, and as my kids’ jaws dropped at the price tag (over $4,000 out-of-pocket for all four of us), mine did too. But I also said, as if I were in a commercial for the WHO or CDC, “The most expensive vaccination is the one you don’t get.” Who am I?! Basically someone terrified of yellow fever. Actually, I don’t even know what happens if one were to contract yellow fever–I just know that it’s bad, and that some countries explicitly require that one receive the vaccine. Also, someone who is down $4,000+ in her travel budget. Oof. Oh, and I still need to get a prescription for anti-malarial treatment for our time in Southeast Asia. Gah.
  • We have found a handful of dog/house sitters for when Sam travels for work (short stretches) or to meet up with us (much longer ones). We’re both thrilled that the dogs won’t have to be boarded so much and also feel better knowing that someone will be present in our home and can notify us if anything funky starts happening (like when our sprinkler system failed last summer and tried to kill my beloved vegetable garden or when the A/C went out on our poorly-insulated third floor and the paint literally started peeling off of the walls).
  • I have started the process of getting a family law attorney to draft a document that would indicate to various immigration authorities that I have the right to travel with our children without Sam present. Although both parents much typically be present in the U.S. in order for a child to get a passport, the sheer fact of having a passport is not a sufficient indicator of parental support for travel. I fully understand that there may be cases where custody disputes arise in the years following a passport application, so I don’t take issue with this–I just wish that there was some kind of standard governmental form that we could have notarized. Instead, the attorney is basically reaching out to individual embassies of countries on our itinerary and asking what kind of documentation might be required. Just yesterday I delivered a pile of documents to her office for photocopying, including all of our passports, Sam and my driver’s licenses, all birth certificates, all immunization records… The fact that some countries also require an original birth certificate in addition to kids’ passports–well, there’s a reason I was perusing the waterproof/travel folder section at Staples yesterday…
  • I have been researching our travel like it is basically a full-time job. Which is pretty much is for me at this point. We have the first few months mostly laid out, with some flights and some lodging reservations, as well as a handful of holes I am working to fill. More soon on what those plans actually include, but suffice it to say, I am REALLY excited!

Want to know more?

I know that some of you out there have questions about how we’re planning this trip, what we’re doing to get ready, how we’re deciding where to go, how we’ll keep up with the kids’ schoolwork, etc. If you’ve got questions you want answered, let me know and I’ll try to address them in a future post!


Hey there! I’m Melanie. Originally from Brooklyn, home is now Charleston, SC--or wherever my three kids and husband are. Our family gap year will take us around the world, touching down on six continents over 12 months.
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