“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” –Lao Tzu

Trip Wrap Up and Final Thoughts

As I wrapped up the final costs of the trip I thought, “This is a lot of money for someone that doesn’t have much extra.” Aside for a few trinkets, we don’t have any hard assets to show for it. We don’t have a chunk of money now invested and accruing interest. We may very well say in ten years that “X amount invested at that time would be now worth X.” However, I can’t help but believe it will be the best investment we’ve made. That’s really what this trip was all about—investing in our family and our children’s education.

I hoped more than anything that they would come away with a deeper view of the world that would influence how they see and do everything moving forward. I’m as convinced as ever that we accomplished that. One the drive home from the airport yesterday we were on I-405 when Emily said, “If people from Bangkok were here right now they would think we’re in the middle of the jungle because there is no shopping on the side of the road. It’s just so different here.”

They seemed to grow up quickly on the trip as they learned so much in so little time. They became more resourceful, confident, and independent. They learned how to do hard things and to see and process things they had never before considered. Constantly faced with unfamiliar situations they responded well. Ebey showed amazing care for her sisters by always watching out for them and being like a third parent. We actually left her in charge baby-sitting way more than we’ve ever done in the U.S. Emily, displayed her constant quick wit and humorous look at everything. Hinckley still bossed everyone around with her life and spunkiness.

Spending two and half weeks straight as a family may be the very best part of the trip. I travel so much that spending a few days in a row together, especially without having to work the whole time, is rare. So to spend 17 straight days together was something that literally may never be duplicated. I felt like I came to know each of the girls in new ways and that my relationships were strengthened in many ways that I couldn’t have achieved at home. Just this focused time together was worth any amount spent on the trip.

As we are now home I have a few final observations or things that didn’t make it into the blog:

Chicken Pox: When we looked into vaccinations and health related issues of travel to Thailand the main thing of concern was chicken pox. There is little malaria, and it wasn’t really dengue season, so chicken pox and stomach issues were the only real concerns. We had Hinckley’s vaccination moved up a year or two so that she was covered. Sure enough, a few days into the trip, small red spots started showing up on Ebey’s face. She got chicken pox. Because she had been vaccinated they never broke out too much, but still, the several red spots stayed with her most of the trip and were something for constant monitoring. Neither of the other two got them. The adults had some minor stomach issues, but for the most part we all stayed in great health, even though we ate freely from the roadside.

Hippo: Ebey has a little stuffed animal named “Hippo” that she has carried with her and slept with since she was an infant. Hinckley loves to take things and put them into drawers and cabinets and when we arrived in Phuket and realized Hippo didn’t make the trip we managed to get it out of Hinckley that she had taken Hippo out of the luggage and put him into “his home” in a cabinet in our room in Chiang Mai. This was a crisis. I emailed Joy’s House, they found it, and had it sent to our hotel in Bangkok. It arrived on the last day we were there and Ebey and all were so happy that Hippo’s journey ended back with the family.

Hippo has arrived

Ebey with Hippo!!

Transportation: I’ve often referred to this trip as an “adventure.” I strive to have a spirit of “adventure” in everything I do and I so desperately want my kids to have that too. I just think it is the best way to live. To me, “adventure” is characterized by uncertainty in the route, but confidence in the destination. It focuses on the “en route” and “in between” time of a journey. Adventure isn’t about where one ends up so much because that is usually implied (either tangibly or metaphorically), but the spirit with which one approaches getting there. It makes every journey fun to matter how long or windy the road. In this spirit of adventure I have to talk about our transportation.

It was always so much more than a way to get from point A to B and became a huge storyline of the trip in and of itself. The girls kept a close count and took pride in on all the different modes of transportation we used. Here is the latest list: Plane, train, bus, subway, skytrain, taxi, songthau, rental car, tuk tuk, ferry, long-tail boat, canoe, bamboo raft, bicycle, elephant, and ox-cart. They tried to slip some others like waterslides, waves, feet, floaty thing, and escalator in there, but the legitimate list was at 16. The only one I missed was the ubiquitous Thai motorcycle, which really should have been experienced. Each of those modes of transportation had a life of its own. The elephant was by far the best, but the tuk tuk, often discouraged as potentially unsafe in travel books, was our second choice for sure. It always felt so good to have five of us crammed into a little tuk tuk weaving in and out of traffic around Chaing Mai and Bangkok. There was no better place to feel a part of it all and to soak up the sights, sounds, smells, and feels of Thailand than in the back of those tuk tuks.

What’s Next?: I’m glad we come back to Christmas fun, because the let-down from the trip being over is immense. For more than a year I’ve thought about and prepared for this trip. Rarely a day has gone by that I didn’t read something, prepare something, or talk with the family about something related to this trip. It was a project that brought us together over a long period of time before we ever left for the airport and provided so many unique learning and teaching opportunities. I’m not ready to plan another because I think anything I could imagine would pale in comparison to this trip. It had a great mix of exotic, far away, urban, rural, beach, local friends, perfect right ages for the kids, weather, long duration, affordability, safety, etc. I honestly don’t know how we can match it.

Still, I want to try, but not quite yet. We want to find a way to somehow come up with the money to do something like this every three years. It is just so worth it. I hope other families will step outside of the easy and familiar vacation and do the same. It will be worth it for all.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Rus Berrett
    Jan 12, 2012 @ 21:35:08

    Nice summation. Despite the let-down after the trip, we are glad to have you back!


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