...About our 'Big Trip'

With 2 kids in tow, we're an Aussie/Canadian couple who backpacked around SEA and India in 2011/12 for 364 days. 

While we were somewhat well traveled,  having been to approximately 36 countries between the two of us, it was a new challenge with our 2 pre-school aged children along although they were seasoned trans-pacific travelers in their own right!  Before the trip, we had hoped that our love and respect for each other, together with our sense of adventure and ability to live simply would see us through the trip in one piece!  

Why 2011?

We love traveling and had always intended to  do a 'big trip' with our children when they were out of nappies but before they started school.  Although our eldest child was eligible to start school in 2011, she was also just able to defer it for a year without any noticeable consequences.  

Both kids were also just old enough to be able to do a bit of walking without the need for a stroller. 

We'd also wanted to spend more 'quality time' with the kids, away from the day-to-day nuisances which results in in-attentive parenting.  

2011 was also the right time for us to travel as Jim could begin a new career in earnest when we returned.  As well, thanks to Jim, most of the renovations were complete on our house so that it can be rented out while we were away.  The modest income would not only pay the mortgage, but also finance a portion of our trip. 

So this blog was not only our means of keeping our family and friends entertained with our tales from the road, but we'd hoped that it would also be inspirational and informational to those who are dreaming, contemplating or about to start a similar trip.  And if you're looking for budget family travel ideas, you'll sure find lots here!

Our departure date was 26 January 2011.


Jess is a Canadian/Aussie who's been living down-under since 2001.  She loves yoga, pilates, walking, scuba diving, hot sunny days, lazing on the beach, eating sushi, and reading anything and everything.  Most of all, she loves her life and her family, especially her husband and two girls.  She just wishes that Canada and Australia were not oceans apart! 
Jim is an Aussie who has always had the traveling bug, and in his bachelor days, lived to travel.  He too has 28 countries under his belt, although some different ones to Jess.  He's a jack-of-all trades and master of two.  Aside from his wife and kids, he loves DIY projects, playing with power tools, riding motorbikes, restoring his classic car, and eating spicy food.

Maddy is a bright, astute, articulate, 'spirited' 5yr old (at the time of our trip).  She loves going to the beach, riding her bike, jumping on the trampoline and doing arts and crafts.  She has a memory like an elephant.  She may find the unpredictability of traveling difficult, but hopefully it will make her more resilient and give her more self confidence.

Yasmine was 3yrs old when we started the trip.  As a 'second child', she's always trying to catch up to the others, pushing her own limits.   Her laid back demeanor together with her willingness to give something a go, should help her adjust to life on the road quite well.


After we committed to undertaking this trip, some of the issues we had to then consider included:
  • FINANCES/BUDGET:  Since we didn't win the lottery we had to assess how we could afford to do such a trip.  We decided that we will derive income from renting the house out, as well as draw from our line of credit.  Based on our previous RTW trip in 2003, (see  I'n The Beginning..'), we estimated that we'd need $35,000 for this trip.
  • OUR HOUSE:  The obvious arrangement would be to rent our house out.  However our house has been in a constant state of renovations since we moved in July 2008.  Although the majority of the interior had been finished, including a new kitchen and bathroom, there were still 'bits and pieces' to finish off.  We had to prioritize  a list of jobs to be finished before it will be ready for tenants.
  • OUR BELONGINGS:  We'd hoped to be able to rent our house out 'furnished', but have been advised that the market for this is much narrower.  We will now lock off a bedroom in another part of our house to store our belongings.  After many phone calls, we finally found an insurance company who will provide storage insurance for such an arrangement, which was much more difficult than we'd anticipated, as this is considered a 'higher risk arrangement' than the more costly off-site self storage facilities.  Valuables will be secured off-site.
  • SCHOOLINGAlthough Madeleine would defer the start of her schooling until after we returned from the trip, thus eliminating the need for distance ed or homeschooling, we still had to decide now which school she'd attend  when we returned as we wouldn't have time to do so before the start of the school year in 2012.  We would take the time now to interview the local schools for start in 2012.
  • OUR DOGWe weighed possible alternative care arrangements for our dog Eddie, but none proved suitable.  We decided for his sake that we'd need to start finding a new permanent home for him by October 2010.
  • OUR EMPLOYERS:  Jim's employment contract finishes at the end of January 2011. My employer has graciously allowed me a 'Career Break' until March 2012.
  • MAJOR PURCHASES:  We started making out a list of things that we might need for the trip so that we could slowly start acquiring it.  We identified technology as the area in which we were lacking.  Specifically, we decided to purchase an iPod Touch  as well as an inexpensive laptop for the trip.  The iPod would serve not only as a music storage device, but also as an entertainment and educational outlet for the girls.
These are just some of the 'major' considerations.  There were many many more things that we had to set into place before we could be ready to leave in January 2011. This list includes, but is not limited to:
  • Vaccinations
  • Travel Insurance
  • Landlord Insurance
  • Preparing Wills
  • Organising our tax info for the following year
  • Redirecting mail
  • Canceling services
  • Renewing passports
  • Deciding on itinerary