But we want to try and make this trip more. We are concerned about the seemingly unsustainable path the world is on, and we'd like to do something about it. Our plan is to use environmental issues as a key part of our kids' educational experience, and publicize our investigations on this blog, on our kids' blog, and hopefully in other forums. We won't spare facts, but, at heart, we're optimists. We want to paint a hopeful, positive vision of how the world can change, and highlight some of the good things that people are doing, or can do, to make a difference.
So please, follow us, link to this blog, tell others about us.
Our aim raises an obvious question. Isn't our trip, with the carbon dioxide emissions from the transportation options we choose, from the waste we'll create, from the "stuff" we purchase for the trip, an environmental negative? We're concerned about this issue as well, and have some thoughts that we'll share in a more extensive blog post.
Will there be challenges? Lauri and I spent nine months backpacking around Central and South America in 1997/98 just after we got married. I spent a year doing a solo trip around the world in 1990/91. We love to travel - and yes, we’ve experienced some of the challenges of traveling as well -- mosquitos, stomach illnesses, missed connections... and with kids, I’m sure there will be challenges we don’t even expect.
But what an opportunity. Other reasons for making the journey:
- Spending quality time with our kids, and together as a family.
- Exposing our kids to other cultures -- seeing how others live, understanding cultural differences, and also seeing what’s unique about our own culture.
- Giving our kids an appreciation for the wonders of the world, and a chance to connect with nature
- Teaching our kids to be good global citizens
- Visiting dear friends in other countries
- Exploring! Although we’ve been very lucky to have traveled so much already, there always new places to explore.
We’ll be taking the kids out of school for the year and teaching them ourselves as we travel, and we’re thrilled about the possibilities to enrich their education with real-world experiences.
We plan to identify and explore an environmental issue in each area we visit. We'll have a blog for us (and a separate kid blog), and are also looking at how we can share some of our content more widely (ideas are welcome!). Much of the content we create will be related to the environment, but we'll also explore other topics -- animals, culture, art, geology, etc., depending on where we are.
As far as some of the educational topics that we'll likely tackle: the rainforest, deforestation, glacial melt, global warming, evolution, animals, coral reefs, why people fight and the impact of war, understanding different cultures, European art, the Arctic.
We’re also working with our local school (Peter Hobart) to find ways to connect while we travel and enrich the experience of other students. We’re hoping to find ways to be interactive with them - such as occasionally Skyping when it makes sense, or investigating questions that kids could send us.
When we talk about an environmental issue, we're planning to talk with the kids about not only the issue, but also about the hopeful, positive side of it: what people are doing about it locally, what we can do personally to help, and also how people back in the U.S. can make a positive impact.
Jamie is 8; Jason is 6. During the trip they will be in 3rd and 1st grade, respectively, and will each have a birthday. We’re really excited to experience the world and some of the issues we’ve identified through their eyes. (It’s already fascinating just to talk about the concept of the trip with them: Jamie is most excited about visiting India and dogsledding in the Arctic, and she’s bummed about not being in the States for Halloween... it’s mostly about missing out on a giant bag of candy.) They will have a blog of their own; it’ll be interesting to see how that evolves.
The places we're planning to visit:
Europe - (Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Norway)
The Arctic (Svalbard)
Larry is a high-tech executive and most recently has run marketing and sales at Digi International, a $200M public company based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Lauri has managed PR for a technology company, performed full-time in musical theatre, and lately has been working on writing a children’s book.