Where We’re Going, Metaphorically Speaking

I’m feeling fairly squished and tentative today, but I’m going to soldier on and share the goals Sue and I talked about Tuesday night when we couldn’t sleep.

We realized that what was important to us was not what we had or did, but what this gave Fiona, so our goals are based on that.

Subject to change upon discovery, and all the other usual disclaimers apply:

We want to be living without a house or car before Fiona turns 7 in March of 2011, and before she turns 10, she will have slept and eaten in a private home on all six of the accessible continents.

I’m leaving out Antarctica, partly because it’s dangerous and spectacularly difficult to get there, but primarily because there is no culture for her to absorb, no new human understanding for a small child there.

We thought the criteria of eating and sleeping in a private home would be a simple thing to measure, and the right thing to measure. Did she experience a slice of real life with everyday people? That’s all we’re hoping for right now.


  1. Upfront disclaimer, being smart about certain things does not make my opinionatedness any righter than the usual ….

    I would like to suggest a re-think of Fiona’s centrality to this experiment. It is an awfully heavy psychic weight for a child to bear when the family goals are centred on her.

    First, where are you guys in this? It is YOUR life, not primarily hers – in spite of how exquisitely important she is.

    Undoubtedly, the experiment will be under almost constant re-evaluation and using what YOU hope for Fiona will eventually come into conflict with what she might hope for herself. Even with justifications that she is too young (at whatever age this might hypothetically occur) to know what’s best for her, etc., the decision on lifestyle will be impossible to make. We cannot know what is best, really, ’cause we’re creating best as we go. We need a guiding idea that is greater than the enrichment of our child’s life.

    I think.

    What I mean is, “Our family values xy and z so we travel lightly through the world.” Or, “We believe it is important to understand people from inside their context.” I don’t know how you would choose to express what you collectively believe, but having that as your focus frees Fiona from parental suffocation. Living well is the best gift we give our children – imho.

    That having no home-of-one’s-own and no reliance on a car fits with your idea of living well will contribute immeasurably to the development of Fiona as a person – who will, then, follow her own vision of living well, when the time comes. Because these are subtle differences it is hard to find the correct words to convey the difference between an experiment based on what it gives Fiona versus an experiment based on what really matters in life.

    You two deserve a great life. As a result of your great life, Fiona will have a great life – wherever you sleep.

    Final disclaimer … Sometimes well-meaning parents forget themselves and I am always sensitive to that because I think strong, happy parents are the best gift (not selfish, fun-seeking parents, in case anyone was seeing the wrong vision.) That said, I may have read this post completely wrong and the loving, sincere, and most-excellent parents may not have forgotten their own happiness at all. Don’t be afraid to want it all.

  2. Caitlyn, it’s wonderful to have friends who can help with the subtleties. I understand what you’re saying and you make good points. I’m going to sleep on it and see what bubbles up to the surface.

  3. Thanks Sue for reaching out to me and writing to us via our blog. As I said in my email and will say publicly here, do NOT listen to the naysayers.

    Listen more to the people who are doing it or have done what you want to do.

    We have been on an open ended world tour as a family since 2006 and left when our daughter was 5 years old and she will be 10 this fall. We have been to 4 continents, 32 countries and over 175,000 miles ( most overland) so far.( We’ll add 2 more continents this year and more countries). We are monolinguals raising a VERY fluent trilingual/triliterate ( Spanish, Mandarin, English) from birth who speaks some of many other languages. We live really large on just 23 dollars a day per person ( and have been mostly in expensive countries so far). Our daughter has good friends from around the world and is years ahead of her peers academically.


    We have a list on our blog under links of other families that have done extensive travel and I have never known one who did not find it a profound experience. Plan well and trust yourselves and your daughter.

    Carpe Diem!

  4. Thank you soultravelers3 for your encouragement. Your success is an inspiration. I’ve read quite a bit of your information and blog and will continue to follow it. I have been investigating others who have done something similar so I can educate our family on this matter as much as possible.

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