“Are you excited about traveling for a year?”

This was the question our children often were asked when our friends heard about our plan for one year backpacking trip around the world.

As the initiator and organizer of this “exciting” family trip to spend a year together before our “five-some” are split apart with Olivia leaving the nest for college, I naturally thought or hope that the children would reply with an immediate and enthusiastic “Yes!”. After all, they were excited about each of our annual backpacking trip to Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, etc. Why not be even more excited about doing this for ONE YEAR?

“Arg…..Um…..I think so…..” was their most common response.

I was surprised and a bit taken back when they shown some hesitancy. Each children expressed this conflicting feelings and reasons differently.

For Olivia, Kunming is her familiar place and where she calls home.
For Olivia, Kunming is her familiar place and where she calls home.

For Olivia, she was struggling with leaving Kunming, the place where she spent 14 years and considered home, knowing that going to college means she will be away for a long period.

“Can we leave later in the summer? Do we have to leave right after i graduated from high school?” Olivia kept trying to negotiate with me. “I need more time to say goodbye.”

For Olivia, she was struggling with leaving Kunming

I was hoping to leave as early as possible to so that we go to more countries during this “once in a lifetime” opportunity. I argued with Olivia back and forth, “What about June 6?” She quipped back with, “What about June 18?” “Okay, maybe June 10.” “No, earliest June 12.” We would have this time of back and forth every few weeks.

While traveling Nathan plans to study so that he can catch up with his friends after the one year trip.
While traveling Nathan plans to study so that he can catch up with his friends after the one year trip.

For Nathan, he is concerned about falling behind his classmates.

“When we come back after one year, what grade will I be in school? Will I be in the same class as my friends? I don’t want to go to college when I am 20 years old!” Nathan kept asking Annie and I.

For Nathan, he is concerned about falling behind his classmates.

The last three years of high school is critical for applying to universities. We suggest Nathan to start with 10th grade when we are back in China in 2016. But it would mean he would be almost 20 years old when entering freshman year.

Joani enjoys parties with her friends
Joani enjoys parties with her friends

For Joani, who is an extrovert, just turned 13 and officially a teenager, it is all about her friends.

“Will there be internet so I can chat with my friends? Make sure every hostel we stay in has Wifi.” Joani demanded with great concern. “When I come back, what will happen to my friends?”

For Joani, who is an extrovert, just turned 13 and officially a teenager, it is all about her friends.

When we left Kunming for one year in 2008 and backpacked for 3 months in South America, the children, who were 11, 8, and 6 year old, had none of the concerns above. For them, their roots and beings are intertwine almost entirely within the parents. Now they are 18, 15, and 13. Their root systems have creeped outside of the parental ground and expanded outside of their childhood boundaries. We are no longer enough for them. They made their own connections, have their own lives, and are concern about things that are different from ours.

Joani enjoys playing the Ukulele and plans to bring it for the one year trip.
Joani enjoys playing the Ukulele and plans to bring it for the one year trip.

“Can I bring my ukulele?” Joani asked.

“I have a whole year to apply to as many college scholarships that I can find!” Olivia laughed.

“Do you know there is a famous Mosque in Spain? I like to go and check out,” Nathan suggested excitedly.

Yes, they each have their different concerns. They each are looking forward to different things as well.

I wonder how they will respond to the same question after the one year trip…

Jumping while watching sunset at Bali Beach.
Jumping while watching sunset at Bali Beach.

One thought on ““Are you excited about traveling for a year?””

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *