Sometimes people ask us about the social aspects of longterm travel.
- What do we do about our kids’ need to socialize?
- How to we create community on the road?
- What do we do about maintaining friendships?
- Don’t we miss our friends and family back home?
- Aren’t we worried that our kids will have missed out by not going to school and having “normal” childhoods from a social perspective?
They wouldn’t ask if they had been able to be a fly on the tent wall this weekend.
Four families. Seven parents. Eighteen kids. Enough laughter and love to fill the spaces between continents.
Yes. We get homesick. We miss our friends and family back home; desperately at times.
But, we simply cannot imagine a life without:
- The Palmers
- The Adams
- The Sztupovszkys
- The Alboms
- The Dandeneaus
- The MacKintoshs
- The Kirks
- Phil, Denis, Ruthie, David & Melissa
- The Groomers
- The Musslers
- The Vogels
- The Greens
- The Wellmans
- The Rickards
- The Bannigans
Those are just a very few of the long term friends who have gone out of their way to connect and reconnect with us across more than a couple of continents and build community that’s hard to describe to non-travelers. There are dozens of other folks we’ve crossed paths with once, for a few days at a time, who have also woven themselves into the fabric of our lives.
In the list of families, above, there are dear friends for each of our kids, and for us.
To have a few days with the Going Anyway crew was the sweetest of cherries on top of our Australian adventure. Their big blue bus was bursting with hospitality and adventure. Tin Tin and Ez spent the entire time, arm in arm, cooking up ways to make money (they carried trash in the campground instead of selling lemonade this time!) Elisha pushed Sparky all over, playing tag beneath the big gum trees. She loves to go fast in her chariot. “Uncle Gabe” swung the Baby Boy around like a nunchuck while the kiddo giggled and grinned.
There was bouncing on a big blue and yellow bouncing pillow, swimming on a hot afternoon, loads of tiggy and capture the flag. We wandered into town and explored Tanunda. Loaded up all four families, with all eighteen kids, and toured wineries in the Barossa Valley under a perfect blue sky. The kids sampled raspberry cordial while we sipped port and late harvest reisling. Hannah invited over a trio of bag pipers who piped the children to sleep in the early darkness. We spent chilly nights huddled around bottles of wine and cheese plates making our own head and light out of the the love and joy of a moment we’ll never recapture.
There is, truly, joy in the journey.
I always cry when we hug these people goodbye (I cried the first time I hugged Jill in real life in Penang last year too… after several years of heartfelt correspondence!) They are some of the very few “truly alive” people on this planet: bright and shining spirits who know how to live the very best; even through some of the very worst. They inspire me, and teach me, and encourage me to up the ante in high minded, purposeful, deep-well type living every time we are together. I know we will see them again; on one continent or another.
The wind was blowing hard as we pulled out.
The Going Anyway kids ran next to the van, shouting and waving. It was hard to pull away knowing that it will likely be years before we see them again, but the road calls us forward and other people we know and love are down it… such is life, an endless cycle of happy moments, sad good byes and joyous reunions.
Are our kids missing out on things by not having a “normal” childhood? Of course. But the flip side is that they’re gaining other experiences and relationships they’d never have had if we’d stayed home. Our community of friends and chosen family is so much richer for the shared journeys, and we wouldn’t trade a single one.