It is morning on the Big Island of Hawaii, and my jet-lagged body wakes at dawn. As I sit on the lanai beginning our first official day of the Myer Family Adventure, enjoying the aromas of Kona coffee and plumeria trees, I reflect on how we got here.
While researching “Family Gap Year,” it was interesting to learn the multitude of ways different families chose to spend their year. Do we move to one location for a year or take the opportunity to collect passport stamps and check off the bucket list? By far the most common choice is the latter, which makes sense and was a very tempting option for us. I am forever fascinated by the beauty and diversity of our world, and I want to see as much of it as possible before I die.
And yet. And yet when contemplating what that would look like for the three of us, it didn’t settle well. Two of our intentions for this year are spending quality time together and indulging creative pursuits—two things that regular family life in Southern California seem to inhibit. The obvious solution is to slow down, not speed up.
So we are “Myers on the Move” (a nod to my obsession with alliteration), but we are moving SLOWLY. It turns out that this too is in fact a thing. Google “Slow Travel” and you will get millions of hits. Essentially slow travel is spending weeks or months in one location. This choice made perfect sense for us since:
We have an only child who needs time to be around kids and make friends.
Another intention for us is to really experience other ways of being.
As tempting as it is to put together a marathon trip, hitting 27 countries in 52 weeks, I started wondering whether that allows one to really know and experience the place being visited. Or does it turn the world into a museum, where we gaze at other cultures from behind the glass, only infrequently getting the “behind the scenes tour”?
PLEASE do not mistake this as me advocating for slow travel over around-the-world tours or belittling those who choose to do this!! These musings come from someone whose natural tendency is to do and see and experience as much as possible. And we are fully aware that our choice of Slow Travel has some serious drawbacks since we are missing entire swaths of the globe.
Perhaps I do write this in defense of our choice. It has been hard to explain what we’re doing. When people hear “We’re going around the world,” and respond with “Oh cool, where are you going?” they certainly expect a more exotic response than Hawaii. Thus after dozens of conversations over the past few months, I’ve had to formulate my own internal explanation. Why did we choose the locales we did, and why are we not taking advantage of seeing the amazing sites and people of Asia and Africa, for example?
My response: Next Time. We hope this is only the first part of what will be more family travels as Lucas grows. We know there will likely never be another as long as this, but we want this to be a teaser for Lucas to get excited to explore the world. Every corner of it.
And so we begin. We are moving away from our comfort zone. Slowly. And we’re okay with that.