Quit Your Job and Travel the World for a Year?

One couple made it happen. Here's how

A Decade of Preparation

Higham family at Machu Picchu

Courtesy of the Higham family

Who hasn't woken up on a dreary Monday morning and thought: "What am I doing? I should quit my job, grab the family, and travel the world." But that's just something people say, right? No one actually does it because, well, there's the mortgage to pay.

John and September Higham made the ultimate travel fantasy come true. In June of 2005, the Silicon Valley-based couple left their jobs, sublet their house, and took their children, Katrina, then 11, and Jordan, then 8, on a year-long trip to a whopping 28 countries.

How did they manage it? One year after their return, the couple talks to us about how they made it happen, from swinging it financially to carrying their daughter -- broken leg and all -- across Europe.

How did you come up with the idea for a round-the-world trip in the first place?

John: In 1993, my company sent me to Japan. We lived there for one year before we had kids. We enjoyed that concentrated together time and decided that when we had kids, we'd take them to live overseas for one year. Over a decade, that idea morphed into not just living overseas, but traveling for a year.

September: It was significant that we thought of it so early on, because if you want to take a year off and spend that much money traveling, you have to live your life financially so that's possible. We never bought the bigger house, and we always drove old, clunky cars. It took many years of disciplined savings to do this.

Was it strange saving for a trip 10 years away?

September: It became a way of life. The kids had always known we'd take a trip around the world, so as soon as they got old enough, they got into the spirit of it. They'd say, "Are you sure we should buy this? Shouldn't we be saving that money for the 'round the world trip?"

Was it hard to convince Katrina and Jordan to leave their friends and take a yearlong trip with mom and dad?

John: Both kids were very enthusiastic. We'd also taken "practice trips" since they were very young to get them acclimated to traveling, and find out what worked and what didn't.

Which countries did you visit on your trip?

September: Iceland, England, France, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, back to Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Dubai, Tanzania. Then we went to Mauritius, Singapore, Japan, China, Thailand, Cambodia, back to Thailand, all the way to Costa Rica, Panama, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, back to Chile, back to Bolivia, Peru. We spent our final month in Belize.

Wow -- how did you decide on that route?

John: I'd been harboring ideas of cycling across Europe for a long time. Summer is the best time for that, so that came naturally. We decided after we finished that leg, we'd continue eastward until we ended up back in California.

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