Details, Details, Details – Rebekah Benson


travel quote

As we are planning to take our family and embark on a crazy journey around the world, we keep getting lots of the same questions. So today we decided to answer as many as we can!

If you aren’t familiar with what we are doing, we are selling our house (read Crying for Adventure) and taking our three boys on a little trip to experience some amazing parts of this world. People think we are crazy, and yeah…we kinda are.

“Why in the world are you doing this?”

This is the question we get asked most often. The vision that we have for this trip is to shake up our settled hearts and catapult our family into pursuing meaningful and restorative engagement in our world.  Make sure you read the post “How we Got Here.” It will give you a little more insight into our thinking.

“Where are you going?”IMG_2311

We have a tentative list, but things are fluid until we get plane tickets. We won’t buy any of those until the selling of our house is complete, but our first stop is Costa Rica. It is the off season in August, and the rainy season, so things are cheaper, including plane tickets. Then we plan to head to South America- Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina. Then over to the South Pacific for adventures in Thailand, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, and Fiji. And to cap off the end of the trip we are planning to go to Africa- Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Uganda.

“What will you do?”

Our dream is to really dive in and discover the richness of the local people in all the places we go.  We want to see and experience the real, beautiful people of these countries, not just the perfect tourist attractions that are put on the postcards and travel magazines. We want to enter into and engage their culture. To see their needs and hardships and joys. And to see how they live life differently than the lives we know in America.  We want to find missionaries in these countries who serve the local people and to catch a glimpse of what they experience on a daily basis. To learn their struggles and to serve them and their people in any way we can. Duane also dabbles in videography, so we hope to make short films that the missionaries can use to help tell their stories and help people get onboard with what they are doing. So often, these people are such selfless heroes, and their stories need to be shared! So far, we don’t have anything set in stone, we are still searching out people that will let us tag along for a few days or weeks. Most of our focus and energy so far has been to get ourselves out of our house, and then we can focus on logistics.

We also plan to experience the beautiful countries themselves! There is so much to see and do in the world! We hope to see and explore as much of God’s amazing creation that we can. We will be trekking out and trying to capture as much as we can, visiting beaches and rivers and lakes and hiking on mountains and through the jungle. And we hope to see a lot of wildlife in nature that is only found in zoos here. We also hope to do some type of crowd source funding adventure that brings awareness and raises money for projects that are close to our heart. Issues like access to clean water and proper sanitation and human trafficking. Stay tuned for that! We would love for you to partner with us.

“Where will you stay?”

There are so many affordable options in most of the places we plan to go. Airbnb will probably be our top lodging choice. We already LOVE Airbnb from our experience as hosts. We have met the most amazing people and would love to experience more of that as travelers. In some Airbnbs, you get the whole house to yourself, but in others, we can stay in homes with the locals and experience life with them! That sounds so awesome. We have looked at prices in some places we plan to travel to. In Peru or Uganda, all of us can stay for a month for $385! In Costa Rica, $550. New Zealand, $510. Way cheaper than what we pay for a mortgage here. We have also looked into Workaway, where you exchange a few hours of work every day for lodging. Some examples of work in these places – “Help us work on our coffee farm. Help us build a permaculture farm. Help us in our cafe. Help us with beekeeping. Help us work on our cacao farm!” Chocolate, people!! Who wouldn’t want to volunteer on a chocolate farm?? These are things we would absolutely love to learn more about and experience anyway. Another commonly requested job? Practice English with my kids. We’ve got that one down. I already practice English with my own kids every single day! I’m practically a professional. So we are also exploring this option, to see if a Workaway family would be willing to host our family.

“What will you do when you come home next year?”

We don’t know exactly, but we have a great idea of what we want to do. We will share this in a future post!

“Is Duane quitting his job as a firefighter?”

No- he is definitely not quitting. He has pushed all his 2016 vacation days to the last half of the year and has been working and trading with people like crazy to get more days free. The way his job works, they are on for 24 hours, then off for 48 hours; on 24, off 48 – forever. So, if he works Monday and then takes Thursday off, he doesn’t have to go back in until Sunday. So taking off 1 day really gives him 5 days. It’s like magic. His amazing schedule is the only reason he is able to work this out. He will have to fly back a few times and work for a couple weeks and then go back to meet the rest of us in whatever country we are in.

“How long will you be gone?”

We don’t know that answer exactly. We leave town at the end of July and Duane has worked out all his days off and trades until the end of the year. But he won’t know if he can get his requested 2017 vacation days until December 2016. He will try to push all his vacation to the beginning half of 2017. We will have to plan the rest of the trip as it gets closer, but our hope is to be gone for a year. It might have to be as short as 8 months if we can’t get things worked out with his job.

“How do the kids feel about this?”

Noah wrote a little piece about his thoughts in his post “Ask The Better Question“. But stay tuned! We will be dedicating a future post to an interview with the kids, and you can hear what they have to say about all of this.

“What about the kids’ school?”

We will be homeschooling (or travelschooling?) the kids on the road. We have homeschooled in the past, so it won’t be completely new to us. The difficult part will be that we can’t bring a lot of books, so most of what we do will be ebooks and online courses. Knowing that our internet access will not be consistent, we will get a head start and begin their courses in the summer, as soon as they are done with their classes this year.

A few examples of our school plans:

For History and Literature, we plan to find books and to do research and write papers on whatever country we are in, or whatever country we are headed to next. We plan to have them interview people and be able to ask questions about how it actually felt to be in Rwanda during the genocide, or how it felt when Papua New Guinea gained independence, or when different cultures came in and began influencing and changing a country. We hope this will give them a richer understanding of the people we will be living among.

For part of their Science education, they will have journals where they have to research and then draw and label and report on local animals and plants and the ecology of a country.

For Geography, we will just travel to a country and see where it is in the world, and learn who is surrounding that country and learn where it is in the continent. You don’t quickly forget a country you’ve been to.

“You don’t eat like “normal” people. How will you survive on your ridiculous diet?”

This is true. We don’t follow the Standard American Diet. I cannot get anywhere near gluten or I will be very, very sick for a few days. No dairy either. Noah has asthma and has to stick to an anti-inflammatory diet to keep from living on meds daily and to be able to stay active in his long distance running. These things are super important to him. So is breathing. So a few years ago, we found the Paleo diet and it totally works for our family. It enables Noah to run, one of his favorite things. He could not do much of that before without an asthma attack lasting for days while connected to steroids to control it or a trip to the ER. The boys and I were hypoglycemic before we changed our diets and that is gone now. My weird skin issues are gone when I stick to the plan. Duane feels way better when he follows it. So, we’re kinda committed to making it work so we can stay healthy while away. That’s where making our own food when possible will come in handy. But we can have all the meat and vegetables and fruit, and I am sure we can find some of that wherever we go. We normally don’t eat any grains, but have just started to add rice into our diets because much of the world lives on rice. Everyone seems to be doing great with it except maybe me. I also plan to pack Epic bars into every crevice of every backpack so that sometimes when we get stuck, we will have something. Duane and Micah and Ezra will have much more freedom to explore local foods than Noah and I will, as they aren’t immediately threatened by serious consequences if they get something that is not part of our diet, so I am sure they will get to try many exciting foods. I already know that we will have times when we accidentally eat gluten or something that makes us sick, and so I am just adding that to my mental plan. If it’s in the plans, it’s ok and won’t ruin the trip. And missing some meals if necessary will not kill us. It will help us to feel what most people in the world feel every day.

“Are you really only bringing a backpack for all your things? For a year??”IMG_2150

Yes! We are keeping our items to one carry-on backpack per person. We have our backpacks- Duane, Rebekah, and Noah have the Osprey Farpoint 55 , and Micah and Ezra have the kid- sized Gregory Wander 50. I haven’t had time to practice pack yet, so I don’t know exactly how much I can cram into there. It will be interesting!! We got packing cubes to help organize our packs. We are buying clothing that we can wear in layers that are lightweight and dry fast so that we can hand wash our clothes and they won’t weigh us down. Duane will be going back and forth, so can bring anything that is super necessary that we can’t find in country- like essential oils and Epic bars!

“What are you doing with all your stuff?”

We are purging- a lot! We have gotten rid of many, many boxes of things. Donating to non-profits, selling, giving things away. I listened to a quite helpful audiobook called The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. That girl tells you how to get rid of stuff. For reals. But I don’t talk to my socks yet or say goodbye to my departing items, as may be suggested in this book. But maybe this would help me to get rid of more? Most of our furniture was packaged into the sale of our house. For the remaining things that I can’t part with, like family pictures and my Vitamix and ice cream maker and food processor, and things Duane can’t part with, like his 1 million books, and the things the kids can’t part with, like their Legos- we are going to throw that stuff into storage until we return.

“How can you afford this?”

I used to think travel was for wealthy people, because every trip I ever went on was crazy expensive and definitely not sustainable for a family for a year! And we aren’t wealthy compared to American standards. Compared to the world? We are filthy rich. But we’re just normal for Americans. So we have been researching like crazy to find ways to travel that are actually doable for a middle income American family. I stumbled upon an amazing podcast called The Budget Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 5.21.07 PMMinded Traveler. I obsessively listened to all of Jackie’s podcasts on my long daily drives and learned a ton! She also has an incredibly helpful website, TheBudgetMindedTraveler.com, that gives lots of practical ways to make it happen. We also recently joined a travel community called Holocene started by Nathaniel Boyle. It’s a community where we can learn and network and share inspiring stories of grand adventures. We are also alerted to amazing airfare and travel deals through this site. If you think you can’t afford to travel, you should really look these guys up! They will inspire you and equip you to make travel a part of your life. They’re awesome!

We are trying to book flights at the best possible time for cheapest fares and will be taking busses instead of flying when we can, and staying in affordable or free work-exchange places. We plan to stay in one location for a few weeks at least, and that will enable us to get discounted weekly or monthly lodging rates instead of more costly nightly rates. We will also go to the market and cook our own food when possible instead of eating out.

The countries we plan to go to are not the most expensive countries, either. The US dollar goes really far in some of these places. With no mortgage and minimal bills back home, we will just use Duane’s regular income to live and try to stick to that budget wherever we are. We may even save money by living this way! The exception is for purchasing our transportation- we will use the money we make on the sale of our house for transportation costs when needed.  

We don’t mind all the questions at all! People ask them because what we’re about to embark on is out of the norm. But, we want to leave you with this thought. You may be uncomfortable doing what we are doing, but can you do something adventurous in your own life? What is it? Ask those hard questions, get around people who believe in you, make a plan, and then go do it. Be adventurous! Go engage in a great story! I highly doubt that you will regret it.

What questions did we forget to answer? Let us know and we will try to answer them!

Details, Details, Details – Rebekah Benson

6 thoughts on “Details, Details, Details – Rebekah Benson

  • March 4, 2016 at 5:05 pm
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    Thanks for answering many of the questions in my own mind. Highly uncomfortable for us, but we will live through your adventures as you post them.

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    • March 4, 2016 at 9:15 pm
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      Thanks Midge! I’m sure this idea of adventure we have is uncomfortable for many, but we hope that it inspires others to have the courage to venture out on their own journey. And that courageous journey may have nothing to do with traveling, as you well know! You rocked that spirit through your courageous fight for life!

      Reply
  • March 11, 2016 at 10:12 am
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    Rebekah and Duane,
    I am inspired and in awe of the amazing thing you are doing with your family. I am praying that God will open a similar door for our family. We know we are called to Latin America, yet have not figured out how God will get us there. This has given me such hope that it is closer than I have previously imagined. I am looking forward to following your family adventure and sharing it with my family for inspiration!

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    • March 11, 2016 at 11:50 am
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      That’s fantastic Rachel! Let us know how it goes. Do you guys have a specific place in mind or are you unsure at this point? And thanks for the encouraging words.

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  • March 18, 2016 at 2:26 am
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    I feel your pain on the rice situation!! I just don’t tolerate it well either. I actually tolerate corn chips (on occasion) better than rice. I will be praying for your health for sure–and if you need an emergency pack of food I will send one to you!

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    • March 21, 2016 at 2:11 pm
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      Oh, you are so awesome for praying and for that emergency food offer, Corrina! I’ll send you an emergency message if I need it! I will try the corn and see if I can handle it. I know corn is a staple in so many places, so that would be awesome if I can have it. Thanks for understanding my food issues!

      Reply

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