So, having had the seed of an idea, which then grew, we reached a point where we had to commit to the idea or let it go. We decided to give ourselves 12 months to save up, and if the finances were looking OK, we would go. The project manager and the perfectionist therefore sat down and drew up a 12 month plan, detailing what we needed to do when. Tasks ranged from sorting an itinerary to selling some of our stuff to avoid storage costs; rehoming the cat, renting the house, homeschooling, investigating a career break, storing/selling cars, sorting visas and insurance, studying for a TEFL to help when volunteering ….. !!!! Month by month we checked our savings and ticked off the jobs until in February, it was decision time.. And we booked our first flight! From then on, time just flew!

I wouldn’t say it was easy, and we are very lucky to have great friends and family who helped immensely, but it also wasn’t as hard as you might think. Packing up the house was probably the hardest part – and I have said we are moving house on our return or never! – but that was at least partly because we had things going to a variety of places.

Our itinerary evolved over time until it became what it is now. We had originally thought we would do a ski season somewhere, to allow us to indulge our passion for skiing. However, having investigated this, we decided against it as it wouldn’t meet our objectives. These objectives are to spend time together, to learn and grow together and to enjoy new experiences together. Keeping these at the heart of all decisions really helped us to focus and make some of the hard decisions needed to narrow down our route. We also gave the children some travel books to look through to get an idea of the kinds of things they would be interested in doing. Wildlife and the outdoors featured heavily… Several options were mooted and digested, before a clear winner emerged: we are travelling in Spanish speaking countries for 6 months to learn a new skill; we will visit the Amazon, cloudforests, and the Blue Hole to see wildlife; walk & ski in the Andes, climb sandunes in the Atacama desert and the volcanoes of Nicaragua, volunteer with a children’s charity in Peru and learn first hand about the Mayan and Malaysian cultures, amongst others. Can’t wait!

For other aspects of planning see below