Passion Points: Family
“Why take the kids out of school for a year?” asks Brian Janssen. “Why disrupt what is a wonderful life and lifestyle?” And so begins Janssen’s documentation of the decision he and his wife, Traci, made to roadschool (not homeschool) their three kids (Sydney, age 12, Hayden, age 10 and Halle, age 8), on an eye-opening, year-long trip around the world. Brian, an Indagare member, updates his blog at each new location and the descriptive journal is filled with revelatory insights, marvels and parental pride.
The family started in July, 2011 with seven weeks of safari in Kenya and Tanzania then headed to the beaches of Greece’s Santorini. After scuba lessons the Janssens traveled west to hike the Dolomites and to submerge themselves in Roman history in southern Italy. Despite recent political unrest, the family decided not to cancel the Egypt leg of their journey during which they toured Cairo and took a cruise along the Nile. Afterwards, they headed back to Europe for adventures in London’s British Museum. Most recently they celebrated Thanksgiving in Paris and are currently in St. Anton, Austria for the ski season. Read excerpts from the family’s adventures below or go to their website. For help booking your own family tour, contact our bookings team.
July 15, 2011 – The Journey Begins
‘2:23 pm. The wheels on our flight from Seattle to Amsterdam just retracted and we’re now unequivocally committed. After a decade of consideration, a year of determination and a month of somewhat frantic preparation we are off…’
July 23, 2011—Garden of Eden (Kenya)
‘On our second morning in camp we woke the kids up at 4:30 for a surprise hot air balloon ride. We saw hundreds of giraffe and elephant, thousands of zebra and gazelle, hundreds of thousands of gnu (wildebeest), a black rhino, hyena, jackal, lions, etc. It was amazing to be floating over the vast grasslands, riding the wind, with nothing but vast grasslands and animals as far as the eye can see.
‘We are all learning at a rapid pace. There are so many features, people, customs, animals, etc. The kids ask us and our guide approximately 500 questions each per day (Which animal would win in a fight: a crocodile or a lion?)’
September 4, 2011—Transition Time
‘Leaving Africa was hard. It is truly a unique place in the world given the largeness and uniqueness of everything. Sydney, our biggest dissenter against our plans for the year, cried her sweet little heart out a few hours before leaving… We wanted Africa first in our trip to be sure the kids bought in to the idea of traveling around the world. Boy, did Africa deliver on this front. There’s the old saying that to be successful in any endeavor one should under-promise and over-deliver.
‘The kids are doing great and have adjusted really well. We were told that they would massively learn new things via direct absorption and that is certainly happening. They have seen and remembered hundreds of new animals and birds, have had their eyes filled with completely foreign sites and scenes, and have picked up and used a few tidbits of Swahili. They are constantly meeting new people and we’re super proud to see them looking each person in the eye, shaking their hands, and using great manners… The African men love Hayden, calling him warrior and enjoying his love of spears, arrows and all things boy. Each of our kids seems more mature and capable by the day.’
September 15, 2011—Dolomites, Italy
‘The kids were super energized and on the way down from a high pass they decided to play the “follow dad’s footsteps” game. I was having a blast making them try to follow huge footsteps, doing stupid little dances, etc. At one point we were traversing a small cattle farm and I tried to get fancy and jump over a small ravine in between some large cow pies. Instead I slipped and instantly planted both forearms and hands in the mud and dung and mess. Full belly laughs by Traci and all the kids. I didn’t think it was particularly humorous.’
September 24, 2011—Greece
‘During a visit to a dive shop at a local beach, we met a lovely Australian couple named Kate and Jason. They are hanging in Ios for a few years after spending 7 years sailing around the world. Kate said she could give all the kids an introduction to scuba diving and the kids all gamely gave it a go. She and Jason were just fabulous, energetic teachers and the kids are hooked. Sydney and Hayden received credit toward their certifications, which they can hopefully complete in the spring in Thailand or Indonesia. It was a super cool experience for them.’
October 19, 2011—Italy, Part II
‘After learning about all of the weapons used by the gladiators at “Gladiator School,” armed with wooden swords the kids learned five offensive and five defensive moves. The instructor then turned the kids loose on each other and refereed as they went at it with foam swords. Halle is a demon with a sword. Hayden and Sydney were so shocked and were laughing so hard at her aggressiveness that she whipped them both. The kids absolutely loved the experience.’
November 16, 2011—Egypt
‘Given the unrest in Egypt since January’s revolution, we decided to take a sheltered view of Cairo. This was not to be the place where we would go native. The Pyramids of Giza are simply stunning. We visited early in the morning, with the blinding light from the desert sun and sands shocking our pale faces and my robust scalp. Normally there are 25,000 visitors each day at the pyramids and on this morning there were only a couple hundred.
‘After lunch at a local restaurant, we spent hours in the National Museum. Reading and watching the revolution and how the museum almost fell but with only a few things being looted, I was expecting a modern building with high tech security. Here are countless invaluable treasures and to my surprise the building was a complete dump, crammed with treasures so old it made your head spin. The old saying that it is what’s on the inside that counts, and that was true for the museum. The kids were engaged for at least three hours with the treasures of King Tut, countless statues and coffins, weapons and tools, and of course the royal mummies.’
‘After four months on the road it was an amazing treat to be in an English speaking country, or “fancy English” as Halle calls it. The museums in London have provided great insight into the benefit of our kids directly experiencing many places in person. They have a fascinating recall of Greek and Roman and Egyptian gods. The guides have been impressed and each museum visited reinforces what they’ve seen.’
For tailored travel advice or to learn about the best ways to travel the world with your children, contact our advisory department at 212-988-2611 or by sending an inquiry.
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