Trip Start Jun 30, 2012
Trip End Jun 04, 2013

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Flag of Israel  ,
Saturday, July 28, 2012

From the start it was clear that a ten-month trip with a young girl would be significantly different to a normal short trip. As a preliminary step we discussed our goals and the kind of experience we'd like to have.  We read blogs of families traveling with young children, and we consulted friends.  One of the things which intrigued us was to experience different ways of living, such as life in a small village, in an isolated house, or in a small town, and to interact with people who live there.  It was important for us to allow Naomi to have some stability and a feeling of being at home.  We therefore settled on a slow trip where we actually live for a while in each place and create a home as we go.  We decided to travel mainly to Western countries, where it would be easy to find our way round, and where the sanitation and medical services would be of good quality, with regular and reliable access to the Internet.

We chose to start our trip on a date which would allow me to complete processes with clients, and for Naomi to finish her academic year at kindergarten.  The adventure would begin after Phil's sister's wedding in August, in London.  So we were going to have two months in Tel Aviv without our apartment. Our attempts to extend out rental contract even for a week or two, let alone a month or two months, did not bear fruit. We started to look for temporary accommodation within driving distance of the kindergarten.

It turns out that it is quite complicated and expensive to find short-term apartments in Tel Aviv.  We found expensive apartments for tourists in central Tel Aviv, near the beach, without parking, and far away from the kindergarten.  It was one of the most challenging arrangements for our trip.  True to the principle of win-win solutions we then decided to try to find someone who’d be going on holiday during the summer, and would benefit from letting their apartment out while they were away.  With the help of good friends, we managed to find one.

So we’ve been living for the last two months before the trip in central Tel Aviv, feeling a bit like tourists.  It’s a special period of freedom combined with a lot of farewells and preparations. I’m gradually parting with my clients, and spending more time with family and friends.  I’ve been going out a lot, and it feels like I’ve subscribed at the local cafe.  Naomi celebrated her fourth birthday one month before the real date, and said goodbye to her friends at the end-of-year party, which was specially moved forward to allow her to attend.  Many thanks to the wonderful staff there.

We had many other arrangements to attend to: packing and storing our possessions, changing address, getting vaccinations, selling the car, sorting accommodation, arranging car rentals etc.  On a deeper level we took a look at ourselves and our goals for the coming year, examining them in the context of our relationships as a couple and family.  We want to have fun, family time, and closeness.  We also want to experience living in different places, to know how it feels for us to live in a small village in the countryside, to develop flexibility and the ability to adapt to changing conditions.  We want to develop confidence, curiosity and openness in Naomi.

We agreed a rough outline of the route we planned to take, and found an Air New Zealand flight from London to New Zealand through Asia and back through the United States, allowing us to stop at a number of interesting places along the way.  We chose the dates and destinations so that we’d have summer all year round (by which I mean a European summer with some rain, not the Israeli heat). We left open the exact route within each continent, the idea being that if we find any place which we really love, we’ll be able to stay there longer.  We also believe that during the trip we will learn more about ourselves, and what works for us best.  How long is right for us in one place, how important proximity to other people and shops is, how much we enjoy being in isolated places, and what relationship between nature and culture works best for us.

The final week is especially packed.  We say goodbye one last time to family and friends, and finally we manage to sell the car, and hand over the bikes.  We pack again and I wonder perhaps for the hundredth time how three people can pack summer and winter clothes into just three suitcases.  After a few attempts, many more things find their way into the garbage.  Just when we thought we’d finally finished packing, we find another drawer full of clothes, so we have to adjust again.  And then an hour later, we find a drawer full of socks, at which point we couldn’t find any further space in the suitcases even for a pen.

Phil's Version:
Party time.  The forgotten socks fitted into my suitcase's front pocket which I'd also forgotten about.
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