We are the Switzer-Cook family – Richard (47), Carolyn (46), and our kids Nora (14) and Gabe (11) from Toronto, Canada. A few years ago, we decided it was time that we step out of our comfort zone and introduce our kids to the broader world. Our jobs afforded us the opportunity to take ‘self-funded’ leaves of up to one year, and seeing the blur of their childhood speed past us, we seized the opportunity to spend more sustained quality time with them before they flew the coop.
Our decision to travel for the year was as much motivated by a desire to push a freeze-frame button on a shared family experience, as it was to introduce the kids to the various ways of approaching life and living. So, after four years of saving, planning, dreaming, fretting and flip flopping, we updated our passports, visited the travel clinic for the full range of immunizations, rented out our house, packed our bags, and bought round-the-world plane tickets. Easy peasy.
Our friends and family have asked us to document and share our observations and experiences while on the road, so we’ve started this blog, and an instagram account to share pictures on a more regular basis. As we’ve been planning this trip for more than four years, we’ve found that social media has been a great source of inspiration, information and connection to a world of like-minded individuals and families. We look forward to hearing travel tips, insider knowledge on the places we visit, and hopefully meeting people face to face on the road.
As the lead for Just-In-Time Logistics, Richard makes sure we get where we are going on time and on budget. Richard is most looking forward to discovering new perspectives on sustainability, sampling locally fermented malt, hops and barley in each country, and interpreting the landscape through a geographers lens, for the never-appreciative audience that is our kids.
As the team’s big-picture thinker, Carolyn doesn’t get bogged down by silly details. She keeps the operation moving forward toward the ultimate goal of making memories. Carolyn is looking forward to sampling caffeinated concoctions in each country, improving her threshold for spicy food, and designing and implementing a Global Scavenger Hunt to end all Scavenger Hunts.
Nora’s eye for detail and exacting standards makes her the perfect lead for Quality Assurance/Quality Control. Nora is also responsible for the trip soundtrack and keeping us somewhat tethered to the ‘real’ world through her social media prowess. She loves bold new adventures, challenging stereotypes, solving riddles, and board / party games. Nora will be tasked with learning key phrases in the local language of each country and then teaching them to her parents. Nora is most looking forward to a self-directed pace to road-schooling and finding the Ravenclaw Common Room.
As the youngest and most tenacious member of our team, Gabe’s restless spirit makes him the perfect lead for activity programming. His love of treasure hunting is parlayed into a search for souvenirs and keepsakes. He’ll be challenged with the task of currency conversion and bargain hunting in each country. As an adrenaline junkie since birth, Gabe is looking forward to zip-lining, hiking, surfing, climbing and snorkelling his way through the trip. During downtime, he will be maximizing the four toys he was permitted to pack – his yo-yo, moon ball, ‘comebackball’ and hacky sack (in lieu of a soccer ball), and teaching these to his parents.