Ten Reasons Why Your Family Shouldn't Take A Year Off: Reason #7 "How Would You Plan It?"

Pulling up your family’s suburban roots and heading off to tour developing countries for a year is foolish. There are lots of reasons not to do it. For example: How Would You Plan It?

Do you need a yellow fever inoculation to get into Bolivia and how long is it good for? (yes, 10 years) Do you need malaria pills in Kenya and can you buy them cheaply in Nairobi? (yes, yes) Can you take a ferry from Turkey to the Greek island of Rhodes in the winter and will you need a new Turkish visa when you return to Turkey? (yes, no) Can you enter Israel from Egypt at the Rabah and Taba border crossings? (no, yes) Can you plug your laptop into a wall socket in Peru and Tanzania? (yes, no) If you scored ten out of ten, you might not need any help, but if you’re like most of us, you’ll need some time. We started planning our trip about a year before we embarked and the amount of details to conquer is considerable.

Where would you even begin planning a year-long trip that encompasses several countries with differing languages, currencies, and requirements for entry visas, electrical voltages and tropical disease vaccinations? How could you possibly have reservations for all the hotels, trains, buses and rental cars that you will need? How will you know what your kids should be studying and where will you get the study materials? Like most big projects, the answer is to start making lists.

For many things, practical guidebooks like Lonely Planet and Rough Guides have a lot of valuable information. We have used our local library countless times to check out these books and make notes. Much of the information is on the web. Go to the State Department’s International Travel webpage for travel alerts and advisories and visa requirements for US citizens. Go the Center for Disease Control’s website for up to the minute information on which inoculations are needed in which country. Go to VoltageValet’s helpful Directory of Foreign Electrical Information to understand voltage, frequency, adapter plug and wall outlet type requirements by country. This area is particularly confusing as there are no worldwide standards. Former colonies often retain the standards of the colonizing country (i.e., Kenya has the same electrical standards as the United Kingdom) and sometimes places like overseas military bases use the standards of their controlling country instead of the surrounding region (i.e., U.S. military bases in Saudi Arabia).

With the exception of airline tickets, almost all hotel reservations can be made en route. For homeschooling requirements, education standards are usually detailed at your state’s website and on-line textbooks and web tutorials are available all over the web.

The bottom line is that there is a vast amount of detail to conquer but if you give yourself enough time, it’s all doable.

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