A Family RTW Travel Adventure (2008-2009)
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RTW Fortune.jpg

The fortune cookie was the final sign.

Months earlier I had casually raised the subject with my wife over lunch at a local Latin American restaurant. “Would you think I was crazy if I said we should take a year off, pull the kids out of school, and travel around the world?”

I couldn’t tell if Dani was humoring me or if she really meant it when she said: “Sounds interesting. Could we really do it?”

Once I voiced what I had been thinking, the signs began to appear.

It started with my son. One day, out of the blue, he said to me, “Dad, I know what I want to do when I grow up.”

“What’s that?”

“I want to travel around the world, talk to people, listen to their stories, then use what they tell me to make up new stories.”

Conor was ten.

Weeks later, I brought up the possibility of a trip around the world at dinner. I was sure my daughter, Caroline, would object. She has never enjoyed change. Years earlier, when we were thinking about moving to a new house in the same community, she’d objected so strongly I thought she would have a meltdown at the mere thought of moving less than a mile away.

But she didn’t object. She wanted to hear more. What exactly was I talking about?

Weeks passed and we continued to talk about it in pairs, threesomes, and when we all gathered for dinner.

It began to feel like it was all we talked about. It was our family secret – we were sworn to talk about it only to each other. The idea seemed so crazy, we didn’t dare tell anyone else.

One night we got Chinese take-out. Over dinner I asked Caroline how she felt about the idea of the trip now. She would be heading into high school, and it would probably impact her more than any one else.

She said: “Dad, I’ve thought a lot about this. And the way I feel right now, I’m scared to go. But I also know I’ll be really disappointed if we don’t go.”

Then Caroline broke open her fortune cookie. It said: “You will step on the soil of many countries.”

And that, for me, was the final sign.

After my son had, at age ten, expressed my childhood dream in a more direct, articulate way than I could have. After my daughter pinpointed the emotions I felt, and put her finger on the fear of the unknown that had stopped me in the past.

After my wife had said to me, in so many words, I’m up for an adventure with you.

We passed the fortune around the table. I called for a family vote: “All in favor of taking a year off to travel around the world, raise your hand.”

Four hands shot up.


1 Michael Cuddy { 11.06.07 at 5:10 pm }

5 hands shot up!!!…six months in to the trip…Dani, “Craig you’ve got to tell Cuddy to go home!” Roll James Family roll!!!! MC

2 Martha { 11.06.07 at 5:29 pm }

I can’t BELIEVE the bit about the fortune cookie! AMAZING! You are soooooo cool to do this. I love the website already. We are waiting for you on this side of the world…Mike, Martha, Gerry, Ellie, Nati + Jim and Snoopy

3 Doug (that's uncle to you kids) { 11.08.07 at 11:18 pm }

That is the first I’ve heard about the fortune cookie deal sealer!!!!! As we found out in Disney World— We all know who sent that cookie– the one, the only— BABY JESUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! DJ

4 Jennifer { 11.16.07 at 12:12 am }

I just found your website and I am excited for your family. I too got the “bug” from “Six in the World” and will start preparing soon, however it will probably be several years since our kids are too young still. But we are starting a savings plan now for it. I will also be watching your family as you go through this life changing experience. Good Luck!

5 Sujatha { 02.12.08 at 10:06 am }

Wow, I’m blown away!! I’ll be watching this site and following along with your. I’m sure my family will be game, we do travel a lot. But it will be several years later, if at all we do it. Kids are only 6 and 2 now. All the best with the planning!

6 Marjory { 02.14.08 at 9:11 am }

This is an incredible story, but not at all surprising. You know, BJ went into cancer research based on a fortune in a cookie. And coincidentally, that’s how I got the idea to have a sex change, too!
The Woman Formerly Known As Manny

7 Dani { 02.14.08 at 4:06 pm }

Wow, I’m sure glad we got the travel fortune cookie instead of the sex change fortune cookie. I think I’d be even more anxious about a sex change than the world trip! Plus, it’d be harder to share than this (although, eventually, more obvious.)

8 Zach { 04.05.08 at 10:59 am }

Your lives as individuals and a family will never be the same, congratulations and GOOD LUCK!

9 Zach { 04.05.08 at 11:01 am }

I just found your site, and as I posted that, I realized this is one year to the date of my wife and I leaving for Japan for 6 months…….cosmic, you guys will be an inspiration for our next big trip

10 Cecelia { 06.15.08 at 5:31 pm }

I just subscribed to your site and i LOVE the tremor videos!!!! the are sooo funny! i hope you post more blogs and more videos about your experiences and travels! Have a nice time but i have to admit i will miss you conor! but im excited for you and i hope you have fun!

11 Cecelia { 06.15.08 at 5:34 pm }

Wat a coinkidink! when conor told me at first i was like he was never going to do this! but then he kept on telling me and my friends all about it ! and know he is half way around the world!

12 Kevin Captain Team Spiers { 07.22.08 at 11:22 am }

I hear ya Craig. Our plans started with my wife (Kim) saying “lets sell our house, cars , resign from work and take kids around the world”. I replied ” go back to bed”. Well 2 years later we are 3 weeks to leaving and have done all that she said. Pack and pack and purge stuff. What a great feeling to shed so much stuff.
We will be following you and hopefully hook up on the way.
Cheers and safe travels.


13 Steven Tillis { 08.12.08 at 5:56 pm }

Hey i just got back home like 2 hours ago and decided to check out your site. Anyway it was great traviling with all you guys in the Galapagos. And Dani thanks for saving my brother, even though it would have been funny watching him fall overboard =). That was a great trip and it was great to help kick off your trip around the world. And tell Caroline to hang in there for American food.

14 Caroline { 08.12.08 at 6:25 pm }

I’m getting Chinese food tonight!!! And that trip was really fun.

15 Peter { 08.25.08 at 9:05 am }

Not sure which is more impressive in your video- the underwater sequence or the dramatic sunset close- very Lion Kingish!
You guys are to be congratulated- bravo. You stepped off the edge and found out– there is no edge! Cool!

Peter R.

16 annie tinnesand { 01.11.09 at 3:07 pm }

Lise just passed on your website to me this morning and I have already enjoyed your Aussie logs. When I was 12 and brothers, 11, 14, and 16, my parents took us on a six month trip around the world. It was a life altering trip for all of us. How lucky for all of you to spend the year together experiencing such amazing marvels of the world. Thank you for sharing. I’m looking forward to the remaining logs.

17 Signs II | The Wide Wide World { 04.29.09 at 1:31 am }

[…] hadn’t been an easy decision, but we tried to heed the signs, as we did in deciding to leave in the first […]

18 The Sign — 300 Days In The World { 05.26.09 at 8:07 pm }

[…] When we first started doing research on the idea of travelling around the world with our whole family, one of the best examples and resources of good info we found was the blog of the James family (who I’ve linked to in our blogroll).  The first posting in their blog is about how they were struggling over whether or not to take the big leap and go out on their journey and, how one night at a Chinese restaurant they got a fortune in a fortune cookie that pushed them over the edge.  You can read their story here. […]

19 Full Circle | The Wide Wide World { 07.17.09 at 2:09 am }

[…] All you have to do is look for the Signs. […]

20 Linda { 07.17.09 at 11:13 am }

I have so enjoyed traveling vicariously with you–since you returned home, I keep thinking you’re going to say this is your last email….and I don’t want it to end–for you or for me! What a fabulous experience–glad for you that you were brave enough to do it!

21 kate baar { 08.08.09 at 11:59 am }

Please keep posting periodically… don’t make me go cold turkey!!! Thanks for sharing all your adventures. You’re an inspiration to many.

22 Leah { 05.21.11 at 11:02 pm }

I am so keen to do a one-year (maybe even more??) RTW trip with my family when I have kids. My husband and I are currently planning a few weeks for a holiday in Europe next year. I have never been overseas and am super keen to take a year off and travel with my kids, when (God willing) we have them 🙂

23 21 Reasons to Travel Around the World with Kids…From Those Who Have Done It | BootsnAll Travel Articles { 07.06.11 at 4:00 am }

[…] “One night we got Chinese take-out. Over dinner I asked Caroline how she felt about the idea of the trip now. She would be heading into high school, and it would probably impact her more than anyone else. She said, ‘Dad, I’ve thought a lot about this. And the way I feel right now, I’m scared to go. But I also know I’ll be really disappointed if we don’t go.’” – from Craig at The Wide, Wide World […]

24 Resident Tourist Goes Packing « DC Resident Tourist { 01.22.12 at 3:53 pm }

[…] knew after my family returned from our trip around the world that I would need to broaden my horizons at home beyond the familiar triangle of roads that […]

25 Lauren { 10.05.12 at 8:56 am }

This is a great story! It put a smile on my face 🙂

26 Dan Jahns { 01.04.13 at 2:18 am }

Hi Craig,
I was referred to your site by my friend Jennifer Keohane who is just about to embark on an RTW family adventure herself. I have read several of your postings (I love your writing style) and look forward to reading more. My wife Francesca and I did an RTW trip (2009-2010) alas, only 5 months) after our first year of marriage and have been keen ever since to do one with our kids (once we have them). Our son is just turning 1 and our second child will hopefully come sometime in late 2013 or early 2014 so we’ve got some years to plan. 🙂 I have put your blog on my site’s blogroll. I see you have an extensive one yourself. If you like my site at all and wouldn’t mind adding mine to yours that would be great. I look forward to reading through your amazing journey especially how you roadschooled Caroline and Conor. Best regards, Dan

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