A Family RTW Travel Adventure (2008-2009)
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A Map For Saturday

There is a priceless moment near the beginning of the documentary film A Map For Saturday when writer-director Brook Silva-Braga tells his co-workers at HBO’s Inside the NFL that he is leaving his job to travel around the world by himself.

One colleague asks incredulously, “You’re doing this alone?”

Another is less charitable: “There’s the idiot. There’s the idiot. He’s the one who had it all. He’s the one who’s giving it up.”

For the next ninety minutes Silva-Braga explores the world of long-term solo travel. One reviewer called it, “the single best cinematic response to ‘why we travel.’”

On the Saturday before Christmas, Dani, Caroline, Conor and I sat down to watch the documentary. I thought it would be a good idea if we watched together and got a small sense of the reality of being on the road for a year. Let me tell you, Silva-Braga delivers in spades.

He has produced a remarkable documentary that communicates the arc of emotions that are part of long-term travel. His early days of loneliness and second-guessing give way to moments of incredible discovery and friendship, and ultimately to the emotional recognition that it is time to go home.

One of the things I’m interested in experiencing on our trip is the emotional journey that parallels the physical journey. What happens when you thoroughly disengage from your settled life? What impact will it have on us as a family?

David Elliot Cohen and his family took a year-long trip around the world, which he chronicled in the book, “One Year Off.” Apparently, at some point after their return, Cohen and his wife separated. I know nothing about their situation or if the trip played any role in the couple’s eventual parting. I do know that Cohen had this to say in the last chapter of his book:

“Neither Devi [Cohen’s wife] nor I would have made this journey if we weren’t getting along, and even then, there were tense moments – especially at the outset… If anything, we learned that a trip like this accentuates problems rather than solves them.”

I’ve always felt that our nuclear family was very tight, that we are a good team and always try to be respectful and supportive of each other. It will be interesting to put our relationships to the test. I’d like to believe that we will take something strong and make it stronger. We’ll see.

Thanks to A Map For Saturday, we’ll be going into this journey with a better sense of what to expect. At least now we can all visualize examples of the highs and lows of long-term travel. For anyone interested in a journey like this, I highly recommend this documentary.

For the record, the film presented no “deal-breakers” to any of us, though bedbugs and some Asian toilets may present a real challenge. 😉

Check out the trailer for the movie.

1 comment

1 Tamara { 03.03.08 at 11:08 pm }

I haven’t seen “A Map for Saturday”, but I did read “One Year Off” when we were planning our own one year RTW trip with our two kids (6 & 7 at the time). I can definitely relate to Cohen’s comments about how travelling for extended periods magnifies problems rather than solving them. You really come to depend on your partner and, when things are tense and you have no one else to turn to, you really have to learn to communicate. We had some of the most special moments as a couple and as a family on this trip, but we also had our share of long quiet days when no one was speaking. In the end, we learned a lot about tolerating each other’s idiosyncracies and getting past our differences. The key is finding some alone time to do something just for yourself once in a while so you can recharge your batteries and come back with a new perspective. Have a fabulous trip – I’ll be watching with interest (and a little bit of jealousy). Feel free to add our blog to your list:)

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