Our Gap Year Recap

Our gap year is officially over. It wasn’t a full year as planned, but it was enough for us. We were all traveled out and ready to get back home. And now that we’re home, we’re happy to be here.

In total, we traveled for more than 300 days through 10 countries. We weren’t really concerned with the number of countries we went to, but rather the quality of our time in each of the countries we were in. We traveled as slowly as possible without any expectations or much of a plan. And without much of a travel agenda, we were able to be spontaneous and follow our curiosity wherever we were.

Traveling with two kids, ages 6 and 3, for 300 days wasn’t easy. In fact, it was rather stressful and sometimes overwhelming when we had to coordinate flights, trains, luggage, accommodations, meals, and everything else associated with travel. But for all the sacrifices and expenditures associated with this gap year, the experience was still worth the trouble.

Here’s some FAQs about our gap year:

Why did we go?
We took this gap year for a number of reasons. We wanted to spend quality time as a family of four, we wanted to spend more time with relatives, we wanted to travel (especially to Europe), and I wanted to take a healthy career break. Plus, it was also a good chance to expose our children to various cultures and have them enroll in local schools in some different countries.

What did we sacrifice?
We made some sacrifices including me turning down a handful of onsite interview requests for jobs, selling our car and almost all of our personal belongings, taking the kids out of regular school, and not being physically around our friends and communities at home.

What did we gain?
We gained time, specifically the freedom and autonomy to make choices about what we would do with our time. We spent our time traveling, sightseeing, eating together as a family, trying new things, shopping, exercising, resting, reading, and whatever else we felt like doing. It was liberating to have control over how we lived, even if it was for a limited amount of time.


Why are we back early?
Our gap year was initially for at least a full calendar year, but we decided to come back a couple of months early for a few reasons. We enjoyed homeschooling and world schooling our kids, but we wanted our children to be enrolled in regular school around when the school year started. My wife and I were getting tired of all the traveling and bored by all the movement (believe it or not!), so we felt it was the right time to get back to our life at home and for me to get back to work.

What have I learned from all this traveling?
*See prior post: Five Things I’ve Learned About the World Through Travel

As we integrate back into normal life here at home, I hope to write more about some of the stories and takeaways from the experience. But other pressing matters like finding full-time work and installing Ikea furniture take precedence over writing—at least for now.

To all our family, friends, and readers who have followed and/or supported our journey over the last couple of years…Thank you!

Cliff Hsia is a writer, husband, and father, who is determined to live a better than normal life by traveling the world, slowly and purposefully, with his wife and two young daughters. His writing has been featured on MSN, TODAY, The Huffington Post, The Good Men Project, and other publications. He writes about travel, parenting, and lifestyle design.