Our Gap Year Six Month Checkup

It’s raining outside, the thunder is booming, and we haven’t left our apartment in Florence today. It’s our last full day in this beautiful city, and we’ve chose to stay at home and enjoy a lazy Sunday together. And I’m okay with that.

After six months of traveling with my family on our gap year, I’ve become okay with not always doing something every day. I’ve learned to appreciate the moments of quiet and calm. I’ve allowed myself—and my family—to slow down and live at a pace that we’re most comfortable with.

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Six months into our gap year and we’ve been through five countries so far (USA, Thailand, Malaysia, China, and Italy). It hasn’t been a lot of movement and we like it that way. The kids obviously slow us down, but we’ve adapted to their daily rhythm and actually enjoy the slower pace with lots of breaks in-between. As travelers and parents, we’re not made to walk and sightsee for eight hours per day and ten miles per outing every single day. So we’ve settled into a travel schedule of one day on and one day off: one day spent sightseeing, and the next day just hanging out.

Our next stop in Europe will be Barcelona, Spain, where we’ll be spending almost five weeks. It’s a place for us to hopefully see some new things, have some interesting cultural experiences, and recharge after moving through three cities in Italy (Rome, Florence, and Venice) in two-and-a-half weeks.

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After traveling for six months with my family, the primary emotion I have is GRATITUDE. I am thankful for many things which include:

  1. Time with my family: Even if it’s sometimes exhausting, annoying, and inconvenient to be traveling the world with our kids, I’m thankful for the time we are able to spend together. Traveling together not only positively influences our kids, but affects us as parents, and shapes the dynamic of our family. Traveling the world on our gap year is an opportunity that I don’t take for granted.
  2. Time with our extended families: Part of our motivation for this trip was to spend more time with our parents and relatives. We’ve been able to accomplish that with long stops in Honolulu (my hometown) and Hangzhou (my wife’s hometown).
  3. Our health: Besides the occasional cold or fever, we haven’t had any issues with health problems or injuries. By moving slowly through our travels, we’ve placed an emphasis on getting good amounts of rest, which has kept us in good health throughout the trip.
  4. Our kids’ education: We’ve been able to enroll our kids in preschool and/or primary school in both Phuket, Thailand and Hangzhou, China. They’ve been able to learn, adapt, and socialize wherever we are in the world. Since I’ve started homeschooling my oldest daughter with English, math, and reading, she’s become more disciplined and interested in learning.
  5. The opportunities to do really fun stuff: World travel is fun. We’ve spent time with friends in Honolulu, swam in the Andaman Sea in Phuket, walked the ancient city of Rome, and ate our way through Kuala Lumpur. Doing all of this together as a family is what makes this special.

We’re looking forward to the next six months of travel, in which we’ll be moving through more of Europe and Asia. One thing that won’t change is our pace of travel. We’re going to keep taking it slowly, one place at a time and one day at time.

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.

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  • Good to see you guys are holding up well! Keep the dream alive!

    • Thanks Gerard. Now that we’re in Spain, I can see why you guys came back again on your recent trip…life is great here!

  • Er Ic Chan

    I like your article. Enjoy Spain!

    • Thanks Eric. Hope Hawaii is treating you well.