We Are Off! Leaving Germany for a Year to Travel the World

 Family stands on curb at airport with baggage

Imagine the steps taken to get to this point: standing curbside at the Nuremberg airport, our lives packed into a few bags, a four-year old, a three-month old no bigger than a Handtasche (purse) and two exhausted parents. We turned the key on our house, stowed our cars, handed our Gießekanne (watering cans) over to our neighbors and headed for our first destination: Boston, Massachusetts.

No proper Tschüss is complete without a bottle of Prosecco and a group of friends to meet you at the Swiss Airlines ticket counter. This is the Germany I know, this is the Germany I love.

Some may think we are crazy (and sometimes I do, too!) but then I remember who I married, and what the heck we have done over the past eight years.

We are leaving Germany for year to travel the world… again.

 A baby looks up from an airplane bassinet.
 A woman, baby and daughter stand next to their tower of baggage at the airport.
 Friends and kids come to say goodbye to travelers at the airport.
 Friends and kids come to say goodbye to travelers at the airport.
 Women friends saying goodbye at airport.

This isn’t our first round-the-world rodeo

Michael and I met eight years ago on an expedition ship on the Antarctic Peninsula (how is that for chance). After replying “political podcasts and audiobooks” when I asked him what kind of music he listened to, I promptly changed course and followed him through Patagonia, Brazil, New Zealand, the Philippines, Indonesia, the Koreas, Taiwan, Micronesia before moving to Germany (that’s what you do for love, eh?).

Our second trip was after Sia was born. She ate her first bits of rice while driving across Hokkaido, practiced climbing stairs at Uluwatu and crawled across Sossusvlei’s Dune 45 in Namibia. Before her first birthday, she had been on all continents except for Antarctica and over 35 countries.

This third trip is to mark our son Luca’s birth. Since he is too young to travel now, we will begin our trip in November, basing ourselves out of San Diego, California.

 Comorants on an Island in the Beagle channel, Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, South America
 black and white image of a couple on beach in new zealand
 A baby sits on Dune 45, Sossusvlei, Namibia, Africa

Why a Round-the-World Trip?

Michael is one of the “most traveled” people in the world. He has been to all 193 U.N. sovereign countries and many of the world’s provinces. He has one of the most extensive photo libraries of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and possibly one of the only people to have professionally photographed all countries. You can find his photos everywhere from National Geographic to Condé Nast Traveler.

To put it bluntly, he is an explorer through and through. And we follow him to many (but not all!) of the places he goes.

Michael and I are of the same philosophy: we travel to report about the world.

This is not your typical family travel blog. We want to know what is happening to our planet and its people and wildlife. We are much more interested in the Amazon’s ecosystem, human rights in Rakhine State or the historical reckoning of Cambodia (all places we plan to go) over where to stay or what to eat. We feel it is our responsibility to be the eyes and ears of the planet and use our carbon footprint wisely.

And doing it with kids?

We are big believers that having children doesn’t impede our ability to traverse the world: it enhances it. Babies are door openers, and through our experience we’ve discovered that with the right research and planning it is more than possible to travel the world as we do as a family. Our kids (whether they want to or not ;) come with.

 Woman and her baby hiking through the jungle, Mele Cascades, Efate, Vanuatu
 Beautiful beach in the Bom Bom Resort,Unesco Biosphere reserve, Principe, Sao Tome and Principe, Atlantic Ocean

Where are we going?

Using California as our base, we plan to separate the trip into different segments. Having a home base to regroup is important for both of us, for our well-being and endurance. We also don’t know how our style of travel will go with a fiery 4-year-old, so we plan to modify our pace as we go along.


Taiwan+ Hong Kong + China + Vietnam +Cambodia + Laos + Myanmar + Thailand + Tahiti + Pitcairn + Gambier, Australs, Marquesas, French Polynesian islands + Brazil + the Amazon + Colombia + Canada + The Silk Road


Michael will also be doing a few intrepid trips without the family in between: Niger’s Guérewol Festival, Afghanistan, Siberia’s Road of Bones, and more.

 White baby in a group of locals, Port Vila, Efate, Vanuatu

Will parts of it be hell? Yes. Will we in no uncertain terms at some point want to toss Sia into the Mekong River? Probably. Will I complain about our carbon footprint? The entire time. Will Michael scold me for not having downloaded offline maps ahead of time? 100%.

But we know from experience, the challenging parts are the parts to live by, the parts to remember, the parts to love.

Thank you for joining us!


Photography

Black & Whites | airport Goodbyes, Luca’s first long-haul flight at 3 months.
2 | The Southern Hemisphere: Antarctica. Michael Runkel Photography
3| Before the children: round-the-world travel through New Zealand, 2012. Abel Tasman National Park.
4 | Sia at 11 months, sitting in front of Dune 45 at Sossusvlei, Namibia, 2016.
5| Babywearying in Vanuatu, 2016.
6| Dune 45, Sossusvlei, Namibia, 2016.
7| Sia meeting new friends in Port Vila, Efate, Vanuatu, 2016.