It seemed to come out of the blue. Initially I think, some of our friends and family were confused but for me there was sudden face-smacking clarity. We needed to uproot, to pull up and away from the things we’d come to know. There was a sense of needing to cut the cord, to get some distance from the safety of familiarity. More than anything I desperately needed my family to be together, so with the money from the house sale we should take a mid-life gap year and travel.
As soon as the idea had taken seed I knew it was right for us, knew in that deep-in-the-bones, these-things-are-destined sort of way. I only had to try and convince everyone else it was a good idea – including Rob. I’m not sure whether it was my impeccable reasoning that had him unable to resist the logic of the plan or my barely concealed hysteria. I followed him about like a haunted soul; pleading look fixed on my face, almost constantly tearful and snotty, regaling him hourly with all the reasons why it was a great idea. So it was completely without any pressure that he took a couple of weeks to mull things over.
During that agonising limbo I thought about what might be the best way for a family with youngish children to see the world. The thought of backpacking around India was exciting but felt too demanding for children as young as ours. South America or South East Asia would pose the same problems – even Europe, which made more sense in terms of familiarity – would prove difficult if we had to carry our lives in several bags. Living out of a bag is exhausting eventually, even for adults. The boys would be effectively homeless – I didn’t think they’d cope without a base. They’d need somewhere they could rest and play, somewhere to keep a few treasured possessions; a bed that was the same one each night, whatever adventures happened during the day; a place to cook a meal and sit down to eat together. A home, but on wheels.
By the time Rob finally said ‘yes’, I’d researched motorhomes and campervans and been looking at WWOOFing farms across Europe.
That little seed of an idea, had grown and taken form. It was now a plan – a list of milestones to pass before it became our reality: sell house, find rental house, move house, give notice to Rob’s place of work, tell children, buy van, get rid of all earthly possessions, panic, leave.