Suzanne Rutledge and her husband Mitch have always loved international travel, and continued to make it a priority after they had their son Luke. In 2014, during a trip to Chile to celebrate their 40th birthdays, Suzanne and Mitch met a solo female traveler who had been traveling around the world for a year. Inspired by the conversation and her travel stories, Mitch and Suzanne set about planning a long-term adventure for their own family, and were ready to set off less than a year later with Luke, who was seven at the time. Over nine months, the family traveled to New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, India, Kenya, Egypt, Turkey, Croatia, Western Europe, and England, volunteering in some countries along the way as well to give back to the communities they were visiting.
The family had the chance to spend nine months together, and made sure to take notes of the things their trip taught them. Luke had the chance to experience different cultures and historical sites first-hand rather than hearing about them in the classroom, and regularly pulls from his experiences now that he’s back at school. Suzanne, Mitch and Luke also took steps to simplify their lives after returning from their trip and prioritize family time, and started a travel blog to share their adventures and experiences with family and friends. Suzanne was even inspired to bundle some of her best travel tips with some of their stories and write her book From the Rut to the Ledge.
On this episode we talk to Suzanne about the family’s inspiration behind taking the trip, and why they decided to prioritize slow travel. We also talk about what it was like to travel with Luke, how he reacted on learning about the family’s plan to take the trip, and the differences she now sees in him. Suzanne also discusses the importance of learning from your travel experiences and implementing what you have learnt back into your life when you return home, and how this helped inspire her to write her book.
What we talk about in this episode:
- How Suzanne and her husband Mitch had always loved to travel even before their son was born, and looked for every opportunity to travel internationally
- How Suzanne and Mitch were inspired to start their own nine month travel journey after meeting a solo female traveler in Chile who had quit her job to travel, and how focusing on their passion and love of travel allowed things to come together, like getting their house rented and permission from their son Luke’s school to homeschool him while they were away
- How they were able to get everything organized and be ready to travel within nine months of making the decision to take the trip
- How Luke was excited when they shared their plans to travel long term, and how even when the Suzanne and Mitch hit a travel snafu or felt apprehensive about what was to come during the trip, Luke’s positive attitude always helped to keep their spirits up
- How it was nice to spend so much time with Mitch and Luke for nine months straight, and how that’s an opportunity you rarely get in your regular daily routine
- How Luke learned so many things that he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to in class like first-hand experience with cultures and historic sites, and how he can pull from those experiences now that he is back in class
- How creating tasks for Luke, like being in charge of calculating and paying for street food and markets helped him to keep engaged and practice his math skills
- How Suzanne and Mitch planned their nine month itinerary, adding destinations along the way, and how one of their main goals was to travel slowly
- What their first stop in New Zealand was like, and their onward travel through South East Asia
- How Suzanne and Mitch strategically decided to start their trip in an English speaking country so as not to get overwhelmed with too many changes all at once
- How they realized their goals of spending time together as a family and giving back to the communities they were visiting by volunteering
- How they also realized that they didn’t have to be together all the time to appreciate each other and the trip, and were able to schedule alone time to visit or do things the others weren’t necessarily interested in
- The family’s positive experience with locals, feeling welcomed everywhere they went, and how this often went against what they were expecting based on the media’s portrayal of the region
- Some of Suzanne’s top travel experiences, including the Great Barrier Reef, Vietnam, and volunteering at an orphanage in Kenya
- How they felt as a family as they started to near the end of their trip, and how it was a bittersweet mix of excitement for a return to consistency as well as sadness that the trip was over
- The changes that Suzanne has seen in Luke after the trip and how one of her goals was to show him how people around the world live differently to him
- Luke’s adjustment back into the school system after the trip, and for Suzanne and Mitch back into the professional world
- How Suzanne was able to use the challenge of writing the book to help her adjust back to the routine of everyday life, and reflect on what the family had learned during their time away
- Some of the changes that they’ve implemented in their lives now as a result of some of the things they’ve learned from their trip, especially when it comes to simplifying their lives: Luke doesn’t do as many extracurricular activities and the family prioritizes spending time together
- How the family decided to start the travel blog, and how Suzanne decided to take it to the next step by writing her book
- How it can be easier to look back on your travel experiences after the fact to identify where you specifically learned certain things
- How Suzanne incorporated country specific travel tips and recommendations to her book “From the Rut to the Ledge” along with the family’s travel stories
- How Suzanne thinks it’s important to realize that you don’t need to travel around the world or for an extended period of time to have a great experience. Traveling with the time you have and/or close to home can make for fantastic stories as well!
- The family’s upcoming plans to travel to California, Bonaire, Kenya and Tanzania!
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