And We’re Off!

Yesterday was bittersweet as we left our friends in Chattanooga and headed out to begin this journey. When we were driving down our street, the neighborhood kids were running alongside our van waving and shouting their goodbyes….I’m getting choked up now just writing about it, so you can imagine how emotional I was at the time. I thought to myself as I watched my kids waving back at their friends, “How can we leave such a good thing?”

This question of how we’re doing this comes up among people who hear about our plans, although they’re usually more interested in the logistics. How can we afford it? Will we have any income? How do we get housing and line up service projects? I would be curious about this too if I were you, so here are some answers.

First, let me clarify that we’re NOT rich. Last week an article about our plans to travel the world was posted online and one of the comments apparently said we “have more money than brains.” Well, that might be true, but it’s not because we have a lot of money. 🙂 I worked as a director at a local nonprofit. Brian is a self-employed software developer. We save a lot and try to be smart with our finances. We are lucky beyond measure, but we are not “wealthy.”

There are really two reasons we can take this trip. One is Brian’s flexibility with his work. His clients are located in other states, so working remotely is something he’s been doing ever since we came to Chattanooga and he decided to start his own business instead of getting a full-time job. He will be working while we’re overseas. Sometimes that will mean living a bit of a nocturnal lifestyle so he can communicate with clients in different time zones. We have planned and saved for this adventure, and we will also have an income while we’re gone.

The second reason we can swing this trip is the expenses we’ll be dropping. We sold our house, so no mortgage, homeowners insurance, utility bills, or improvement costs. I’m homeschooling our kids, so no daycare for Ali. We’re getting rid of our cars, so we won’t have a lease payment or car insurance to cover back here.  Once we get past Europe, many of the developing countries we visit will have much lower living costs that the U.S., so our American-earned dollars will go farther for us.

As for orchestrating the housing and connections to local service organizations, all I can really say on that is… it all just works out. I learned several years ago that when you really put your mind to something, somehow it starts to happen. It may sound a little simplistic and naive, but it’s just true. Once we committed to doing this, opportunities for housing and contacts to service programs in other countries simply started falling into place. We aren’t associated with a nonprofit or a faith-based group. This is just our family reaching out to people who know other people doing good things around the globe. Once we get connected to them, things just start happening. Granted, we have to be comfortable with the unknown. This trip would never work if we attempted to plan and control every aspect of it. We have to be willing to follow the flow and lean in to the bends in the road.

The answer to my own question of “How can we leave such a good thing?” is harder to put into words. It’s just this deep inner knowing that this is the experience our family is supposed to have. In order to make a difference in our own country we have to learn about the world we live in and see the answers other global citizens have developed for their local problems. We need our girls to experience other cultures firsthand and grow up with an inherent understanding of life’s great diversity. We hope to make a small difference during this adventure but the service projects are really just a mechanism to meet people and learn the things we don’t know.

I read an article recently called The Crossroads of Should and Must.  (Read it! It’s awesome!) It profoundly spoke to me and articulates the real reason we’re taking this leap. This trip is a “must” for us. The things we “should” do can be fun and still lead to a lovely life, but right now we feel compelled to follow this must.

Many families have talked to us about their desire to do something like this, but jobs and other obligations hold them back.  We hope that as we blog about this trip we can offer ideas and tips that will make an experience like this a real possibility for more people. As of today we’ll start sharing the good, the bad, the sad, the inspiring, the strange and the beautiful we see along the way. We’re excited for this new beginning.

The Carisch family will miss you, Chattanooga!

About the Author

Mom, wife, friend and change agent traveling the world with my family to learn our place in it. After spending a career in organizational change management and community initiative implementation, I put my career on hold for our family's trip around the world. In April of 2014 we sold almost everything we own, put the rest in a storage container, and departed on this journey. While my husband continued his software development work to financially support our trip, I planned and documented our adventure, homeschooled our three daughters, and found volunteer work opportunities for us to do in the communities we visit. Now that we've returned to the U.S., I'm completing book about our family's adventure and our lessons learned.

Author Archive Page


  1. I saw your article in the paper last week and signed up to follow your adventure – how exciting and what an amazing learning experience for you all. Thank you for sharing your travels with all of us through your blog – I wish you and your family good luck, great fortune, and most of all safe travels.

  2. Tracey, I am in awe of your new journey! I was just telling Glen about it and of course he had the same questions that you just spoke of in your blog. I can’t wait to follow you on this journey. I think it’s amazing that you are taking this leap of faith! Enjoy and make sure to take lots of pics:)

  3. I think this is amazing and awesome! I’m going on this trip with you guys even if it is just through the blog 😉 The experience you are giving your girls is something most, including myself, can only dream about. I will be looking forward to every post, picture, & comment. Praying for your safety! Y’all have fun!

  4. I’m so in awe of your future. You’re blessed to be able to do all this while you and your family are young enough to enjoy/deal with all the new experiences! I will be 84 the end of June, and since my traveling shoes were retired a couple of years ago, I look forward to living vicariously through your blog. Your family will be so much richer for all the experiences just around all those corners! Oh, the places you’ll go!

  5. Hi Carisch Family,
    I miss you already, but I am so glad for technology so that I can read about your adventures around the world. Girls, have you read Around the World in Eighty Days? I think I did long ago. (PS to Emily and Liv…I would love to know what you are reading as you go on your journey. I know you both will be reading a lot!)

  6. Good luck to you and your family Tracey! I want to personally thank you for sharing this scary, but exciting adventure with us. My family and I will be walking along with you, through your experiences. God bless and safe travels!!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! When we started this blog it was more than anything for ourselves. Just a way to make sure that we documented this experience and let our family members know where we were and what we were doing. Now that people are following these posts it’s even more meaningful. It’s fun to know that others are interested in learning along with us. 🙂

  7. I see you embarked on your journey yesterday. I wish you all the best and will keep your family in my prayers each night.

  8. I am honored to be welcomed into your journey through this blog! Can’t wait to read about your adventures and share as much as I can with my boys. They are so intrigued by their friends journey. Praying for many doors to open for you along the way!
    Cam Born

  9. I’m so awed at your commitment to follow your dreams. Wishing you and yours the trip of a lifetime, and that you find the experience for your children that will shape their worldview. Bravo!!!

  10. So happy for you and your family. If you find yourself in South Africa and in need of a service organization my brother in law is the CEO of Seed of Hope community development in Durbin and would so welcome you and your family!! You all would be fast friends. I live in North Chatt and can understand the angst of leaving but also understand the need to follow your heart and dreams and do what is right for your family! Godspeed and best of luck to you all!

  11. “Once we committed to doing this, opportunities for housing and contacts to service programs in other countries simply started falling into place.” Totally agree that when you put your desires out there and the intentions are for good, the universe says “yes” and the way is made clear. I hope others will go for it too after seeing your posts.
    I look forward to keeping up with your adventure! Hugs!

  12. My husband and I started saving a few years ago for a similar adventure. We are a few years off but we are totally with you. We can’t wait to hear your story.

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published.