September 2019 Real Traveler Stories: A Family Trip Around the World

Real Traveler Stories: A Family Trip Around the World

Introducing the kids to the Taj Mahal.
Introducing the kids to the Taj Mahal.
Photo by Siri Willoch Traasdahl
An epic global trip has this family primed for more.

After Are Traasdahl sold his tech-marketing company in 2016, he and his wife, Siri Willoch Traasdahl, were quick to discover what the family could do with the extra time and resources. “The world,” she says. “We wanted to see it all.” Five months later, Siri, Are, and their two kids, Felix and Iris, then 7 and 3, were off on a 14-month, around-the-globe odyssey, visiting dozens of countries in high style. Virtuoso travel advisor Brooke Lavery helped them plot the dots on the most epic of one-way journeys.

You choose one direction and just keep going – that’s how it works with an around-the-world ticket. We started in Miami, where we live, and kicked it off for real with a party in Norway, where our families are from. We got to see loved ones and left our cold-weather clothing there so we could each have just one carry-on.

The destinations? Are you ready? Paris, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Turkey, Israel, Estonia, Russia ... should I keep going?

A bit of local culture in Laos.
A bit of local culture in Laos.
Photo by Siri Willoch Traasdahl
Smile, be courteous, learn “good morning” and “thank you” in the local language, and people everywhere will be friendly.

At home, we have nannies because my husband and I both still work, but on the trip, it was just the four of us. It was hard at times. In Sri Lanka, there was a huge storm, and the kids were stuck inside for days. There were super-long, hot travel days. But the trip brought us together like never before. There were no concerns other than what was happening in the moment, and we loved that.
Kuang Si Falls in Laos.
Kuang Si Falls in Laos.
Photo by Siri Willoch Traasdahl
Brooke and her team did everything. We gave her the waypoints, and they filled in the in-betweens, got us rooms and upgrades, and booked side trips (a few of which had us backtracking at times). We wanted to spend New Year’s in Hong Kong, observe Yom Kippur in Israel, and ski in Japan (we had winter gear shipped in and out), and she made it all happen, supplementing our basics with incredible suggestions and local itineraries.

... Indonesia, Bhutan, India and Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Hong Kong, Vietnam ...

This is the secret to packing:
accessories. I had one alligator clutch from Hermès, a pearl necklace from Chanel, one cashmere shawl with sequins from Brunello Cucinelli, and a pair of waterproof Adidas sneakers and neutral Hermès wedges. That’s it. Didn’t matter if we were eating off street carts in India or riding Belmond’s Eastern & Oriental Express from Singapore to Bangkok, I could dress up or dress down.
Petra’s Treasury.
Petra’s Treasury.
Photo by Siri Willoch Traasdahl
My Rimowa rolling suitcase doubled as a stroller because the little one would sit on it. Those bags are so sturdy, and the customer service is great. They restored all our bags to like-new condition after the trip.

Instagram was a huge part of staying in touch for me, though my son connected with friends by playing video games with them wherever we were.

... Cambodia, Laos, Taipei, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan ...

Luxury got old, believe it or not.
The fuss. The big deal of checking in everywhere. It really became apparent in Africa. We’d been traveling so long and just wanted a simple meal – in fact, we craved nothing more than making our own bread and cooking our own meal on a bonfire. At first, staff on the fancy safari we were on didn’t understand it. They rolled out a mobile bar with cooking equipment. We said, no, please, just bring out some oil, flour, water, and a bit of salt, and we’ll toss it on the fire. It was so yummy.
On safari in Kenya. 
On safari in Kenya. 
Photo by Siri Willoch Traasdahl
Knitting saved me. I knitted as a child, but hadn’t done it for 30 years. Then I found a yarn store in Tokyo that was so beautiful, I bought some and made hats for everyone in the family. I then became obsessed. If the kids needed socks, I’d knit. Mittens, I’d knit. It was cold in South Africa, so I knitted a sweater in two days!

... New Zealand, Bora-Bora, Fiji, Australia, South Africa, Kenya.

Where Next?

There’s so much more I want to see. So much more of Africa, like Rwanda and Botswana, where we’re going next year. So many places in the Middle East and Russia. I want to eat more in Taiwan. We didn’t even touch South America. Maybe next time we’ll go around in the other direction.

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