My lack of culinary skills mentioned last week mean that the daily lunch I serve to Ana is, well, simple. Today we snacked on basic sandwiches and veggies while discussing the list of tasks at hand before we leave for Thailand. As I vocally dream of the curries and delicious Thai flavors I’ve missed these past few months, it’s actually sinking in for her that in just three short weeks, instead of lunch at our kitchen table, she will sit down to a plate of white rice and flavorful veggies while no doubt discussing the many differences she sees between Thailand and Florida.
We are now down to the wire and as I scurry around ensuring everything is in order, I thought I’d share some of the resources, steps and obstacles on our pre-travel list!
Vaccinations for Traveling Kids
Ana dreaded this part and admitted her fear of needles is one of the reasons I got a lot of attitude from her last week. But, it had to happen in my opinion—I just wasn’t comfortable leaving the United States without all of her vaccines and immunizations up-to-date. Now that we’re a part of the homeschooling community, vaccines are one of those huge, controversial issues and man, there is some heated debate. But, suffice to say that, though I understand both sides, she’s 11 years old and I feel like her body and mind can handle the vaccines far better than the alternative…which would be coming down with typhoid fever, meningitis, hepatitis, etc.
We used information on Center for Disease Control’s website to determine the shots necessary for Asia (they have every possible country listed!) and perused the CDC’s child vaccination pages specifically. Armed with a list of possibilities and her shot records we went to the local health department because her pediatrician does not carry some of the more exotic vaccines (namely, typhoid). She now has these five vaccines (all of which I also have):
- Hepatitis A
- Typhoid (the shot, not oral)
- Tetanus booster
- Chicken pox (again)
We used the traditional US schedule throughout childhood for her vaccinations, so the tetanus and chicken pox were boosters on the previous vaccines, while Hep A, meningitis and typhoid are specifically for our Asia travels. The only common travel shot she doesn’t have at this point is Yellow Fever since we are not traveling to Africa or South America. For comparison, right before I left on my solo round the world travels back in 2008 I received: Hepatitis A, oral typhoid, yellow fever, and a tetanus booster (because meningitis is required at university and I actually had chicken pox as a child). The only two “Asia” vaccines neither of us have are: rabies and Japanese encephalitis because they are not recommended for our trip.
So, although her arm is sufficiently sore, she now has every possible vaccination for traveling through Asia!
Additional vaccination and health resources: US Government’s travel health and international safety tips, find an official US State Department’s travel clinic at the ISTM site or the CDC search tool. Also, Little Nomads offer a layman’s explanation of each major travel vaccine if you’re looking for the quick and easy on it before delving deeper! :)
Homeschooling on the Road
We have settled into a homeschool groove and we are ready to take our lessons on the road. Her full sixth-grade course-load through our state virtual school is time-intensive and averages about 20 hours a week of internet time, which we will have to replicate on the road. On the upside though, living in Chiang Mai will give us ample internet access and I have accumulated projects, puzzles, educational podcasts and workbooks to keep her focused and occupied on travel days.
She has separate teachers for each subject (math, language arts, social studies, science, and Spanish) and they are enthusiastically on board with our plan, which helps a lot since her online school requires scheduled, monthly phone calls and specific weekly assignments.
The homeschooling is the most daunting aspect for me; I know she will naturally absorb so much information once we are traveling and seeing new places, but I ‘m a tad obsessed with making sure she is on-track or ahead of schedule when we end our school-year next summer. On the practical side, that entailed a lot of prep-work tracking down workbooks and education materials that will fit in our compact luggage and still cover all of our bases (and a shout-out of thanks to the homeschool moms for suggestions)!
And truthfully, it’s this part of the planning that has me the busiest; she’s a great student, but homeschooling is time-consuming and frustrating at times for a child previously very content with a traditional school environment. So, while I approached the situation with a Leave It to Beaver-esque aplomb, my “Oh! Well, of course I’ll just homeschool her for a year” was naïve. I’d still do it again in a heartbeat, and we are perfectly on track in all things homeschooling, but for other families considering this route, I’d be lying if I said it’s all hunky-dory and easy as we both adjust to the process. :)
With that said, once I see everything in action I’ll share the master list of what we’re carting along to Asia.
Final Travel Preparations and Down to the Wire
It’s seems a bit unreal to me that we announced our travel plans more than five weeks ago—time is slippery, elusive and now down to the wire! Through it all though, I’m fairly grateful that the panic attacks and overwhelming uncertainty that accompanied my first long-term trip three years ago are no longer present. I often email soon-to-be round the world travelers this calming advice about pre-trip jitters:
“Whatever you forget, you can buy on the road. If it’s left unfinished, you’ll find the way to either finish it or work around it. Once you get on the airplane instincts kick in, the adventures begin, and whatever you’re stressed about planning-wise will eventually work out because it has to work out.”
Now I’m forced to take my own advice, make my travel planning check-lists (I geek-out on a well-organized to-do list), and get us ready to immerse in Asia! :)