The family enjoyed staying on a floating hostel on the Danube when they were visiting Belgrade, Serbia.

When the Boothway family decided to undertake their year-long journey around the world, somehow the timing seemed just right. “My wife and I had very cooperative employers who let us go on this trip and still come back and join our jobs, and our daughters were at the right academic stage to take a year off and travel with us,” said Mark, an architect working in Oman for the past four years. So the family of four finally packed up and left to fulfill their dream of travelling the world on August 14, 2010. They drove, sailed and took trains as they made their way through 24 countries in Asia, Europe, Africa and North America. “When we set out on the road trip leg of the journey, we did not really have any fixed routes planned in advance,” said Mark. His wife, Nicole, an adult English teacher in Muscat, said, “We wanted it to be flexible so that we could actually spend some time exploring the countries that we were visiting rather than cram a lot of places into our itinerary.” The family drove from Oman, through the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia and Italy. “We had been fixing up a little cottage that we bought in Croatia for the last couple of years, so we used that as a base for our travels around Europe,” Mark said, standing next to his reliable Jeep Wrangler that he used for the trip.

“The good thing about it was that we got to see the less touristy parts of these countries.”

The Boothways did not make any hotel reservations when they set out on their trip. “We stayed wherever we could find, hotels, motels and hostels.” As a result, the family had some interesting experiences. “We were flying out of Perth on our way to Hong Kong and our flight was cancelled at the last minute. We couldn’t really find a hotel within our budget so we ended up going to the local pub and sleeping on the carpeted floor,” Mark said. Their 11 year old daughter Danya talked about how much fun it turned out to be in the end. “They gave us a couple of cushions to sleep on; it was a pretty fun experience,” she said.

“The family enjoyed this experience just as much as they enjoyed staying on a floating hostel on the Danube when they were visiting Belgrade, Serbia.”

During their trip, they found that very few places in the world actually lived up to their reputations. “In my experience, only New York and Sydney lived up to the hyped,” said Nicole. “I would gladly move to either one of those two cities tomorrow if I had to,” she smiled. But it was places that they didn’t really expect much from that really caught their eye. “I loved Romania. The country gets such bad press that we did not expect much from it, but when we got there, I was very pleasantly surprised,” said Mark. With rolling pastures like Switzerland and numerous tourist spots like Dracula’s Castle (Bran Castle), he said Romania was one of the biggest surprises of the trip. The family left their car with a friend in Croatia and took a cruise from Italy to New York and “arrived in New York like you were supposed to”, Mark said. Danya and her seven year old sister Eve enjoyed the cruise the most. “The Kid’s Club allowed the girls to have fun and interact with other English speaking kids after our long journey through non-English speaking parts of the world up until then,” said Mark. The family spent a considerable amount of time packing for the trip as well. “But Mark and I still did have to spend a good portion of the trip hand washing clothes,” said Nicole. They had to pack camping gear, maps, food and even school curriculum for Eve and Danya. “We had to keep a diary and do a little math every now and then,” Danya said. “It was a welcome relief to see the world so different from the grim picture that we get from the news. And I am glad I was able to expose my kids to such an experience at an early age,” Mark said.
Rajarshi Aditya Chaudhuri, September 21, 2011 published by The Week