PEI

'Chasing summer': P.E.I. family drops everything to travel the world for 10 months

Shawn and Julie MacDougall and their two kids, Luke and Eve, are packing up and will be taking on the world in the coming weeks.

'They're at that age where they're old enough that they can remember the trip'

​The family is hitting the road in September and their adventure will stretch from Europe to Southeast Asia, to New Zealand, the South Pacific and eventually South and Central America. (Angela Walker/CBC)

A family from P.E.I. is setting aside school and work so they can spend nearly a year travelling the globe together.

After taking some time to re-evaluate what they truly wanted out of life, Shawn and Julie MacDougall and their two kids, Luke and Eve, are packing up and will be taking on the world in the weeks to come.

Exploring the world wasn't always on the family's agenda as travel was put on the back burner while Shawn and Julie settled into marriage and the daily grind of working life.

It wasn't until the family trudged through what Shawn calls "some dark times" that they rethought their direction in life. Shawn had experienced mental health issues and problems with alcohol, and spent some time at an addictions facility.

After all that, Shawn said he and Julie sat together one day and asked each other "what are we doing?"

The first stop on the itinerary is Paris, France. (Christophe Ena/Associated Press)

"When we examined our life, we realized we made some mistakes and that life, as we were living it, was having an impact on … our personal relationship as a married couple, we both made mistakes and caused each other pain," he told CBC's Mainstreet P.E.I.

So, Shawn and Julie thought it was time "to hit the reset button."

"As we reflected we said our job as parents, as a married couple, is to raise responsible, well-adjusted citizens of the world," he said.

"So we decided to set off on an adventure."

10 months and a bucket list

​The family is hitting the road in September and their adventure will stretch from Europe to Southeast Asia, to New Zealand, the South Pacific and eventually South and Central America.

A few of the many stops include Paris, Berlin, Krakow, Rome and Phuket with many more cities to plan for and details to figure out along the way.

As a young history buff, Luke MacDougall is excited at the thought of visiting Easter Island. (MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images)

"We pieced together a map, or an itinerary, that we could follow and everyone had their areas that they wanted to visit," Julie said.

"That was the main thing was what is everyone's dream spots and how can we accommodate everyone's bucket list."

Paris was on Eve's bucket list because she loves "everything French," she said.

Greece was initially on Luke's list, although he now wants to see Easter Island in the South Pacific because of his interest in archeology and ancient history.

'We're still not too bad to hang around with'

Julie said the kids will be home-schooled for grades 5 and 7, but that the trip should offer them a rich, immersive education that they'll likely never find anywhere else.

"They'll learn history and geography and culturally and all those things … this will expand their mind sets hopefully," she said.

That was the main thing was what is everyone's dream spots and how can we accommodate everyone's bucket list.— Julie MacDougall

And the kids are also still at that age where it's still cool to hang out with mom and dad.

"They're at that age where they're old enough that they can remember the trip, and they can appreciate the trip, but they're young enough that we're still not too bad to hang around with," she laughed.

To help pay for the trip, the family has downsized their home — selling their house in Stratford while the market is hot, for something a little smaller, Shawn said.

Dubrovnik, Croatia, is one of the stops on their world tour. (Antonio Bronic/Reuters)

Additionally, Shawn said they are both lucky to have supportive families that have helped with costs along the way, for things such as daycare and their home.

For their circle around the world, Julie and Shawn said the family is taking just two suitcases between the four of them —and one carry-on bag each.

Limited space means light packing and when it comes down to replacing Shawn's two pairs of pants or two pairs of shorts, they'll just have to buy new ones on the go, he said.

The family has set up a blog titled Lost in the Right Places so others can follow along with their trip around the globe as they find the next sunset, "chasing summer" wherever it may be, Shawn said.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Mainstreet P.E.I.

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