Ontario family's year-long world tour to show kids Canada isn't 'below average'

The Whitehead family, including Angus,13, Duncan, 11, Clementine, 9, and parents John and Sunny, are about to embark on an epic world tour in honour of Canada 150.

In honour of Canada 150, the Whiteheads depart in August for their first stop: Portugal

The family has spent a year purging their home of extra stuff like toys and clothes in the effort pack light. (Paul Smith/CBC)

A family of five from King City, Ont., was busy trying to pack a year's worth of essentials into small backpacks Friday afternoon. 

That's because the Whiteheads, including Angus,13,  Duncan, 11, Clementine, 9, and parents John and Sunny, are about to embark on an epic world tour in honour of Canada 150. 

"Having a more global view of the world and our good fortunes and having that deeper sense of altruism and empathy," Sunny said. "If we get that, then it's amazingly worth it." 

The Whiteheads plan to stay in small towns, ideally on the coast, in each country along the way. (Paul Smith/CBC)

John and Sunny want the trip to teach their kids just how lucky they are to live in Canada. 

This came after Sunny said she was shocked to hear that her kids thought they lived in a country that was "below average" on the global economic scale. 

In total, the trip will include 19 countries on five continents, including stops in Nepal for a two-week Himalayan trek and volunteering at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand. 

Plan 15 years in the making

The trip has been on John and Sunny's bucket list since as far back as when they were dating. 

"We had this similar thing on our bucket list, to have a family and take them around the world for a year, so it's been 15 years in the making," Sunny said.

The family wants to immerse themselves in the local culture and will be travelling by local transportation whenever possible. (Paul Smith/CBC)

The family has been planning for the trip for eight months. 

Sunny and John got time away from their jobs, their house is rented out and they have plans to home school the kids along the way. 

Each of them is excited for a particular part of the journey.

For Angus it's Italy for the food; for Duncan it's Nepal; and Clementine is most excited about learning how to surf. 

How are they affording this? 

The family said they are funding the trip by themselves and have been cutting costs since they picked their departure date.

"We began aggressively saving — everything from giving up house-keepers and the dog-walker to no longer buying coffee every day ($600 savings right there!)," Sunny said in an email to CBC Toronto.

The family plans to travel on a budget, staying in Airbnbs and family hostels. 

Sunny said the family has received lots of encouragement for their big plans. 

"We've even had some people say it's helped them want to realize their dreams," said Sunny. 

The family takes off in August and will be blogging about their journey under the name "Five BackPacks." 

With files from Shannon Martin