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Four years ago, I was busy making my way through my checklist of 1,000 things to do before our family of four set off on a round-the-world adventure for seven months, hoping I didn’t forget anything. Today I am starting to plan for my first international trip without kids in nearly two decades. My to-do list is significantly smaller, but again I hope I’m not neglecting any details.

There is a lot to think about when traveling with young teens, especially when taking them out of school for an undetermined amount of time. How do I satisfy school requirements? How will I keep them entertained? How many shots do we need? How do we stay connected electronically so we can find hotels? planes? trains? directions? What happens when someone gets sick? How do we make our phones work abroad? What if we lose our stuff? Can we all really live out of a backpack for a year? Really I just hoped I didn’t lose one of them!

Four years and 17 countries later, I don’t worry so much about the minutiae. This time around I am more relaxed. I know the only thing I really need is my passport and a credit card (and some cash just in case I get stuck in a parking lot). Anything else I can figure out on the fly.

And yet, as I started planning for this trip, I couldn’t help but think I was forgetting something. It didn’t take too long to figure out I was missing my boys. Though not forgotten, I will be leaving them behind. With one son now graduated from high school and headed for college and the other entering his senior year, they can no longer be enticed to leave it all behind, even for a couple of weeks.

So we will go on without them and worry about a whole new slew of things. But most of all, we’ll hope. Hope they too will return to travel and exploration in a few years. Maybe even with their mom and dad 😉

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