Written by: Timothy Fitzgerald
10/30/2009 3:15 PM
Jean Luc and Nathalie Girard are a couple that make things happen. The Girards, parents of three, were unwittingly spending more time at work than at home, and missing their children's most important moments. A solution was proposed: a four year RV trip around the world. From the moment the idea was proposed the family began planning their adventure.
When a family of five takes a four-year trip around the globe, you can be sure of two things: that everyone in the family is going to get to know each other very well and that they will learn more about the world. This, at least, is what the Girards found.
Like so many other parents, Jean Luc and Nathalie Girard had time-consuming jobs with demanding hours and little free time to get to know their children. Precious moments of their children's lives were slipping by, many missed due to work commitments. "We realized we were not seeing the kids much and that they would be gone before we had a chance to know them. We did not want them to become the average angry teenager," says Jean Luc.
After pondering their situation an unlikely idea was born. "We were sitting around one evening having a talk about our dreams and the possibilities that life offers. Suddenly the words 'going away for a year' sounded more real than ever," remarks Jean Luc. The idea stuck and the trip (which was eventually extended to four years) was a go.
The trip contained all of the elements the couple was looking for in their lives. Nathalie describes, "The reason for the trip was born out of the need for living together as a family and for discovering and making the kids discover other civilizations, other cultures, other persons." Enriching their relationships with one another through shared first-hand experiences was the Girard's top priority.
Far from angry teenagers, the Girards children developed curiosity and enthusiasm throughout the trip. In Laos they helped an impoverished family make a cheese house with bricks made of mud, rice husks, and straw. In Thailand they learned how to mount an elephant and how to feed him. In New Zealand they made their own knife with a master knife maker.
Traveling is an education in itself and an opportunity to cultivate an unbiased perspective on the world. Mr. Girard explains, "It is one thing to see a Greek temple in a book, another to actually be able to touch it. It is one thing to lament on the poverty in Laos when you are watching the news on TV, another to help these very people in their farm."
After having traveled to a total of 17 countries, the Girard children have been to more countries than the average adult will ever see in their lifetime, and have accumulated a wealth of experiences to boot. And that's the point. Mr. and Mrs. Girard place a premium on an alternate education; "This trip is about learning and growing up around the world - a kind of search for the truth." Rather than experiencing the world through textbooks and television the Girard children were able to develop their own view of the world by witnessing it first hand. Clearly, the children have learned a thing or two about the world, and themselves.
While on their global expedition the Girard's traveled extensively throughout the U.S. for a total of six months. In those six months they visited some of the most dramatic national parks and cities in the country. Naturally, we wanted to know what their top 10 U.S. family destinations were. Here they are:
To read more about the Girard's Globetour around the world please visit their website at: http://www.globetour.fr/
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