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Family Makes Friends and Memories on World Trip

The Rivenbark family at the Everest Base Camp in Nepal, one of many stops on their world tour.

The Rivenbark family at the Everest Base Camp in Nepal, one of many stops on their world tour.

Many families take their children on vacation. They will usually travel for a few days or weeks during school breaks. But Julie and Tim Rivenbark planned a longer vacation with their two children -- the Rivenbark family is on a one-year trip around the world. They plan to visit 30 countries in all.

Right now, the four travellers are about halfway through their trip. Ms. Rivenbark says they are trying to see as much of the world as they can.

She says “We have been through Europe, southern Africa, now we are kind of working our way through Asia. So we have been to a bunch of big cities, like Dubai, Johannesburg, Rome and Bangkok.”

The family has also spent time floating in kayaks in Italy, flying in hot air balloons in Myanmar, hiking to the Everest Base Camp in Nepal and going on safari in South Africa.

Mr. Rivenbark says the family has also ridden on ostrich birds, elephants, and camels. But, he says, one of the most interesting experiences of the trip has been meeting new people.

“People have been extremely friendly, very welcoming and love our kids -- interacting with them and their reaction to see our kids enjoying themselves in their country."

Eleven-year old Tyler says he has enjoyed learning about the people they have met.

“I learned in Africa that people have very different lifestyles than in America."

His sister, 9-year-old Kara, discovered that she liked Thai food.

Ms. Rivenbark says that the extended trip teaches the children a lot more than short visits would have.

“I think that the longer that we travel, the more impact it has on how they see the world. I can see them changing more than they can see themselves.”

It took the family a year to prepare for the trip. They had to sell their house and cars. Ms. Rivenbark quit her job and her husband is using unpaid leave.

They carry small bags filled with lightweight clothing and whatever else they need.

Ms. Rivenbark says she enjoys being able to carry everything she needs on her back. She says she does not miss the things she has back home.

“What has become more important is making these memories as a family and taking those with us instead.”

Tyler and Kara each have iPads so they can communicate with teachers to stay current with their schoolwork. Tyler is also creating a 365-day video blog.

The Rivenbarks will continue to head east for the next six months. They plan to visit Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, China and Australia. To follow their adventures, visit their website:

I’m Jonathan Evans.

VOA Correspondent Faiza Elmasry reported this story from Washington. Ashley Thompson wrote it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.


Words in This Story

kayak n. a long narrow boat that is pointed at both ends and that is moved by a paddle with two blades

hike v. to walk a long distance especially for pleasure or exercise; to go on a hike

safari n. a journey to see or hunt animals, especially in Africa

impact n. a powerful or major influence or effect

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