The Road Taken

It happens every so often that people contact me for advice on this or that aspect of moving their family abroad. I always try to help if I can, since I have asked for and received help and advice on this topic from so many generous people around the world the least I can do is pay it forward. So when a year or so ago I was asked to share some of our story in a how-to book on moving abroad with a family, I was delighted to oblige. My copy arrived just this week, and it was a lot of fun to page through it and remember some of the crazy and fun stuff we’ve done.

It all started how it often starts, with someone reading my blog and then reaching out. The lovely Michelle Damiani and her husband Keith contacted me several years ago for advice on applying for Italian citizenship jure sanguinis (by right of blood; i.e. descent) in Italy. I have spent many hours, nay years of my life thinking about, attempting, and ultimately succeeding in doing this very thing, so hopefully most of the information I gave them was sound. Michelle and her family ended up spending a year in Spello, a beautiful little town in Umbria. I followed their adventures in real-time on Michelle’s blog, and she later wrote a book chronicling that year, as well as a novel set in Italy.

Because she gets a lot of the same sorts of inquiries I do about the practicalities of planning a family adventure abroad, Michelle decided to write a how-to book based on her family’s experience. But she took it one step further and invited some of the many friends she’d met along the way to contribute their stories and advice as well. The result is a montage of practical, step-by-step advice, encouragement, and little inspirational (and perhaps cautionary!) peeks into the lives of people who have taken the leap into the unknown and moved abroad with kids. It covers everything from deciding where to go to financing the trip, figuring out schooling, finding housing (and what to do with the house you might be leaving behind), learning languages, getting visas, and a hundred other things it would really be better if you thought about beforehand rather than jumping in and figuring it out on the fly, as we have so often done.

The Road Taken: How to Dream, Plan, and Live Your Family Adventure Abroad encompasses a number of different sorts of possible adventures, including such things as a year in a foreign country, an around-the-world trip, living on the high seas, RV-ing across Europe, and I guess also settling long-term abroad, since that would be us. The author and most contributors are American, so it comes largely from that perspective, although much of it could be applicable to other nationalities as well. There’s a considerable amount of economic, passport, and other privilege implied (for example, no amount of penny-pinching would have allowed us or a lot of people I know to save up $80,000 in three years), but also plenty of really great, pragmatic information and ways to fit the idea to your situation. I’ve read a lot of expat memoirs over the years, but very few books that really go behind the scenes to inquire how they managed all the logistics of it–everything in the considerable space between “wouldn’t that be amazing” and “wow, we’re here”.

This book will definitely become my go-to recommendation when people ask me for advice on how to plan an international family adventure. If that’s in your future (or if you hope it might be), The Road Taken may well help you turn your dream into a reality.