Robyn and Mark Perrin with Lucas, 8, Taylor, 15 and Avery, 12, pose with a leprechaun. (Contributed photo)

Worldwide adventure ‘takes sacrifice and planning’

South Surrey family leaves jobs, school behind to spend a year abroad

What started as a drive to escape burnout and do more than the daily grind has turned into a year-long adventure abroad for a South Surrey family of five.

The Perrins – parents Robyn and Mark, and their children Taylor, 15, Avery, 12, and Lucas, 8 – have been on the move since late July, so far setting foot in countries including Iceland, Switzerland, England, Germany and Belgium.

If all goes well, by the time next summer rolls around, they’ll also have explored corners of Egypt, South Africa, Australia, Bali, and perhaps Asia – not everything is set in stone – before wrapping things up with some time in South America.

“We’re trying not to plan too far in advance (only about a week) so we are flexible and are not tied to a strict itinerary,” Robyn told Peace Arch News by email from Germany a few weeks into the family’s trip.

The seed for the trip was planted “a few years ago,” the special education assistant said.

Burnout hit, and she and Mark discussed just up and leaving – not thinking it would ever actually be a possibility.

Fast-forward to last summer. The family was a few months into a new home, and the real estate market was hot.

“We actually thought we had a chance to afford this trip that was still a dream,” Robyn said.

The timing, with Taylor going into Grade 11 at Earl Marriott Secondary, was perfect, she said, as the parents didn’t want their oldest to miss her grad year. Taylor is doing online schooling while abroad, while her siblings, who attend Jessie Lee Elementary, are being taught by their mother.

“Part (of the) reason for this trip was to enjoy our kids,” Robyn said. “Time flies and they soon will be leaving the house doing their own things.” Robyn asked for a one-year leave from her job, and Mark – who is self-employed in the IT field – made arrangements for his work. Then they put their new home on the market and downsized to a Grandview-area townhouse that they have rented out for the duration of their absence.

And the rest, as the saying goes, is history – although perhaps ‘making history with family’ is more appropriate in this case.

Normandy, France was among the many stops so far. In addition to visiting Mont Saint Michel – which Robyn described as “a fairytale place built hundreds of years ago out in the water” – it was important to see “where all our Canadian troops fought for us during WW2,” she said.

“It was so important for me to see this place as I had already learned of it in school. It was especially important for the kids to see this place as they would be learning more about this area and I wanted them to have a solid connection to the history of it. It was a great day!”

Living out of three suitcases, the family plans to add another aspect to the trip by reaching out to the communities where they stay.

For Robyn, a key message for anyone reading this is how doable it is.

“We don’t have these extravagant careers where (our) salaries are huge. We have been frugal and budget where needed. We drive older vehicles and don’t eat out often,” she said.

“It does take some planning and it does take some sacrifice but in the end I believe what we take from this year will be worth it.”