Monday, August 27, 2018

Book Review: Excess Baggage

I have been on such a reading slump the month of August and this is pretty much the only book I've read so far. I am trying to get into the groove again but summer has worn me down and I'm struggling.

Excess Baggage - Tracey Carisch

Tracey Carisch thought she had it all. As a wife, mother, and successful executive, she seemed to be living the modern American dream. But one night, a panic attack sent her tumbling into an existential crisis and questioning everything about her life. That’s when she and her husband made a decision that shocked their family and friends: they sold everything they owned, pulled their three young daughters out of school, and became a family of wandering globetrotters. 

Loaded with hilarious mishaps as well as deeply meaningful revelations, Excess Baggage chronicles the Carisch family’s extraordinary, eighteen-month adventure across six continents. As they navigate the trials and tribulations of international travel, the family encounters unique people and bizarre situations that teach them about the world―and themselves. Carisch’s candid and insightful account of her family’s journey will have you laughing out loud, shedding a few tears, and bringing the lessons of family travel into your own life . . . without ever having to leave home. 

You know why I picked this book, don't you? If there is anyone who has been on the edge of saying "screw the man", chucking deuces, and going off the grid, it's me. But I have the same hangups you have, a mortgage, bills, jobs, kids, schooling, a life and obligations. The Carisch family had all of that too but once a few years had gone by since the plan they had was thwarted by their first child, Tracey and Brian have a come to Jesus moment where they realize that this isn't the life they wanted. The never wanted to be bogged down by stuff, chained to jobs and bills, keeping up with the neighbors or trying to outdo the next person. It's a lot of stress and it became too much.

So they sold their home and everything they had, got some passports, and traveled the world.

Over the course of 18 months, these parents traveled to 24 countries with their three daughters. Places they visited (Norway, Andorra, France, Croatia, Czech Republic, Ireland, Ethiopia, Thailand, Cambodia, Fiji, New Zealand, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Nicaragua.. and I think that was it. I might be missing a few.

This entire book hits every single fear I have ever had of international travel. The language barriers, getting lost, driving in new places, meeting strangers, not knowing if I was in an OK neighborhood, the food, hospital visits, getting flagged at the airport, ebola, terrorist attacks, and more. I'm not even kidding. The thought of traveling internationally terrifies me but I really want to see other places before I die. I know the world is so much bigger and more than what we experience in the US and I want to experience it. I just am totally terrified and I don't know if I could bring my kids. My luck I'd lose someone, someone would be kidnapped or fall off a cliff. If any freak thing will happen, it will happen to me. I have proof of that.

I absolutely loved this book. Each chapter is a country (mostly) so if you can only read one chapter at a time, you're getting an adventure and a complete experience in that chapter which makes the book read much faster. It's funny, they absolutely had an adventure of a lifetime. They gave their children an experience so few of us can and what lessons those kids learned. They got to see a multitude of cultures and they will always remember those encounters. Even cooler is that this family made friends in every single country they went to. They stayed in each place for several weeks, volunteered everywhere they went and took advantage of what each country offered.

If you're a mom, stuck in the rut, going through the motions, and life is passing you by- check out this book. While I'm not getting on a plane to fly to Ethiopia anytime soon, I have very much adopted the "you only live once" mantra and doing things because I can. Sure, I might be broke, bills are piling up, but we only a little bit of time with our kids. Go on the trip. Do the fun stuff. Learn about the world and experience new things.

I'm giving this one five stars. Truly, you guys. I know it's compared to the book Eat, Pray, Love and I really thought that book (and movie!) were totally stupid and eye roll worthy, but this book? This book is so much better than that. Because it's real. She's every mom just trying to do the right thing and to not raise her kids into little robots who are too afraid to take a chance. I think we can all learn something from this book.


Beth (Coffee Until Cocktails) said...

This book sounds fascinating! I don't know that I could just up and leave and go all around the world but I am so curious about the experience. I will have to add this to my reading list!

Neely said...

I am so in for this!

Shann Eva said...

This sounds like an awesome book. I just read an article about a family who did something similar in real life. I would love to do something like this, but I'm too scared.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

I like that each chapter is basically a new country. How fascinating! I'd be terrified to visit a lot of countries, but I do want to visit more of them...I've only been to London, England in terms of non-U.S. places.


Erica Robyn said...

This sounds so good!! I definitely have to check this out. So sorry to hear about your slump though! I've been in a little one myself :(

Unknown said...

This sounds good! International travel is always fascinating to read about. There are so many places I want to see.