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We Came, We Saw, We Left: A Family Gap Year

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What would happen if you quit your life for a year? In a pre–COVID-19 world, the Wheelan family decided to find out; leaving behind work, school, and even the family dogs to travel the world on a modest budget. Equal parts "how-to" and "how-not-to"—and with an eye toward a world emerging from a pandemic—We Came, We Saw, We Left is the insightful and often hilarious account What would happen if you quit your life for a year? In a pre–COVID-19 world, the Wheelan family decided to find out; leaving behind work, school, and even the family dogs to travel the world on a modest budget. Equal parts "how-to" and "how-not-to"—and with an eye toward a world emerging from a pandemic—We Came, We Saw, We Left is the insightful and often hilarious account of one family’s gap-year experiment. Wheelan paints a picture of adventure and connectivity, juggling themes of local politics, global economics, and family dynamics while exploring answers to questions like: How do you sneak out of a Peruvian town that has been barricaded by the local army? And where can you get treatment for a flesh-eating bacteria your daughter picked up two continents ago? From Colombia to Cambodia, We Came, We Saw, We Left chronicles nine months across six continents with three teenagers. What could go wrong?


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What would happen if you quit your life for a year? In a pre–COVID-19 world, the Wheelan family decided to find out; leaving behind work, school, and even the family dogs to travel the world on a modest budget. Equal parts "how-to" and "how-not-to"—and with an eye toward a world emerging from a pandemic—We Came, We Saw, We Left is the insightful and often hilarious account What would happen if you quit your life for a year? In a pre–COVID-19 world, the Wheelan family decided to find out; leaving behind work, school, and even the family dogs to travel the world on a modest budget. Equal parts "how-to" and "how-not-to"—and with an eye toward a world emerging from a pandemic—We Came, We Saw, We Left is the insightful and often hilarious account of one family’s gap-year experiment. Wheelan paints a picture of adventure and connectivity, juggling themes of local politics, global economics, and family dynamics while exploring answers to questions like: How do you sneak out of a Peruvian town that has been barricaded by the local army? And where can you get treatment for a flesh-eating bacteria your daughter picked up two continents ago? From Colombia to Cambodia, We Came, We Saw, We Left chronicles nine months across six continents with three teenagers. What could go wrong?

30 review for We Came, We Saw, We Left: A Family Gap Year

  1. 4 out of 5

    Theresa Alan

    In this travelogue, Charles Wheelen describes how he and his wife took sabbaticals from their teaching jobs for nine months, their eldest daughter delayed college for a year, and their two other teenage children left their in-person schools to do work online. So, two adults made the decision to travel with three teenagers in countries that require a slew of vaccinations. They made this decision while neither drunk nor high. I don’t get it either. They were lucky they left when they did—at one st In this travelogue, Charles Wheelen describes how he and his wife took sabbaticals from their teaching jobs for nine months, their eldest daughter delayed college for a year, and their two other teenage children left their in-person schools to do work online. So, two adults made the decision to travel with three teenagers in countries that require a slew of vaccinations. They made this decision while neither drunk nor high. I don’t get it either. They were lucky they left when they did—at one stop, Charles assured their hosts there was no way Trump could become president, until a few months later, when he did. Oops. But the trip predated Covid, a trip they obviously couldn’t take if they’d delayed it. “Fortune favors those who get their passports and go.” The thing about reading travel memoirs is that you can a learn about a place you’d like to visit someday, a place you’d like to learn about but have no desire to visit (the majority of places they traveled to fall in this category for me), or remembering places you enjoyed traveling to so you can see how it’s changed or just remember the trip yourself. This could have been better. It definitely had opportunities to be funnier. The places I’ve traveled even in the United States where I speak the language is often filled with dumb errors like missed trains and misunderstandings, and that’s where a lot of chances for humor arise. It’s a pain in the butt at the time, but later, you can see your errors as funny and, ideally, illuminating. Almost all the humor in this book comes from when he reports the squabbling among the children—their dialogue is hilarious. It also made me so, so grateful I don’t have children that would become teenagers at some point. I don’t know how anyone survives that. The other thing about traveling yourself or reading about it means that when you come home, you appreciate things America does well and what it could do better. In Bhutan, citizens must wear national dress in temples, schools, government offices, and on national holidays. “Imagine the government of the United States dictating what Americans are required to wear on in public on the Fourth of July.” I enjoyed this. It’s worth the time. Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book, which RELEASES JANUARY 26, 2021.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sheena

    From South America to Australia, Vietnam to India, and so many more countries; Charles Wheelan takes us on a travel adventure with his family. Part travelogue and part memoir, Wheelan describes how him and his family are able to leave behind real life and travel for about 9 months at a time. He explains how he’s able to do so and even though it sounds so impossible, he makes it sound so easy! I love hearing about people’s experiences so I was intrigued how they made their travel plans and where From South America to Australia, Vietnam to India, and so many more countries; Charles Wheelan takes us on a travel adventure with his family. Part travelogue and part memoir, Wheelan describes how him and his family are able to leave behind real life and travel for about 9 months at a time. He explains how he’s able to do so and even though it sounds so impossible, he makes it sound so easy! I love hearing about people’s experiences so I was intrigued how they made their travel plans and where they went. I even wrote down some places I’d want to go once travel is safe (ie: Rotorua, New Zeland famous for it’s hot springs). Wheelan also offers insight on how him and his wife navigated these travels with three teenagers. He talks about how they managed to balance homeschooling and dealing with general parenthood challenges overseas. From normal family fights to flesh eating bacteria and exploding penis’ - this book covers it all. There is even a part where they are teaching their son CJ what consent means. I will admit that the home schooling parts bored me but I feel like parents would find the information useful or interesting. I do love that they took their kids traveling at such a young age and have such a passion for it as a family. Thank you to Netgalley and to W. W. Norton and Company for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    For years I have loved travel narratives and while I can't remember the book that started me on the road of wanting to read the journeys of others (maybe A Walk Across America and One Year Off: Leaving It All Behind for a Round-the-World Journey with Our Children , my ears prick up any time I hear about a new narrative that chronicles people's journeys. I do find, though, that some don't go into enough detail while others go into too much detail, and I confess one aspect I find a little offputti For years I have loved travel narratives and while I can't remember the book that started me on the road of wanting to read the journeys of others (maybe A Walk Across America and One Year Off: Leaving It All Behind for a Round-the-World Journey with Our Children , my ears prick up any time I hear about a new narrative that chronicles people's journeys. I do find, though, that some don't go into enough detail while others go into too much detail, and I confess one aspect I find a little offputting is too much inner reflection of the journey of their minds or inner selves. However, this one was just right with an appealing combo of practical travel details (how to take a year off, sites, lodgings, experiences) and family angst (traveling with a pre-teen and teens - ye gods!). What was particularly appealing was the selection of areas they traveled and with descriptions of the areas along with personal experiences, both good and bad. All in all one of the best travel narratives I've read in years and I didn't want it to end. This is perfect for fans of the two books I mentioned above, and if one is wanting more about family travels, try The World Is Our Classroom: How One Family Used Nature and Travel to Shape an Extraordinary Education and How to Be a Family: The Year I Dragged My Kids Around the World to Find a New Way to Be Together Thanks to the publisher for the advance digital reading copy.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Fred

    Written by a me-type author - privileged, white, educated, dad-joke wielding father of three for a target audience of me. I loved living vicariously through the author as he and his wife took sabbaticals and pulled their children out of school to recreate an around the world journey they took when first a couple. The subtitle "A Family Gap Year" is right on. I don't have the budget, chutzpah, or language skills to pull off the same trip, but I am now actively dreaming of some good family vacatio Written by a me-type author - privileged, white, educated, dad-joke wielding father of three for a target audience of me. I loved living vicariously through the author as he and his wife took sabbaticals and pulled their children out of school to recreate an around the world journey they took when first a couple. The subtitle "A Family Gap Year" is right on. I don't have the budget, chutzpah, or language skills to pull off the same trip, but I am now actively dreaming of some good family vacations.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    I loved the idea of the books but I came out of it thinking this man must be incredibly exhausting and dare I say boring to be around. I’ve read a lot of travel and family memoirs and this was an odd one. There was a real lack of actual curiosity about the locations they went to and I still don’t have a sense of why they wanted to go on this trip. Why not split it up over a few summers? Why take 9 months at once? It seemed grueling. I couldn’t figure out the high school-aged daughter's school si I loved the idea of the books but I came out of it thinking this man must be incredibly exhausting and dare I say boring to be around. I’ve read a lot of travel and family memoirs and this was an odd one. There was a real lack of actual curiosity about the locations they went to and I still don’t have a sense of why they wanted to go on this trip. Why not split it up over a few summers? Why take 9 months at once? It seemed grueling. I couldn’t figure out the high school-aged daughter's school situation. She didn't want to join them so she could play volleyball and attend her junior year. A couple of chapters later in the book, she is refusing to turn in her homeschooling/virtual school assignments. Why is she in a virtual school if she is living at home with her aunt and uncle in her home? Is it an issue with the curriculum since she would be joining them later? Why wouldn't he mention that? Where is she playing volleyball if not school? Why can't her aunt and uncle make sure she is doing her work while the author is taking care of their child in another country? Her parents do not seem concerned that she isn't doing her school work. He doesn't seem surprised and gives a story that paints her as an untrustworthy liar to illustrate that. So why leave her behind with no one to supervise her? What is she doing all day? This seems nitpicky but it really illustrates the holes and lack of info in the book. I know how much Pringles costs in various countries but some threads were never really connected. There was a huge amount of logistics talk, finding hotels, long bus rides, talks about airports, visas and taxis but not a lot of descriptions of what they actually did. They saw temples in Myanmar. What temples? What did they look like? Who built them? Who knows? Why does he call Calcutta, Calcutta and not Kolkata? The longest descriptive parts of the books were about his fixation on tracking down a kiwi in NZ to fulfill a “lifelong dream”. It turns out he never even bothered to look at a picture of a kiwi before the trek because he sees a weka and excitedly takes pictures and has to be told it’s the wrong bird. What? Cute enough and I think it was supposed to funny but why weren’t there more stories? I get not everyone is great at engaging, descriptive writing but maybe don’t write a travel memoir then? The logistics parts were often lacking any real motivations or connecting details despite being lengthy. I still am not sure why the family didn’t travel as a whole to get the multi entry visa in India or barring that, why didn’t half stay in Kolkata where they thought the daughter was going to need urgent medical care? The visa story was many pages long, why do I still have questions? Same with the trip to Bhutan. They had to spend $250 a day per person (which seems like a lot) there yet he wanted to get a steep discount on their excursion so much that he had the daughter make a fake ID. Couldn’t the excursion fee count against the $250? I don’t know because he didn’t tell us. Who puts off getting flesh eating bacteria taken care of once diagnosed and a doctor located (after a long ordeal) to go on another excursion for a week? Everything seemed like an afterthought to talking about transportation and food costs. For people who wanted to travel the world they didn’t seem to interact with people much or do much besides hike and ride the bus and occasionally hike. Maybe they did but why wasn’t that in the book? Some of the encounters with locals were cringe inducing like the comparison of the owner of the houseboat they were renting to Dev Patel in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. He was very othering in other parts as well. The parents don’t seem terribly interested in parenting any of the children which seemed lead to some of the issues they had over and over again. I never got a sense of the wife at all. Considering how obnoxious he painted his chatterbox son and presented his middle child as a lazy liar, that’s probably a good thing for her. I struggled to finish and was left wondering why he decided to take this trip, much less share the story with the general public.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Imagine having the means and time to take off on a trip around (much of) the world...and then imagine you have to take it with three teenagers. Charles Wheelan's book conveys much of the joy and angst of traveling with his wife and their three kids---two daughters and a son---who seem to be pretty good eggs. From comfortable neighborhood Air B&Bs to cramped travels on overnight busses and trains, the family makes their way across much of the southern hemisphere and part of Europe, finding a lot t Imagine having the means and time to take off on a trip around (much of) the world...and then imagine you have to take it with three teenagers. Charles Wheelan's book conveys much of the joy and angst of traveling with his wife and their three kids---two daughters and a son---who seem to be pretty good eggs. From comfortable neighborhood Air B&Bs to cramped travels on overnight busses and trains, the family makes their way across much of the southern hemisphere and part of Europe, finding a lot to ponder in both the world they experience and in their own company as a family. Full of humor and insight into how much of the rest of the world lives, it's a great read for armchair travelers.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Janet Hutchinson

    Reading this book made me wish we had taken the time to do something like this with our kids. I’m sure the histrionic times were as bad (or worse) than the author made them out to be,but his descriptions of the sights they saw and the adventures they had were magical (and funny). The logistics of the plan, both to keep the home front solid, and the trip running smoothly were not uncomplicated, and I’m sure that, at times, there were, if not regrets, a sense of missing things from home, but what Reading this book made me wish we had taken the time to do something like this with our kids. I’m sure the histrionic times were as bad (or worse) than the author made them out to be,but his descriptions of the sights they saw and the adventures they had were magical (and funny). The logistics of the plan, both to keep the home front solid, and the trip running smoothly were not uncomplicated, and I’m sure that, at times, there were, if not regrets, a sense of missing things from home, but what a great story.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    The story of a family with three teenagers traveling for nine months on the cheap around the world sounded fascinating to me, and it was both that and somewhat less. Charles Wheelan does deliver what sounds like an accurate telling of a challenging journey — sometimes breathtaking, sometimes prosaic, sometimes a little too close for comfort to National Lampoon’s Gap Year, with Wheelan as Chevy Chase. My problem with it, I guess, is that Wheelan really does think he’s funny, but calling it dad hu The story of a family with three teenagers traveling for nine months on the cheap around the world sounded fascinating to me, and it was both that and somewhat less. Charles Wheelan does deliver what sounds like an accurate telling of a challenging journey — sometimes breathtaking, sometimes prosaic, sometimes a little too close for comfort to National Lampoon’s Gap Year, with Wheelan as Chevy Chase. My problem with it, I guess, is that Wheelan really does think he’s funny, but calling it dad humor is doing a disservice to dads. Still, he and his family took one hell of a trip. I envy them that.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nat

    Cute story mainly about the the anecdotes. Not much about their interpretations of the countries they visited. At little bemused on how they thought Germany was nationalistic when in the U.S.A there are guaranteed to be a flag on several houses.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sydney

    Charles Wheeler and his wife took their three teenagers on a 9 month trip around the world and this is his travelogue/memoir of the trip. This appealed to me because I really enjoy travel writing, and also because, in these strange times, no one is traveling like this and who know when they can do so again? In addition to the glories of the Amazon and such amazing locales, Wheeler writes about the joys of traveling long distances by bus, the fun (haha) of homeschooling teens as they travel, the Charles Wheeler and his wife took their three teenagers on a 9 month trip around the world and this is his travelogue/memoir of the trip. This appealed to me because I really enjoy travel writing, and also because, in these strange times, no one is traveling like this and who know when they can do so again? In addition to the glories of the Amazon and such amazing locales, Wheeler writes about the joys of traveling long distances by bus, the fun (haha) of homeschooling teens as they travel, the nitty-gritty of keeping to their travel budget--all sorts of details I would never have considered. If I were in Mr. Wheeler's family, I would be somewhat put out by the personal details he writes about, but I have to admit that these honest details make the book more interesting. I can appreciate the unique perspective the Wheelers and their children must have on the world and our place in it. Thanks, Wheeler clan, for taking a trip like this, so I don't have to! Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a copy to review.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Ewald

    A thoroughly enjoyable book of a family on a world tour, told with Mr. Wheelan's great sense of irony and humor. His observations were spot on, and if his family didn't see it that way, well, they could write their own book. I would think that the prospect of traveling domestically with 3 teenagers would be daunting in itself, so I applaud the effort of the Wheelan family taking their world tour. Yes, Charles and his wife were substantially situated in their employment to be able to take 9 months A thoroughly enjoyable book of a family on a world tour, told with Mr. Wheelan's great sense of irony and humor. His observations were spot on, and if his family didn't see it that way, well, they could write their own book. I would think that the prospect of traveling domestically with 3 teenagers would be daunting in itself, so I applaud the effort of the Wheelan family taking their world tour. Yes, Charles and his wife were substantially situated in their employment to be able to take 9 months away, yet, if one is determined enough, a family of lesser means could accomplish as well. You have to want it. Taken before Covi-19 took hold, they traveled to South America, to New Zealand, Australia, Vietnam, India, South Africa, Dubai, Germany, (I know I am missing some countries), and back again to home in Hanover, New Hampshire. Charles and Leah, his wife, had traveled the world after college, and wanted to, if not retrace their previous journey, to share with their kids, Katrina, Sophie, and CJ (joined partially by a niece and one of their kid's friends), the wonder and unexpected moments that travel can bring. Each person brought with them limited clothing, and only what they could carry in their own pack. Along they way were moments of anxiety with accommodations, missed travel connections and budget constraints, issues with illness (and a flesh-eating virus episode), days drenched with rain and fog, but also days of sunshine and memories that could never be replicated. They learned a lot about the world around them, and more about themselves: resilience, patience, and an appreciation for indoor plumbing. Along the way, each took an on-line Meyers-Briggs personality assessment, which went a long way in explaining why some acted as they did when stressed. But, most of all, they taught their kids to Seize the Day: 'In planning our trip, we knew that family circumstances gave us a small window during which we could make the trip work. We did not anticipate, of course, that global events would later slam the window closed on all travel. Not long after we returned from our trip, Hong Kong was engulfed by protests. In Chile, too, protests broke out on a scale that disrupted the country. I remember feeling fortunate that we had made it to those places when we did. And then covid-19 came on the scene--first in China and eventually the rest of the world. Before long, we could not leave our home, let alone the country. ....International events will continue to affect the travel map. Some countries will become harder to visit, or less safe; others will become more accessible. One thing will never change: fortune favors those who get their passports and go.' Truely a fun book to read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Thank you #NetGalley and WW Norton and Company for the ARC copy of #WeCameWeSawWeLeft in return for a chance to review it. Charlie Wheelan and his family do what others dream of: they take a year off to travel the world. This is their story. What would happen if you quit your life for a year? In a pre-COVID-19 world, the Wheelan family decided to find out; leaving behind work, school, and even the family dogs to travel the world on a modest budget. Equal parts “how-to” and “how-not-to”—and with an Thank you #NetGalley and WW Norton and Company for the ARC copy of #WeCameWeSawWeLeft in return for a chance to review it. Charlie Wheelan and his family do what others dream of: they take a year off to travel the world. This is their story. What would happen if you quit your life for a year? In a pre-COVID-19 world, the Wheelan family decided to find out; leaving behind work, school, and even the family dogs to travel the world on a modest budget. Equal parts “how-to” and “how-not-to”—and with an eye toward a world emerging from a pandemic—We Came, We Saw, We Left is the insightful and often hilarious account of one family’s gap-year experiment. Wheelan paints a picture of adventure and connectivity, juggling themes of local politics, global economics, and family dynamics while exploring answers to questions like: How do you sneak out of a Peruvian town that has been barricaded by the local army? And where can you get treatment for a flesh-eating bacteria your daughter picked up two continents ago? From Colombia to Cambodia, We Came, We Saw, We Left chronicles nine months across six continents with three teenagers. What could go wrong? I absolutely loved this book! The author takes us on a journey with his family to 6 different continents in 9 months. The adventures he and his family have are beyond amazing and the stuff most of us can only dream about. The story is told with warmth and humor, and honest humility. I laughed aloud a few times as he describes the antics of his son CJ and his need to talk about absolutely everything. #explodingpenis. I shared his frustration with his daughter’s teenage obstinance and delay in finishing her schoolwork. I worried about his other daughter’s medical issue and celebrated her coming into her blooming adult independence. The sights and sounds the family encounters in all of the amazing places they visit are the backdrop of this book, but the heart and soul of this book is the family, extended family, and friends that all come together to make this a successful gap year. Wheelan makes me want to be a part of his family even through Leah’s tight budgeting and the not so amazing Airbnb accommodations. If you love to travel, if you have teenagers, if you are part of a family, or if you just need a good laugh— definitely gives this one a read, you will be glad you did.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Isabelle

    When I first saw this title, I knew I had to read this book. I love traveling and my husband and I talk about it frequently. The idea of traveling around the world for 9 months with several kids sounds terrifying, even after reading this book, but Wheelan allowed us such an insightful look into the ups and downs of doing just that. Each chapter started out with a little catch phrase of what to expect later on in that same chapter. Some of them were shocking, some of them funny and it was interest When I first saw this title, I knew I had to read this book. I love traveling and my husband and I talk about it frequently. The idea of traveling around the world for 9 months with several kids sounds terrifying, even after reading this book, but Wheelan allowed us such an insightful look into the ups and downs of doing just that. Each chapter started out with a little catch phrase of what to expect later on in that same chapter. Some of them were shocking, some of them funny and it was interesting to follow along to see how he could’ve gotten himself into those situations. I liked how they did most of their traveling in countries that I myself have not visited and do not know much about. It was fascinating to see the similarities and differences to our own lives as well as how traveling this time around compared to the traveling they did as a much younger couple. I very much enjoyed the humor that was sprinkled in throughout the whole book. It also contains a mix of really profound, beautiful sentences with really funny ones. Some of the situations left me cackling while others had me groaning, remembering my own struggles with immigration and government documents. While most of the book was fun and quick though, some of the passages in Germany did rub me a little wrong though. I am probably taking this a little too personal seeing as I am from there myself, but it has always struck me as ironic to hear somebody frowning about nationalism and soccer pride after having attended American football games and seeing flags on every imaginable surface, including underwear and bed sheets, as well as the shows of nationalism itself in the US. But if nothing else, that just shows that it is both necessary to travel around to learn a different perspective as well as understand that even doing that may not grant us all the insights we may expect. Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Donna Boyd

    Thank you to #NetGalley, the author and the publisher for providing me with a digital copy of this book prior to publication in exchange for my honest review. We Came, We Saw, We Left by Charles Wheelan is the story of Charles Wheelan, his wife Leah, their three children Katrina, Sophie, and CJ and various other friends and relatives who pop in and out of the story, as they take nine months off to travel all over the world. Traveling to six continents with just a single backpack each, they trave Thank you to #NetGalley, the author and the publisher for providing me with a digital copy of this book prior to publication in exchange for my honest review. We Came, We Saw, We Left by Charles Wheelan is the story of Charles Wheelan, his wife Leah, their three children Katrina, Sophie, and CJ and various other friends and relatives who pop in and out of the story, as they take nine months off to travel all over the world. Traveling to six continents with just a single backpack each, they traveled on a modest budget which makes the story even more interesting. At times it will make you laugh out loud, just imagine walking into a scuba dive office and seeing a monkey sitting in one of the chairs just hanging out while your son is reading a dive book in another chair. At other times the book will have you wondering why they don't just call the whole trip off and go home, for example, when daughter Katrina comes down with a flesh eating disease that could be very serious and they let her fly off by herself to be treated in another foreign country and they continue their trip. To be fair, she had already graduated high school and they did offer to go with her and she turned them down. It is a fun, interesting look that will have you wanting to pack your own backpack (or maybe a suitcase) and take off on an adventure of your own with your family. I highly recommend it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Parker

    Equal parts memoir and travel journal, the author writes about the nine months that he, his wife, and his three teenagers left behind work, school, and the United States to travel around the world with a tight budget and very little on the agenda. This idea very much appeals to me (although I’m not completely sold on traveling with my own three kids for so long) so I was excited to read about their experience traveling together. It was delightful at first, as the family worked out all of the log Equal parts memoir and travel journal, the author writes about the nine months that he, his wife, and his three teenagers left behind work, school, and the United States to travel around the world with a tight budget and very little on the agenda. This idea very much appeals to me (although I’m not completely sold on traveling with my own three kids for so long) so I was excited to read about their experience traveling together. It was delightful at first, as the family worked out all of the logistics of being gone so long, set their plans in place and got going. Especially enjoyable was reading about the family dynamics in play as they encountered various bumps in the road. At about the 40% point, it really slowed down for me and started feeling more like a travel journal. I know many people like travel journals; I’m just not one of them. I pushed through, though, and found it picked up again for the last quarter of the book. I will admit that reading this did find me adding more destinations to my bucket list and reeeeeally made me wish that travel was possible right now. Thanks to #netgalley and #wwnortonandcompany for this ARC of #wecamewesawweleft in exchange for an honest review.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    I won this book on Goodreads. I was excited to start this book but as I got further along in reading I found my enthusiastic nature waned to the point of not caring any more. I found the eco warrior environmental aspects in the book off putting. For instance when the author talks about how cow flatulence and now also cow burps are contributing to climate change. Come on! Really? I wanted to hear stories of travelling around the world, not about how travel impacts global warming. The author state I won this book on Goodreads. I was excited to start this book but as I got further along in reading I found my enthusiastic nature waned to the point of not caring any more. I found the eco warrior environmental aspects in the book off putting. For instance when the author talks about how cow flatulence and now also cow burps are contributing to climate change. Come on! Really? I wanted to hear stories of travelling around the world, not about how travel impacts global warming. The author states he leans left when it comes to the environment but then why would be take his family on a nine month around the world trip flying all over the world through six continents adding to his "carbon footprint." Although he said he would institute a carbon tax, to me this is still hypocritical and to those who feel global warming is anthropogenic should just stay home. Then at another point in the book he said that the election of Donald Trump is going to take us to "uncharted territory." Again, geez, how so? My God, it was so irritating that I lost interest. If you're going to write a travel book keep it about travel and leave out all the garbage left-wing talking points. I got through 50% of the book and skimmed the rest.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Chris Jaffe

    This book got off to a slow start for me, but grew on me as it went along. By the end, I was sorry to see it complete - I just wanted to keep reading more of it. Wheelan tells of the nine months or so his famly spent travelling the world, and what it entailed. He spends some time on the sights, but it's mostly the family dynamics that come through. (Or, really, the family dynamics when undergoing such a strange expeierence). You get his independent-minded eldest daughter; the stubborn and not al This book got off to a slow start for me, but grew on me as it went along. By the end, I was sorry to see it complete - I just wanted to keep reading more of it. Wheelan tells of the nine months or so his famly spent travelling the world, and what it entailed. He spends some time on the sights, but it's mostly the family dynamics that come through. (Or, really, the family dynamics when undergoing such a strange expeierence). You get his independent-minded eldest daughter; the stubborn and not always practical middle daughter, and the youngest boy, who Wheelan is a little harsh on. Most of what we see of boy CJ is either annoying his dad or breaking down in tears. Wheelan's organized wife is the glue of the family, while Wheelan is the absent-minded professor. Yeah, you do hear about the sights, too, but it's more about their experiences and growth as a family. This sounds exhilarating, but I'm not sure it makes me want to travel outside the country. What I get from this your experience with this sort of travel would depend heavily on your personality, and for some I can definitely see the hassles and problems become the defining features.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Cindy H.

    You know that guy in the office who tries so damn hard to be funny, or “likeable”, that you actually end up just wanting to punch him in the throat?! Well, that’s how I felt about the author; Charles Wheelan. His attempts to be the nerdy cool dad were SO DAMN ANNOYING & his 12 yr old son...don’t get me started. They traveled to so many exciting destinations, exploring some of the most desired sites, visiting 6 continents & yet many pages were about needing Internet connection. For a family trip a You know that guy in the office who tries so damn hard to be funny, or “likeable”, that you actually end up just wanting to punch him in the throat?! Well, that’s how I felt about the author; Charles Wheelan. His attempts to be the nerdy cool dad were SO DAMN ANNOYING & his 12 yr old son...don’t get me started. They traveled to so many exciting destinations, exploring some of the most desired sites, visiting 6 continents & yet many pages were about needing Internet connection. For a family trip around the world, a lot of this book felt repetitive. This was a #BorrowNotBuy for me. I took away a star because I couldn’t stand the narrator, either. I know sometimes authors read reviews. If Mr. Wheelan does read this review, I apologize for my visceral reaction to his family travelogue. I’m sure he and the family are lovely people, and I’m happy they had this amazing opportunity but next time, please don’t plug your other books, it’s super tacky.

  19. 5 out of 5

    eilasoles

    A family of white Americans travelling around the world ... what joy! I found it particularly irritating that Wheelan continuously passes judgment on the cultural and political systems of the places he travels too. I liked the idea of the book, and parts of the book, but I just couldn't get over how ignorant they seem to be. There's so much complaining about visa fees and bureaucracy - as if his own country welcomes travelers/immigrants with open arms (lol). Wheelan and his family hop blithely f A family of white Americans travelling around the world ... what joy! I found it particularly irritating that Wheelan continuously passes judgment on the cultural and political systems of the places he travels too. I liked the idea of the book, and parts of the book, but I just couldn't get over how ignorant they seem to be. There's so much complaining about visa fees and bureaucracy - as if his own country welcomes travelers/immigrants with open arms (lol). Wheelan and his family hop blithely from place to place, with an unbelievable lack of recognition of their privilege - their passports afford them the kind of freedom of entry that people from most other countries are denied; they treat every place they visit as a backdrop to their own self-involved drama; their self-absorption & ignorance is particularly annoying given the horror his country's imperialist projects have wreaked across the world ... ugh!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lance

    I really enjoyed the first half of the book - I've started planning a family trip to Patagonia based on his descriptions (a trip that will probably never happen), but the second half of the book seemed rushed. Half the book was on the adventures in South America, and the other half were Australia, Asia, Africa, and Europe. It didn't seem balanced. Another thing that frustrated me was the collection of photos included; some of them were great photos, but there were also several times in the book i I really enjoyed the first half of the book - I've started planning a family trip to Patagonia based on his descriptions (a trip that will probably never happen), but the second half of the book seemed rushed. Half the book was on the adventures in South America, and the other half were Australia, Asia, Africa, and Europe. It didn't seem balanced. Another thing that frustrated me was the collection of photos included; some of them were great photos, but there were also several times in the book in which the author described a photo that perfectly captured a moment... and some of those photos were not included. That seems to be a misfire by the editors. Despite the qualms, it was a much better book than the last travelogue I read: Long Way Down, by Ewan McGregor, Charley Boorman. Wheelan is a much better writer, and his contemplations about the different cultures were much more nuanced than the actors'.

  21. 5 out of 5

    (a)lyss(a)

    I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This book was around 3.5 stars for me. It took a while to pick up in the beginning and I had a hard time finding a rhythm in the writing. While an experiment in a gap year as a traveling family there's not a whole lot about the places they visit. The anecdotes shared mostly focus on the family dynamics than actual locations. There's also some jumping around from story to story without much of a transition. That being I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This book was around 3.5 stars for me. It took a while to pick up in the beginning and I had a hard time finding a rhythm in the writing. While an experiment in a gap year as a traveling family there's not a whole lot about the places they visit. The anecdotes shared mostly focus on the family dynamics than actual locations. There's also some jumping around from story to story without much of a transition. That being said there are some funny anecdotes I enjoyed. It's also an interesting perspective to hear from the author as they travel. I was hoping for some more travel-focused stories but they do talk a bit about the places they see. Overall it's a unique take on the travel memoir that was an interesting read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    Charles Wheelan, Ph.D. is a professor in Economics and Statistics, yet there is little if any recognition of his family's position of economic privilege to be able to take a family gap year or of the wealth inequity between the United States and many of their destinations that make their stays possible. His inexpensive meals come at the cost of other people's ability to provide for themselves and their families. Mr. Wheelan's attempts at humor seem to come primarily at the expense of his two youn Charles Wheelan, Ph.D. is a professor in Economics and Statistics, yet there is little if any recognition of his family's position of economic privilege to be able to take a family gap year or of the wealth inequity between the United States and many of their destinations that make their stays possible. His inexpensive meals come at the cost of other people's ability to provide for themselves and their families. Mr. Wheelan's attempts at humor seem to come primarily at the expense of his two younger children. As I was reading I kept thinking of how they might feel in a few years when they could look back at the book and see how they were portrayed. He did not seem to be inclined to be similarly unkind to his wife or 18-year-old daughter. An intermittently interesting but unsatisfying and rather irritating book. It could have been better.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jane Brewer

    4.5* I won this book through a Goodreads Giveaway. I really really love nonfiction, travel books and this story did not disappoint. Charlie and Leah take their three teens on a 9-month journey around the world. In this laugh-out-loud story, the family begins their journey by flying to Colombia and touring South America. I loved the dad's perspective. As a mother of four, I could totally relate to traveling with teens. How they managed to mostly stay within their budget and not lose their minds i 4.5* I won this book through a Goodreads Giveaway. I really really love nonfiction, travel books and this story did not disappoint. Charlie and Leah take their three teens on a 9-month journey around the world. In this laugh-out-loud story, the family begins their journey by flying to Colombia and touring South America. I loved the dad's perspective. As a mother of four, I could totally relate to traveling with teens. How they managed to mostly stay within their budget and not lose their minds is a testament to the strength of their relationship and their family. At times I felt like I was traveling along with them. I would have even recommended this to my 8th graders except for a few sexual references that are not appropriate for Catholic schoolers. I highly recommend this light and funny read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    A wonderful book full of insight and travel tips for those of us planning to take a gap year and travel the world. And, a funny and inspiring book for those of us who are not. "We Came, We Saw, We Left" dabbles into the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly of packing up your lives (with three kids and a few just along for the ride), and heading out into our great big world. For fans of travel books, as well as those who love a funny and light-hearted memoir, you won't be disappointed. The a A wonderful book full of insight and travel tips for those of us planning to take a gap year and travel the world. And, a funny and inspiring book for those of us who are not. "We Came, We Saw, We Left" dabbles into the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly of packing up your lives (with three kids and a few just along for the ride), and heading out into our great big world. For fans of travel books, as well as those who love a funny and light-hearted memoir, you won't be disappointed. The author's foray into climate change concerns, endangered animals, and teenagers being lost in a foreign country for hours on end, all add up to a highly recommended book that will leave you wanting to take your own similar adventure.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Carrie Ann

    This book highlighted a family's 9-month trip around the world (in 2016) through South America, Asia, Africa, and eastern-Europe. Told by the father, the book reflects on their travels while providing information about how they made this trip possible as they navigated finances, schooling, etc. I loved the insight provided as he recounts the great experiences the family had traveling together while also sharing the experiences gone-wrong that required flexibility and sometimes led to complete fa This book highlighted a family's 9-month trip around the world (in 2016) through South America, Asia, Africa, and eastern-Europe. Told by the father, the book reflects on their travels while providing information about how they made this trip possible as they navigated finances, schooling, etc. I loved the insight provided as he recounts the great experiences the family had traveling together while also sharing the experiences gone-wrong that required flexibility and sometimes led to complete family meltdowns! As a traveler, I found myself laughing quite a bit as I remembered my own travels that have been filled of both joyous, life-changing moments and frustrating, tear-filled disasters. Reading this makes me excited to explore more of the world after COVID!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Cory

    This is a book entirely without merit. Do you like when strangers show you pictures from their vacation and drone on and on about all the sightseeing they did and the restaurants they ate in? If you're a human, the answer is no. Imagine reading an entire book like that. When I procured this book, I assumed that the family in this "gap year" would travel to poorer places, learn about the culture, and either make a difference or gain new insight about humanity. Nope. Instead, they griped if the ho This is a book entirely without merit. Do you like when strangers show you pictures from their vacation and drone on and on about all the sightseeing they did and the restaurants they ate in? If you're a human, the answer is no. Imagine reading an entire book like that. When I procured this book, I assumed that the family in this "gap year" would travel to poorer places, learn about the culture, and either make a difference or gain new insight about humanity. Nope. Instead, they griped if the hotel didn't have air-conditioning or their cell-phones lost service. This is my first one-star review after 15 years on goodreads. A complete waste of paper. I am absolutely amazed that a publishing company thought this would be worthwhile to print.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    I had a lot of reasons to love Wheelan's memoir about circumnavigating the globe with his wife and three teenagers in tow. My husband and I traveled around the world 13 years ago, visiting many of the same locales, so it was fun to read about their experiences through that particular lens. I've often felt like we did our trip "wrong," or had certain experiences that we could have avoided, and reading Wheelan's book helped me reckon with some of those regrets. While it's great fun to read about t I had a lot of reasons to love Wheelan's memoir about circumnavigating the globe with his wife and three teenagers in tow. My husband and I traveled around the world 13 years ago, visiting many of the same locales, so it was fun to read about their experiences through that particular lens. I've often felt like we did our trip "wrong," or had certain experiences that we could have avoided, and reading Wheelan's book helped me reckon with some of those regrets. While it's great fun to read about the family's travel adventures, what makes this book stand out is seeing this particular family's dynamics at play; Wheelan portrays the "characters" honest but lovingly. I really enjoyed the book!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lesa Dierking

    Well technically my husband read it. I received this book through a giveaway. I am not going to get to it for a bit to read it, so my husband read it for me... He is A very picky reader with eclectic tastes. I feared he wouldn't like it. The only glimmer of hope I had for it was the travel angle. When he finished, I asked him what he thought. He found it very well written. It was well paced as well he thought until The end, thinking it got a little too bogged down in family for his tastes... But Well technically my husband read it. I received this book through a giveaway. I am not going to get to it for a bit to read it, so my husband read it for me... He is A very picky reader with eclectic tastes. I feared he wouldn't like it. The only glimmer of hope I had for it was the travel angle. When he finished, I asked him what he thought. He found it very well written. It was well paced as well he thought until The end, thinking it got a little too bogged down in family for his tastes... But 4 out of 5 stars for him for a book is outstanding!!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Terrill

    This is one of my favorite genres (family drops everything to travel around the world together), and it was really fun to read it during the pandemic, approaching a year of being home with two teenage girls and a younger brother. I really enjoyed the author's voice and his blend of family stories and information and vignettes from the places they traveled. I also appreciated that they were not traveling with some big goal in mind: "learn more about buddhism" or "learn how to be better parents." This is one of my favorite genres (family drops everything to travel around the world together), and it was really fun to read it during the pandemic, approaching a year of being home with two teenage girls and a younger brother. I really enjoyed the author's voice and his blend of family stories and information and vignettes from the places they traveled. I also appreciated that they were not traveling with some big goal in mind: "learn more about buddhism" or "learn how to be better parents."

  30. 4 out of 5

    Joan

    3.5 rounded up. I'm still not a huge fan of "I'm going to tell you about this time my family..." books, but this one is the best I've read. Wheelan did a good job of balancing describing cool places they travelled, explaining some of the technical details of actually travelling the world with your family for months, and providing stories of family dynamics and funny bickering along the way. Taking a huge trip like that is something I would love to do one day, and this book makes it seem like a r 3.5 rounded up. I'm still not a huge fan of "I'm going to tell you about this time my family..." books, but this one is the best I've read. Wheelan did a good job of balancing describing cool places they travelled, explaining some of the technical details of actually travelling the world with your family for months, and providing stories of family dynamics and funny bickering along the way. Taking a huge trip like that is something I would love to do one day, and this book makes it seem like a reasonable goal.

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