RICHMOND, Va. – Three-year-old Jai Hedrick's specialty is playing with puzzles. Especially maps. His navigational skills will soon come in handy.
Jai and his parents, Rian and Elijah, are hitting the road. Their itinerary? A ten month. Eight country family world tour.
“It’s a journey. It’s a journey,” said Elijah. “There is too much of this place not to see of the earth. It becomes more a reality all of a sudden.”
The south Richmond family has been planning and saving for the excursion for two years. Their first stop is Thailand.
“Then we’re going to Sri Lanka, then we’re heading to Dubai and then we’re heading to Kenya. Then we’re heading to Singapore somewhere in there,” said Elijah.
Australia, New Zealand and Europe are also on the list. The couple were bitten by the travel bug a few years ago during a cruise. The Hedricks are documenting each stop on their Thumbtacks blog, demonstrating the rewards and challenges of traveling as one.
“There were hurdles we had to get to this point but we are on schedule. Extra jobs, eating a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and not going out to eat,” said Elijah with a laugh.
As the daughter of military parents, Rian appreciates the benefits of traveling.
“I’m more excited about having Jai see the world. Because I was a kid who got to explore with my family,” she said. “Everything we’re doing is for him.”
Rian relishes her collection of postcards sent from friends abroad.
“Postcards are I think a chance for you to live through someone else’s travels,” said Rian.
For Elijah, a successful bout with cancer taught him an important lesson about living.
“So for me, it’s like there was a while where I wasn’t sure there was a tomorrow so I like to plan for tomorrow, but I don’t want to be beholden to it that I forget about today,” said Elijah. “It has definitely been a team mentality.”
Sure, the couple has reservations about the road ahead, but the Hedricks look at the globe as a classroom.
“Learning doesn’t end when you leave school. You should keep pursing it. You should keep your mind sharp. Otherwise you get dull,” explained Rian.
The couple will be traveling light, but they’re making room for Jai's beloved prehistoric plastic pets.
“As long as he has a few of his dinosaurs in his backpack and his parents he is good to go. Mommy and Daddy. He is good,” said Elijah.
It’s been said that a person doesn’t take a trip. A trip takes a person. For the Hedricks? A trip takes a family.
“Some people spend 10 grand going to Disney for a week. It is a small world after all, but it won’t be the same experience,” said Elijah.
Elijah, Rian and Jai have already sold many of their belongings and rented their house. The Hedrick's will be leaving at the end of September and returning sometime next summer.
Elijah Hedrick is a familiar face at WTVR. He is a former production assistant at CBS 6.
If you want to learn more about the Hedrick's journey, you can follow their travels at their Thumbtacks blog.
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