For readers of Three Cups of Tea; Eat, Pray, Love; and Wild comes the inspiring story of an ordinary American family that embarks on an extraordinary journey. Wide-Open World follows the Marshall family as they volunteer their way around the globe, living in a monkey sanctuary in Costa Rica, teaching English in rural Thailand, and caring for orphans in India. There’s a name for this kind of endeavor—voluntourism—and it might just be the future of travel.
Oppressive heat, grueling bus rides, backbreaking work, and one vicious spider monkey . . . Best family vacation ever!
John Marshall needed a change. His twenty-year marriage was falling apart, his seventeen-year-old son was about to leave home, and his fourteen-year-old daughter was lost in cyberspace. Desperate to get out of a rut and reconnect with his family, John dreamed of a trip around the world, a chance to leave behind, if only just for a while, routines and responsibilities. He didn’t have the money for resorts or luxury tours, but he did have an idea that would make traveling the globe more affordable and more meaningful than he’d ever imagined: The family would volunteer their time and energy to others in far-flung locales.
Wide-Open World is the inspiring true story of the six months that changed the Marshall family forever. Once they’d made the pivotal decision to go, John and his wife, Traca, quit their jobs, pulled their kids out of school, and embarked on a journey that would take them far off the beaten path, and far out of their comfort zones.
Here is the totally engaging, bluntly honest chronicle of the Marshalls’ life-altering adventure from Central America to East Asia. It was no fairy tale. The trip offered little rest, even less relaxation, and virtually no certainty of what was to come. But it did give the Marshalls something far more valuable: a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to conquer personal fears, strengthen family bonds, and find their true selves by helping those in need. In the end, as John discovered, he and his family did not change the world. It was the world that changed them.
Praise for Wide-Open World
“Marshall’s use of rich details locates readers firmly in each time and place, enabling them to sense the adventure, wonder and joy he experienced in his surroundings and in watching his children grow into hardworking, more responsible teens, as well as the frustrations and disappointments he and his family inevitably encountered along the way. A great armchair adventure that should inspire others to consider voluntourism as a way to help others and see the world.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Each new location combines beautiful scenery with a dose of sentiment, a good deal of humor, and some heartfelt consideration of the human condition. . . . His philosophy may not fit everyone and the ending is bittersweet, but this is an enticing call to service.”—Publishers Weekly
“Wide-Open World is an adventure made up of countless small moments of human connection. It’s an armchair travelogue that may well inspire you to do good off the beaten path.”—BookPage
“For anyone who has ever imagined what it would be like to pack up, unplug, pull the kids out of school, and travel around the world, this volunteer adventure is your ticket. Wide-Open World will move, engage, and inspire you, even if you never leave the couch.”—Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train
From the Hardcover edition.