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One Year Off: Leaving It All Behind for a Round-the-World Journey with Our Children

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  1,383 Ratings  ·  173 Reviews
A year off from work. A meandering, serendipitous journey around the globe with the people you love most. No mortgage, no car payments, no pressure. Though it sounds like an impossible dream for most people, one day David Cohen and his family decide to make it a reality. With his wife and three children, Cohen sets off on a rollicking journey, full of laugh-out-loud mishap ...more
Paperback, 302 pages
Published April 25th 2001 by Travelers' Tales (first published 1999)
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Todd N
Sep 19, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: library
This is a book about a suburban family guy who hits 40 and then decides to leave his job, sell his house, and spend a year traveling the world with his wife and three kids. It's an interesting idea, but you need to know up front that he's not a regular guy -- his family was able to send him to Yale, and he became a millionaire around 30 when he sold his book publishing business. They can afford to bring a nanny along, and his wife is fluent in four languages.

So while I identify with the suburban
...more
Ellen
Mar 20, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommended to Ellen by: Mom
Shelves: non-fiction
The author of this book somehow managed to extract himself entirely from his life as a coffee table book publisher and spend a year traveling around the world with his three children, ages 8, 7, and 2. This is the somewhat straightforward tale of their adventures in Costa Rica, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. I admire the Cohens' adventurousness and their desire to give their children a taste of the wider world. The story is told from the father's point of view exclusively, and it's interes ...more
Suzanne
Jan 20, 2010 rated it it was ok
If you're planning a trip abroad with children, this book is invaluable for research. But if you enjoy travel literature (such as Paul Theroux), this book will fall short.

Originally written as a series of emails, the book contains breezy updates from the father of a family who decided to sell their house and travel around the world for a year. While the author (an editor of photography coffee table books) is funny, he is not a shrewd observer of people or places -- or if he is, lacks the writing
...more
Stephanie
Feb 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
This has always been a back-of-my-mind fantasy: to take the kids out of school for a year, quit our jobs, sell our house and travel the world, letting the museums, historical sites and natural wonders be our classrooms.

This author did just that, with his wife and 3 kids aged 3, 7, and 8. Reading his narrative of the year abroad makes me really want to travel the world even more, but makes me want to travel it with my kids a bit less! While it sounds great in theory, I don't think I could manage
...more
Anne
Nov 08, 2009 rated it liked it
Like the author, we have abandoned our life as we knew it, for a year, with our 4 young children (one still in diapers) and moved abroad. Unlike the other, we moved to a developing country for the entire year, instead of moving constantly country to country. I think I prefer our approach. We have found a great house to live in, getting to know locals on a personal level through church and the kids' schools, struggling with language, and the transitions that kids face in a new home. At times we a ...more
Jayanthi Venkataramani
It starts off really well and incredible that someone actually did this. However I lost interest through the mid of the book only because it becomes more and more a personal tale and I did not find any deep insight. I think what put me off most (not at all any reflection on the book or the author and his adorable family) was that he seemed to have a lot of disposable cash to kind of get around all the things that I would've found frustrating even in a single journey, forget a round-the-world tri ...more
Maria Elmvang
Mar 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Maria by: Wyyknot
Really interesting book, and I loved living vicariously through the Cohen family. It's the next best thing to being there myself, and I liked how David didn't sugar coat anything. Things were the way they were - the good as well as the bad.

A shame that David's emails home became less and less detailed as the time went on - their time in Costa Rica and Europe was wonderfully elaborate, but after that weeks and even months disappeared with no real mention. If it hadn't been for that, I'd have rate
...more
Madrezenith
May 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
I am really interested in travelling the world with my husband and 4 children, so I looked forward to this book quite a bit. It was a gift from a well-meaning friend. I was so disappointed! The author's tone was a bit arrogant, major details were omitted (like they spent 6 months in Australia!! They put their kids in schol there! Tell me more!!). Also, they took a nanny and spent a lot of time on planes and in hotels while I was hoping for some low-budget tips. I appreciate and applaud their tri ...more
Barbara
Aug 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, nonfiction
Plot Summary: A midlife crisis prompts a successful San Francisco book editor to quit his job, sell his house and possessions and take a one-year trip around the world with his wife, three young children and a nanny. Thrilling and at times harrowing, Cohen’s tale, written as a series of email updates to friends, takes you along to experience the sights, sounds and tastes of more than 20 exotic locales, from Costa Rica to Laos.

Appeals: humorous travel memoir; traveling with children; midlife cris
...more
Thomasin
You're in your early 40's, have wife, 3 kids, successful job...what else to do but sell your house and cars, pack a bag for each family member, and head-off on a year-long adventure around the world?!

I enjoyed Cohen's humorous accounts of his family's exploits (from their pre-trip jitters to the animal attack in Africa to learning the difference between Sards and Italians).

Quick fun read which will make you wish you too would decide to ditch your "old" life and start afresh in foreign lands!
Jennifer
Dec 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading this family's story in preparation for our sabbatical next year. I'm definitely not ready for a whole year off, just a month, but it was great to read of a family including their small children. Very brave. Well written and enjoyable. I'm just sad that 6 years after their adventure that they were divorced.
Becky
Jan 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
I've travelled to eleven different countries, not too shabby for someone my age, but right now I'm definitely an armchair tourist. This trip-around-the-world tale was good fun - I even laughed out loud a few times at the adventures (and misadventures) of the mid-nineties Cohen family. Fun fact: they were in Hong Kong the day it was relinquished by Britain.
Bridget
Jul 26, 2007 rated it liked it
Very interesting to think about doing this - selling your house and packing up everything to travel around the world for one year. The author and his family had a fantastic time.
Farrah
Sep 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Just finished and absolutely devastated that he glossed over Japan, as that was the part I had been looking forward to the most. I even thought it especially serendipitous that it was towards the end of their trip/book so that it gave me something to look forward to: Westerners in Japan. One of my favorite things.

My other minor issue with this is the formatting; he begins each "chapter" (written in an epistolary format of emails to family and friends) begins with the city they are HEADED to...s
...more
Debra Meehan
Sep 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
I think many of us fantasize about packing it all up and traveling the world but David actually does this with his family including three kids! It was interesting to hear his thought process and how they approached the trip as well as their lessons learned. They visited a variety of countries not just third world countries that many other backpacker stories seem to focus on. He does a nice job describing places and events although is not overly descriptive. A really enjoyable read, and I was sad ...more
Trisha
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful novel about a family that decides to take their children on a year-long trek around the world. The husband/narrator shares the good, and the bad, with lots of humor and insight. I felt like the book could have been twice as long, because I would love to have read more detail about their locations, adventures, and their heart-warming experiences. I also loved the antics that their children pulled, which made traveling with children all the more relatable. A fantastic, feel good novel!
Will Plunkett
Jun 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: travel
Since there were some places that aren't the typical tourist travel destinations, or at least avoided some of the areas in frequently-visited places, it was pretty good. Overall, the narration became somewhat pretentious (especially the Epilogue) and showed how different the perspective of those who've had resources and opportunities for most of life learn how "the rest of the world" really is. But travel is the greatest gift anyone can give, and learning from others' journeys is often fun, too.
April Grippo
Jan 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
To cure his midlife crisis, a father takes his family - including three children under the age of 8 - around the world. Written in a series of emails that he sent to friends and family during their travels, this account is surprisingly funny. The ending is especially poignant - as the author weighed the rewards of the trip against the risks (giving up his job, spending so much "together time" with his wife and kids, plus the dangers of international travel with such young children). Was it worth ...more
Julie Bowman
Jul 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Read it as more of a personal account or for inspiration as opposed to a guide. I really enjoyed the reflection at the end as there were a couple practical lessons learned. A pleasant read and gives one something to think about.
Chelsea
Dec 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Must read book!

This is an amazing book to read! Very detailed and real journey with his family told in such a great story. I would recommend this book!
Andrea
Oct 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
At first I thought it was another rich person telling me how they "gave up everything" to travel. It still kinda was. I did really enjoy the adventure with their kids. I got a few laughs and learned a few travel tips. Worth a read.
Allison
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2017
What was even more enjoyable than these snapshots of their journey, the challenge to look at my own life and hesitations in traveling with young children? Seeing people travel before the Internet and smartphones! In all seriousness, I really loved this book. Yes, it is told through his emails, but I found that added to some charm. He wasn't trying to be all-inclusive (which would have been long and dry). He wasn't trying to share his agenda with us. He was trying to give us insight into moments ...more
Timothy Darling
May 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Fun read. I recommend One Year Off: Leaving It All Behind for a Round-the-World Journey with Our Childrenfor anyone who dreams of breaking out of the run of the mill life. The Cohen family's decision to sell the house and car and travel the world for a year or so is bold, brave and fun. This with two pre-teen children and a toddler qualifies the mom and dad for something like a medal. Their stops in parts of the U.S., classical europe, Africa, India, SE Asia and Australia make for as complete a ...more
Rebecca
Apr 05, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: travel
I feel like I have read this book before. And I am 99% sure I have, but it was like probably close to 10 years ago when I was just getting back into reading again and just starting on my travel books kick. So it's been a while. And I remember thinking that this book was dated back then, having took place in the mid-90's, that it's even more dated now! But I kind of like that. Like planning a whole round the world tour before the internet? They did everything by fax, classic! The American family ...more
Stephanie
Nov 15, 2013 rated it liked it
This is written in quite a good quick and breezy style...but not too breezy. I do like the way Cohen pauses along the way to really talk about a certain place. But considering this trip I'm sure the book could have been five times as long. He was probably wise not to give us that version. Although something in me wanted a tiny bit more than there was.

This book is very inspirational for those with the dream of travelling the world. He doesn't paint it all rosy either, which I like. This trip was
...more
Angela
Nov 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this account of a family's year-long travel adventure. One thing that sets this apart from other travelogues is that the reader gets to see exotic parts of the world through the eyes of a family with young children (2, 7, and 8). Some of their experiences are unexpectedly hilarious, and I found myself laughing out loud, and reading the especially funny parts to my husband so he could enjoy them too. Cohen's vocabulary is impressive; As a bonus, I learned at least one new wor ...more
Elizabeth
Apr 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: world-travel
A family takes a year off to travel the world.
Well they really stay for six months in Australia but it is a fun book about their experiences. Many of the places, I had been to (though under very different circumstances as our world travel with kids so far only included Georgia), and the rest I want to go to (with the exception maybe of Zurich). And there are tons of places I want to go that the family didn't make it to.
A couple of places brought tears to my eyes. I laughed out loud several times
...more
Michelle
Aug 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
A very quick read. Basically an anthology of the emails this family sent home while on their year-long round-the-world travels. Loved the way their expectations and reality often clashed and they were able to roll with it, especially when it came to what they thought their kids would like/not like and the fear of what a toddler will do/not do. As happens when you're traveling, the second half of the book is much more sparse and in the moment than the first half. Of course it makes sense that onc ...more
Robert Lange
Jun 20, 2014 rated it it was ok
In the prologue, the author describes his motivations for wanting to take this journey and the phrase he uses that resonates with me was "spiritual uneasiness." But the book mostly describes the family's "outer" experiences white water rafting, exploring museums and cathedrals, taking safaris, experiencing festivals and food, etc. This was interesting enough, but when the author started to reflect deeper it was only for a paragraph and I wanted more. And they really only took 5 months off before ...more
Steve
Apr 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of travel writing
I liked this book much more than I thought I would. I read a lot of travel writing, and whereas the journey Cohen took with his family sounded interesting, I was expecting another 2nd rate travelogue from a 2nd rate, or even 3rd rate author. They can't all be Paul Therouxs or Bill Brysons. However I found this to be, although light and topical, intelligent, fluid, and literate (I had to retreat to my dictionary on more than one occasion) without being pretentious. It was easy and pleasant readin ...more
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