With a job as a stock market trader, Andre Baldeo, 45, was making a good wage and he thought he was happy.
But when he realised he was just trapped in the daily grind, he decided to uproot his whole family and travel the world.
In a bid to show kids, Rico, 12, and Tiana-Mae, ten, there was ‘more to life than suburbia’, he convinced wife Becky, 44, to quit their jobs and sell their house.
They sold their belongings and bought a one-way ticket for an 18-month trip of a lifetime.
They travelled 51,000 miles across 13 countries in South America and Asia, visiting 48 cities, staying in hotels, youth hostels and jungle lodges.
They swapped days at school and work for stints conserving turtles, working on farms and even football coaching, ‘home-schooling’ the kids along the way.
Now back home they are unemployed and living in rented accommodation – but said the £65,000 trip was worth every penny.
Andre, from Enfield, north London, said: ‘It was time for a change and I rehashed one of my life long dreams to Becky – to travel the world and experience as much as we could as a family of four.
‘It really hit home how we have to make the most of our lives.
‘Working long hours stuck in front of six monitor screens, studying graphs and looking at news can become very lonely and extremely depressing. It became suffocating.
‘It was completely life-changing and incredibly inspiring but it was the scariest thing I’ve ever had to do.
‘We broke down all the security we had at home and gave up everything.
‘I do feel proud to have done it and it is the best £65,000 I have ever spent.
‘We now have the most amazing memories to keep forever and nothing will change that.
‘I gave up our family home and I don’t regret it for a second.
‘It was the trip of a lifetime and coming back home has been very strange. It’s going to take a while for us to get used to normal life again.
‘I know when on my deathbed, I’ll have a head full of amazing experiences and memories and won’t have any regrets to what we sacrificed to make them happen.’
Andre and Becky met in London, where he was working as a trader and Becky as a PA.
They moved to Cape Town in South Africa, where Becky was from in 2007.
Rico and Tiana-Mae came along and the family had a comfortable lifestyle with Andre earning around £35,000 a year.
But in September 2016, Andre said he realised he was sick of this rut and he started to think about making a change.
He finally decided to change his life when he heard a close friend in the UK who had a brain tumour had been given a matter of weeks to live.
During 18 months of planning, they sold their Cape Town home and put all their belongings into storage.
When they set off, they had no idea how long it would last but they started with a one-way flight to Sarawak, in Borneo, in April 2018.
Andre said they planned their route as they went along, including trips to Thailand, Vietnam and Japan.
‘Another volunteering opportunity arose in Japan, this time for me to dust of my boots and help to coach football at an academy”, said Andre.
‘We lived with a Japanese family who had three small children.
‘Food and board were provided in exchange for our help – me coaching football, and Becky helping around the house.
‘Christmas was spent in Tokyo with an old friend of mine and his family, from my home town Enfield, North London.’
In February the family flew to Colombia and spent five weeks working at a foundation with local children.
After two months they flew to Ecuador for three weeks walking up volcanoes, exploring the Amazon and hiking in the Andes.
The last leg of the journey took the Baldeo’s down the eastern side of South America with visits to Peru, Bolivia and Chile.
Their last calling point was San Jose, in Costa Rica, where they boarded a plane back home, arriving back in Cape Town on October 29.
The family had an amazing time but Andrew says it wasn’t always easy.
He said: ‘A lot of people think that this way of life is glamorous and essentially a glorified holiday.
‘It is very difficult being together, just the four of us 24/7. No one gets any personal space at all.
‘My guilty pleasure when we packed our rucksacks to come away was my running shoes, so thankfully I got away for some time alone a few times a week.
‘Becky’s guilty pleasure was her hair straighteners – but she has only used them once.
‘To be honest living out of bags, having cold showers, long bus journeys and constantly moving and not having familiar surroundings got draining.
‘But the amazing experiences that we had to cancel out the negatives.
‘We realised we were coming towards the end after about a year and four months.
‘We were getting very tired and planned our way back home.’
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