I’ve just finished reading 360 Degrees Longitude: One Family’s Journey Around the World, about the Higham family’s one-year travel journey.
There was a brief moment at the start of the book where I didn’t think I was going to enjoy it. John Higham, his wife, September, and their two kids, Katrina (11) and Jordan (8) had been planning and saving for this trip for years. The family of four started out on tandem bikes: one parent on front, one kid peddling behind. And while I absolutely admired them for doing so, I quickly decided the book might not be for me. Cycling just doesn’t reel me in.
But then (*SPOILER ALERT*)…
… their daughter broke her leg and their travel plans were completely altered to accommodate her. The way they dealt with this showed such resilience and spirit of adventure. It was great to read. The book really shifted gears and their story made me laugh and cry and dream of travel. I enjoyed every minute of it, and read more slowly as the book progressed, in an effort to enjoy the experience for longer.
I’ve read extensively within this genre. One of the major problems with many family travelogues is that the kids simply aren’t interesting. It’s the old problem of yes you think your kids are cute, but that doesn’t mean anyone else will. There’s a British family travel writer who comes to mind here—I can’t bear him raving about his children. They sound obnoxious.
This was not the case in this book. John Higham has a great voice. He’s funny and thoughtful and honest. His wife September sounds amazing. His children are interesting and easy to like. Posted throughout the book are snippets from the kids’ travel journals, which make for an entertaining read.
What I loved most about this great book is what I love most about long-term travel: there is an internal journey the traveller takes that is just as important as the geographical one. Higham doesn’t beat you over the head with this, but every member of the family grows and changes as a result of this journey they take. It’s a joy to read about.
This is a wonderful, inspiring read. I loved it.