Do you ever dream of working with monkeys in the Costa Rican rainforest? How about teaching English in Thailand, or helping orphans in India? Well John Marshall did and in a radical move to connect better with their teenage son and daughter, he and his wife quit their jobs and took a six month voluntourism break from life. Wide Open World is the story of how six months moving around the globe volunteering changed all of their lives forever.
As someone who loves to travel, I really appreciated Marshall’s honesty about the difficulties of the family’s trip, as well as, the wonders they experienced. This is not a tale about a wealthy family going from luxury resort to luxury resort and only skirting the lives of the other cultures around them. Instead, it is an in-depth look at a middle class American family backpacking and volunteering their way around the world. The reader truly gets a sense of each culture that the Marshall family connects with in their travels and the changes that these connections bring to each individual. As John Marshall states, “You will not change the world. But the world will definitely change you.” If that doesn’t motivate you to go experience a new place, then check out the epilogue where there is a valuable summary of the preparations/finances of the trip for anyone looking to duplicate the family’s experiences.