Latest News

World Trek: An Interview With Lesley and Andrea Fisher

From the back cover of World Trek: A Family Odyssey...

Russell and Carla Fisher were intent on expanding the horizons of
their daughters, 13-year-old Lesley and 12-year-old Andrea, and they came up with a plan that shocked everyone they knew. The Fishers would put their conventional, suburban Texas lives aside for a year and travel around the world! They could think of no greater gift to give their children. Using the guiding principles of self-reliance, compassion and persistence, Russell and Carla taught the girls more than they could ever have learned in a classroom.

In 376 days and across 50,000 miles, the Fisher Family explored Great Britain, Ireland, Scandinavia, Estonia, Russia, The Czech Republic, Germany, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, India, Thailand, China, Japan, Australia and Rarotonga. The entire family was involved in both the planning and budgeting of the trip, and they home schooled the entire time. Their accommodations were frequently economical hostels and flats, they prepared many of their own meals, laundered their own clothes, practiced speaking foreign languages and using foreign currencies, and they often walked, jogged or used local public transportation to explore both famous and out-of-the-way sites.

I borrowed this book from my mom a few years ago after she met Mr. Fisher at a book signing in The Woodlands, TX where his family (and mine!) lives. I was completely captivated by their story, and not in the least because I was only months away from my own overseas move to Brazil.

Back when yaHighway was little more than a twinkle in a moose's eye, I imagined getting in touch with Lesley and Andrea for an interview. At that oh-so-sensitive tween age, life is crazy enough...I had to hear first hand what it was like to trade school dances and pep rallies for cooking lessons in Thailand and cruising the Nile in Egypt! Lesley and Andrea agreed to let everyone at yaHighway in on their experience.

What was your favorite stop on the trip? (Feel free to list several, I know choosing is impossible!)

Lesley: Well, like you said, choosing is impossible. There's not a single place that I wouldn't want to go back to. But when I'm asked to choose I usually say Thailand. It was not as dirty as India was, but it still had the "no rules" kind of atmosphere that we had really liked in India. We got to meet some really cool people in the hill tribes and had a great time learning to scuba dive in the islands in the south.

Due to the friendly people and ease of getting around, Thailand would probably be my favorite stop along the way too. The opportunites to stay with hill tribe families and take scuba lessons definitely made a pretty good impression on the both of us too. India would probably be my runner up; after adjusting to the initial cultural shock, it was a really interesting place.

What was your scariest experience overseas?

Lesley: There never really was a time were I was really scared. Occasionally we'd have to watch out for pick pockets or people trying to scam us out of stuff, but we were always pretty aware of our surroundings and managed to stay out of any real trouble. Even when September 11th happened while we were in Germany, we always felt pretty safe.

Andrea: With the four of us keeping pretty aware the whole time of our surroundings, there never really was a problem with safety.

Where have you traveled since returning from that trip, and where do you plan on going in the future?

Since coming back from out trip we've also taken shorter vacations to Mexico, Peru, and Scotland. We've also done a little traveling around United States.

Andrea: The summer after my high school graduation, Lesley and I took our first trip on our own to Scotland for two weeks. Traveling without having everything planned out for us was a big change, but we managed to backpack our way around and have a great time.

What were your friends' reactions when you told them you were leaving? Your teachers?

Lesley: Most people didn't really believe us when we'd tell them we were 'taking a trip around the world.' They figured we were just going on some long vacation over the summer. Sometimes I'd just tell people I was moving to Europe for a year and leave it at that.

Andrea: Our teachers and friends never really believed us until we finally just packed up our house and left.
What was it like returning to school and suburban life after a year overseas? Was the transition difficult?

I had missed my freshman year of high school, so I never really bonded with the majority of my graduating class. I was involved in band, though, and another school program which made it easier to make new friends. Many of my old friends had moved on to new things and new friends though so it was a little hard to reconnect.

Andrea: I think I definitely had the most trouble adjusting again after the trip. I felt like I had seen so much more than all the other kids I went to school with and really just valued things in life differently. It took me probably the best part of a full year to feel like I could really relate with my peers again.

What are your current favorite books?

Lesley: Since even before we left on our trip I really liked the Harry Potter series. I still really like the books, but I don't read too much anymore.

Andrea: I really haven't had as much time to read anymore as I would like because of school, but my all time favorite book would have to be the Three Musketeers.

Any advice for teenagers interested in backpack traveling?

Lesley: Gor for it! It gives you such a broader perpective on other cultures and how good we really do have it here in the U.S. If you stay in hostels or smaller hotels and take local transportation it gives you an even better chance to meet some of the local people and see how they live. Some of the best food we ate was served from trolleys in train cars or from a stand on a street corner. Staying in those big American hotel chains just separates you from the people of the country you're visiting. And you meet lots of fun people at hostels anyway.

Andrea: I agree with Lesley, if there is any part of you that wants to get out and see the world, take advantage of it while you're still young and free. And if money is an issue, with a little bit of research, you would be surprised at how cheap you really can get around. Everyone is capable, it's just a matter of getting out there and doing it!

Thanks so much, Lesley and Andrea!

For more about the Fisher family's adventure, including tips on planning your own world trek, pick up the book and visit their website at

Michelle Schusterman

Michelle writes books for kids, screenplays for a tv/film production company, and music for anyone who'd buy a "groove matters" bumper sticker. She lives in New York City with her husband (and band mate) and their chocolate lab (who is more of a vocalist). She is the author of middle grade series I Heart Band - 2014, and The Kat Sinclair Files - 2015 (both from Grosset).

Posts by Michelle

website twitter

  • Blogger Comments
  • Facebook Comments


  1. Great interview, Michelle! And thanks Lesley and Andrea. That sounds like such an amazing experience.

  2. Wow!! What a fantastic opportunity for them.

  3. Awesome interview!!! Thanks so much, Lesley and Andrea! (And Michelle, for being a great interviewer. :D)

  4. I would give anything to travel around the world. You girls are amazing. For now, I have to satisfy myself with my mini-trips. Panama next month!

  5. What a fantastic adventure! I can't wait until my girls are a little older so that we can do the same sort of thing, too. Thanks, Lesley and Andrea - and I hope all your future excursions are as wonderful and enlightening.


Comments are moderated on posts two weeks old or more -- please send us a tweet if yours needs approval!

Item Reviewed: World Trek: An Interview With Lesley and Andrea Fisher Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Michelle Schusterman