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  Sandy and John Bagan '92
  Sandy and John Bagan '92

Alumni Profile: John Bagan '92

Global sabbatical an education for John Bagan '92 and family

By Adrienne Murrill

For the Bagan family, a dream became reality when they embarked upon a 313-day family sabbatical.

Sandy and John Bagan '92 spent part of 2006 and 2007 on a global tour with their daughters, Colette (7) and Julia (10). As with a professional sabbatical, the Bagans set out to accomplish a goal, one that embraced experiences rather than possessions.

The main objective was to spend time together. "We thought that this experience would allow us stronger family relationships," John says. "We also wanted to see different parts of the world and give the kids an early education."

Inspired years ago by stories of families who took a similar trip, the idea stuck with John and Sandy and they planned their own. Last summer when Albertson's, the company where John was employed, was bought, it created the opportunity they needed. Says John: "We asked ourselves, 'When we're 80, would we regret not taking the trip, or not going right into the next job?'"

The answer was clear.

Putting together the trip was a journey in itself, with Sandy spending more than 40 hours on the phone arranging flight itineraries in addition to gathering materials for a home-school curriculum for their girls. The Bagans chose a ticket that allowed them to travel 34,000 miles with 15 stops that began in French Polynesia, took them throughout Asia and Europe, then to New York and Chicago before ending back in Boise this August. Sandy also used her background as a sales representative and approached Eagle Creek Luggage and Columbia Sportswear for sponsorships. "I contacted the vice president of marketing and explained what we were doing, and I asked if they'd sponsor us. They sent us $2,500 worth of clothing, coats and shoes," she says.

Another goal that they achieved was "doing it all safe, healthy, on time and in budget," John says. "We spent about two-thirds of our budget, and we were really able to economize on the variable expenses." Also along the way, the Bagans connected with several Class of 1992 alumni, including Ken Graves in Japan, Steve Werber in New York, and Mark Cozzi, Elaine Leung and Yuko Sugiyama in Chicago.

The global odyssey enabled each family member to gain insight about the world, themselves and each other. Julia and Colette were especially enriched by the sights, sounds and smells of new cultures, including their languages. "The world seems a lot bigger than I thought it was," Julia says. Colette saw that she could communicate without talking, by using gestures, toys and sharing emotions, all of which allowed her to connect with others throughout the trip.

Back in Boise life is returning to normal. The girls are in school, and John and Sandy are exploring their next career move. "We're going to try something entrepreneurial," John says, "and we collected ideas as we went around the world."

Although the trip is over, the Bagans will have the memories they kept in their journals and on the Web site forever. They are now using that content to write a book about their journey, which will be part travel narrative, part "how-to." "We had the kids draw pictures as we were traveling, so a children's book is another idea we have," Sandy says.

"It would be great to inspire other families," Sandy says. "We learned we could do it, and it was unbelievable."

For more photos and stories from the Bagans' trip, visit

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