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Vijil Family Epic Travel Adventure

Getting Closer T-4 Months

USA | Tuesday, 7 October 2014 | Views [272]

Time is flying and it's hard to believe that we are less than 4 months away from departing on our crazy adventure.

As we have been digging into planning/itineraries/locations/methods of travel, we have learned quite a lot.  First off, our original plan of "flying by the seat of our pants" has pretty much been abandoned.  As much as I love the idea of being free to go where we want, when we want, it's not as easy as it sounds.  Between Visas, plane tickets, tour arrangements, and providing an itinerary to our family back home, we have decided that we will be better off planning each leg of the trip prior to our departure.

The first big decision was whether to use a "RTW plane ticket" or to open-end the tickets.  Ultimately, we decided to go with open-ended (one way) tickets to avoid any backtracking.  We like to think that we are pretty proficient in navigating our way around locations and using public transportation, so we are going to start in one part of most countries and depart from another.  Another big decision has been where to stay.  Hotels are expensive, hostels are not much cheaper for 3 people (especially with a child), and we don't have much extra cash to spend.  Thankfully, my job over the past few years has included quite a bit of travel, so we are able to get about 2 months worth of free hotel stays using travel/credit card points.  Although we won't exactly get a local experience staying in these hotels all over the world, we will definitly appreciate the chance to get in a hotel a couple of days every few weeks to sleep in a nice bed and enjoy the pool.  Much of the rest of the time, we are going to be camping.  Our time spent in Australia and Europe will be primarily in our REI Quarter Dome T-3 tent.  It's close quarters, but Europe has a very developed camping system and it will save us loads of money in the long run.  In the rest of the locations where we either don't have hotel points and are not really wanting to camp, we are trying to use AirBnB to find local accomadations. 

The third big question was whether to do our own planning or use a travel company...this ultimately came down to the cost.  We are planning all of our own excursions, travel, transportation and lodging except in Africa.  We decided that give the environment, there are too many variables to maneuvering Africa on our own.  Through the African Budget Safari company, we were able to arrange a 42 day overland (a.k.a. riding in a bus and camping) safari from South Africa to Kenya that hits most of the highlights.

Now that we have made (some) of the big decisions, the booking has begun!!  We have locked in a departure date of February 1st leaving from the Big Island of Hawaii.  We will spend a week there with my mom before heading to Australia for 2 weeks.  We plan to spend a week in Sydney and then another week in Cairnes where we are going to see the Great Barrier Reef (and crossing our fingers that Hayden does better snorkeling there than in the Bahamas!!)  After Australia, we make our way up to Toyko, Japan for a week and then to Osaka/Kyoto for another week.  At the beginning on March, we make our way to China beginning in Shanghai and working our way around the country for about 5 weeks.  There are so many things to see that we have had to cut out some cities and it still feels too fast (may need to do some more cuts).  As is stands now, we plan to spend 5 days in Shanghai, 5 days in Beijing, 5 days in Xi'an, 3 days each in Chengdu, Kunming, Jiuzhaigou, Guilin, and another 5 days in Hong Kong.  Travel around China by train can take up to 24 hours to get from location to location, so we have a few days planned for that as well.  After China, we will move on to SE Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand) for a month and then be off to South Africa to relax in Cape Town for a week or so before departing on our Safari.  The Safari will take us from Cape Town, South Africa through Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, and into Nairobi, Kenya.

Following the Safari, we are spending 2 weeks in Egypt and then flying to Greece to spend the last 3 months traveling by train around Europe.  The 3 month global Eurail pass and our tent will give us the freedom to keep our plans open and go where the wind takes us.  I'm very much looking forward to this part of the trip!  Then, on October 6th, we board the Norweigian Star to head back to Tampa, FL on a 13 day Transatlantic Cruise.  I'm kind of depressed to think that exactly a year from now, we will be finishing our trip and coming back to the real world.

Tags: planning, rtw family, rtw transportation, world travel

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