Oh, the places we will go
In order to travel round the world it is usually necessary to have a plan; or at least a compass bearing in which way to circle the globe. I guess someone could, and probably has, aimlessly wandered from place to place and eventually made a loop. When we travel we are more of the point A to point B type of people with a noncommittal for points C and D. That is, we generally know where we are (most important!) and where we will be heading next, and have a pretty good idea of where we will go after that. But, we may alter our plans and go somewhere else or find someplace we like along the way and stay there. With travel, you must be flexible. Over planning will just give you a headache and you may miss something along the way.
So, here we are, about 9 months away from launching out of our careers and comfort zone and into the unknown world. Do we have a plan? Of course we do! Our plan is to head east. When planning the rough itinerary for our round the world (RTW) trip we chose all of the places that we have always dreamt of visiting, and then played connect-the-dots. We have always wanted to visit Europe and it seems like the easiest transition from American life to the life of full time travel, but at a price. Western Europe is expensive! So, it seems there is no better way than to test the waters, and our budgeting skills, than to start our adventure in Western Europe and leave the more exotic places for our second year of travel when we will be a bit more seasoned.
So, here is our rough itinerary (subject to change):
Month 1: Paris France
Ahh, Paris (pronounced Pear-ee.) The city of unshaven women, starving artists, and dog poop on the sidewalks; what a great place to start! It’s also home to an art museum and tower featured in the hit comedy National Lampoon’s European Vacation. I wonder if I should buy us all matching berets to help us blend in. Actually, Paris will be a great introduction to Europe. It has plenty of somewhat affordable apartment rentals in the off-season, great food, a great place for photography, and enough museums to keep us busy for the whole month. I just hope we don’t burn out our daughter Sydney on visiting museums. We are also hoping to sign up for cooking classes at the famous Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Art School and learn the art of cooking frog legs and snails… or maybe a nice pastry.
Month 2: French Riviera or Southern France
See, already we are leaving it open as where to go. This decision will really depend on the time of year when we will be arriving, which should be October or November if all goes as planned. We know little about either place, but why decide now when we can decide later, right? We will need to check climate and what there is to do in these areas before pinpointing a city to stay in. But whatever we choose, it should be awesome!
Month 3: Spain. The land of tapas and bull fights!
This will be the final month of our 90-day Schengen visa that allows us to travel in most of Western Europe. Since it will be winter at this time, we plan to head south. Once again we are not sure where we will stay, but we would like to visit Barcelona and whatever else we can find as we make our way south and out of Spain before our visa expires.
Month 4: Gibraltar and Morocco
Once we leave the Schengen area we must be out for 90 days before we can enter for another 90-day visa. Gibraltar is part of the United Kingdom (UK) and is therefore outside the Schengen area and is also located at the southern tip of Spain. Perfect! We do not know how expensive it would be to stay in Gibraltar, so if it turns out to be expensive we will not stay long and take a ferry across to northern Africa and visit Morocco. And once again, we have no idea where we will stay or what we will do in Morocco, but we really want to visit. So, we have a whole month to figure out where to stay between Gibraltar and Morocco.
Month 5: Ireland
You can’t go on a round the world trip without stopping in Ireland for a pint of Guinness. So, that’s our plan. We would also like to visit Northern Ireland where the Guinness is said to be colder.
Month 6: England
We visited England 11 years ago, and other than the food, we really enjoyed it. Everyone thought we were Norwegian, which we still think was very odd. But the people were really friendly, and the sites were amazing. There is so much more to see, so we are coming back!
Month 7: Dash Across Europe
At this point it should have been 90 days outside of the Schengen area so we will take a ferry from England to Belgium where we should have another 90-day visa to tour Europe. We will then go to the Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland ($$$), and then make our way towards the pizza capital of the world.
Month 8: Italy
We think Italy needs more than a month, but we will do the best we can to see what we can. Since our time is limited we will probably rent a place near Rome and take day trips to take in the highlights. I am getting hungry just thinking about all of the wonderful food we will eat there.
Month 9: Greece
Once again we have no idea where we will be staying. But, it will be fantastic! Greece is one of those far off places that was the stage for so much of the world’s great history. This will be our final stop in the Schengen area before our visa expires again.
Month 10-11: Turkey
We will most likely take a ferry from one of the Greek Islands to the mainland of Turkey, a country outside the Schengen area. We will then stay a month in Istanbul and a month along the Mediterranean coast, or vice versa. We just hope that we do not buy too many Turkish rugs while staying there. Turkey is said to have better food and more historic places than Greece.
Month 12: Israel and Egypt
Because of tensions in Syria and lack of ferry service, we will be flying from Turkey to Israel, as long as Israel is politically stable. We would really like to visit Lebanon, as well, but we are not sure if we can add that one in due to keeping a budget. After our visit in the Middle East we will head down to Egypt where we will visit the pyramids outside Cairo and then head to Luxor to see the Valley of the Kings. I have heard that Egypt is expensive, so if that is really the case we will not stay too long… unless we like it.
Month 13+: India with maybe a pit stop in Dubai
Since Dubai in the United Arab Emirates is on the way to India, I would not mind stopping for a couple of days to see the city. Also, I heard they have the world’s best water park. Score! If we survive this far without getting killed, imprisoned, or going broke, we will start our second year of traveling with a month or so in India. Honestly, I have an absolute fear of India. I have heard that you WILL get a stomach bug there. And if that doesn’t kill you, the malaria will. Lovely! But, the people, the culture, and the sites are not to be missed. I wonder if I can survive on granola bars for a month. And if we survive the first month, we may stay longer.
Month 14+: Thailand
US citizens are only allowed a 30-day visa per visit, but we would probably like to get an extension. Thailand is supposed to be amazing and really cheap. There can be nothing wrong with a place that has Thai food!
Month 15+: Cambodia and Vietnam
Cambodia’s Angkor Wat is high on our list of places to visit, but the US State Department warns of crime and violence in Cambodia. Of course, they say the same for Mexico and that does not stop us from visiting that country. So, the amount of time we stay and where we stay will be dependent on how safe we feel. And if we can get a visa, we would like to visit Vietnam. The length of stay there depends on if we can even get a, visa.
Month 16+: Malaysia
Saw it on the map, must stop there. Actually, Singapore looks like a great city to explore.
Month 17+: Indonesia
Other than Bali, we know little about Indonesia. All the better to stop and learn about this country.
Month 18-20+: Australia
Australia takes up a whole continent, so we must stay at least two months to see it all. Plus, they allow US citizens to stay up to 6 months. I just wished they did not have the most poisonous critters on the planet. Yikes!
Month 20-21: New Zealand
Since we are near Australia, we might as well stop off in New Zealand for a month or two and taste some fresh lamb.
Month 22-24+: South Pacific
What a better place to end a round the world trip. In fact, I plan to seriously find a way for us to extend this part of the trip as long as legally possible. The stop after this is back to the US, and who wants a trip like this to ever end? Or maybe we will be homesick and really wanting to get back to having 8-5 jobs again in corporate America. Of course, if we have any money left there is always South America…
Now that’s an itinerary! You’re so much more organized than we were. Turkey is wonderful and I’m glad you’ve allotted 2 months for it.
But don’t you dare granola-bar your way through India! 😉
Speaking from experience, you might very well find yourself not wanting to return to cubicle life afterward. I’d factor that in now (if you haven’t already) and keep some extra $$$ set aside for lifestyle flexibility when you return.
Brilliant itinerary. Sydney will remember this trip forever. Thanks for sharing.
I’m already planning on not returning to cubicle life. I’m hoping to find a business venture somewhere in the world that will provide an income for us while keeping me out of a cubicle. Just say no to cubicles!
Way to go! I guessed you might be on top of that one…
Brock - Backpack With Brock says
It’s so exciting to begin planning a new adventure! Hopefully the wait until you leave isn’t too painful.
It is exciting! We so want to go right this second, but we know we can travel longer if we do it as planned and continue saving. Plus, we still have so much to do… like get rid of a house, car, SUV, motorcycle, tent trailer, and a whole house full of stuff. Less stuff, more travel!
Its sounds a very exciting trip. Wish i could also go on a trip like this. But way to go guys. Have lots of fun.
Thanks Pooja. We are hoping it will be fun.
Oh my goodness – JUST MAGICAL!!! You daughter will become such an intelligent girl as she grows from all of this experience. Museums in PAREE!!! Wonderful!
Lots of love & happiness to the entire family!
Greg and I travel in a very similar way. We know where we are (Australia), where we’re headed (Bali!!) and where we’ll probably go after that (Singapore), but beyond a few weeks from now, we have no definite idea where we will be and no reservations made. We managed to sail from California to Mexico and across the South Pacific, and had an absolutely amazing time. When you see something great, you stay a bit longer. If it turns out you don’t like it, you leave early! It’s an awesome way to travel!
This will be the best time of your life! My husband and I took a year off to travel with our 3 children. We feel it was the best gift we could give them. We live humbly, use home exchanges and save our money like mad. We are doing it all over again next year. Have a wonderful time and good luck.
Hi Trisha, we are really looking forward to our trip. Our daughter is growing up so fast that it will be great to spend quality time with her before she is all grown up. Where are you guys planning on going this time around?
Melissa - The Mellyboo Project says
Wow! Incredible itinerary. I love that you’re not just doing a whirlwind stop in each place, but planning to stop for a month (or months) at a time. I commend you. You are going to be giving your daughter the most incredible experience of her life! Best parents ever! I look forward to reading your stories!
Thanks, Melissa! We have done the whirlwind method of travel where you are constantly on the go. Not only do you miss out on things, but it costs a lot more to travel that way. Slow travel is cheaper and will really let us live like the locals get a true experience of the culture.
Melissa - The Mellyboo Project says
And that’s exactly why I’ve opted for it for most of my travels as well 🙂
I have always wanted to do this, and in the past few weeks have become very aware of several families that actually are doing this! I am fascinated!
Just a couple questions – How are you budgeting? A certain amount per month? Do you have a budget for the entire 2 years? Do you have a way to have on going income or just savings?
I dont mean to get personal, just really want to figure out how (seemingly normal) families are able to do this…
I want to get started planning right away! Whats my first step?
Thanks So much!
We are budgeting $100 a day average, for 2 years. This includes transportation, lodging, food, health insurance, and everything else! I will be writing an article about our budget later this week and discussing how we are planning to actually do it for that amount.
We saved and planed for over 5 years before beginning our adventure. With proper planning and a commitment to saving money, long term travel is doable for everyone!
We live in West Linn and are enjoying following your travels. Kudos to you for having the guts to do it. It’s a blessing to travel with a child that is so interested in learning new things. She will open many doors along the way.
Did you buy RTW tickets for your trip or are you booking each leg separately? What kind of travel health insurance did you choose? We love to hear about the details of planning! Good luck and have fun!
I came across the site looking unlocked phones. Thanks for your input. I thought I would extend a hand and let you know about where I live in India. It is called Sadhana Forest and it is a volunteer run reforestation community. It is free to stay here though those who can afford to contribute to their food (organic and vegan). This is about $5 a day for an adult.
That description really tells you nothing about us because we are actually so much more. Partially, we are a place for families. The best thing to do is a little of your own research. There are numerous blogs, videos and more which will offer unbiased opinions (my opinion is askew because I call it home) but I think the 1000+ volunteers a year and 1000’s of guests speak for us. We also have another community in Haiti and one in the works for Kenya.
In all honesty (and I realize I say that without knowing one and other), this place is unique to the world, a dream for kids and just what a lot of people form Portland have been looking for.
Either way, I wish you well on your travels. Perhaps we’ll meet in the coming years.
Lea Hermanus says
Wow, this is amazing! I probably will do something similar (only shorter time) with my son. Right now can only afford 2 overseas trips in a year, which is not bad so far. Good luck with all these great plans, please do visit Bali and enjoy the island!!
Thanks, Lea! We do look forward to visiting Bali. Where are you planning to travel to with your son?
Hi Jason, he’s not even 4, so I will have to wait until he’s 8 or around that age. Maybe will take only 1 or max 2 months trip during his school holiday, not very sure where I’m gonna take him. For that length of time, we might visit Europe as I myself have never been there. At the moment I can only take him to kids-friendly countries such as Singapore or Hongkong, but we do visit Bali very often. Lovely place!!
I just found your blog via the vagabond families site – I’m enjoying reading some of your great blogs. I’m impressed with your budget (and how well you’ve tracked it!) and love Sydney’s Corner. You’re in our home country at the moment… We’re a family of 5 travelling for 2 years too, with an 8 year old daughter who I know will enjoy reading Sydney’s adventures too and want to drop her a line (we’ve a 10 yo and 5 yo too) We’ve been travelling for 11 months going west! After 9 months in S America, we’re 6 weeks into our journey across the pacific although a bit behind on our blog. Its been fabulous – make sure you don’t run out of time for that last leg. I read of another family who recently took a repositioning cruise from Sydney to Hawaii stopping at alot of great places – thats another option. I’ll be following your blog, please drop by ours and maybe our paths will cross somewhere along the way:)
It’s so inspiring to find this website! We’ve always wanted to travel around the world and this time we’ve set a goal to do it in 2 years when our kids are older. I’ll be following your blog! 🙂
Jessica Rosenstiel says
Wow, this is so admirable!
I love that you decided to start this bcuz of your daughter! I am a 23 year old spanish girl, foreign parents (Colombia and Germany), travelled so much too and realized this is the only way to really start understanding the world and to learn about life.
Cheers for you 3!