Friday, May 11, 2012

Do's, Don'ts and Favorites

OK so I guess this is a wrap up of our travel blog (boo hoo!)  I wanted to give some advice for others interested in undertaking a similar odyssey and share our favorite places for those contemplating a more traditional trip.

New Favorite Places - Top Picks from our Trip

Prague, Czech Republic
The Serengeti, Tanzania
Cape Town, South Africa
Sydney, Australia
Hoi Ann, Hanoi and Halong Bay, Vietnam
The North Island, New Zealand
Easter Island

Old Favorites that were still great

Paris, France
London, England
Heidelberg, Germany
Rome, Italy
Santorini, Greece

Places we wish we'd gotten to see

Barcelona, Spain
St. Petersburg, Russia
Machu Picchu, Peru
Istanbul, Turkey
Luxor and Aswan, Egypt
The Great Barrier Reef
The Panama Canal
The South Island, New Zealand

Places we could have done without:

Madrid and Valencia, Spain
Vientiane, Laos
Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam
Bucharest, Romania
Fez and or Marrakesh, Morocco (one was good, didn't need both)

Regarding what to take on an around the world trip, here is a list of things we used regularly and were happy that we had:

High Quality Backpacks
Charles Schwab ATM card (no fees anywhere EVER!)
Back up debit/credit cards
Student IDs (including mine, accepted lots of places)
Sleeping pills (Ambien, worth its weight in gold)
Motion sickness patches
Travel underwear (yes they proved sturdier than the regular kind)
2 laptops, 2 iphones, 2 ipods, 1 ipad and a Kindle (yes really - we used them ALL every day)
Digital camera and a back-up hard drive
Electricity adapters
A cover/rechargeable battery for Mark's cell phone
Travel sewing kit (I can't even count the number of times)
Hats/bathing suits/flip flops/sunglasses
Small first aid kit
Laundry Line
Travel Woolite Packs (and when those ran out just carrying clothing detergent in plastic baggies worked even better)
Toenail clippers
Elastic Headbands
Hair Dye (for yours truly)
Leatherman knife with scissors and corkscrew
Salt n Pepper

Things we took and didn't use/need:

Two way radios
Excessive amounts of bug spray
Kids travel clothes (let them take what they are comfortable in)
Jackets (too heavy and worn too infrequently - we gave them away)
Ear Plugs
Electricity Converter
Money pouch designed to wear under clothing
Water chlorinating tablets

In general - things I'd do differently if I had to do it again:

Take less stuff
Go home for Christmas
Set up more volunteer opportunities from home (this proved difficult on the road)
Itinerary (fewer islands, more cities)
The kids taking classes online (I wish I had made the effort to design a trip specific curriculum in World History and Literature and home-schooled them.  Admittedly this would have taken a lot of time but would have been worth the effort.)

Things we did right:

Just going!
Keeping a blog/taking lots of pics
Procuring last minute discount accommodations on and
A route that avoided winter
Having people meet us
Our no souvenirs policy "We are experiencing not acquiring."
Itinerary (3-7 days in each spot and 9 months versus 12, also keeping things flexible)
Tossing stuff when we no longer needed it (freeing)
Budget (Grand total cost of the 9 month trip $124,000 - or $31,000 per person.)

and finally - What the kids learned, as in "It's an EDUcation not a vacation."

The value of a dollar (the change in their perception was HUGE)
That Southern California is not the center of the universe (um yes they really thought that)
How to be less materialist and dependent upon stuff
That they can live any life they choose - their horizons were broadened
About man's inhumanity to man
That they are truly blessed

So . . . . .  unless I get another wild hair, this is the sign off to our Round-the-World blog.  We are nearing 10,000 hits, and I want to thank all of you who have been reading it!  It was an amazing trip, and we were all both proud of and humbled by our experience.

I am happy to answer any questions anyone might have or provide advice as needed to others considering an extended trip.  You can reach me at