Category: Travel Page 1 of 4

12 More Months!

We’re at that phase of summer vacation where “back to school” starts to put the pressure on. One last trip to the beach, one last visit or road trip, one last lazy day before the hustle and bustle of school.

This school year will be different though. I have a feeling that our sense of excitement for the trip will be ramping up. There may be a lot of “hurry up and get here already!” sentiments. Pressure about route planning, to-do lists, and logistics will also be ramping up as well.

This weekend we spent a lot of time looking at the trip and trying to finalize our route. I think we may finally have an optimal plan. Fingers crossed!

Our major “tent poles” haven’t changed. Visiting Japan, for example, will never come off our route. But we have gone back and forth over the first leg of our trip several times. Several, several, several times! ^_^

Here are some of the tools that we use to help make decisions:

Budget Your Trip – This site allows you to look up a destination and see the daily cost of living, average housing, food, transportation, and entertainment costs. We used the feature that shows the values in Canadian dollars and then used those numbers to make our own spreadsheet. That way we could see if we were on target for our total trip budget.

Numbeo – Another useful site to get an overall sense of the cost of living in each destination. We used the comparison feature to compare with our home city.

Flight Connections – This site is really helpful. Search for a city and then see a visual of what places the airport flies to and at what frequency. Click on a route and see a typical flight duration. Does Cairns, Australia have flights to Alice Springs, Singapore, or Tokyo for example?

Google Flights – The map is not as intuitive as Flight Connections, but the general prices for a given month help to quickly compare flight itineraries to see what might be faster and/or cheaper.

Skyscanner – We used this to get a overall sense of the price of airfare.

AirWander – This is useful tool to find stopovers that are worth checking out, or if you’ve made an optimal route. For example, Muscat, Oman to Cairo, Egypt shows several cities (like Amman, Jordan) as potential stopovers that would actually make the trip cheaper. It’s not perfect, but it’s worth checking out.

We look at travel blogs and YouTube accounts with skeptical eyes as many of them are sponsored. However, Lonely Planet and Expedia have some YouTube videos that give a nice and quick overview of different destinations. This was helpful for getting feedback from the kids.

Okay, drum roll please, here is our current plan for our round the world trip:

Canada > Mexico City > Lima, Peru > Buenos Aires, Argentina > Auckland, New Zealand > Sydney, Australia > Alice Springs, Australia > Cairns, Australia > Tokyo, Japan > Seoul, South Korea > Singapore / Kuala Lumpur > Bangkok, Thailand > Katmandu, Nepal > Muscat, Oman > Amman, Jordan > Cairo, Egypt > Athens, Greece > Rome, Italy > Munich, Germany > Paris, France > London, UK > Back Home!

Should take about 190 days ^_^

16 Months To Go

April has sped by like a Shinkansen. Let’s check-in, shall we?

  • We had our initial meeting with our new lawyer. We’re finalizing our new wills later this week.
  • We got our new credit card in the mail (1.5% cash-back on international purchases).
  • Sadly removed Sri Lanka from our wish list due to the Easter bombings.
  • We talked with the oldest kid’s school about the school board’s “Reach Ahead” program so that he can start grade 9 online courses in grade 8. We really liked the sound of the online courses TVO / ILC provides. The first talk with the guidance counselor ended with a “no.” We’re hoping to meet with the principal later? If it doesn’t work out we may just homeschool over the grade 8 year and do it ourselves. Hack your education!
  • I really enjoyed this video from Max Joseph about how to read more books in your lifetime. Lots of sweet bookstore eye candy here!
  • I am also very excited about this Fug Girl’s Guide to London.
 Livraria Lello, bookstore in Portugal.
Livraria Lello in Portugal. One of the “top bookstores” in the world and a famous writing location / inspiration for JK Rowling.

Dangers of Ocean Travel

We had seriously considered crossing the Pacific by ship but ended up changing our route. Man, am I sooo glad we did!

I was watching Youtube with the boy the other day and sat through the following while experiencing absolute terror.

Oh my heavens, rogue waves are bloody terrifying!

Checklist check-in

We are one and a half school years away from our trip (I like to think of it in terms of grade school years, helps to keep things orderly).

We are trying to knock some of the easy stuff on our checklist out of the way this season:

  • Finalize spreadsheet of home budget and travel budgets.
  • Switch any lingering bills to paperless billing.
  • Update wills.
  • Apply for travel friendly credit cards. No extra fees for us!
  • Transfer some of our savings to our US bank account, save Canadian $ from further rate drop.
  • We were going to get a 52-page passport but they actually don’t make those anymore. We looked into where the different Canadian embassies are around the world. It shouldn’t be a problem to get new ones when start to run out of pages. Some places might be quite pleasant to wait for the passport to arrive!
  • JBot has been backing up our back-ups and doing things with our cloud that I don’t understand ^_^ I think the idea is to move to a VPS (virtual private server).
  • The kids have been doing skating lessons this winter. We’ll continue swim lessons when the weather warms up.

And that’s pretty much it for this year. Some things just need to wait until we are closer to departure. Vaccines, visas, travel insurance, and a good-bye party won’t happen until 2020.

Until then, we’ll keep reviewing our destination plans and dreaming of THE YEAR OF NO WINTER! WOOOOO!

Around the World with the Richter De Medeiros Family

The podcast, “This Must be the Place” had a great interview with Rodrigo De Medeiros in 2016 concerning his family traveling to 13 countries in 11 months. There are some great tidbits in this interview that make it worth the listen (it’s 45 minutes). There are some very familiar things for our family’s planning as well — like buying a map at the start of it all and simply marking off all of the places we’d like to go (and potentially needing Scotch to handle anxiety during the travel!). They mainly stayed in the Americas, Africa and Europe, while my family will be making Asia as a priority.

The Richter de Medeiros family also has their own website if you want to get a bit more about this family. what they saw and what they’ve learned: Learn. Live. Travel.

The Reality of Route Planning Whilst Living In Reality

Rather like juggling too many things that keep changes shapes on you!

We’ve gone through, what, five different route “plans” in the past four months? We have always had family consensus on the places that we are most excited to see. Japan, for example, South Korea, Hobbiton. But our planned route to get to these places has been changing A LOT recently. And I am not sure if it will ever stop changing leading up to our departure date.

I will happily add new stops when we find something cool and exciting! Our son suggested that we attempt to visit five continents and, after careful planning, we are excited to add Buenos Aires to our plans. However, an increase in terrorist activity or violence that targets tourists will quickly cause us to go back to the planning boards once again. Say good-bye to ancient Egypt. Good-bye China.

We also considered a cruise across the Pacific from the west coast of North America to arrive at New Zealand. After visiting an expo run by Expedia on cruise ships we quickly realized that that travel experience is really not geared towards families and children. I mean, sure, a chance to visit tropical paradises like Hawaii or Fiji sounded amazing! But we can save those experiences for later in life and use our time and money more wisely for this family adventure.

So, back to continual juggling! Onwards!

(When researching cruise ships as an alternate means to cross oceans I found this video from Dylan Magaster helpful)

Money While Travelling

One of the concerns we’ve had while traveling is how to safely carry money and pay for things.  Looking into it, I think we’ve decided on a few rules:

  1. Pay everything with a credit card, which not only gives you peace of mind if it’s stolen, but also gets points you can use during the trip itself.
  2. Speaking of credit cards, we’re thinking of having two – an American Express Gold for  hotels and flights, since AMEX has always been great for travel insurance and other services, as well as a MasterCard or Visa.  Having a backup in the hotel/in your luggage will come in handy if your primary is ever lost or stolen.
  3. And speaking of getting stolen, we’re going to save our primary funds in a high interest savings account and only move a bit at a time into a chequing account so that if, heaven forbid, our card is skimmed or stolen, the thief can only get so much from the ATM.  We’re thinking of moving to HSBC for the trip since they’ll have ATMs in most of the places we’ll be visiting (to avoid withdrawal fees), though there ARE Canadian banks in some major foreign cities…  so maybe laziness will win out for this point.
  4. Mega Mommy also has a U.S. based account for her work, so we’ll actually have a third account specifically for emergency purposes.
  5. Some places we’ll be visiting will be cash only, and our bank will always offer a better conversion than currency converter kiosks.

There are a few websites we’ve found to try to get the most points and best credit cards for our travel.  They include:

One of the common recommendations we’ve seen is to get a good travel card where the first year’s fees are waived, then ditching the card when the travel is done.  Considering some of those fees can be ridiculously high for the average folk, I’ll be keeping my eyes open when the time comes.  (Though, in the end, a $250 year fee for something that offers amazing perks and peace of mind during  $100,000 trip is worth it).

How to Avoid Single-Use Plastic When Traveling

A helpful video from the National Geographic channel. Food for thought(but in a reusable container)!

Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid

atlas-obscura-kids

Wow! This one looks great! (Available in the fall)

Retired Grandparents Ditch Mortgage for Life at Sea

A fun little video from Alternative Living Spaces (Season 6, Episode 12).  This is one heck of a way to enjoy your retirement.

 

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