Sunday, July 6, 2008

Answering the question: So where are you going?

Recently, we've started telling people about the trip. Not just casually mentioning "ya, I'd like to travel the world someday" but "we're leaving in November and we're not coming back, are you going to miss us". After the slack-jawed shock wears off, invariably, the first question is where are you going?

If money weren't an issue, the answer would be where aren't we going. But this is real life. And time and money are an issue. 

Although we've always wanted to see the world, the Big Trip™ became a real goal just over a year ago. We were chatting about where to go for our next little trip, and I said it was time for us to hit Africa again. However, air fares for Tanzania were about $2500 each or $1700 if we flew to London and then hooked up with a charter of some sort. But with only two weeks vacation time available that was too much money or too little time to make the trip worthwhile. 

Doing a little more digging at Airtreks, I discovered that you could get a RTW ticket from $1600 (albeit with a generic route London, Bangkok, Sydney, New York). Wow around the world for $1000 less. And then I noticed their trip planner tool. 5 hours of playing out dream scenario after dream scenario and seeing a total that was only $5000 I was in love. I knew that we had to go RTW and we had to do it now. 

Of course, nothing is that simple. After figuring out the financial plan, we had to adjust the time frame. But once we were well on our way to getting the money together, we started the "where do we go" discussion. Actually negotiation is a better phrase. We both like to travel, but our lists don't always match. Previously, we alternated picking trips. Adrian's choices were Tunisia, Cuba, Peru, and most of the US destinations. I picked Gambia, Buenos Aires, Cambodia, and India. But now we'd have to combine dream destinations. 

We each made lists of must sees. 
Mine: Africa, Russia, and China
Adrian: Brazil, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, Italy and Egypt. 

Combine these lists and you'll see that this is 6 continents (including Canada) and a lot of miles. This makes it the most expensive RTW itinerary and not really feasible. So the first to go were Australia and New Zealand. Too far and too expensive and easy to do when you're older. The next to go Italy. Too expensive and easy to do when we're living in the UK. This left us with South America, Africa, Russia, Asia, which is slightly more manageable. 

The next step is how to go. I looked at Air Treks and then to stretch the airmiles I looked at Oneworld and Staralliance. Using Staralliance, was the best bet. They fly from South America to Africa and we already have 50,000 airmiles with them. Using their trip planner helped us establish a rough itinerary.
  • Toronto to Santiago 
  • Overland to Sao Paolo. (via Chile, Bolivia, Argentina Paraguay and Brazil) 
  • Sao Paolo to Johannesburg.
  • Overland Johannesburg to Egypt. (via South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia, Egypt, Jordan) 
  • Egypt to the UK for a visit with Adrian's family. 
  • UK to St. Petersberg overland to Beijing via the Transmongolian. (stopping along the way in Russia and Mongolia) 
  • Overland to India. (taking in China, Tibet, Nepal and Northern India).
  • Calcutta to Bangkok
  • Overland South East Asia (Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia - still not sure where)
  • Singapore to Tokyo
  • Tokyo to Toronto
Phew, that was a mouthful. Hope you're still with us. Of course this is all subject to change - so don't get married to anything (that was more a note to me than to you). Already we're looking at the finances and we may have to drop off everything after India. Or simplify Africa. But at this exact moment the map on the right there shows are desired route from Santiago to Calcutta. 

In order to catch good weather in all the locations (nothing that requires a winter coat) we have to leave by mid-November. Or change it completely. (the qualifiers come out once again)

This is the plan. But no tickets are booked yet. At the moment, we're planning to buy along the way. But that could change too. 

Now when you ask "So where are you going?" I think I have an answer. Although it comes with a huge asterisk. Because you can plan all you want but life can always throw you a real curve ball. 

Saturday, July 5, 2008

I know this city like the back of my hand. Hey what's that there?

I love Toronto. I really do. However, my heart is set on living in England once we've travelled around the world. 

But before we leave this city, we thought it was important to try and see as much of it as possible. Sure there's the philosophical reason: experience your own country before you experience others. But there's also the economic reason: it's cheap. 

Since we're saving for the Big Trip™ free has become our favourite word. And we've discovered that Toronto has a plethora of free stuff to do. 

There's lots of other stuff that we're looking at doing, like Frommer's self-guided tours, Afrofest, Masala Mendhi Masti, all the Taste of festivals, more walking tours. So we scour the listings in NOW for fun free things. Never mind, the pay what you can events like Shakespeare in the Park. 

The only downside is the more we see the more we realize that we'll miss this city when we're gone. 

In the words of Pepe Le Pew, le sigh.

I guess it's time for an update. Adrian did indeed find another contract and the savings continue. However, I've started purchasing gear for the trip (fancy camera, laptop, etc) so there's no big jump since the last update.

So where are we now?

location: Toronto
savings: $22,100
ETD: November 15, 2008