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. 


Glen Farrelly said...

Excellent itinerary! Seems like a lot for even one year though. I guess you'll be on the move a lot, rather than planting yourself in locations for extended periods.

Good idea leaving off the travel destinations that are more accessible when you're old. I did too many of the easy trips, and now I'm already too old for some of your destinations.

Best of luck!!!

liz & adrian said...

Thanks Glen.

I am totally worried about trying to do to much. That's why I've not planned anything beyond India. I figure that's just over a year on the road anyway.

We'll definitely be moving a lot - and quite a few of the countries in Africa we're just transiting through. My hope is that we can have one great experience in each country we visit (rather than travel through) - like easter island in Chile, gorillas in Uganda, carnivale in rio, annapura trek around everest in Nepal.

And pshaw, you're too old. Age is a mental state. If Adrian and I are going somewhere anybody can go. We're not the most physically fit people or even that adventurous. You and Jen love to travel - feed the passion.

Save up and meet Adrian and I on the road somewhere - with Nora of course.

Ant said...

I love your blog, can't wait for your dreams to come true. A few quick tips. Whilst I was on the Trans-Mongolian railway, I was told if I'd bought the ticket in Moscow (instead of through the net) I would of got it half price £150 ($300). I can't vouch too much for this, as obviously I didn't put it into practice.

Also, if Tibet is open when you're in the region then a great place to get the permits is Sim's Cozy Guesthouse in Chengdu. Allow a few days, but it's totally hassle free and my secondary advice on this, is don't go overboard on Google research for the Tibet leg, as you will be struck with fear from the naysayers. If it's open, Sim will get you there no bother.

liz & adrian said...

thanks ant for the compliments and the tips. I think our train ticket will be considerably more since we're going to stop at a few points along the way.

i have to say I'm a huge fan of your blog. honestly, truly, really. perhaps we'll cross paths in this great big world.