Last September, I decided I was going to do it. I was going to take a trip around the world. I was going to take my kids. I was going to do it. I just had to figure out how.
Going around the world should be easy. With the internet and the ability to reserve almost anything online at any time, travel to foreign countries has become so much easier. I can’t imagine doing this 20 or 30 years ago. However, with the ability to do all of the things necessary to travel online, the pace of travel has also increased. A year seemed long enough when I first thought about it, and I was able to pace myself to do three things: 1. Sell my house 2. Sell about 75% of what I own 3. Book all the trains, planes and automobiles I would need for about 6 months out (at least) for the trip. It has been exciting and fun to make a list of what I wanted to see and do, and then actually go online and book it. Along the way, several things have changed in regards to the path of our travels and the timeline for our trip.
I started out having the task of deciding which way to go around the world. Start in California and fly west into Asia? Or fly east, and start in Europe? The more I thought about it, the more the answer became obvious to me. I would start in Europe for several reasons.
- I have lived in Europe before and I feel I would be competent in traveling with two kids to countries where I might not speak the language (Poland, Czech, Russia, etc.).
- The culture shock would not be as great for the boys (and myself) as traveling to Asia might be. I wanted to ease into the cultural differences and our culture is more European than Asian or African.
- Europe is more expensive and I wanted to make sure I could give the boys a basic foundation in European history, art and culture before the money ran out. Although Asia is cheaper and we might be able to travel longer, I really felt Europe was the place to start.
Once that decision was made, the rest has been planning countries, destinations and getting visas, shots, tours and tickets. I decided to start with Iceland and from there we would move to Europe (including parts of Russia) and then make our way down into Africa. From Africa we will hit a few countries in Europe we didn’t have time on the first go-around before our Schengen time ran out, and then head to Asia.
For those that don’t know, the Schengen area is comprised of 26 countries in Europe (not including the UK and Ireland) that have abolished border control for citizens of these countries and limited the amount of time others can spend in them. For US citizens, out of 180 days (which starts upon first entry into any Schengen Area country) you can only spend 90 days in the Schengen states. For us, that meant that my wish of travelling in Europe until we had seen every single thing we wanted to see was not going to happen in a consecutive manner. I was crushed at first, as I didn’t want to rush the trip just to make it through all the countries I wanted to visit. So, I changed my plans. Instead of spending 6 months lolling around Europe at leisure, we would spend 90 days doing what we could, then leave the Schengen states and go to the UK and Ireland. I didn’t want to spend the following 90 days only in the British Isles, so we would then head to Africa to spend several weeks in selected countries. After our 180 days was up, we could head back into the Schengen area and finish whatever countries we wanted to see. Hopefully this plan will work and we’ll get to see most of the countries of Europe that we want to.
More to come later…