When people hear about our trip plans, we get asked a lot of questions. Some of them seem to come up over and over, so here’s our FAQ. Feel free to ask us questions in the comments section and I’ll try to update them here.
Q: Are you staying in hotels for a whole year?
No. In any town that we’ll be in for a week or more, we plan to rent apartments. They’ll be more comfortable than a hotel room, plus we’ll be able to cook, do laundry, and all that other domestic stuff that saves money. Some places we’ll have to stay in hotels. In New Zealand we’ll be renting a camper van. We’re not too proud for couchsurfing a night here and there, so if you happen to live somewhere along our itinerary, we’ll gladly accept an invitation to crash at your place.
Q: Aren’t you a little old for hostels?
Yes. We’re not doing backpacker-hostel-ramen-noodle thing. We’re also not going to be able to afford 5 star hotels and concierge service anymore. I expect we’ll be staying in some pretty average places most of the time.
Q: What are you going to DO while you’re gone?
This is an interesting one because we’re not quite sure. While I love museums and cathedrals more than most people, there is a limit to how much history the human brain can process. Tours and attractions can be pretty expensive too. We’re planning on a lot of day hikes and local activities (think town concerts, markets, festivals). Just simple things like grocery shopping can take a lot longer when you’re in a different country. We want to slow the pace down to have time to read, go for walks, and sit on beaches, in parks and cafés. We also want to attend some local sporting events as a way to get a real flavor of the country – Rugby match in NZ? Aussie rules football? Cycling race in Italy? We’re so there. Finally, there’s wine tasting. It’s not by chance that our itinerary has some of the best wine producing regions of the world on it…Australia, NZ, Italy, Spain, France.
Q: Why aren’t you going to visit…
Africa or go on safari? This was a difficult call, but cutting it out of the trip vastly simplified the flight plans and knocked off quite a bit of the cost of the trip. We still want to do this someday, but will probably go as a separate trip. Maybe when we turn 50 we’ll go around again.
China? Russia? Insert my favorite vacation place here? There is just too much to see in the world! Our original plan from years ago had about twice the number of countries on it. We realized that we needed to cut down list of places and extend the time in each one to have any hope of really experiencing each place. So based on costs, visa requirements, flight routes, and lots of other intangibles, we started cutting down the list. Some places were just too expensive, some lend themselves better to visiting another time on a normal “2 week type” vacation, and some we just aren’t interested in anymore.
South America? Another difficult decision. Although we’ve been to Patagonia, we still want to see the Atacama desert, the rain forest and hike the Inca trail. It’s just too much to fit in one year. We’ll probably try to visit those places one at time on future vacations.
Q: What about your house, car, and all your stuff?
We’re putting everything in storage while we’re gone. Well, not everything…it’s actually been a good excuse to clean out the closets and garage and get rid of a lot of excess. We’ve sold quite a bit on eBay too – enough so far to buy a new digital camera for the trip.
We’re going to try to rent the house for as much of the year as possible. We’re probably going to use a management company to look after it and help handle the renters while we’re gone. If you know someone who is responsible, has good credit and no pets who wants to rent a place in the OC, send them our way!! (I know that responsible part leaves out some of my friends and family reading this, but call us anyway if you are interested.)
Q: How much is this going to cost?
I’ll let you know when we get back, but let’s just say we’ve been saving for a long time. Different sources say you can do this type of trip starting from about $10K, but there’s no upper limit. However, most of the 10K people are staying primarily in SE Asia, backpacking, and not visiting Europe. Our trip will be significantly more. ‘Nuf said.
Q: Are you booking flights all at once or making reservations as you go?
We booked RTW tickets that include nearly all of the long flight segments of the trip. It turned out to be much cheaper and it’s still fairly flexible because you can change the dates. Basically they allowed multiple flights within a continent, but you can’t return to a continent after you have left it. This wasn’t much of an issue for us except that we wanted to go back to New Zealand after Asia. For that part we used frequent flyer miles to book a separate ticket to/from Hong Kong and Auckland. For short segments within countries we’ll just buy them from the local carriers as we go.
Q: What are you going to do when you get back?
Good question, and one that we’ll think about when we get back (or maybe on the final flight home).