Before we told people we had plans to travel for months around the world with our girls, there were lots of questions...
"Where are you moving to?"
"Which university will you attend after graduation?"
"Are you not going to miss Dubai?"
"When will you start your own company?"
After we told people we had plans to travel for months around the world with our girls, there were even more questions...
"What about the girls' school?"
"Where are you travelling to?"
"Are you not scared?"
"How on earth are you going to pack everything in one bag?"
It's only natural for people to have questions - after all, it's not every day that families move continents, or travel for months, or don't even know where their next home will be.... Or is it?
Years before - in 2011 to be precise - I started reading all sorts of blogs and later Instagram posts of families who where doing exactly that. Road schooling, travelling in vans, exploring during school holidays, moving to different continents - we were definitely not unusual or different. Not even brave or adventurous. Well, at least not in my eyes... I guess we had already done so many 'different, brave and adventurous' things these past 14 years, that travelling with a bag pack and our girls didn't seem daunting to me or Daniel.
Following your heart and planning it financially is a great feeling, once you are doing it. And to be clear, no - we are not rich. Yes, this is also a question (or better said, statement) we have encountered in different ways. For a trip this big we had saved money and the year before we left, instead of buying yet another t-shirt or something we did not need, we simply didn't. That money, how small it may be, was better spend on part of a plane ticket. Even small amounts of money can make the difference between leaving earlier or staying just a little longer. Experience over material things - that was our motivation and I'm glad we both agreed on that.
The whole before part can be very enlightening. I will share our packing plans before we left in a separate post. Let me start first with sharing how we planned this trip.
For us, deciding to make a big trip around the world was easier then to decide which countries to visit. We couldn't agree where to start or finish. First we started by asking the girls where they wanted to go. Then we both made a list ourselves and put everything together. The countries were mostly in Europe, South-East Asia, Australasia, and Africa. Since we are Dutch and have lived and travelled in lots of European countries, this was removed from the list. We also have lived in America and travelled through North-America many times, so we could exclude this as well. South-America we noticed we liked too many countries to combine with the ones we really wanted to see in Asia, so we decided to skip South-America and put that on our 'future travel' list.
The best way we knew how to plan a big trip like this, was to literally put a world map in front of us, with our must-see lists and Daniel planned the route while keeping in mind the seasons. Nobody wanted to be too cold and we didn't want to carry any bulky clothes. It wasn't an easy thing to do, but he did it himself. You can also hire a travel agency to help you out with the tickets and the route. Since Daniel has travelled for many years for his work, it helped him planning the route. Every day he puzzled a little bit more with our plans and the availability in flights and some of the accommodations we had in mind. (more on where we slept will come in a seperate blog post). We decided to spend a little bit more money on one way open tickets instead of the standard world travel tickets - which gave us more freedom to stay or go if we liked a country. We also had to book visa's and over night train tickets before we left. Some countries are very strict with their visa rules, some you need to apply for in your country of origin (for us that means The Netherlands) so reading up on this before you book your tickets is wise to do. You don't want to travel half across the world only to find out you can not enter the country.
We knew ourselves well enough to know that we would change our minds during this trip. And we did - many times! Eventually we travelled to different places in a variety of countries:
From Dubai to Amsterdam and back via Dubai to: Kenya - Zanzibar - South Africa - Sri Lanka - Singapore - Thailand - Vietnam - Hong Kong - China - South Korea - Japan - Australia - New Zealand - Hawaii. Then we extended it to: New York - England and via Amsterdam back to our current location; Brooklyn, New York City.
(note: after the packing and accommodation blog posts, I will share photo's per country we have visited for you to scroll through).
Since we were living in Dubai at the time, we first thought that this would be our starting point. It would be the easiest way to hop to Asia or Africa from there, but we wanted to see our families and friends back in Amsterdam first, before we embarked on such a long journey. We also needed some more medical shots and we had to acquire our Chinese visa from the embassy in The Hague.
Looking back on our preparations, we loosely started planning a couple of months before we left, which some people would say is not an ideal time to prepare. Especially since we also were preparing to move to another country but we didn't know which one yet. We still had multiple guests coming to stay with us. Our oldest daughter was in her final exam period, studying hard to pass her two exams (the pressure was though; what if she failed... nobody wanted to think about this, since we already had set in motion to leave).Thankfully she passed both and we couldn't be prouder! The last weeks were filled with goodbye parties and dinners, birthday parties and last minute sightseeings. Then the actual packing started, so when we finally sat down in that plane, we were tired but also very excited to start this new adventure.
So when I say we loosely started planning a couple of months before - and literally looking at a world map - we only had two months left before we would leave. And we quickly realized that two months in such a hectic period was a very short time to prepare for a world trip...
- to be continued -