How do you decide where to take a family of five on an adventure around the world?
1. Minimal Repeat Visits
Wendi and I have traveled together or separately to 47 of the States, Across Canada, Mexico, Cost Rica, Belize, Guatemala, Brazil, Argentina, Egypt, New Zealand, The Cook Islands, France, England, Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Croatia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Ohio.
Most of these areas were not going to be repeated on this trip.
2. The Old World
This adventure started with a plan to stay in France for a year. Visa requirements and the need for actually being prepared way in advance eliminated that. So we revised our plan to try to spend up to a year in different European countries to get our fill of the old world.
3. Schengen Game Changer
There is a thing called the Schengen Agreement. The short of it: most western European countries are part of a pact that makes it easier to travel in between these countries without going through customs at the border each time. That part is great.
The bad part is that when you get a temporary 90 day tourist visa it applies for the entire region instead of just the one country where you got your visa. Translation: after 90 days you have to leave the entire Schengen region and stay out for another 90 days. This means we can not bounce around Western Europe for more than 90 days at a time. Unless we want to go over to the UK (not part of the Schengen Agreement). The way our timing works we would have to go over to the UK during winter. No thanks 🙂
4. Which Areas Are Not Malarial
We have a little guy that will turn one right before we go. So that meant we wanted to avoid regions that required malaria medicine for Burke. Because of this we immediately ruled out malarial regions that were either red or yellow risk regions, according to the CDC.
5. To Australia Or Not To Australia
Australia is on our short list, but amazingly we decided not to add it to this itinerary because it was another loooong flight for a culture that would be a lot like what we are already used to at home. I know it is different, but it seemed similar enough that we decided to save it for another time. Plus we honeymooned in New Zealand and The Cook Islands so we had been in the region at the very least.
We had been to Egypt, but hadn’t experienced the ‘traditional’ Africa. A quick glance at the Malaria map will show you how many safe options we had. South Africa (which was on our short list anyway) was the obvious choice. Throw in an amazing island experience a few hours to the east in Mauritius for good measure.
We have been talking about Chile for several years now. Literally 9 years ago Wendi and I were researching a plan to drive from Colorado to Chile. It seemed like a nightmare, including the need to trade in our 4runner for an older Toyota so that you could get your car fixed no matter where/if/when your vehicle broke down. Then we concepted a second failed attempt to move down there with kids 2 years ago. Mainly because I was working 15+ hours a day.
8. A New Place To Live
This adventure also serves as an exploratory mission to see if there might be other places in the world we would want to live some day. Maybe some day soon or maybe some day in the future, but the thought is always there.
9. Best Time To Be There
We are also trying to hit each area around the best time to be there — not winter, not rainy season. This way we don’t need to pack Winter gear which is much bulkier, obviously…duh.
10. The Other Biggies
China, India, Russia, Arkansas,etc. There are too many places to list that aren’t on our short list for this journey. For some reason or another they just weren’t the right time. We will get there eventually though. Count on that.