We’re on our final wrap-up posts now, but wanted to pass on some information about places that we loved, some that we didn’t and a few other tips on itinerary and travel planning. Maybe these thoughts can help others planning of their own big trip, or even anyone who may be looking for a good vacation idea for a couple weeks.
A nod to The Pullens, a family who traveled RTW a couple years ago, who first produced a post on a similar topic. We’ve copied their format (although we’ll cover gear in a separate post to come). We shared some of the same thoughts too!
Favorite New Places – Our Top Picks from the Trip
Namibia (new for Tim): dunes, deserts, wildlife, it was all fantastic
Slovenia: small country with a lot to see
Salzburg, Austria: beautiful, old buildings, bike tours, pretzels & beer
Bagan, Myanmar: land of 3,000 temples
Plitvice, Croatia: amazing walkways amid the scenic waterfalls
Sukhothai, Thailand: our bike tour of the ancient ruins and visit to a true elephant sanctuary
Dubrovnik, Croatia: the old city fortress and setting was stunning
Pamukkale, Turkey: unique natural beauty
Salkikent Gorge, Turkey: a super, fun day of canyon walking
Our Villa in Kas, Turkey: nicely decorated with scenic views, it was very quiet and peaceful
Old Favorites that were Still Great
Ephesus, Turkey: the ruins are amazing
Istanbul, Turkey: large, vibrant with with a lot to see
Antalya, Turkey: great day in the scenic old city
Namibia (Jenn): as fabulous today as my first visit in 1995
New Zealand (Tim): beautiful with tons of outdoor options
Places we could have done without
Nepal: the only country we wished we’d dropped
Bangkok: hot, polluted, lots of traffic
Hong Kong: very polluted, difficult to see scenic vistas (we met in Hong Kong and still have friends there, so I’m still glad we stopped)
Zadar, Croatia: didn’t need another scenic coastal stop in Croatia
Fethiye, Turkey: no reason to stop here when there are better places at the coast
Places that we wish we’d seen – the New Bucket List
St Petersburg, Russia
Prague, Czech Republic
The Baltic Countries
Chile, especially Patagonia
Things we did right
- Just going! It’s awesome to realize a dream of more than ten years! We talked about taking this trip before our kids were even born!
- Keeping a blog and posting two out of three days! Also, sharing blogging duties as each post takes hours to produce (mostly on sorting, re-sizing and uploading photos; we didn’t always have internet access and it was often very slow).
- Taking lots of photos. We had three cameras with us (iPhone, small point and shoot and Tim’s digital SLR with two lens) and capturing the moment made all the difference.
- Seeing friends wherever we could. We saw people in Hong Kong, Singapore, Auckland, Vienna and Turkey. These were special days for us and it was cool to reconnect and share experiences with people we care about.
- Planning most of our itinerary and booking most of our accommodation before we left. This freed us up to enjoy being on the trip without being tethered to a computer scrambling to figure out our next destination. It also meant that we could get the best accommodation in our budget by planning ahead.
- Occasionally having several days open, here and there, to see something new or unexpected. Our last minute side-trip to Budapest happened because we kept some days free.
- Moving at a fast pace, usually every four days. We wanted to see a lot of the world and we maxed out our time away. We did sacrifice depth in favor of breadth, but that was a trade-off we undertook willingly.
- Flying instead of going overland in most cases. We flew more than 50,000 miles because we had a limited amount of time and wanted to get places as quickly as we could.
- Mixing up standards and styles of accommodation. We spent $100 per night on lodging on average, and mixed in some $10/night guesthouses in Nepal with some $200+ apartments in Salzburg, Queenstown and Dubai! It was great to treat ourselves to more spacious digs once in a while.
- Doing some of the ‘hard’ places first. We did the least comfortable places in the first half of the trip, when we were fresh and ready for the adventure. In the back half of the trip, we appreciated nicer places and having access to more amenities.
- Using frequent flyer miles. Our first leg (San Francisco to Hong Kong) and our last leg (Lusaka, Zambia to San Francisco) were on miles, which saved us more than $5,000.
- Buying small souvenirs along the way and mailing them home. It’s a great reminder of our journey to see all these special items around the house now.
- Regularly re-evaluating our backpack contents and ditching gear along the way.
- Traveling with kids at the ages of 9 & 11. Old enough but not too old.
- Taking A.J. to his birth country, Kazakhstan. To him, this was the most special part of the trip and it will continue to resonate with him in more ways that we know.
- Not traveling for 8-12 months (a common length for RTW traveling families). Six months or so was a good length of time for our family. We still saw a lot, but didn’t get too worn down or travel weary.
Things we’d do differently
- Wouldn’t have gone to Nepal. Why didn’t we think about nearby Bhutan instead?
- Wouldn’t have spent six straight weeks on the Mediterranean Coast. Too long.
- Would go to more new places and fewer places we’d been before.
- Would consider coming home for a couple weeks in the middle of the trip (especially if it was over the Christmas holidays). This would have gone a long way toward refreshing us for the back half of the trip.
- Would try to convince family to join us somewhere. It would have been great to share part of the world with those we love the most.
- Want to say carry less stuff, as we traveled heavier than most, but the reality is that I liked having multiple changes of clothes and a few little extras too!
If anyone has any questions or comments, I’m always happy to talk travel! Let me know if I can help!