*Note: Written to join my own “Arsenal of Ideas”…not for any wider publication.

Almost precisely three years from now, I want to take my family on a trip around the world for a full calendar year. It’s daunting. Can we afford it? Where will we go? Will the kids appreciate it? Will our extended families visit? What will we do with the house? Will we be safe? And just what are we going to do with our dog?

Easily asked, yet none of these questions are easily answered. It’ll take work to get to the bottom of these, but first we’ve got to start with a simple structure for thinking through each one. One by one.

Here’s an assumption to get the ball rolling: we’ll depart in early June, 2022, when our daughters are out of school. Grace will be 10, soon to turn 11 by then, and so she’ll have just completed fourth grade. Georgie will be 7, and turn 8 later that fall, and so she’ll have just finished first grade. That’ll mean we’ll have to work out some sort of extended-study-abroad that’ll satisfy the school district’s requirements for fifth and second grades.

Our travel criteria centers on cities that maximize culture, that are cost-effective, feature relatively low crime, and arriving at a time of year with an appropriate climate (so as to minimize the amount of clothes and gear we bring on the trip). Based on that criteria, here’s a very rough month/city schedule:

  • June: London, UK; Paris, France
  • July: Barcelona, Spain
  • August: Lisbon/Porto, Portugal
  • September: Tangiers/Casablanca, Morocco; Rome/Florence, Italy
  • October: Split, Croatia; Athens (or island), Greece
  • November: Istanbul, Turkey; Tel Aviv/Jerusalem, Israel
  • December: Costa Rica/Belize; Santiago, Chile
  • January: Montevideo, Uruguay; Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • February: Sydney, Australia (and various other locations in Australia)
  • March: Wellington, New Zealand (and various in NZ); Vietnam/Hong Kong?
  • April: Seoul, South Korea; Tokyo, Japan
  • May: Washington, DC; New York, New York; Montreal, Canada

The strategy is to save money by slowing down. Less churn. Less rushing from one spot to the next. By staying awhile. If we’re getting longer term apartments to rent, and we’re not on the road all the time, then we can stretch our money out and go for longer.

There are, of course, some big leaps and medium hops in this schedule that’ll require considerable airfares to make happen. Paying for four tickets at a time will add up over time. Here’s a few:

  1. US to UK
  2. Morocco to Italy
  3. Israel to Costa Rica/Belize
  4. Costa Rica/Belize to Chile
  5. Argentina to Australia
  6. Australia to New Zealand
  7. New Zealand to South Korea
  8. Japan to the US

Not only that, there are smaller, ground bits of transportation that’ll be tough to pull off on a budget. Traveling around the Adriatic Sea, from up and over one side of Italy’s boot and over to Croatia, and then down the Croatian coast to Greece, and then on again across the Aegean Sea to Istanbul – that’ll be a bit of a trick.

So whether by air, land, or sea, the travel will get tricky and expensive.

My gut tells me to start with the dots first, and then work on connecting them. So I’ll just wicker down the locations and months by learning what I can about the five Cs: cities, culture, cost, crime, and climate.

Starting with London: How much is there to see and do and learn in London in June? From London, are there day trips we can do out and about to get to see and do more by using London as a base of support? (My gut tells me “yes,” like day trips out to Oxford and Cambridge and Greenwich and maybe even Stonehenge.) How expensive will this be? How will we get around on a daily basis? Is the crime rate OK? And what’s the weather like at that time of year?

And, inevitably, are there alternatives? This is the toughest part. It’s not so hard to decide what to do, but it will be much more difficult to decide what to miss! What about Ireland? Scotland? Norway? Germany? Might one of those be a more affordable and interesting substitute?

I don’t know. So I’d better start doing some homework.


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