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

As with anything important, now that we’ve stepped into the ring and confronted the trip, we’re shaking up how we think about it.

Mike Tyson once said that “everyone’s got a plan until they get punched in the mouth,” and we’re no different. When it goes on the page, it becomes a lot more real and therefore a lot more serious. And so we started thinking more about how it’ll all happen.

We’ve made at least two conscientious changes since our initial whack at the list. First: that there was too much travel, too many cities on our initial list. So we’ve cut it down to max one city per month. Second: we’re leaning toward Spanish-speaking cities and places. Even if each features a distinct dialect – for example, European continent Spanish is certain to be very different from western South American Spanish – we still feel the ability to get around and understand the basics will be rewarding and beneficial. (For both the girls and Rachel and I.)

I’m also finding that there are a great deal more websites that are helpful in figuring out what we’d like to know. Take cost, for example: Expatistan is a cost-comparison mecca that can compare where you live (i.e. Colorado Springs, Colorado) to where you’d like to go (say, Malaga, Spain) all the way down to details including milk and furnished versus unfurnished apartments.

I’m also learning that the AirBnB craze, as well as home-stay and home-swap websites have been both a blessing and a curse. For example, Barcelona seems to me a fantastic place for us to spend a month: beaches, Spanish-language, art, culture. However, I just read that the city receives 20 million visitors per year, which seems like an “invasion” to the city of 1.6 million residents. (In comparison, New York City gets 60 million tourists per year, but is absorbed by about 8 million residents – which must not feel quite so overwhelming.) It appears that the ease with which we can now reserve room and houses has smothered local life in certain places – which may mean we’ll have to rethink our trip the closer we get. I could imagine us selecting a smaller city on Spain’s west coast, for example, which would avoid swarms of tourists, still give us a feel for what we’re interested in learning about, and maybe maintain the ability to get into (or visit) a larger place like Barcelona.

All that said: here’s our current list. It’s not precise in a geographic sense – as just described, we’ll likely aim for nearness and not exactness. The upshot is a couple cultural icons (London and Paris) followed by several months of Spanish…then a winter in Australasia (Aussie and Kiwi-ville)…and finally back to the Spanish lesson.

  • June: London, UK
  • July: Paris, France
  • August: Barcelona, Spain
  • September: Malaga, Spain
  • October: Lima, Peru
  • November: Santiago, Chile
  • December: Sydney/Perth, Australia
  • January: Wellington, New Zealand
  • February: Queenstown, New Zealand
  • March: Panama City, Panama
  • April: Costa Rica
  • May: Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

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