If you read my previous Gef article, you’ll know we recently had our eyes opened to the exciting idea of travelling the world with our kids, but with this excitement came more questions…
- Where do we go?
- How safe would it be?
- Could the kids cope with lengthy travel?
- What would the kids eat?? (OK so the last question was one the boys asked – but you get the drift!)
We began our research by reading other family travel blogs and found there were lots, who openly shared the good, bad and ugly elements of their travels.
Reading these have helped us realise there will be blips, stresses & strains along the way and we would need to be mega organised…but one thing was clear, it all sounded pretty good.
So now we needed to work out where to go & how to get things started!
Boring stuff first…
Save money – eek! So we have 2 kids. How on earth were we going to be able to save money?!
They eat us out of house and home, have a better social life than us and I’m convinced they spend most of their time on their knees!
Don’t even get me started on their growth spurts!? The life of a 7 and 9-year-old eh!
If we wanted to go travelling, we knew we needed to cut costs and be sensible with our spending, and doing so has allowed us to save pennies over the past 2 years. There are plenty of blogs and articles out there giving advice on ways to save money, so if you’re serious, I recommend you start reading up.
Having experienced the backpacking lifestyle, we both know what to expect (imagine cockroaches running across your stomach in the night! *screams*) I’m excited about travelling, but I’m not ready to embrace the full-on backpacker/budget lifestyle again.
I think the kids will be fairly adaptable, unlike my friends that I dragged from a 4* hotel with rooftop pool into a dingy backpackers hostel in Bangkok in 35-degree heat, with a fan which barely whispered in your ear – oh the abuse (haha!). Therefore, I have a ‘minimum requirements’ list, purely for sanity reasons.
We want to travel for as long as possible, but we need to conserve funds where we can. The easiest way to do this is to stay for longer in the cheaper countries. Thailand’s average daily burn rate is £25-£30 for cheap, but not unacceptable budget accommodation, compared with £50-55 in the UK (up to £62 in Australia!!!).
We used the information recorded on this useful website to check the average costs.
Needless to say, we’ve concluded that spending most of our time in Asia will make the money last longer. Which is a win, win because Asia is amazing; bugs and all!
This isn’t as easy as you think. When you have the whole world to choose from and can fly from anywhere to anywhere it all gets a bit stressful. I know, I know, you feel my pain right now!
But we needed a starting point, so we’ve made a Bucket List. It’s a list of places that we’ve either heard about or seen pictures of, and are interested in visiting, like:
- Angkor Wat in Cambodia
- Great Wall of China in Beijing
- Lake Bled in Slovenia
- Rainforest & Orangutans in Borneo
- Chi Chi Tunnels in Vietnam
- Trekking in Nepal
- Oh the list goes on…!
The Lonely Planet is a good starting point for budget travel information, accommodation and eateries. We’ve married this, with looking at Accuweather to identify the best time to travel. And so, we now have a rough route outline!
Research, research, research…
Research it all, use all the tools you can. Maps, books, Pinterest, family travel blogs, Facebook, Instagram, articles etc… you name it, we’ve read it & have gotten lost in it – once you start, you can’t stop!
We’ve decided to start our journey exploring areas of Europe during the lower seasons of May & June, heading East. I am very lucky that my mum and dad have lent me their beloved motorhome, otherwise, it would be a 6-man tent, bike rack & ear plugs!
So we have a starting point…but where next!?! Flights from anywhere to anywhere and for as cheap as possible please!
We’ve tried to minimise our travel mileage by not doubling back on ourselves…and have realised that it wouldn’t cost that much (…sometimes it’s cheaper!) and it allows to try and avoid unsavoury weather!
For example, we are flying to Beijing from Africa and, after a stint in China, doubling back to India (via Borneo).
If we had decided to take the direct route and head to India first, we would have been there in peak Monsoon season, and arrived in Beijing as winter was drawing in!
I’m struggling to get our lives into 2 large backpacks for summer clothing, no way are winter woolies going to make the cut!
Comparing the costs of flights is easy to do, using Google Flights and Skyscanner. The cost of flying to Beijing was actually cheaper than flyer to New Dehli (which is closer)
For a list of our most used apps for travel planning, check our blog post here.
Are we there yet?
Nope *sigh*. After defining our bucket list, we have to fill in the bits in between.
Although we have determined which countries we are going to visit and the cost justification, we also need to look at:
- How long we’ll spend in each country?
- What is there to do in each place?
- What modes of transport are available? (I love a good sleeper train!)
- What is the weather going to be like? (Vietnam has a weather system like the Isle of Man – Sunny in the North & raining down South)
We are still not 100% there, but we have a good grasp on the first 8 months and here’s what we have so far…
As I mentioned, we are starting off pretty ‘easy’ and travelling through the UK via. motorhome into Europe for 8 weeks. We’ll be sure to discuss the cabin fever at some point!
From there, we fly to Cape Town for a brief stop before heading up to Namibia for our 21-day self-drive safari.
We’ve contacted a number of tours to get some help with this. I’ve been to Africa a couple of times, but driving there is a different story, so we wanted to ensure it was as easy as we could make it. We opted to use Namibia Tours Safaris who were extremely helpful and adapted the itinerary to suit our needs & budget.
After a non-stop few weeks, we fly to Beijing and travel for 6 weeks down through China until we reach Hong Kong. I can’t wait to go back to China, but I know it will be very challenging at times! However, the people are so amazing and the places…we won’t even scratch the surface!
We were due to fly into Nepal from here but decided it would be perfect timing (and the flights were cheap enough) to stop in Borneo for a couple of weeks. This was a ‘must-see’ on the boys bucket list, to see the orangutans & visit a palm oil plantation.
We carry on into Nepal, where we plan to trek in the Himalayas and stop at a local village – Sikles (organised by the Pahar Trust, IOM) and volunteer in a local school for 10 days.
After this, we hope to spend around 8 weeks in India, but we are not sure on dates yet or how long we will spend in Nepal. I know it’s tempting to book everything for security, but you may actually decide to stay longer in some places or ship out if you aren’t loving it!
My recommendation is to not book everything in advance if you can resist.
I hope you’ll continue to follow our journey and be inspired to start your own.
2 months left and counting!