We miss traveling. While we were on the road, I didn’t think we would miss it this much. Every day at work, I think back to what we were doing at this time last year. Today we were safariing in the Serengeti, having just watched a cheetah (unsuccessfully) chasing a gazelle. Quite a contrast to sleeping in late to recover from the long week of staring at data of TARP participants.
So you know what we’re going to do? We’re going to do it again. Yes, we’re going to pack everything into two small backpacks, move the rest of our stuff into our parents’ houses, and spend a lengthy period of time hopping from crowded dorm room to airport corridor to crowded dorm room. Zhou has decided to finish up the year and get her Masters, then put the PhD on hold for now. There’s just too much to see.
1) During the last week of next August we’ll fly one-way ticket to Europe, just like we did a little over a year ago. It’s amazing how much money we saved by purchasing our RTW ticket starting in London, so it only makes sense to do it again. This time though, we’ll fly into Rome on our one-way, and spend a month and a half taking the Eurail around. Countries covered: Italy, Switzerland, France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
2) To begin the RTW ticket portion of our trip, we’ll fly from Amsterdam to Capetown, where we’ll do another Acacia tour, the 19-day Desert Tracker from Capetown to Livingstone beginning on October 1. (Come join us!) If we had to pick something we regret missing last time, this would probably be it. If you ever get two months to overland Africa, don’t wimp out and select Acacia’s 46-day tour; man up and pick the 58-day. Countries covered: South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia.
3) Unfortunately we have to use two of our 16 RTW legs to get from Capetown to Rio de Janeiro (stupid limited coverage in Africa), but fortunately we’ll get to see Brazil next! We’ll spend a few days in Rio before overlanding down to Iguazu Falls, another one of our unfortunate misses last time. From there, we’ll one-up our 53-hour bus ride to Ushuaia, this time by spending 70 hours in a bus, again heading to Ushuaia. The only difference this time is we’re going specifically for an Antarctic cruise. November is supposedly the best time to go, so we’re not going to miss out. Countries covered: Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Antarctica.
4) Ushuaia isn’t one of OneWorld’s covered cities, so we’ll book our own flight back to Rio, where we’ll hop on a RTW leg back to Sydney. Our 12 days in Australia last year weren’t nearly enough, so we’re booking six-month train tickets on the Ausrail and covering everything we possibly can: New South Wales, Melbourne, Queensland, Darwin, the Outback, Uluru, everything. The country is absolutely amazing, and we want to do it right this time. From late November to early March, we’ll only cover one country: Australia.
5) We’ll fly out of Sydney and into Tahiti (via Auckland), where we’ll island hop in the South Pacific, all the while singing “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair.” We had to skip this area last time because we couldn’t fly from Tahiti to Easter Island, which was our number one island priority. Our most anticipated stops during this part of the trip: Vanuatu and Jellyfish Lake in Palau. Countries* covered: Tahiti, Fiji, Vanuatu, Cook Islands. (We use a loose definition of the word “country.”)
6) Eventually we’ll make our way to Japan, where we’ll spend three weeks touring everything except for Tokyo. We’ll climb Mount Fuji, visit the famous gardens, hot springs and pagodas. If we’re lucky we’ll even get to ride the Bullet Train once or twice before flying into Shanghai to tour southern China. Last year we froze to death in both China and Japan, and therefore didn’t stay as long or do as much as we wanted. We loved everything (especially the pandas), but it was just so darn cold. Hopefully just over two months this time will allow me to get a better feel for my home away from home. Countries covered: Japan, China.
7) Next stop is a new part of the world for both of us: the non-African part of the Middle East. I’m going to use my financial knowledge to help us solve the crisis in Dubai, then we’ll skip over to the West Bank, to continue with the banking theme. We’ll hit Istanbul, Constantinople and Istanbul, then head across the Mediterranean to the old Acropolis and then the home of my cousin-in-law, Croatia. There’s no doubt that this part of our trip will be rushed, but we’re quickly finding out that no matter how much of the world we’ve seen, there’s not enough time to see what’s left. Countries covered: United Arab Emirates, Israel, Turkey, Greece, Croatia.
8) A flight back to Amsterdam will mark the end of our RTW ticket, but not the end of our trip. We’ll book a one-way flight in early July 2012 to Quito, Ecuador. This was the part of our last trip that we cut out when Zhou found out UVa’s grad program started so early, so we can’t miss it this time. We’ll do a seven-night Galapagos cruise, then bus into Colombia to buy some coffee and arrest some drug traffickers. In all seriousness, we’ve heard Colombia is one of the nicest countries in the world from multiple sources, so we’re looking forward to seeing past its stereotypes. Countries covered: Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Colombia.
9) Our final segment in what will probably have to be our final around-the-world trip of this stature will be an overland journey up through Central America. This one will be very open-ended since we won’t have any pressing thing to get back to in the States. Our limiting factors here will be traveling stamina, homesickness, and of course, money. If we find we’ve had enough of hostels and buses, we’ll have to save this journey for later. But the goal will be to start across the Panama Canal by the beginning of August and not hit Arizona until late September. Countries covered: Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico.
RTW Part 2 Trip Statistics: 7 continents, 34 countries, 13 months.
In all, this trip will be bigger, longer and a lot more expensive than the last one. We might have to get back into banking for a couple years afterwards to pay for this one, but we’ve decided it’s more than worth it. It’s really hard to stay in one place after having a taste of what the world has to offer, and after three months back in the States, we’ve realized we just have to travel.
Ok… This whole post has been a lie. We don’t have the money, we don’t have the time and we have too many obligations back home to do another RTW trip. Zhou is not going to quit her PhD program, and I’m not going to quit another job right now. We have our two little kitties, our new routines and our life plans, and we can’t set them back two-three more years. The real take away from this post is that these are the next places we want to cover. I would estimate that a trip of this type though would run us somewhere around 2.5 – 3 times as much money as our last trip, so unless someone introduces themselves one day and tells us he’ll give Zhou a PhD, give us $150,000 and let us take our kitties with us, then this trip won’t happen.
Instead, tomorrow we’ll wake up and eat our Sunday morning pancakes. I’ll go play flag football and then Ultimate Frisbee. We’ll sit close to our computers and watch our fantasy football teams all afternoon, and probably play fetch with Penny while Cairo tries to hog all the attention. If Zhou can get away from studying for the night, we’ll watch a movie and have fruit shakes, otherwise maybe just one episode of The Big Bang Theory. All things considered, our new life as we know it sure is good.