We are driving around the world.
Nancy and I have never been afraid to travel to parts unknown or to the next state over. In our early 50’s we backpacked through South America for five months, in our mid/late 50’s we traveled India and Bhutan for two and a half months, for my 60th birthday it was a driving trip from Texas to the end of the road in Panama for five months, then in our early 60’s it was two months in China and lots of shorter trips in between the long trips and for the last couple of years trips for friend’s children’s weddings, birding or kayaking, family reunions and of course to see the grandboys.
However, for some reason we began to no longer get up and go see the world. Instead, it was a day in front of a computer monitor; reading a book; a jigsaw puzzle; gardening and the occasional birding walk. We were slowly sinking into our easy chairs.
One day while sitting in front of my computer monitor I went to Google Maps. I began playing what if we went to ……. Two weeks later I had mapped out a two-year around the world driving trip.
I brought the idea up to Nancy and will just say she wasn’t enthralled. I quickly countered with how about the Cape to Kapp -- Cape Agulhas, South Africa to North Cape, Norway. “No.”
It was about a year later and again I was sitting in front of my computer monitor. I found my two-year around the world drive spreadsheet and began thinking. Two years is just driving – no time to explore, experience things, and being constantly on the go. A real trip around the world should take four or maybe five or who knows how long.
Back to Google Maps, searching the internet, reading Lonely Planet guides, bookmark a list of United Nation’s World Heritage Sites, put together a list of the top 200 art museums in the world, a list of the top 20 botanical gardens of the world, great places to snorkel, the best birding locations, best drives, and the list kept growing.
A couple of months later I had a 56-page spreadsheet and a multi-page map printout of the world with a proposed route. This drive would only require us to be on the road for five years. I mentioned it to Nancy and sent it to a lot of friends and family for their input on what this dream trip was missing. Surprisingly the comments back weren’t “your crazy” but “when are you leaving and have you thought of ….”
Then this past December, Nancy said, “Exactly what is this around the world trip you have put together and everyone is talking about.” I explained it was a dream trip and I had already begun buying books on Australia history, etc. My thought was to do this for each country on my route and make the trip through books.
A couple of days later, Nancy said something along the line of, “I am tired of reading and doing puzzles. Show me your around the world trip.” She began talking that we should do this. I knew she was at least sort of interested but I didn’t think she was really interested.
Then in early January we met several friends for dinner and when we arrived at the table one of the guys says, “I hear the two of you are going to drive around the world.” I knew he hadn’t heard about this trip from me. It had to be by way of Nancy and if Nancy was telling people she must be serious about driving around the world.
We spent the next week discussing a drive around the world. I showed Nancy my Rules of the Road. She added rules and modified others. I showed her where and when the yearly trips home would occur – she again made suggestions and we came up with a better trip. Then Nancy came up with the best idea: “Let's invite friends and family to join us.”
Our two oldest grandsons (12 & 13) will travel with us from Brisbane, Australia to Port Douglas and the Great Barrier Reef. We are hoping to meet our two youngest grandsons (4 & 7) and their parents in Bhutan in May 2017. Discussing a Thailand sailing trip with Margaret and Knox, Nancy’s brother, in Jan./Feb 2017. We are in early discussions with several others on seeing a portion of the world together or at the very least meeting for a dinner.
In summary, we have decided to trade our easy chairs for seats in a Toyota 4Runner where the scenery, people, culture, food and life in general will change everyday for us.
Finally, we know most people think the trip will only be a success if we complete all five years as planned. We on the other hand believe the trip is a success if we start it!
P.S. This isn't only a website describing our travels but hopefully is the inspiration for others in our age bracket to get up and go.
Travel doesn't have to be expensive. We long ago gave up trying to travel on $10 a day or whatever the current rock bottom, no thrill, sleeping in a place that requires a door wedge and your own sheets, passing up a great museum because it isn't in the budget, eating a can of soup for dinner, and so on price per day someone says is a realistic travel budget.
We believe you can travel inexpensively. I hope some of our future posts in Cost and Travel Resources provide you ideas of how to travel the world without a millionaire's resources. I use Lonely Planet books and its on-line forum and Nancy uses Frommers and other on-line sites for basic in reality travel ideas. We don't stay in five star hotels or even four stars but we also use our rooms as a place to sleep not as a destination.
Many of our trips we budget in one high end hotel stay either in the middle of our travels to recharge our personal batteries or at the end to savior a last couple of days before returning home.
Although our current trip involves us driving a Toyota 4Runner; we have used public transportation -- buses, metros, undergrounds, subways, and trains -- for a great deal of getting from point A to point B. I enjoy public transportation because it is a little slower allowing you to see where you are and mostly because it's a microcosm of the city or countryside. Oh yes, public transportation is much less expensive than a taxi, rental car or driver, guide and car.
We both like food. We have learned to read pictures of food, point at what someone at the table next to us is eating, writing the name of a dish in its foreign language (to us) on a piece of paper and handing it to whoever hopefully is asking us what we want to eat, and more than once blindly pointing at a menu neither of us understood and hoped for the best -- amazing how many very good meals we have had during our travels. Remember food isn't a cost of travel. You would be spending money at home for food so why not spend the same money somewhere you have never traveled. And yes, I use the same reasoning for my beer consumption.
In short; we believe travel doesn't have to be cheap, it doesn't have to be expensive -- it can be whatever you can afford and therefore within everyone's budget.