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It's all in the Planning

RTWThe first step to most trips, and exhilerating it is too, is the planning.  Yes its lovely to head off with no time limits and just the first flight sector booked and let fate take over - this I have done many times - but now that's not an option. Sometimes you have to grab the bottle (of opportunity, go with me on this) and fill it to overspilling before the cork goes in and its back to normal life.  This is one of those times. With lengthy summer school holidays and a clever headmaster, who understands the educational benefits of travel, our children are probably at the last point that we can whisk them away before the responsibilities and social pull of the adolecent years takes over.

Firstly I have picked favoured destinations in a natural circumference of the world as, although Round-The-World tickets aren't as cheap as they used to be, it is still well worth trying to push your itinerary into one if possible.  Then its vital that you look at the weather.  As we are aiming to travel in the European summer, some parts of the other side of the world will of course be in winter.  Sometimes it is worth shifting locations for a better climate and some places the weather isn't the most important factor and its worth going anyway.

Other things to consider once you have got the agent to put a schedule together is whether you can get reasonably between destinations - for example, Java and Darwin - on your group of airlines without going via Sydney. In our case, Darwin had to go.  Once you have your list of locations and your ticket price you can have the debate with yourself about whether you can afford it.  Most locations will offer accommodation within a range of budgets, but some places are unavoidably expensive and to get there you just have to bite the bullet or leave it for after a lottery win. (The Galapagos Islands is one that immediately springs to mind as a place that I was at one point so near, and yet it completely out of my reach.)

treehseSo your ticket is set, time off arranged, savings growing with each weekend spent pouring over travel reviews on the internet or waiting tables.  It's now getting down to the finer details - what to do and where to stay.  If you want to put an extra sheen on your trip I do think its worth going for something special, different ....quirky even - and these need pre-booking.  These places book up in advance.

With children you need to focus on the essential bits that you would skip for anything. Don't expect them to enthuse about discomforts that you may see as a challenge.  We try to stick to 1 or 2 areas in a country rather than trying to do it all. Intersperse a bit of culture and a scenic hike with something tacky and a bit of beach.

It may seen obvious but don't forget to check on your vaccination needs, visa requirements and that you have at least 6 months validity on your passport after your trip. When the time comes it's always good to carry a copy of your passport on your person or in your luggage just in case. These days you can go to a cashpoint to withdraw money in most places, but hide a credit card somewhere for emergencies. And don't forget to factor in insurance - its really not worth the risk of going without, especially if you include America. (Travel agent spiel over.)

My trip is shaping up very nicely. Here's the outline.  Any tips, suggestions, must dos and definately avoids from your personal experiences, do let me know.

borobodurJapan - At the least we hope to go hiking in Hokkaido, go to Mount Fuji and Hakone and explore crazy Tokyo too.  Surely Japan will be like no other country I have been to before - I can't wait!

Java - From Yogyakarta we hope to branch out to Borobudur and Ullen Sentalu museum and then a beach. But which one? I like the sounds of Karimunjawa or Indrayanti.  

Australia - We had to drop Darwin (the bit I hadn't previously been to) for a couple of days in chilly Melbourne, but with friends there we should warm up.

easterislandNew Zealand - This is also good for catching up with people, and maybe we can turn the winter to our advantage with a bit of skiing.

Tahiti - This is purely educational - the children are learning french at school.  We will suffer it for them!

(As we are a spanish speaking family, it seemed only right to focus a chunk of time on South America.)

Easter Island - This Polynesian island, part of Chile, is said to be the most remote inhabited place in the world.  Hard to say no to an en-route stopover.  We hope to see at least some of the 887 moai ancient heads found here.

Chile - A brief stop in Santiago to meet a friend should be enough before we head to the desert - San Pedro de Atacama - where the sun will shine until we watch it set at the Valle de la Luna and we can hang out in the backpacker scene.  It has the added advantage of (part) preparing us for the next step up in altitude.

saltlakesBolivia - There is some discomfort factor here as it will be cold and at altitude we will be chugging on extra oxygen canisters, but to travel to Uyuni through the salt lakes will be sublime and hopefully the unforgettable landscape will blot out any unpleasantness. Once accustomed to the altitude we may as well stay high, going on to La Paz.

Peru - And then to Cuzco and wonderous Macchu Picchu, before a jaunt into the Amazon at Puerta Moldanado, where I have read it is maleria free.

Miami and Orlando - This is the temptation carrot at the end which will no doubt be used as 'behaviour' bate for the whole trip!