If you have gathered anything from reading about our family, you might assume that, in all likelihood, we will never, shall we say, be accused of over-organization. And you would be right. That said, I am valiantly attempting to put a loose structure on the plan of traipsing around the globe with the spouse and four children as our target date, now a mere 18 months away, draws nearer.
A major, perhaps THE major, factor governing the trip is transportation. Going RTW as a family may have its advantages, however, multiplying plane/bus/train ticket prices x 6 is not one of them. Of course, we have to get from place to place somehow, and with our new timeline of one year instead of two, the RTW flight plan became more of an option. So, I looked at one of the major companies that sells this type of thing, and the quote they gave me was more than half our budget for the year! They give a slight discount for children under 11, but the tickets were about $7000 per person – a whopping $42,000. Yikes!!
Now, the Bootsnall website had a link to multi-stop tickets with much friendlier pricing, but I’m not sure how this works. Apparently the website is roundtheworldticket.com and they do this monthly; here is the list for March. Also, I ordered Bootsnall’s free e-report on RTW airfare in which they compared various companies that sell these tickets. The conclusion from the report was that the DIY method was cheapest and most flexible, but there are advantages to having your tickets pre-paid such as: having proof that you are leaving the country (useful in certain countries I’m told), budgeting a known quantity, and perhaps most importantly, saving time and stress in finding flights. This guy seems very pro-RTW plane tickets but of course is not budgeting for 6. The 6-person family in Sixintheworld – who are inspiring in many ways but likely had a bigger budget than we have and covered more ground than we plan to cover- bought RTW tix for their year-long trip, but they had the significant advantage of frequent flyer miles and paid only $250 per ticket. Sigh.
So, I don’t think we will be flying much. I am closely watching the repositioning cruises to cross the Atlantic and/or Pacific, in fact the whole idea of our itinerary changed when I found a cruise from Vancouver to Tokyo leaving Sept. 2014. If there is one the following year, that is my pick. If not, we still could cruise with the fancy schmancy Cunard line to the UK from NYC to get the trip started. It is not much more than flying, and the kids and I get more excited about ship travel than flying so it may be worth it.
After getting to Europe or Asia, there are supposedly cheaper local flights and there are always alternatives to flying. I was impressed with the bus system for Mexico and Central America. I once took a bus from Mexico City to Santa Rosa de Copan, Honduras over 3 days, and Mr Fantastic (who spoke almost no Spanish) followed me a few weeks later and we both had safe, fairly comfortable, inexpensive trips. I cannot say the same for Greyhound in the USA, but I am optimistic about other countries. Mr. Fantastic is a big fan of the Trans-Siberian Railway for travel between Europe and China/Japan. This website looks to be very detailed in how to use that system. If we land in Tokyo, I also found this website on ferry boats to China/Korea/Russia/Taiwan from Japan. Of course, within cities, I am very keen to use the subway systems because I just like them.
So, barring any sudden windfall of frequent flyer miles or other unexpected incentives to fly, it looks like it will be seat-of-our-pants for the Fantastics. Personally, I think rail, boat, bus, tuk-tuk, bicycle, etc. will certainly be more adventurous and bring more memories than the sterile, bland interior of most airplanes. Ideally, it will make the traveling more interesting, budget-friendly, and after all, don’t they always say it’s the journey and not the destination? I’m not sure whoever ‘they’ are was talking about RTW travel for a family of 6, but it works for me for now.