When you want to go around the world

First off, listening to this song is a requirement while reading this post:

(You may have to click over if you’re reading this via email.)

In other news, we bought tickets for the first quarter of our round-the-world trip! Actually, that’s not other news—that is the news of the week for this household.

It’s a done deal. We’re going. And as Kyle says, with as far as we’ve bought our westbound tickets (to South Africa), if for some reason we had to cut our trip short, we’d still return home transatlantically, thereby guaranteeing us we will go around the world sometime in the next twelve months.

It’s exciting! And nerve-wracking, a little. I mean—we’re really going to do this.

Here are a few tips we learned while purchasing partial round-the-world tickets for a family.

Leave plenty of time for research.

There are so many moving parts to a trip this size, you don’t want to wait till the last minute. One airline shows this for that date, another ticket website shows that for another date, if you go at this time you need to move dates to this other place… it’s a machine.

I’m all for spontaneity, but seeing as the flights are the biggest purchase for a round-the-world journey, you don’t want to grab the first thing that spits out on Google. Take lots of time.

It’s also a good idea not to purchase your tickets too early, to ensure the most competitive prices—I’ve heard anywhere from 30 to 90 days out being ideal.

Use a variety of resources.

I did basic single-flight research on my go-to ticket aggregator, Kayak. But then I also spent hours (and hours and hours) creating itineraries on Indie’s round-the-world ticket finder. (It’s actually a lot of fun if you’re a planning nerd like me.) I also checked out routes and prices on airline alliance sites, like OneWorld and Star Alliance, but these tend to be very limiting.

Plan your own round-the-world trip!

Ultimately, we went with what was quoted to us at AirTreks, which came highly recommended by friends who used them last year. I never thought we’d use a travel agent, nor would we even buy round-the-world tickets—after all, you can piecemeal your own itinerary with individual tickets just fine.

But we loved AirTreks because it actually was really nice to talk to a human—someone who knows RTW travel inside and out and who can provide plenty of feedback and advice (everything from best times of year to preferred airlines to going overland when it makes better sense than a plane). They also provide basic travel insurance, and they were able to take care of our Australian visas—they don’t cost a ton of money anyway, but every little bit helps.

If you go with AirTreks, ask for Sarah Gamber, and tell her I sent you. She’s good people.

BootsnAll also has a fairly comprehensive review of a variety of round-the-world trip planning tools (though they do own Indie).

At some point, be good with good enough.

You can price-point and research and move your little moving parts around till the cows come home. At some point, you just need to say, “This is it—this is our trip,” and move forward. It’s tempting to evaluate every single possible scenario in the name of saving a few bucks, but eventually, you just need to hand over your money and call it done.

If I were going as a single, or even if it were just Kyle and me, we’d probably be more open-ended and wait for ideal everythings. But we’re a family with young kids. We want a few pegs nailed into the map before we go.

Tips for purchasing round-the-world tickets for a family

Know what’s included in your ticket purchase.

Make sure you’re comparing apples to apples when you do your research. Look into flight change penalties, luggage allowances, flight times and airports (just because your arrival and departure flights are in the same city doesn’t mean they’re from the same airport), and child fare possibilities.

Like I said—many moving parts.

Talk to your bank in advance.

Round-the-world tickets are a major purchase, and most banks have a daily spending limit. Ask a bank rep for a temporary limit lift while you make the purchase, otherwise, you’re in for a few days of frustration.

(This is another reason I’m so thankful for AirTreks—Sarah spent hours on the phone with our bank to get needed authorization codes that ensured the purchase was completed.)

Flex.

It’s physically impossible to be at every location during every ideal season. You might also have to be okay with waiting for another trip to see something nearby, even though it feels like you’re close to Ayers Rock just because you’re in Australia. Kyle and I have already said to each other on more than one occasion, “It’s okay—this won’t be our last trip. We can always go there another time.”

Yes, this is a trip of a lifetime. But it doesn’t mean crossing off every single thing we’d ever want to see. In fact, that’s a recipe for travel burnout if I ever saw one—we’re huge advocates of slow travel, and with a few exceptions, our itinerary reflects this. We’d rather enjoy a few places and do them well than See All The Things.

Our trip itinerary:

Out of the starting gate: September 15, 2014

  • September to early October: China
  • Early October to early December: Southeast Asia
  • December to mid-January: Australia and New Zealand
  • Mid-January to early February: Sri Lanka and a little Africa

These are the tickets we’ve purchased. Then from South Africa, our plan is:

  • February: South America
  • March: Middle East
  • April to June: Europe

This may seem like a strange route, particularly the Africa – South America – Middle East bit, but we’ve strategized and planned, researched and experimented, and yep—this is the cheapest, best-weather route. We’re doing our best to chase warm weather, both for packing reasons and because well, warm weather.

It’s getting close!

Reading Time:

4 minutes

 

 

 

56 Comments

  1. Marla Taviano

    Super duper DUPER excited for you guys!!!! (and thanks for the 30-90 days out tip)

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Thanks, Marla!

  2. Kristin S

    Love seeing the itinerary!

  3. Sarah Belcher

    So exciting!! But where will you be staying? How much of the flight-planning and itinerary-creating is determined by where you will (or hope to) be living while in these different fabulous places? It seems like things could get really complicated when considering the flights and itinerary, along with the “we need to sleep somewhere for kind of a long-ish time, but sometimes not-so-long” factor. (Maybe you already mentioned something about this, but I may have completely missed it in my sleep-deprived and kind-of-fuzzy postpartum mental state!)

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      I haven’t talked about housing yet, Sarah, so you haven’t missed anything. And that’s coming up soon in another post! But we’re doing a combination of hotels/hostels, friends, guest houses withe non-profit we work with, and HomeAway/AirBnB homes. If we’re gonna be somewhere longer than a few days, we prefer a house, so we can cook meals and so our kids have more space to wiggle.

  4. Rebecca

    Yeah, Cambodia! You ARE coming here! Please let me know if you need any help in planning your travel here!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Thanks, Rebecca!

  5. Mandy Bopp

    So thrilled for you, Kyle and the kidlets. Can’t wait to follow along on your adventure!

  6. Shifra

    This is so exciting! Looking forward to reading about your adventures!

  7. Meghan G

    I’ve been fiollowing you for a little while now, and was so excited that you branched out in a travel website. So excited for your trip, and reading about it!!! My husband is from South Africa (though we live in the US) and we’ve travelled there twice as a family for 3 months each. I have three children and would love to share any insight I may have to help you enjoy South Africa as a family with littles. It’s an amazing place, amazing people, nature, food, beaches! Please contact feel free to contact me via email!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Thanks, Meghan! Would appreciate that for sure.

  8. Lisa

    How exciting to actually have the tickets booked! I’m still trying to figure out my timing and itinerary for SE Asia…but would love to meet up if we’re there at the same time! 🙂

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Keep me posted!

  9. Jackie M.

    I love seeing the beginnings of your plans! Can’t wait to follow along “virtually” on the trip!

  10. Kirsty

    Sounds so exciting – we are starting our travels in September too but heading to the USA first!! Please let me know if you want any middle east ideas – we’ve travelled a lot around this region – have a fabulous time – will be following your adventures 🙂

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Fun – enjoy!

  11. Judit Capellas

    Sooo enjoying this posts about getting ready for the trip!

    Just read you all will be in europe next spring!? Any chance you’ll be visiting Barcelona or Mallorca/Menorca or Ireland? Maybe we can meet up and show you the best places around -also babysit the kids while you and Kyle go out for date?

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      There’s definitely a chance, Judit! I’ll post here when we have firmer plans for the second half of our trip. Appreciate it!

  12. Shireen

    We are in Christchurch, New Zealand and would be happy to have you. You are here in our summer school holidays which can be good weather and can be not so good! If you need a bed for a night or two, then email me

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Shireen, we just may take you up on that! I’ll let you know. Thanks so much!

  13. Shireen

    We are in Christchurch, New Zealand and would be happy to have you. You are here in our summer school holidays which can be good weather and can be not so good! If you need a bed for a night or two, then email me

  14. Simone

    We are from Sydney, Australia. We have three kids around the same age as yours and would be happy to have you. Please contact if you need any local information or a place to stay.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Thanks, Simone!

  15. Erica Marbury

    Eeee! So excited for you guys! And for us to get the low down on the blog. So inspiring to see someone actually do this – it is possible. May it be filled with adventures, growth, and joy!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      It’s totally possible! Just takes a lot of planning. 😉 Glad you’re enjoying the blog!

  16. Desiree Fawn

    I am beyond excited to follow your adventures! Can’t wait to live vicariously through you guys just a little 😉

  17. Diana Trautwein

    Tsh! This is amazing! What a gift you’re giving yourselves — if you truly do go slowly. And it looks like you will. Prayers for safety and good health – those things you cannot plan ahead of time.

  18. Melissa McIntyre

    Eeeeeee! Soo excited for you all! My husband and I have longed for Africa for more than 10 years…. But since neither of us has even been “out west” we’ve decided to take the fam across the country to San Francisco where my sister-in-law and her husband are currently residing. There are 8 of us and we have an 8 passenger van so it shall be very interesting! We have no details yet, but are looking at going after Thanksgiving 🙂 Oh and by the way, I STILL love that pic. of you and Kyle…SOOOO happy! Makes me smile every time I see it!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Sounds exciting, Melissa! And thanks – I kinda like that pic, too… 😉

  19. Deborah P

    I cannot believe it’s just over a month away – that’ll seem like a week the way time is flying. You have been talking about this and I knew it was fall, but somehow seeing the actual date just brought it all nearer. Thank you so much for including us on your journey. I can’t wait to hear all about it and see the pictures. And, please, don’t hesitate to load up on the pictures – we promise not to FOMO!

  20. Katelyn

    What a fun announcement! I did a happy dance when we bought our one way tickets to move to South Korea for a year. We leave in less than a month. Having sone the planning to move somewhere for a set length of time I can completely understand everything involved in the planning aspects times multiple countries. Wow! I’m so glad you are sharing your experiences on this blog.

  21. Anchen le Roux

    I am sooo excited for you guys! Where are you coming to in South Africa? It would be lovely to meet up or help out with anything, advise, babysitting or a place to stay. We are from Pretoria and also have 3 kids ages 2-10.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      We’ll be heading in via Johannesburg. Looking forward to it! And thanks!

  22. Janie

    Planning is one of my favorite parts of travelling, especially for long, complex trips. I’m so looking forward to travelling vicariously along with y’all!

  23. Sarah Westphal

    Congrats! So excited for you all. Looking forward to the updates on your trip…when you have the internet capability to do so, of course!

    Has your house been sold already?

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      You’ll find out on Monday, when I write about what we’re doing with the house on AoS! 😉

  24. Ashley R

    I’ve been reading AoS for a few years (since I found it when looking for air travel tips with little kids) and am loving this blog, too. We live in Xi’an with our four boys and are neighbors with the people I assume you are coming to see. K and I have known each other for 15 years, since we shared our first trip to China. We just met D and the kids when they all moved here. Maybe I’ll get to meet you while you are here. Can’t wait to read about your travels!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      WOAH. That’s awesome, Ashley! Would love to meet you then. XO

  25. Kara

    Filing this away for future reference 🙂

    And, thanks for including some of your itinerary details. The Fleck Academy Homeschool will be following your adventures as part of our world geography lessons this year and you’ve given this mama a lesson planning head start, ha ha!

    MUCH love to you guys and SO excited this is finally happening for you!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Nice! I love that. (And I’ll be sharing soon what educational resources we’ll be using…)

  26. Gregory Goodhart

    It is exciting when the pieces start falling into place. Looking toward to the pictures on Instagram. Bon voyage!

  27. Karen

    Just buying tickets home to the US, via two legs, was an emotionally crippling feats of strength. I cannot imagine booking all this. Thank you for walking it through with us! This is great advice for any sort of air/international travel.

  28. Sunday Granger

    Hi Tsh! I’m loving your podcast and it sounds like things are getting exciting on your lead up to your big adventure! If you need any tips about what to do and where to go in Melbourne, Australia, I’d be happy to help out. Happy travels 🙂 S

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Thanks! Yeah, we’ll have a few days to spend there, so I’m open to any and all ideas…

  29. Alissa

    REALITY! It’s happening. So excited for you guys and for all of us that get to see the world through your eyes. I love the perspective that you’re not going to see it all. Too much, too big. And that’s okay. It also makes sense that you’ve committed to the first part of your journey… otherwise, you could easily be tempted to stay in each place for much LONGER than your plans/budget allow. Gotta keep moving!

  30. Dawn

    It’s really interesting to watch how a trip this big gets started logistically (of course, I realize we’re seeing just a small bit of here) – thanks for sharing! I see you’ll be in SE Asia in our fall/early winter. Just wanted to pass along that if you can be in Chiang Mai, Thailand, for one of their biggest celebrations of the year, Loy Krathong (technically, its 2 overlapping festivals) you could see some pretty amazing stuff. Yes, it is SUPER loud b/c of the crazy amts. of fireworks, but you can also watch thousands of air lanterns be launched simultaneously, float krathongs down the Ping River, etc. We just got back from living there for the past year and it was definitely a memory we won’t forget! (Or maybe you were there for Loy Krathong when you stayed there for a time period earlier in your family’s history? Just thought I’d pass it along …)

  31. Sophia

    Hi Tsh, I found your AoS website a couple days and have been enjoying it. Today I popped over to AoST and read that you’d be travelling to Hong Kong, which is where I live. Will this be your first visit to HK, and how long would you be staying? I’m wondering if there’s any information I can provide which would be helpful, such as local foods to try, places to see, maybe even the name of a doctor in case the need arises?

    Here are 3 websites that might come in handy:
    1) Popular restaurant review website contributed by locals:
    http://www.openrice.com/english/restaurant/index.htm

    2) MTR (subway) journey planner:
    http://www.mtr.com.hk/en/customer/main/index.html

    3) Timable (Local events website that covers all happenings in Hong Kong, from popular to indie ones. On the banner across the top, hover over “category” and take your pick)
    http://timable.com/en/

    Pls let me know if you have any questions. Have a safe and delightful journey! 🙂

  32. Melanie Hollis

    We are so excited that you have decided to include South Africa in your trip! It is such a special and beautiful country. We are in Pietermaritzburg in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, and would be happy to have you. Failing that, let us know if we can help you in planning your trip to this lovely part of the world!

  33. Karen

    THIS is incredible and I am looking forward to following along. Wish I could join you in the times of encouragement for those working overseas. It is my heart!!!!

  34. Devi

    Just catching up on this blog and whoa – you’re going to Sri Lanka?! Impressive. Send me an email if you have any questions about what to do there with kids (I’m from there originally and have a ton of family still living there). It’s a beautiful country – not without it’s sadness, of course – and full of lovely people and food and culture to experience.

  35. Faith Sims

    Well… I live in Georgia, USA, so can’t offer a place to stay. 🙂 However, I am very excited for you and thankful that you are sharing your trip with us.

  36. Anne

    Have you– or will you share how much money you are budgeting to do this? (I totally understand if you don’t want to go there, but am just curious what it would take to do this.) My husband and I have always talked about doing something similar. We just sold our house and have plans to build a new one, but have tossed around the idea of taking a year to travel before we are tied down again. He wants me to look into it, but before I put a ton of energy into it I’m wondering if it is even realistic ($ wise) right now or not.

  37. Laura Anderson

    Hello Tsh! Hey, are you planning a visit to Mozambique? I live in the capital, Maputo, so if you are coming, I’d love to play tour guide. Also, I’d be happy to give a few recs for South Africa if I can. I’m not too knowledgeable about the whole country but I know Mpumalanga/Kruger Park area decently well. I’d be happy to help if I could. Have fun! Laura

  38. Cori

    I research flights for a long time for just a cross-country trip. I can’t imagine how complicated it would be to go around the world! How fun!

  39. Doné

    Hi

    I am a new follower of your blog. I’ve been reading a few around the world travel blogs and you are the first one that is going to South Africa. I am a South African living in Australia and we are going to Namibia and South Africa next week. You are going to love the country. If you got any questions, please let me know.

    Love your packing lists.

  40. Doné

    And… I am also 37 and stopped colouring my hair last year and I am in love with my grey hair. I get so many compliments.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Selling vs. renting our house: how we knew the right choice (for us) | The Art of Simple - […] with a little ticket purchase last week, this summer has been a bit monumental for our family: we also…

Join thousands of readers
& get Tsh’s free weekly email called
5 Quick Things,

where she shares stuff she either created herself or loved from others. (It can be read in under a minute, pinky-swear.)

It's part of Tsh's popular newsletter called Books & Crannies, where she shares thoughts about the intersection of stories & travel, work & play, faith & questions, and more.