This adventure is more than two years in the planning. It started with an idea: what if I took a sabbatical from my job as a consumer investigative reporter, threw backpacks on the boys and myself, and left to experience the world? What if Neerav could take time off from his job, too, and join us? Where would we go? How would we get there? And not the least of which, how would we pay for the trip?
We decided on an itinerary based on cities where we have friends, countries where we have personal connections, and locations where we’ve always wanted to explore. We also wanted to maximize our round-the-world airline tickets in terms of number of stops, legs, and miles. We purchased the vast majority of the flights for this trip with frequent flyer miles. We did pay for regional flights in Tanzania and regional flights in Southeast Asia using Bangkok Airways Discovery Airpasses.
Once we determined a route, I spent a great deal of time researching our destinations,
both reading guidebooks in an armchair at my neighborhood bookstore and then online. I poured over reviews on TripAdvisor.com. I then put together a family-focused day-by-day itinerary.
In London, Dar es Salaam, and Dubai, we will be the guests of gracious friends. In Amsterdam, we’ll stay in our first youth hostel. In Groningen, Netherlands, and on our budget safari, we’ll camp. The rest of the time, we’ll be staying in modest hotels, all chosen in advance with emphasis on having an authentic experience. There’s no chains on this trip, with one notable exception. On the island of Moorea off the coast of Tahiti, we will be staying at my dream hotel, the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa, partially booked on long-saved Hilton HHonors points. If it’s half as breathtaking as the photos, it will be a perfect end to our long journey.
I’m not going to lie and say this adventure is cheap; it’s not. However, through the use of frequent flyer miles, hotel points, and other cost-savings measures, it’s not as expensive as it could have been. Along the way, I hope to share with you some strategies that we used to keep costs down without sacrificing fun. My hope is that you can then use the advice in your own travel planning for your family.
In addition, every one in our family has made sacrifices over the past two years. The kids have donated their allowances, birthday money, and Christmas money. We’ve sold possessions on Craigslist and at garage sales. And we’ve set aside a percentage of our paychecks to fund this grand adventure.
In the end, we believe that we can’t put a price on the time that we’re about to spend together as a family and the memories that we hope to make.
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