So Many Countries, So Little Time

So how do you decide where to go when you’ve devoted an entire year to circling the globe? Whatever you do, you don’t leave it to the six- and three-year olds. A few months ago we gave Kieran and Asher a box of giant tacks and let them have their way with the world map I’ve posted on my bulletin board. Their only instruction was to stick a pin in each location they wanted to visit. The results were intriguing to say the least–Brazil, Mauritania, Algeria, Nigeria, Chad, Egypt, Poland, Kazakhstan, Siberia, China and Australia–a carefully crafted itinerary highlighting political instability and uncomfortable climates. The rest of us scoured books, magazines, and our imaginations for places that inspired us or held a particular appeal. For some reason, Dax has always wanted to visit Bhutan, the Himalayan kingdom only accessible by air. It sounded great until we realized the only way to enter the country is with a state-sponsored tour operator at a fixed daily rate. $1200/day for the six of us didn’t seem like an effective use of our finite funds, so we told him Bhutan would have to wait.

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Ultimately, the final decisions came down to 3 criteria: 1) Can Delta get us there on our round the world frequent flier tickets? 2) Are there any Starwood hotels there (we have points with them)? and 3) Will it be cost effective for us to stay there for an extended period? While #1 and #2 open up a surprisingly large percentage of the civilized world for us, #3 is the most limiting factor. We’ll dabble in some more expensive first and second world countries, but spend most of our days in the developing world.
Delta gives us six stops which must be sequenced in a continuous east to west or west to east direction. After multiple attempts and many hours on the phone, we came up with the following route, which bounces back and forth between hemispheres in a noble attempt to avoid winter and the need for bulky clothing:

Leg #1 Salt Lake City to Auckland, New Zealand;

Leg #2: Sydney, Australia to Beijing, China
Leg #3: Mumbai, India to Capetown, South Africa

Leg #4: Capetown to Tunis, Tunisia

Leg #5 Tunis to Munich, Germany

Leg #6:Munich, Germany to Rio de Janiero, Brazil

Leg #7: San Jose, Costa Rica to Atlanta

Overland travel, which could involve buses, trains, boats and other non-Delta flights will take us through VietNam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Namibia, Turkey, Greece, Croatia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Austria, Morocco, Argentina, Chile, and Peru. I’m really hoping to sneak in Easter Island, but we’ll have to see how much money is left by the time we hit South America.

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