In 2014 and 2015, we spent 13 months traveling around the world. If you are considering long-term travel and need some inspiration, or just want to find out what we did, here is our around the world itinerary.
An Overview of our Trip
Duration: 13 months, 396 days
Countries visited: 35
Distance traveled: 87,314 miles
Nine of the 13 months were spent in Asia. We had several reasons for doing this. Asia is one of the cheaper places to travel through, so our money could go farther here, helping us stick to our budget. Second, it takes a long time to travel to Asia from the east coast of the USA, so we wanted to explore this region thoroughly while we had the luxury of time. And finally, there is SO MUCH to see in Asia, a continent that was brand new to us before starting this around the world trip.
We spent less time in more expensive countries, such as Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Japan did not even make it on our original itinerary simply because it can be so expensive, but we did end up adding it in, anyway. It was a great decision; Japan is now one of our favorite countries.
We did not visit South America on this itinerary. For one thing, we ran out of time. Plus, it’s fairly easy to fly from the US to South America, so we could visit this continent once we were home again.
Our Around the World Itinerary
New York City – June 29, 2014
From Maryland, we took the Bolt Bus to New York City. In Times Square, we snapped a family photo and then boarded our flight to Europe. Hello world, here we come!
Copenhagen, Denmark – June 30
We landed in Copenhagen and had a six hour layover before our flight to Rome, Italy. This was just enough time for lunch in Nyhavn and before we knew it, we were on our way to Rome.
Our route through Europe
Italy and The Vatican – July 1 to July 25
Since we traveled as a family, we had to adjust to being with each other every moment of the day. We wanted to get into this new groove of traveling in a place that felt somewhat familiar to us. For us, this “familiar” place was Europe. We did not want to deal with culture shock, exotic locales, and a new style of traveling all at once, so Italy made it as our first destination of the trip.
Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein – July 25 to August 6
After spending several days in Berchtesgaden, Germany, we made Garmisch-Partenkirchen our home base. From here we explored Liechtenstein (with a very brief visit to the unexciting town of Buchs, Switzerland), Innsbruck, Austria, and Rothenburg, Germany. From Munich we flew to Africa, to a brand new continent for us.
Our route through Southern Africa
Southern Africa – August 7 to September 17
Johannesburg, South Africa
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and Zambia
Chobe National Park, Botswana
Mlilwane Animal Sanctuary, Swaziland
Blyde River Canyon, South Africa
Kruger National Park, South Africa
St. Lucia and iSimangaliso National Park, South Africa
Drakensburg, South Africa
The Sani Pass & Lesotho
Addo Elephant Park, South Africa
Garden Route: Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, Oudtshoorn, Hermanus
For six weeks, we toured southern Africa on one epic road trip. We logged thousands of miles, driving through Botswana and a huge portion of South Africa.
United Arab Emirates – September 17 to September 21
Our flight from Johannesburg, South Africa to Kathmandu, Nepal had a layover in Abu Dhabi. We changed this layover into a stopover, spending just three days here, just enough time to climb the world’s tallest building and drink cappuccinos sprinkled with gold, before entering Asia.
Our route through Nepal, Bhutan, and India
Nepal – September 21 to October 17
We planned our entire itinerary around being in Nepal at the end of September, the start of the trekking season to Everest Base Camp. Most people make the trek in early to mid-October. We took our chances, starting a week earlier, to minimize the number of people on the trail. We got lucky that monsoon season did not run late and we had a fabulous experience.
While in Nepal, we also toured Kathmandu, Patan, Bhaktapur, and Pokhara.
Bhutan – October 17 to October 23
With a daily tariff of $250 per person (about half that cost for kids) Bhutan was a budget breaker. We almost did not include this into our itinerary because of the high daily cost. But because we had Nepal and India in our itinerary, we were so close to Bhutan that it seemed a shame to skip over it.
It was an awesome decision to include Bhutan in our around the world itinerary. Bhutan is now one of our favorite spots in the world…it’s exotic, tranquil, incredibly beautiful, and a unique destination that we were very lucky to visit.
We spent just a week here, just long enough to see the highlights and fall in love with Bhutan. I have a feeling we will be back again someday…
India – October 23 to November 28
Our grand tour of India started in Siliguri on Diwali. Immediately, we were thrust into the amazingly colorful, intriguing culture of this country. After a few days in the cool, misty hill town of Darjeeling, we flew to Mumbai, where we hopped to Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Jaipur, Agra, Delhi, Varanasi, Khajuraho, and Kolkatta.
It was in India that I got sick with dengue fever and Kara dealt with homesickness. It is no secret that we were not big fans of India during our five week visit here. In fact, we considered skipping the last several weeks, shortening our itinerary and traveling to Myanmar or Thailand early. But our time in India changed us in so many ways…how we travel, who we are as a family, and how we think about our place in the world.
Our route through Southeast Asia
Myanmar – November 28 to December 11
In Myanmar, our first week was spent in Yangon, getting visas for Thailand, doing a little sightseeing, and getting get caught up on things like homeschooling and future trip planning. Then we took a bus north to visit the temples of Bagan. From Mandalay we flew to Bangkok, Thailand.
Thailand – December 11 to January 11
Bangkok is an amazing city and a great launching point for exploring Southeast Asia. We spent several days here before flying to Krabi, Thailand. We wanted to be somewhere extra special for Christmas, and with beautiful beaches, rock climbing, and snorkeling, Krabi was perfect.
After nine days in Krabi, we flew back to Bangkok, and then hopped to Ayutthaya, Sukhothai, Chiang Mai, and Chiang Rai using public transportation. For our most memorable New Year’s Eve yet, we spent the night launching paper lanterns into the sky, a unique and unforgettable Thai experience.
Laos – January 11 to January 18
We spent just one week in Laos and this was not enough time. Laos blew away our expectations, and I wish we spent more time here.
Leaving Thailand behind, we drifted down the Mekong River for two days, our journey ending in Luang Prabang. This small, French city in the Laos jungle was a joy to explore. From Luang Prabang, things kept getting better with a flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Cambodia – January 18 to January 31
We spent two weeks in Cambodia. Our first week was spent exploring the temples around Siem Reap. From Siem Reap we spent several days in Phnom Penh, visiting the Killing Fields, and ending in wonderful little Kampot.
Vietnam – January 31 to February 25
We explored Vietnam from bottom to top, starting on Phu Quoc Island and slowly hopping northward, ending in Hanoi. From Hanoi, we traveled overland into China, taking a series of buses to get to Nanning.
Our route through China and Taiwan
China, Hong Kong, & Macau – February 25 to March 25
From walking on the Great Wall, visiting the Forbidden City, cycling among the fantastic scenery in Yangshuo, to visiting Zhangjiajie, our time in China was extraordinary. Hong Kong was just as amazing, although our side trip to Macau was a bit of a letdown.
Taiwan – March 25 to April 8
With two weeks, we toured the most popular spots of Taiwan, the highlights being the city of Taipei, hiking Teapot Mountain, exploring Taroko National Park, and eating at the night markets.
Fiji – April 9 to April 17
Again, we turned a layover into a stopover. Our flight from Taiwan to New Zealand flew through Fiji, so we plopped ourselves down in paradise for one wonderful week.
New Zealand – April 17 to May 11
Te Anau & the Milford Sound
Mt Cook/Aoraki NP
Motueka & Abel Tasman NP
Blenheim & Marlborough Wine Region
Turangi & the Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Hamilton, Matamata, & Hobbiton
New Zealand was our favorite country on our around the world itinerary. It’s gorgeous, it’s adventurous, it’s clean and quiet, and it’s a joy to explore.
Australia – May 11 to June 11
Australia was one of our most expensive countries on the list, but that’s OK, we thoroughly enjoyed our time here. Tasmania was our favorite spot, but Melbourne, the Great Barrier Reef, and Uluru were also pretty awesome.
Bali – June 11 to June 23
For some much needed chill time, we relaxed in the cultural heart of Bali, Ubud, followed by surfing and beach time in Seminyak.
Singapore – June 23 to June 28
As the end of our trip loomed out in the distance, we began hopping from country to country, trying to see as much as possible before this amazing adventure came to an end. For a quick five days, we toured the highlights of Singapore, then hopped over to Kuala Lumpur.
Kuala Lumpur – June 28 to July 1
Tim found a series of cheap flights linking Singapore to Japan, and Kuala Lumpur was on the list. We were here just long enough to see the Petronas Towers and to learn that Kuala Lumpur was much more interesting than we expected it to be.
South Korea – July 1 to July 7
We were in South Korea during the MERS epidemic. Unfortunately, because of MERS, the DMZ was “closed,” so we missed seeing it, a huge bummer. With just a week, we spent a few days in Seoul and then spent a little time exploring Jeju Island.
Japan – July 7 to July 23
Japan is amazing. It’s also extremely hot and uncomfortable during the mid-summer months. The food, the culture, the temples, the history…Japan is a place we cannot wait to explore again…just not during the summer.
USA – July 23 to July 29
New York City
Bus to Maryland
From Tokyo, we flew to Los Angeles. How strange it felt to back in the good ole USA. By this point in our travels, we were exhausted and actually looking forward to being “home.” The thing is, we had no house, since we sold it to take this trip, but still it felt wonderful to be heading back to our hometown.
We spent a few days in the stupor of jet lag, touring LA, before flying to New York City. It felt great to connect the dots on the map, getting back to the starting point of our trip around the globe. From NYC, it was one final 4 hour bus ride back to Maryland.
Life After an Around the World trip
Just because our trip around the world came to an end, our travels did not have to end, also. Now we are home owners, work full time jobs, and have two kids in public school. Still, we find the time to travel. In fact, we make it a priority.
For us, an around the world trip did not extinguish our wanderlust. It’s still there, burning as brightly as before that first flight to Copenhagen. Now, we travel every chance we get, traveling to new countries, and exploring parts of the US that are still brand new to us.
Who knows, maybe someday, we will circle the globe again…
Are you Considering a Trip Around the World?
Visit our Around the World page, where we offer information about all phases of long-term travel, including the planning phase, what it’s really like to be on the road, and what it is like to come home.
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All of the maps on this post were made on Travellerspoint.com. It is a free service offered on their website. They also provide other travel planning advice.