One of the questions we get a lot is “Where are you going next?”. Sometimes we aren’t sure of the answer, other times it’s long and convoluted and by the time I finish answering I notice eyes glazing over. It’s possible to notice eyes glazing over even on Facebook, BTW.
But sometimes we plan ahead and can answer easily and succinctly. Now is one of those times, although my love of background info causes me to never be succinct. First I must answer the other question we get a lot: “How do you decide where to go?”. Hang on, there’s a cool map coming up, you don’t want to miss it.
We base our destination decisions on these main criteria:
- Visa: first and foremost. No, not the credit card. The thing that tells us how long we can stay somewhere, as tourists from the US. And it varies according to country or geographical area. Furthermore, if we want to stay longer, is it complicated? In Panama, we just had to exit and re-enter the country every 3 months. In Mexico, we had to leave every 6 months but could go right back in. In Europe in the Schengen Zone we can only stay for 3 months and then we have to leave ALL 26 countries in the Schengen zone for 3 months before we can then come back for 3 months. So every place is different and the very first thing we look at are the visa requirements.
- Weather: Sing it with me: We like warm weather, we cannot lie. Those other weathers can’t deny. Warm weather is easier for packing, it’s what we are used to, it has that “vacation” feel and it just makes
Daneveryone happier. We have always loved water fun so we tend to go places – and at specific times – when weather is favorable.
- Events: Sometimes there is an event in a particular country that we want to attend, such as a family summit in Mexico, or seeing tulips in Holland in April. So we put those events into the calendar and work around them, usually filling in the gaps with some semblance of convenient travelling nearby.
- People: We don’t know a huge number of people who are travelling the world like us. But when we know someone who will be somewhere that fits our other criteria, we try to meet up with them. In some cases we try to go places where we know there will be other Worldschoolers. So even if we don’t know people there yet, we know we will.
- Comfort: This travel is our life, it’s not our vacation. When you go on vacation you might tolerate a different level of comfort for a little while in exchange for the adventure. That might mean sharing a bed with your germy sister or dealing with sucky internet or eating cereal while standing over a bathroom sink in the hotel room. For us, our home is wherever we happen to be that day. So we like our comforts. That means space for the kids (their own bedrooms when possible, or at least their own beds), a comfortable living area for Netflix watching, food that is easy to find and even easier to cook, fast and stable internet and all of this for a decent price. If we can’t find most of those comforts, we keep looking until we can.
That being said, here is our plan for the next 48 days (or so):
And in this particular case, here is what guided our plan:
Barcelona: Yes, we’ve been to Spain before, and in fact this will be my 3rd time in Spain. But when we were there before it was winter and that means it was coooold in Northern Spain. As I said, we don’t like
Dan when he’s cold. So we vowed to return to see Northern Spain when it was warmer. That’s now. There’s a few things we really really want to see in Barcelona so we decided to go there. We planned to stay in that area for a few more weeks to enjoy the warm weather while Europe still allows us to hang out, but it’s freaking expensive for even a few items on the comfort list. Further searching caused us to stumble across an Airbnb further down on the coast. This Airbnb specifically mentioned the internet speed (100 MBPS), the smart TV size (44 inches), the mattresses (brand new), the beach (in front) and the pool (community, which means kids). All of that for a relatively good price too. So off we go to the coast south of Alicante (which happened to be one of our favorite cities in Spain anyway) for 3 weeks of fun in the sun. I’ve nicknamed it “Operation Allison Gets A Tan”. Haley has other nicknames for it that do not involve getting a tan because you can’t get a tan from the lights in your room.
After Spain we have about 4 weeks before we have to leave Europe. We knew we wanted warm weather and to see some interesting and significant things so Italy fit that bill nicely. But there’s a lot to see in Italy. We decided to do as much as possible in a short time, so we will be hopping – fast – through 5 cities in under 3 weeks. This will be the fastest we have ever traveled for such a lengthy stretch, but knowing that we’ve just had 3 weeks relaxing in Spain, and our destination after Italy will also be relaxing and more settling, we decided to just go for it.
This brings us to our final destination on this plan… Chiang Mai, Thailand. Yep, it’s time for a continental shift. We want to visit Asia and after meeting some teens in South Africa who participate in retreats around the world, Haley has signed up to attend a month-long teen retreat in Thailand. Although most teens attend these retreats without parents in that country, we decided we’d like to be
helicopter parents in the same country as Haley while she’s off growing up and stuff. So that means Thailand in November. And the more we looked into Thailand, the more it fit a lot of our wish list; it’s warm, it’s cheap (which means you can buy your comforts easily), there are a lot of other Worldschoolers there, there’s a lot to do and it’s easy to stay for awhile as there are several lengthier stay visa options. So, Thailand it is, starting on July 14th, for at least 4 months.
After Thailand? Well, we haven’t planned THAT far out, but the girls have requested that we go to a Spanish speaking country again so they can continue to work on their language skills and maybe even go to school again. Medellin, Colombia for Christmas has been on our list for awhile so we might just end up there, and then follow it with some warm weather travel through South America in 2018. That part is still iffy so you’ll just have to follow along to find out. Or maybe if you go there, we’ll make it a plan to go there too. See how that works? You can actually influence our plan!
Will this plan work out exactly as we hope it will? Surely not but we hope so. But it’s a good place to start, and it’s really fun making maps with arrows.