Progress Update: Slow and Steady – 637 Days to go

Girl in dress looking at turtle walking down pathway

It is time for an update on our trip planning journey. It has been about 300 days since I started this blog and it is time to see how much progress we have or have not made.

Deciding the Route – This continues to evolve but we have definitely moved the needle on this one. The last 6 months of the trip are still relatively wide open as we really only know that Southeast Asia will constitute part of this leg. I believe that Isabella is going to vote Australia into the trip so that she can see a koala bear. Despite the uncertainty with the second half of the trip, we have pretty much aligned on the first six months. The family is looking forward to Canadian Camping and a Mediterranean Europe Fall. PROGRESS = B+

Establish a Budget – This has been a somewhat contentious topic but we have both made compromises. Increasing the original budget by 25% has made things more reasonable on paper. The spending buckets are more realistic now and we have been able to keep that ice cream allocation intact. The budget is for planning purposes and establishing some loose guardrails. We have hedged at the high end so as costs come in cheaper, we’ll have more discretionary spend available. PROGRESS = B

Determine the Transportation – We have decided not to buy “Around the World” plane tickets but instead purchase individual flights as we go. The costs were just too high for the four of us based on our rough itinerary. We are still deciding the vehicle for cross-country camping. The electric car is still in contention but it is looking more and more like a stretch. We have not really looked into any of the other segments of the trip yet. I believe my railroad ambitions in Europe will be replaced with the far more budget-friendly long haul bus. PROGRESS = C-

Align on Accommodation and Style – My wife and I are on the same page here most of the time. Accommodation in Canada will consist of predominantly campsites and roadside motels with the occasional Air BnB. One “rule” has been added to camping. If grizzly bears are in play, then the accommodation needs to have walls! Outside of North America, we will lean heavily on month-long Air BnB rentals. Where it makes sense, the cost savings on a four week plus rental through that platform are significant. We appreciate the kitchen, washing machines and other amenities that you can get through that booking engine. PROGRESS = B

Figure out Home-schooling – Understanding what is required from our school board was pretty straight forward. We will know where to look in a year and a half as we move things along. The last few months have made us aware of what teaching the kids at home or on the road will look like. We think we are up for the challenge. PROGRESS = B-

Save the Money – We have been very fortunate on this front. I got lucky and went back to work and Paige was able to hold onto her employment during the pandemics. We were able to funnel all the daycare savings directly to the trip fund. Currently we have 35% of our expected budget saved. PROGRESS = B+

Manage our Transition out of the Workforce – I think it is too early to start this in earnest. PROGRESS = N/A

Assemble the Gear – We just wrapped up a family camping trip with half the gear we normally bring and it went off well. We used our first new piece of gear bought specifically for our round the world trip. It is a fantastic little kettle for boiling water. It saved us some needed space. PROGRESS = C

Leverage Loyalty Programs – We started signing up for a bunch of travel loyalty programs. One unexpected outcome is we got notified of a flash sale on hotel gift cards. We took advantage and bought a bunch at a discount. PROGRESS = B+

Required Documentation – Isabella got an updated passport so that’s one less thing that has to be done. A lot of the other stuff needs to wait until later. PROGRESS = C+

Determine Medical Requirements – We have not made much progress here other than trying to pull together our individual vaccination histories. Why did I not keep a clear record anywhere! PROGRESS = D

Learn How to Blog – I create infrequent posts but at least I know how to do it. PROGRESS = C-

Get in Better Physical Shape – This has been an unfortunate disaster. The family was making good progress until the pandemic which wiped out six months worth of progress. PROGRESS = D

Improve Photography Capabilities – I knew nothing about my camera before. I thought I was getting better but it turned out to be a false start as last weekend, I could not even remember how to activate the timer. The GoPro has not emerged from its case this year. PROGRESS = D-

Improve Language Skills – I had been focusing on learning Italian through DuoLingo. I also took out some beginner books from the library. Paige and I are going to test out mandarin classes with the kids this winter. PROGRESS = C-

Engage our Network of Friends – We now mention our trip in conversations. Some people are skeptical. Some have started following this blog. Family on the other hand….. PROGRESS = C-

Overall Progress Rating – C+ Some of the fun was always supposed to be the planning. I think that has definitely been the case as the family dreams up destinations and pretends to fret about problems that are months away. The kids have started asking questions about countries to visit and overall we are beginning to get things on track.

Ciao for Now

Assembling the Music Play list – 641 days to go

Ipod Shuffle headphones charger on tabletop

I spend a lot of time at my kitchen table streaming music on youtube while working. Occasionally I come upon some gems that remind me of good times from travel long ago. Hearing the first couple of chords make me long for a travel adventure. Whenever I come across these songs, I begin to jot them down in my notebook. I hope when we finally take off we’ll have a great youtube playlist assembled that will keep us motivated. Our children generally drive our youtube viewing, and as a result, an inordinate amount of Disney soundtracks that pop up throughout the day.

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Building our travel budget – 2 years to go

Collage of International Currencies

I have to come clean. I love finance and budgeting. I “waste” hours a week on personal finance. I thought this part of the trip planning would be easy. It is in my wheelhouse. I have failed. Even with preliminary placeholders I just can’t get the left side to equal the right side.

When I started on this process, I threw out a nice round number that I “budgeted” for the trip. What I was really doing was putting down a number that I would be “comfortable” spending on the trip. Unfortunately, it seems like each week of research unlocks a new expense I had not considered.

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Should we travel with a bike rack? – 721 days to go

Bikes standing upright with child helmets and carrier seats attached

Michael is the one who is passionate to blog about this trip.  I read it and agree with most things —really not sure about the electric vehicle across Canada and into the Yukon part though!

But I am passionate about figuring out how to bike on our trip.

Our daughter Isabella is currently 5, the exact age that Julie, our youngest will be when we plan to take this trip.  Isabella learned to ride a 2-wheeler this year and I cringe at the thought of Julie missing this while we travel.  Watching Isabella make it around the block has been a joy for me during our family’s COVID-19 isolation.

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Can we use our existing car? 761 days to go

Chevrolet Bolt plugged in at a charging station

Last year we became a ONE car family. The reasons were threefold. First, I was not working. Second, we moved to a house that was within shouting distance of the subway. Finally, our second car had a major malfunction that we decided not to get fixed. Giving up that second car was a blessing in disguise.

We had always thought we would end up getting a new car when I went back to work. It would be that new car that we would drive across Canada in two years time. Now we do not see that happening. The question now is if our current car can handle the task.

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Three goals for the trip – 765 days to go

Two young girls holding a fresh starfish

While working at Walmart I adopted the practice of committing to only three things at any time. I found that spreading myself across many initiatives resulted in little progress against any of them. That practice from my work life has transferred well to our family vacations. For the most part, we try to keep our vacations focused on a couple key objectives. Our recent trips have been centred around escaping the grind, spending time with the kids and reliving our youth.

This brings me to an important part of goal setting for a family trip. It is important to establish the goals of your trip before you depart. It is equally important to share them with your family members AHEAD of time.

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Progress Update – 781 days to go

Apparently I started this blog about 200 days ago. The time did fly by and hopefully I can make more progress in the next 780 days. The ambition had been to share the progress our family is making towar our long term goal of traveling around the world with our children. We had set a date of July 1, 2022 for our departure and we would spend the next 2+ years planning how to make this dream come to life.

One of the purposes of the blog was to strengthen our resolve to actually undertake such a trip. We find that telling people about our dreams is a good motivator to see them through. We felt a blog was a great way to hold ourselves accountable. In the end it is our version of the “if you build it, he will come” mantra from Field of Dreams.

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Creating a list of the camping gear we will need – 790 days to go

Child in car surrounded with camping gear

While out on our morning walk I suggested to Paige that we keep our eyes out for a good deal on camping gear. Our current tent is in some rough shape and definitely needs to be replaced. We decided whatever tent we look at buying should also be the one we want to take across Canada in two years time. It got us thinking what else will we actually need for the camping leg of our trip. When we delved deeper we quickly realized that a decent amount of the gear we currently have is more than adequate. Yes there are a couple pieces that will need to be replaced but now we have two years to take advantage of sales and promotions to get the best possible deals. I am also hopeful some of these can become well received gifts for upcoming birthdays and holidays.

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Start signing up for some loyalty programs – 796 days to go

I have always limited my loyalty program participation to a narrow range of companies. As I continue to research our upcoming trip it makes sense to expand the list of programs that the family is affiliated with. With still over 2 years of time until we travel, some might end up justifying the sign up effort now. When we eventually take off, I can not wait to see what cost offsets these loyalty programs will have helped deliver.

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Time to learn about my camera – 815 days to go

Red Nikon Camera resting on a table

With schools shutdown here in Toronto, I get to spend the majority of my day with my two daughters in tow. Throughout the day I find myself reaching for my phone to take candid photos of them playing around the house. Today I handed the phone to Isabella so she could review the pictures and somehow she ended up changing the settings on my android phone. I have had that phone for over 2 years and I realized I have only ever clicked on the “take picture” button with the camera.

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