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We had four goals for our time in Europe: 1) spend time with our friends Tammy and Aaron Oesting who are also on a RTW trip 2) carefully schedule our itinerary around Shengen rules 3) visit places we’d never been and 4) make our remaining money last.  After several weeks of research and Skype conversations, we decided that Turkey would be the perfect country for our friends-who-are-family-reunion, getting out of the Shengen zone, experiencing an entirely new culture and economizing.

 

We spent 16 nights in the small, but historically-significant town of Selcuk and 10 in cosmopolitan Istanbul. Our lodging costs were $4,725, happily coming in $720 under budget. Taking it slow in our “Garden House” in Sel...

 

So in Denmark we went to the world’s oldest working amusement park. Tivoli Gardens. Walt Disney actually went there for inspiration when he was constructing his Disneyland parks. It was only Bella and I who went on the rides, and we had a great time. 

 

The first ride we went on was a swing sort of ride where they strapped us in, and then a crane lifted us up into the air. My guess is that we were about 50 or more feet above where we started. You could see the whole park, which gave Bella and I time to check out what other rides we wanted to go on. For a person who’s terrified of heights, I wasn’t scared. Now I can’t say the same thing for Bella. She started telling me her life was flashing befor...

Here is the story of the great city of Troy, which fell to the hands of the Greek empire. Paris, son of King Priam, caused this war. He took Helen of Troy, then Helen of Sparta, to his homeland. King Menelaus was furious, so he called his brother, Agamemnon, ruler of Greece, to help him destroy troy (lol). They succeeded, and it was Paris’s fault. How this child lived for more than 20 years, I have no idea. Paris had Hector solve all of his problems, which I’m guessing Hector got pretty sick of after 3 years.

 

Paris and Hector were in Sparta in a time of peace. The two brothers partied for a few days, and all was fair. Then Paris decided to pay a visit to the Queen of Sparta, Helen, and ended up takin...

It was early on our last morning in South Africa. I sat in the cool brick patio of our Johannesburg guesthouse, editing photos of our amazing safari at Kruger National Park. Still sleepy, but slightly panicked, Rodrigo came out, “oh my god,” he said, “I think I need a visa for Dubai!” A quick scramble on the internet revealed that we’d failed one of the most basic tasks of travel planning. Indeed Brazilians DO need a visa to stay in Dubai, so we had to very quickly change our travel plans, including a spendy re-routing of our flight (5 people means even smallish change-fees add up!), and adding a full week to our visit to Athens.

 

Lucky for us, the Athens apartment that we’d rented for our originally...

We’d been driving along South Africa’s gorgeous southern coastline and the famous Garden Route for 10 days. Heather was my trusty navigator, spotting road signs, tracking our mileage, and guiding me through the turns. I’d gotten comfortable driving on the left side of the road from the right side of the car, but still appreciated her reminders to “hug, hug, hug the curb” when turning left.

 

Approaching Port Elizabeth we veered north, following signs for Addo National Elephant Park. Heather read our travel agent’s instructions aloud, guiding us towards River Bend Lodge, a private game reserve where we would stay for two nights and three days. We finally reached the massive gates and buzzed for permissi...

Our teens are great travelers, but they’ll be the first to tell you that they hate being tourists. They cringe when they see package-deal-holiday busloads unloading at site entrances. They’ll skittle away from groups in museums, lest someone think we’re with them. After almost a year traveling around the world with a 12-year-old and a 16-year-old, we’ve identified three types of not-so-touristy teen travel by tapping in to our kids’ passions and focusing on immersive activities.

 

First, consider language learning. In almost every major city we’ve been, from Mendoza to Madrid to Montpellier, we’ve seen language schools for older kids and teens. Many of these offer 1- 2- and 4-week summer camps with opt...

I hesitate to include a budget report about South Africa, as it was the only country where we stopped being independent travelers and hired both a travel agent and a safari company. Determining a plan for Africa took longer and was more difficult, somehow, than the other countries on our itinerary. Perhaps this was because Africa felt more unknown and dangerous than South America and Europe. (Read my blog post “South Africa: we are already looking forward to the day we return” for more details.)

 

Subsequently, South Africa was far more expensive than any other country and is not easily broken down into the categories I normally report on. That being said, a financial accounting of our trip would not b...

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