So I thought I’d share some background on how this crazy trip got started and how it has developed over time. It’s been a process, let me tell you!
Both of us enjoy travel and we’ve hoped to take a couple of trips when we moved out of Kodiak. The first was a long overdue visit to our friend Devin, in Japan. The second was a visit to the East Coast, to some family and friends that we haven’t seen in awhile. Fred started thinking about combining those trips and we started looking at tickets. Given that they are opposite directions from the west coast, where we’d be starting, we quickly realized that we’d either need adjust the trip contents or the trip timing and make them two trips.
Then I started doing some dreaming, and a friend from Kodiak moved to Egypt, and suddenly we were thinking of a much longer, more involved possibility. I looked at round the world (RTW) tickets and got a preliminary price quote, which opened new doors as we realized that RTW tickets with multiple stops could cost barely more than just the San Diego to Tokyo tickets. All of a sudden it made sense to take our normal length trip and turn it into a more prolonged vacation. After all, we’d be between jobs and already moving around, why not make the trip epic? So I did more looking and found equivalent flights from budget airlines through sites like Kayak and Hopper and we thought that was going to be our plan.
We made a target itinerary and I went to the individual airlines’ sites to get the actual tickets. And promptly realized that I had miscalculated, because many budget airlines don’t include carryon luggage in the cheapest tickets. So once I adjusted cost to include carryon luggage it was no longer a huge savings. In fact, round the world tickets (through Air Treks) cost the same or a little less and would let us check a bag if we needed.
We wanted flexibility in our West Coast time, so started and ended our RTW tickets from San Diego. We left holes in the itinerary, to be filled by rental cars, trains and budget flights (where needed). Air Treks has great customer service and helped us figure out where to leave holes and where to lock down flights. They have managed flight status changes, of which there have already been several, and presented travel insurance options.
We have since filled the itinerary holes with rental car reservations for the East Coast, train plans for Central Europe, and a flight from Prague to Athens, where our itinerary picks up with the flight to Egypt. It sounds so easy, reading it here, but those three legs took hours of research! I compared trains, flights and cars for cost and time for each of those legs. I found several ways to buy train tickets and crunched numbers again and again with different combinations of individual and group tickets, of passes and station-to-station tickets. And I spent hours just on the Prague to Athens leg, looking for bus and train options to get down, getting excited about exploring in layovers like Belgrade, Dubrovnik, or Thessaloniki. Hours of research and brainstorming culminating in a quick, cheap flight with Aegean Air. And giving us more time to explore southern Greece, which makes it a win/win/win!
So far we have ferry and plane tickets and car reservations, with train tickets still to be ordered. City pass reservations for some places, Airbnb reservations, so many tickets, so much paperwork! There’s a lot left to do and the trip approaches quickly, but a lot is done already. And soon we’ll be on the road!