0 votes4 comments · Plan Your FAMILY RTW Trip » Day 25 - Accommodation Options · Flag idea as inappropriate… · Admin →
We have done some CouchSurfing as a family and it has been great! We wanted to stay with other families, and not with 20-something singles, which required a little more research. There is a "Family Welcome Group" on CouchSurfing and you can filter searches so that only members of that group come up in results. We have also sometimes used CouchSurfing to meet other families for meals or walks around a city, which is a great way to get to know a place. Usually you'll find that CouchSurfing hosts are very proud of their city and want to tell you all about it. We found it to be a great experience, and saved us some money, too. When we're not CouchSurfing, we stay in rental apartments found through airbnb or housetrip, with an occasional hostel or small hotel.
I just wrote a post for Suitcases and Sippy Cups on this very topic. I hope you don't mind me posting the link here. If you do, feel free to delete it.
It might sound like overkill, but for our 11-month trip, we brought a laptop or net book for each of the four of us, plus my kids each brought an iPod touch and a kindle. I brought an unlocked iPhone 4S, which serves as my only camera, and I could not be happier with my decision. I have been able to buy SIM cards in many of the countries we have visited, and I bought a international SIM card from Telestial to use in case of emergencies (but only in emergencies, because my phone eats up data really fast. My husband brought his HTC phone to use as a camera and a reader, but it is not unlocked, so that's all it's good for.
We opted not to get a fancy camera for this once-in-lifetime trip, and we haven't regretted it once. Well, maybe once when we saw some penguins from afar and wanted to photograph them.
I recommend getting some kind of backup charger for iPhones. We didn't but it would have come in handy.
0 votes1 comment · Plan Your FAMILY RTW Trip » Day 22 - Choosing Luggage · Flag idea as inappropriate… · Admin →
I loved Jennifer's advice on this. It really is such a personal decision, and based on so many factors. Since we've got two 13-year-olds who can lug their own stuff, we chose to each bring one carry-on size rolling suitcase (though they were still too big to carry on for the economy airlines like RyanAir) and a daypack. We knew we'd be taking a mix of planes, trains, buses and autos, and we didn't want to always have a backpack. If I had brought a larger case, I'm sure I would have figured out how to bring more stuff, which really isn't necessary. As it is, I have packed 19 kilograms of stuff into my tiny suitcase, because I am a master space manipulator, so I'd be paying extra baggage fees if my case were bigger. The only time I wished I'd had a backpack was when we had to lug our bags to a 5th floor walkup apartment rental. But we managed. Mostly, I was glad to have a bag with wheels to pull behind me.
The app I use to track expenses is Trail Wallet. It is very simple and fast to use, and you can record things in either the local currency or your home currency, and change currencies as you move from country to country.
For my daily budget, I looked at other people's RTW budgets and did just a little bit of preliminary research on lodging costs to come up with a number I thought we could work with. For the record, our daily expenses have been about $150 per day for a family of four, with a mixture of staying in hostels, hotels, rental apartments, couchsurfing, and staying with friends. That includes our time in the expensive countries, too. Some days in Asia our expenses were much lower - more like $40 or $50 per day, while some days in New Zealand were more like $300.
And I must say, as we've been traveling my ideas about lodging have changed a lot. At first I didn't want to stay in hostels, and when going to a city I was hesitant to try the super-cheap airbnb options. But now, I'm just really careful about reading reviews of places before staying, and many of the super-cheap options have been really great, not the flea-bitten party houses I had feared.
And couchsurfing has provided us with some of our fondest trip memories, though it's not always easy to set up for families.
I made only the most general budget outline before leaving, but it turned out to be not wildly inaccurate. I came up with a rough estimate for our airfare costs, and a daily budget for food, lodging, etc., which we've kept to pretty well, except in expensive countries like Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.
I really underestimated the costs of overland travel when I was planning for our trip. And those costs are not inconsequential!
We've found that tracking our expenses with a smartphone app as we're traveling really helps keep us on budget. The one we use tells us if we go over budget on any single day, and gives us our daily average for the month, so if we're overspending we can cut back as needed.
For my husband and I, it was something we had talked about doing for years, because we wanted to expand our kids' world view. When they hit 6th grade and we hadn't done it, we decided we'd better put a plan in motion before it was too late, when their friends and activities and pre-college requirements might take precedence. We left in the fall of their 7th grade year, and we could not have been happier with the decision. They are old enough to digest what they see and question assumptions, and it has been an incredible bonding experience for us.