Deciding which countries to visit was not easy. We were keen to explore places we had never been before apart from the USA which we really wanted to discover again but with the kids in tow this time. We all had our part to play in the final destination list with Aidan keen to include Canada and Japan and David ensuring we had central America and Vietnam high on the agenda. As for me, I longed for Hawaii as well as China and to experience the extraordinary in the high plains of the Massai Mara National Reserve and Serengeti National Park in Kenya and Tanzania. Grace didn't have her say!
North America: USA and Canada
First stop: USA. Arriving in San Francisco on 1st September 2018, we are spending a month on the West coast with a planned road trip in a enormous RV. Then we head East for four weeks from early November kicking off our tour in New York, our starting point, before making our way to Montreal in Canada for our flight out to Nicaragua.
Early November, we will arrive in Nicaragua (once the rainy season has finished), the largest country in Central America, also known as the "land of lakes and volcanoes". With the Caribbean Sea to the East, the Pacific Ocean to the West, we are definitely planning lots of beach activities. We will land at Managua, then slowly make our way South to our next destination: Costa Rica.
To be honest, Costa Rica wasn't initially on our list, but to be able to fly to Cuba, it was easier to do it from San Jose. No offence to the Costa Ricans, sure they are really nice, but we might not be able to stay too long.
Arriving in Havana on the 5th of December and leaving just before Christmas, we are looking forward to seeing with our own eyes the iconic streets, vintage cars and sampling the culture on offer. We will need to plan this leg soon as you are restricted from booking on sites such as Airbnb once in Cuba.
From the 20th of December to the early February, we will be in Mexico, arriving in Cancun, from Havana. This is one of the countries we will be staying the longest in, mind you it is a pretty big country. We are considering making a detour to Belize and potentially Guatemala as we make our way West to Mexico City where we will be leaving the last Spanish-speaking country on our tour - hoping by then our Spanish will have evolved from dos cervezas...
9th of February, time to fly to Honolulu, where Katie timed the whole thing in order to be there for her birthday!! We will stay there just 2 weeks - yeah another mini holiday - just long enough for me (David) to realise surfing on the calm English West coast has nothing to do with surfing in Hawaii. We hope to have our good friends from London join us.
From a little island to a bigger one! We will spend the first part of March in Japan, just in time for the cherry blossoms, known in Japan as sakura. You can't say we didn't get the timing perfect for this one. Arriving in Tokyo, we aim to check out the rest of the country with their extremely reliable train service.
We will be leaving Japan to head to China, or the People's Republic of China to be precise, arriving in Beijing mid March. From there we have about a month to get to Hong Kong. We are still planning this leg but one obvious stop along the way: The Great Wall. From friends' advice and some reading, we will try to travel by train to discover the Chinese way of life, on board and through the window.
This is going to be our last stretch in Asia but the longest too. We will be arriving in Hanoi, capital of Vietnam since the reunification of North and South Vietnam, mid April and have more than two months to explore it. We will have all this time to gradually make our way South to Ho Chi Min to catch our departure flight in July to Africa.
We are heading to Kenya for three weeks from early July, the penultimate destination of our world family trip. What a way to bring our voyage to an end. The kids are so excited about the prospect of a safari if we can find one we can take Grace on without scaring the wildlife. We will no doubt head to the high plains of the Massai Mara National Reserve and if possible cross into Tanzania as we discover the awe-inspiring Serengeti National Park. Bring on the Big Five.
The indulgent last leg of our journey and our way to acclimatise before heading back to London. We are spending just over 10 days from the end of July in Greece, hopefully on one of the islands to soak up the last rays of the southern European summer sun, top up the tan before reality hits us that this family world trip is over.