I’ve been planning, scheming, making lists, budgets and researching everything for months. I’m even having dreams, (some may call them nightmares), about details yet to be taken care of.

One of the most difficult parts of the lead up process, to our big year away, is not having specific deadlines. There are so few restrictions and absolutes being placed on me and it is a strange feeling. Nobody is telling me that I need to have tasks complete by a certain date. I don’t think I’ve ever operated with this kind of freedom. On one hand it is amazing and I love it. On the other hand, I’m a bit unsure of myself. It is hard to know anything, instinctively, when you have never done it before.

In order to combat this, I am approaching everything as a beginner. I assume I don’t know the first thing about booking flights, for example. Then I research all the different possible scenarios, within the few parameters we have established. By working in this way, I was able to cut off a huge chunk of our airfare budget. Once I accomplished that, I knew it was time to start booking some of the amazing deals I had stumbled across.

From the start, I assumed the most logical and least expensive way to travel would be along the shortest routes, regardless of destination. With this thinking, we were planning on heading down to North Africa from Barcelona and then heading East to Jordan and on to South East Asia. The starting point in Barcelona was fixed and so was Christmas in Bali. 

Another objective has been to follow the heat of the sun. The more research I did, it became clear that Morocco and Jordan might not be so warm in November and December. It would mean that we would need to pack another layer of clothing that we hoped to leave at home. While these 2 countries were so close to each other and to Spain, it was not inexpensive to be heading in an Easterly direction.

Then I wondered what the cost would be to head directly to Asia from Barcelona? Turns out, really cheap. Once in that region, getting over to Bali is easy and really inexpensive. I managed to shave off $4K CAD from our airfare budget by flipping around the country stops. Of course, we lose out on a bunch of star alliance air mile points, but that is perfectly fine with the flight options I found.

So I’ll re-cap our plan which is now set from September 1, 2017, day one, through the end of the year. Now, it is starting to feel real. Whereas before, the trip was just plans on maps, budgets and in my head as an idea. Now we have bookings and plane tickets set for this first part. 

Map one – drive from home to Calgary, fly to Barcelona with a plane change in Montreal

Map two – fly from Barcelona to Bangkok with a plane change in Moscow

Map three – Bangkok to Siem Reap. This is actually not booked yet, we could save a bunch more money by taking a bus. But I’m not sure if we are up to that, crossing an International border in that part of the world where you need a VISA, etc. I’ve left the cost of a flight in the budget.

Map four – but we will take a bus through Cambodia, from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh. $15 USD each for an air-conditioned coach and a 6 hour direct ride.

Map five – fly from Phnom Penh to Denpasar with a plane change in Kuala Lumpur.

Months ago I made the commitments for accommodations in Bali and Barcelona. The Christmas time period always books up early in the year for a resort destination. As well, Barcelona long-term rentals, in our price range were not exactly plentiful.

The key for us is to stick as closely as possible to the $100 CAD per night. That is roughly what it costs for us to live in our house per night. Mortgage, property taxes, insurance, utilities, everything – all in. Surprisingly, it is difficult to tick off all the boxes of the amenities we have here. But, that is not the point of travel, to replicate what we have at home. We are looking to change things up and have an adventure. So my main search criteria has been for 3 beds and wifi. If we can manage 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, great. If we can also get a kitchen and laundry facilities, super great.

I will write about what we have found along the way, pro’s and con’s to all the places and practicalities. But, suffice to say we got everything on the list for Barcelona. 6 days in Bangkok is not booked yet, but it seems we can find a hotel in our budget. Siem Reap is a hotel with a pool and 2 rooms, one for the kids and one for us. No kitchen facilities, but breakfast included in the room rate. Phnom Penh also not booked yet. Then in Bali, we have managed to get villas in 3 different locations, each with pools and walking distance to the beach.

It is hard to predict if everyone in my family will be happy with all these arrangements. I’m sure there will be some hiccups along the way. But I think that is part of the travelling experience I am really looking forward to. Not problems, per se but the ability to find creative solutions as things come up. But that will be for future posts and videos!

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Christine Westermark

Chief Creative enjoying life with family and friends. Wholeheartedly in loving relationships and developing amazing projects. Gratefully reading, writing and creating everyday!
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