After a year on the road, as we settle back into our lives in San Diego, many people ask if we miss it…if we find our less adventurous lives boring. I’m sure the travel bug will bite again - there is so much to see in the world I can’t imagine ever exhausting our curiosity. And we know there will be many trips to the east coast US to visit family and friends. But in the immediate future, the prospect of getting on a plane right now, with all that comes with it, is extremely unappealing. When we started to think about it, and really look at the numbers, I guess it’s not surprising.
Since leaving San Diego the morning on the 23rd of August last year, we have spent over 147 hours in the air. That’s over six days…on a plane! That doesn’t even count layovers, which would add another 40 hours. Throw in travel time to and from the airport, waiting in the airport, and going through security, immigration, and customs, and the grand total comes to nearly 300 hours.
In that time, we have flown 60,289 miles (97,026 km). (Unfortunately, that was spread over 17 different airlines, so the only reward miles we earned were through our well used credit card!) We took 42 flights over the course of 28 days of travel. Our longest single flight was 14 hours, from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Auckland, New Zealand, a 6,400 mile (10,300 km) journey. Our longest single stretch of travel was from Kisumu, Kenya, to Lisbon, Portugal, via Nairobi, Kenya and Dubai in the UAE. That three-flight trip covered only 6,200 miles (9978 km), but with about 8 hours of layovers and pre- and post- flight nonsense, door to door the trip took over 25 hours.
Planes were not our only method of locomotion during our trip.
We’ve taken trains, both old fashioned and hi speed. We’ve taken ferries (sometimes around in circles by mistake). We’ve taken small boats and large. We’ve taken motorbikes, and taxis, and rental cars, and subways, and hot air balloons, and shuttle-buses, and tuk-tuks, and bicycles, and kayaks, and city buses, and funiculars, and trolleys, and off-road jeeps, and even soared down zip-lines and ridden on elephant back. And of course, we walked. In dense urban environments, up steep wooded mountains, across frozen glacial landscape, down quiet town roads. We walked to the grocery store. We walked for exploration. We walked for exercise. We walked for transportation. We walked to reach places the road does not go.
In all our travels, we only missed one connecting flight, from Sao Paulo, Brazil to Buenos Aires, Argentina, due to a delayed first flight out of New York City, and we got on the next flight just a few hours later. Our luggage was lost once, for five days in Africa, and did eventually arrive undamaged. There were no security problems and no immigration delays. (Though they did insist on dousing our hiking boots in industrial strength anti-viral liquid before allowing us into New Zealand!) We only missed one train, resulting in a surprise overnight stay in Hangzhou, China. All in all, not too bad!
But you can see one of the reasons why we chose to settle in about a dozen countries throughout the year as opposed to the more transient back-packer model of travel. Not even taking into consideration the cultural immersion benefits of long stays in one place, having time to decompress between these epic journeys provided much needed rest, recovery, and time for reflection outside of the chaos.
Was it worth it? Absolutely. The last year was absolutely amazing. All those miles and hours took us to 6 continents and 15 foreign countries (21 if you count the ones where we did not leave the airport, but I firmly believe you shouldn’t). We visited 29 UNESCO World Heritage sights. We tried endless varieties of new food. We saw dozens of animals we had never before seen in the wild. We met fascinating people from all sorts of cultures and walks of life. We have been reminded of the stunning beauty of the world and have seen fantastical displays illustrating the capabilities of the human race.
But one of the costs of these opportunities is the exhausting nature of world travel. The US, and our home in San Diego, have a lot to offer as well. It may not be a world wonder or a cultural adventure, but it sure isn’t a bad place to come home to:
And for now, we’re happy to be here.