Around the world in 52 days. Not quite the journey of Phileas Fogg and Passepartout but we've been on planes, cars, buses, multiple types of trains, ferries. I think we should have thrown in a hot air balloon to round it all out but I'm not sure where there was time for that. According to the travel calculator, we travelled 24,646.037 miles over the summer of 2013 which doesn't include all of the driving around. From big cities to quiet beaches, it has been a memorable and absolutely fun-filled summer. The boys are excited to have done the circumnavigation. Now we just need to get over the jet-lag before the boys start school in three days!
Things that worked: Flexible packing -- we had a couple of bigs bags we could leave behind that held various location specific things like tennis rackets when we didn't need them. We could then pack and travel more lightly in our north face duffle bags. These worked well as carry-ons for US domestic flights as well as getting on and off of trains for two weeks in Japan. They can be carried as backpacks or duffles which made it really easy.
Japan Rail passes -- huge savings and easy to use. I feel like I've reclaimed my lost youth and done the whole training thing now. We upgraded them to green so we had reserved seating which was was important on the more crowded routes as I wouldn't have liked to be finding seats with the kids.
Food -- I'm not particularly interested in food as a rule. It's there, I eat it, I enjoy it but I don't put a lot of thought into it. For all of us, the food on this trip really stood out. From the street food at Taste of Chicago to Michelin starred restaurants to ryokan meals in Japan, we all ate well and a huge variety. The kids tried it all. Liked some, didn't like some, but gave it all a try and never once demanded McDonald's. They even survived two days of vegetarian food at the monastery.
Things that stand out:
- The early morning lakefront in Chicago
- The ferry rides in Seattle
- The crafts and small towns in Japan
Things that didn't work
Domestic US air travel takes far more energy than it should. The move to "self-service" check-in which has no easy mechanism for sorting problems is a real headache. Baggage charges at every turn, even when paying for unaccompanied minors, left me feeling nickel and dimed.
Other than that the children say it was "a nice trip and perfect and exactly what I wanted it to be"
Obviously "Around the World in 80 Days" is the appropriate book for this trip. Chris Bradford's Young Samurai series gets the nod from the boys for the Japan portion of the trip (and probably credit for the younger one choosing Japan as a desintation).