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Posted on Apr 4, 2013

How Do RTW Family Travelers Plan Their Travel Itinerary?

How Do RTW Family Travelers Plan Their Travel Itinerary?

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A Spirit-ful Blend of  Serendipitous Wind Dancing and Calculated Pre-Planning

So, now you don’t have to read the article cuz I just gave it away in line one. But if you are so inclined to understand how that dance comes to play, how that actually looks and feels and tastes in real life on the road rtw travel days, read on. I want to thank you again for challenging me with these awesome nuts and bolts questions. Answering them ALWAYS make the best posts.

So, there are two very clear things that carve out our travel itinerary. It’s a sweet tune that goes something like what the Beatles coined so nicely in “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” There is what we plan (sometimes) and what happens (always).

Interested in the insights on how it all pans out from year three of life on the road? Here we go:

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Pre-Planning

This is 100% the Kobi department. Remember, I’m the dreamer; He’s the doer. I say, “Dear, wouldn’t it be so cool to hike the Annapurna Circuit” or “Sh-mukums, how about a year-long little biker-ride through Europe?” in which case he always huffs and puffs, usually grumbles or throws something at me, and heads over to Uncle Google to start forming a plan. I love him that way. It reminds me of one of our earliest play-flirt fights way back when he was that hot 24 year old Israeli security guard with the nice sweaters and black leather jacket who knew how to drive a stick-shift (I know!) and we were bickering about something. “Shut up and drive,” I banter, and he replies in his best Middle-Eastern English accenting, “I’m shut-upping,” and it’s still true today. Same characters, same plot, different scenery, “I’m shut-upping,” and he’s off planning our next amazing adventure.

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Back Home Hostel , KL, Malaysia

Accommodations Pre-Planning

Our first stop was meant to be Hawaii but that was meant to be a few short weeks after the fear of radiation from Japan and maybe after-shock number two, so we canceled our tickets and booked to New York. Kobi, of course, did all the work. First things first. Find us a place to sleep, and from there, all the other stuff will blossom up beautifully. When we hit the major cities around the globe, like Lima, Peru, Siem Reap, Cambodia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Singapore, Singapore, Singapore (bless her little city, state, country self), Kobi always did the research before we arrived. Where can we stay that’s in a safe part of town, that’s clean, and that’s affordable, and most importantly, what kind of long-term deal can we make that will save us tons of money. That’s how we ended up in very cool places for a week, a month to five months each:

It was Kobi sitting down for hours in front of the computer that gave us a soft landing that just so happened to work out so nicely that these above-mentioned places became home for this life on the road Nomadic Family. It was at these “planned” city stays that we formed family with the staff, that their business workplace became where we kicked our shoes off and got to fight, make noise, do our world schooling studies, and be us. Each holds a dear and special place in our hearts.

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Serendipitous Wind Dancing

And this is the other side of our travel coin, the side we pride ourselves on for it’s dramatically different than what we’d ever heard life on the road family travelers ever do. Families need to be secure, safe, and know what the next step. Families run by responsible parents make wise, calculated decisions with the safety and fate of their children at the forefront of their minds. And well, eh-hem, you would die if I told you how many times we entered the cars and homes of total strangers we met off the street because

  • a- we were stranded in the middle of a bad situation and felt either this is an angel here to save us or something darker here to put an end to it or
  • b-he/she had a nice smile and looked safe and friendly enough for us to put the fate of our lives in their hands.

It’s crazy, looking back now and writing about it, how, at the time, it all seemed so sane.

Wind Dancing Accommodations

It was exactly these by-chance (which we no longer believe exists by the way) meetings with this guy on a bus ride, that guy who sat next to Dahnya on that flight, the woman with the out-of-control dog, or the man at the next table at the noodle street vendor booth who ended up connecting us what would become our next community and our greatest, most serendipitous life-changing experiences.

  • 7 weeks volunteering in a ranch school and living off the land in La Lucha De La Tigra, Costa Rica  because Kenneth on the flight was best friends with Kendall who’s mom wanted rent money
  • 3 weeks of house sitting in name-of- neighborhood near Boquete, Panama because her dog was out of control
  • 7 weeks with the Indian tribe in the jungle of Ecuador because Kobi wandered through the streets of the nearest town
  • almost living in this shack in Siem Reap, Cambodia  cuz of the guy at the noodle booth
  • the taxi dropping us off at Bihn Yen Hotel, Vietnam cuz Five-minutes-ago-we-met-you Philip called them
  • accidentally waltzing into the lobby cuz it looked cool at The Led Zephyr in Sihanoukville, Cambodia
  • seeing a faded sign that led to a beautiful young mom looking for extra money who rented us her no-electricity, no-water shack off a pier on an island off of Southern Cambodia when we worked with the all-awesome Koh Rong Dive Center

And so, we’ve got this amazing song and dance between poorer countries where we just walk into people and and signs that take us to our next heart-soul nest, and richer countries where we can use the internet to close some sweet deals for a soft landing. Either way, we are surprised and honored each time anew when these ‘business exchange-services-for-money deals’ (which is how the world works) almost ends up becoming the next ‘oh-dear-God-how-did-you-ever-bring-us-again-to-such-beautiful-souls-whom-we-will-fall-in-love-with-and-then-have-to-leave-again’ (which is how the heart works).

So, skitaddle, ping, pong, flip, flop, hum. That’s how this dance goes. Sometimes it’s planned initially, sometimes it begins with a leap of faith, but either way, it always ends up wild and amazing.

When was the last time you trusted a total stranger with your children? When was the last time you let the wind or that random guy in the street lead you to your next adventure? Are we stupid and really lucky or just real travelers that understand that the only assurances you have are fake anyhow and stuff can happen anywhere with anyone so you might as well go down dancing, yes?

We’d love to hear your thoughts on how you coordinate the ying yang salsa between calculated pre-planning and wind-dancing serendipity.

 

 

 

 

Comments

comments

14 Comments

  1. Trusting strangers with kids is a hard question…. I think rationally I would never, but again, when things happen you have to go with the feeling, the instinct, on the moment… as for the ying yang balance between plans and wind-dancing, I’d say if you’re too rigid on your plans you miss out 90% of all the fun and adventures and opportunities out there. Just go with the flow, but have a minimum structure. A bit like a kite, there’s a rigid frame, and a flowing adaptable canvas….

    • Samuel. what a lovely thought-provoking comment. thank you for taking the time to read and mule over it all and share. tell me how you found us for i’m so glad that you did! there have been many a time when we did not feel trusting strangers with our kids was such a hot idea like when we were stuck in a terrifying town at 2 am and the druggies were in the street. our minibus through colombia stalled no less than five times in the middle of nowhere-ville and we kept waiting as the driver and whoever would stop would try to somehow make the car work again. pitch dark side of the road with exhausted kids, the five of us are cramped into three seats and the puppy in that tiny minivan has peed twice. you can’t breathe. so, 2 am we arrive. we are scared to death. nice man on the bus said we could stay in his house for the night. taxi drives us to the slum of all slums. bars on every house and i lean over and tell kobi in hebrew, “if he doesn’t kill us, this should be nice.” turns out, he’s a dear. he wakes up his daughter and wife to help move furniture around to make a bed for us. in the morning, we wake up to eggs, toast, bacon, sausage, coffee and more food than clearly they could afford. he took a day off to be with us. left us at the bus station and ran to get his son out of school so that we could meet him. when we left, we swear, he had tears in his eyes. damn strangers!

      • wow! what a story! you guys must have so many stories like this one…. I love your blog, I came across it by coincidence and I fell in love with it, I follow it every week now and it inspires me so much! thanks for existing in this world and doing what you do….

        • i love it that you are here sam. we are so thrilled to share, and yes, read the comments on this post,sooo many amazing stories usually involving strangers who were just so kind to us. yeah, you love us. yeah! we’re honored to chill with you each week. wow, your words are so kind so so so very kind. ‘thank you for existing in this world and doing what you do…’ wow. may i use you in a quote. sooo touching. thank you. please keep commenting and leaving e-prints so that i know you’ve been around. i love that. thank you so much for being there.

  2. Ah-this is The Klaf Family I know and love; I’m laughing and crying at this lovely post. My Dad’s ashes came back to the UK today and are in Heathrow Airport-it’s just about killing me that it’s not his body and my mind is all over the place. He won’t get back “home” until Tuesday and I am just thinking how bizarre it all is, and why I’m blabbing all this on your blog (just call me Gabi Klaf!). Anyhow loving the happy photos and stories; you’re making me want to go RTW now!

    • great melanie. now i’m laughing and crying with you. babble away dear one. we know and love you too and are so with you as you face the surprised death of your father, which your soul so did know about right before, as you indicated in your thoughts last week. i’m so glad you are here babbling. makes me less of a minority. i’m do hope the happy photos and stories bring you some light in this confusing, sucky time of having ashes and not him, him, in some other form with you. we love you melanie. and you will go when you are ready and all is in place. you’ll go and all your rtw family friends will be rooting for you. hugs. gabi

      • Love you guys-I swear I got a shiver down my spine when reading your reply.x

  3. We started our with the best intentions and 4 months planned, now we leave much less planned. Our newest stranger adventure is next week woohoo!

    • love the wind-dancing erin. i do. next week… tell us. i’m dying here. stranger adventure… oh that’s not legal. you can’t just leave it at that. we know you’re over antigua. got it. what’s next. strange…hmmm…

  4. Like everything about you Gabi, even your travel planning is a little bit different… in a good way. Love the matching t-shirts! What a cool idea. 🙂

    • god i love it that you love me so. tasted luxury these three weeks+, i like i like.

  5. Travel is like jazz — the fun comes with the improv. When it’s treated like classical music it can be constricting. Seems you guys have perfected the jazzy aspects without too many dissonant drum solos (or mishaps).

    • terry, i love how you connected it all to music. so we’re jazzing in this world. i love it! thank you for taking the time to share that. i loooove that. shoo shoo shooo la la.

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