Round The World Travel
I want to share with you the time the Backpacking Husband and I set off from the UK with a plan to travel around the world travelling east. And, after flying directly to Singapore and spending several fabulous weeks in Asia, we then flew across the Pacific to spend a few days in San Francisco USA and from there onto The Caribbean – where we’d planned to spend the whole summer – before finally crossing the Atlantic to complete our circumnavigation of the earth and to arrive back exactly where we’d started out six months earlier!
It was a fabulous trip and I feel both amazed and fortunate that in the almost ten years since we’d sold everything we owned in order to travel the world – we have now been around the world not just once – but twice!
The first time we circumnavigated the earth there had been very little planning involved and we’d set off with our backpacks with a one-way ticket and a desire to be entirely spontaneous about our exact route around the world.
Back then, we had embraced slow travel. We took our time (setting off to the west across the Atlantic) and, rather than it taking six months to travel around the world, it took us several years.
This allowed plenty of time to explore over a dozen islands in the Caribbean, to really get to know places and make lovely friends of local people, to spend quality time in The Bahamas, Northern and Central America and then Canada, before flying across the Pacific Ocean and into Asia for the very first time – where through fate and circumstance and the amazing opportunities that presented themselves to us – we ended up staying for almost two years!
But this time around, we set out with a Round The World Travel Plan and a set itinerary as well as a proper route and schedule – rather than letting fate or circumstance guide us – as we were looking forward to arriving in South Korea in time to attend our son’s wedding in South Korea during the springtime cherry blossom season.
After the wedding in South Korea, we were planning to head over to the Caribbean again for the summer.
This was because the backpacking husband – who had qualified as a PADI IDC Staff Instructor (an advanced scuba diving qualification) when we were last in Thailand – was going to be busy diving and volunteering on a coral reef conservation project on the Meso-American Barrier Reef (the second-largest barrier reef in the world after the Australian Great Barrier Reef) in the Eastern Caribbean Sea.
But, it was during the planning stages of this second round the world trip, we quickly realised travel to Asia during the Easter Holidays was going to be prohibitively expensive.
So, in order to arrive in South Korea in time for our son’s wedding and to be as savvy as possible with our travel budget, we decided to leave a whole two weeks earlier than initially planned in order to take advantage of a much cheaper airfare that we’d spotted from London directly to Singapore.
Today, a flight from London to Singapore takes roughly 12 hours, which might seem like a lifetime to some people. But, back in 1934, the same route would have taken eight days and included 22 stopovers to refuel the plane, such as Athens, Baghdad, Calcutta, and Bangkok, among others. Isn’t that incredible?
Plus, the advantage of arriving in Singapore two weeks earlier than planned would allow us to spend a few days doing all the things we hadn’t had time to do during our last visit.
It would also allow for a few days in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.
And for us to grab a budget flight with Air Asia from KL to Cambodia (The temples at Angkor Wat have always been on our bucket list) before flying into Seoul in South Korea for the family wedding.
In our planning, we’d managed to create an exciting and busy itinerary – and we were thrilled to be setting off once again on a trip that would over the course of the next six months – take us once again all around the whole world!
In South Korea, the day after the wonderful wedding, when as the Mother of the Groom I was honoured to wear the national dress of South Korea – the traditional wedding hanbok – alongside the Mother of the Bride, we left the city of Daegu (where our son and his new wife live) on a KTX fast train to Seoul from where we would fly to San Francisco USA via a connection in Beijing China.
In San Francisco – having time-travelled by flying over the International Date Line (actually arriving in the USA before the time we left China!) we had a fabulous fun-filled and busy few days seeing the sights of San Francisco including cycling over the Golden Gate Bridge and eating clam chowder and riding steep streets on trams, visiting Pier 39 and taking a ferry over to Alcatraz Island!
San Francisco was bucket list destination for us and exploring Alcatraz and riding the steep streets on cable cars and cycling over the Golden Gate Bridge was a wonderful adventure.
The next step in our round the world itinerary would take us away from San Francisco California on an early morning flight to Miami Florida. From where we would take a connecting flight to San Pedro Sula in Honduras, Central America.
This is when the flights got considerably shorter and the planes much smaller until we eventually reached our final destination: an island called Utila – the smallest of the Islas de la Bahia (the Bay Islands) – tucked away in the Eastern Caribbean Sea off the coast of Honduras.
Travel to the island of Utila is an arduous feat from either Europe or Asia – involving many flights and/or boats – and so it almost feels like its something of a secret island in the Caribbean.
We’d planned to spend the whole summer on my secret island of Utila except for when we’d need to do a mid-point ‘visa run’ as our arrival visa into the C4 would only give us 90 days entry.
To explain, the C4 (Central American Four) countries of Honduras, San Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua have a treaty of movement between them that allows tourists a total of 90-days entry to all or one of these C4 countries. So, in order to stay longer than 90-days one has to exit/leave at/before the 90-days have expired and then return a few days later to secure a fresh 90-day entry visa.
This is what is commonly known as a ‘visa run’. We were planning a visa run to Panama City.
Like San Francisco, visiting Panama City was another destination high on our bucket list!
After returning from Panama to the island of Utila, we spent the remainder of the summer scuba diving and enjoying island life with our island friends until eventually our visa expired and we had to say farewell and leave once again.
Our return trip to complete our journey around the world would comprise of taking a small plane off the island back over to the mainland of Honduras and then a commercial flight to Houston Texas in the USA (for an overnight stopover) before flying onto Fort Lauderdale Florida.
We’d planned to spend a couple of days de-climatising after our extended experience of island life in order to soften the effects of our culture shock of being back in the First World before finally crossing the Atlantic to London.
From London, we were heading to France, where we’d arranged to be housesitters for the coming winter.
We had been housesitters in France once before while I was busy writing my Backpacking Housewife series of romantic adventure novels published by HarperCollins but this time, instead of six months looking after a chateau in the wine region with just one pussy cat in our charge, we had agreed to take on a small scale ‘Bastide’ or French Farmhouse in the countryside around 60 miles north of the French city of Toulouse.
This time in France and over the next five months we’d be responsible for a horse, two donkeys, a flock of sheep and a dozen geese, as well as lots of hens and ducks, four cats and a young sheepdog, while the owners went off travelling through Asia and to New Zealand – so it was quite the next adventure!
20 Interesting Travel Facts About Flying
- Currently, the longest commercial flight is the Singapore Airlines New York to Singapore route, with an average journey time of 17 hours and 50 minutes.
- The first flight crossing the Atlantic Ocean took place in 1919 by the US Navy. The entire journey took 24 days and had five legs. Taking off from New York to Nova Scotia, the Azores, Lisbon, and completing the journey in Plymouth in the UK.
- In 1927, 25-year-old Charles Lindbergh became the first person to fly across the Atlantic on a solo and nonstop trip. His plane, the Spirit of St. Louis, took off in New York on 10 May and landed in Paris less than 34 hours later.
- Though the aviation sector is growing rapidly, according to statistics, only 5% of the world’s population has ever flown on an airplane.
- Pilots and co-pilots do not eat the same meal before a flight in case of food poisoning. This means that if one of the pilots needs the bathroom then the other pilot can take over.
- The Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft has two engines but can fly safely on just one engine for more than five hours before needing to land in the case of an engine failure.
- Dutch airline KLM has been lifting off and touching down since 1919. This makes KLM the world’s longest continuously operating airline in the world.
- Australian airline Qantas, Qantas is the world’s second oldest airline, established in 1920. Despite being in business for nearly a century, Qantas has never had a fatal accident involving one of its commercial aircrafts.
- The most expensive air travel ticket currently available is with Etihad Airways for a 13-hour round-trip ticket from New York to Dubai onboard their A380 aircraft. A ‘First Class Apartment’ onboard offers a butler, a chef, a private room, bed, armchair, vanity and makeup mirror, and onboard shower and will cost you more than $30,000.
- The most expensive airport to city taxi ride currently costs around £190 one way from Tokyo’s Narita Airport. If you are flying into Tokyo then you have been warned!
- You may have noticed how your skin and mouth feels dry when you fly. That’s because the pressurised air in the cabin is kept below 20% humidity. This is about the average humidity of the Sahara Desert so you can easily lose 1.5 litres of water from the body during an average 3-hour flight and more than 60 fluid ounces of water from your body during a ten-hour flight. Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water!
- The difference in air pressure as well as the low humidity in a plane’s cabin affects a third your taste buds making it difficult to register sweet and salty flavours. This is why some people believe Bloody Marys taste so much better on planes!
- The typical cruising airspeed for a long-distance commercial passenger aircraft is approximately 880-926 km/h (547-575 mph). At take-off and landing, planes travel between 240-320 km/hr (150-200 mph).
- Plane crashes are rare (flying is statistically the safest way to travel) but crash data found the back of the plane (specifically the tail section) gave passengers the best chance for survival. It’s also the most strategically advantageous position for catching the attention of your flight attendant and getting more drinks/food or free things!
- Dimming the lights for take-off and landing isn’t a mood effect. It’s done so passengers’ eyes can quickly adjust to the dark in case there is an emergency that shuts off the lights.
- Jet lag feels worse if you travel from west to east because it makes the day shorter and it is harder for the brain and our internal body clock to adapt to a shorter day than a longer day.
- During a normal flight, the temperature outside your plane is around -60ºF. That’s colder than almost anywhere on Earth at any given moment of the year.
- Panama City’s Tocumen International Airport has the least number of cancelled flights in the world with a cancellation rate of just 0.07 percent.
- In pre-coronavirus times, the South Korean Seoul to Jeju Island flight route was the busiest in the world with 250 daily scheduled connections carrying over 14 million passengers a year. The route was so popular that one could board a flight every 15 minutes.
- Airplanes are lightning proof. Planes are regularly hit by lightning but as they are not touching the ground they aren’t earthed and rarely suffer any damage.
Have you ever been around the world or are you planning a RTW trip?
What would be your bucket list destinations along the way?
Do share your world travel plans and/or your travel hopes and dreams!