Our Westbound Trip Around The World
Once you get the travel bug, it’s hard to stay at home. Then every trip gives you an idea for the next one. That’s what happened to us with our tour around the world without flying. Just two years after we returned home from our epic adventure we started thinking of doing it again! At the time we intended it to be something of a ‘one-off’ experience but it’s funny how things turn out.
So, we set off again. Once we’d decided that once wasn’t enough we set about deciding how we were going to approach things this time. It was Paul that suggested we go around the world in the opposite direction. Or backwards as I like to think of it. Then the more we thought about it the more we knew we just had to do it.
A Tour Around the World with some flying
Our original intention was to do the whole ‘without flying’ experience again. But we soon realised that if we insisted on sticking strictly to that again it would take too long. Especially as we wanted to include a visit down under this time. So far too much travel time on cruise ships floating about on the ocean rather than experiencing different countries and cultures. So, we decided to re-write the ‘rules’ a bit this time and allow ourselves to fly over water where necessary. That sounded feasible so the planning for a trip around the world backwards began.
Part of planning a round the world trip like this is thinking of places you’d like to go. Then seeing what’s possible. We didn’t want it to be just like the last trip but in the other direction. This time we wanted to include as many new places as possible. Heading west, the USA was the obvious starting point. Then a chance to see more of Australia. Followed by a whistlestop tour of Asia which would ultimately take us back to Beijing (a city we really enjoyed last time). From Beijing, there are limited options to get back to Europe. So it was another trans-Siberian experience. This time stopping off en-route before arriving in St Petersburg.
The first practical hurdle was organizing visas for the trip. At the time, China and Mongolia both only issued visas for travel within 90 days of it being issued. Since both countries are towards the end of our trip we had to leave our applications until just before our departure. Fortunately, visas for Russia and Belarus could be organised before Christmas. So we headed into London to have our fingerprints taken at the Russian visa processing centre. We didn’t have to do that last time but it all went very smoothly.
Applying for four different visas means taking your passport and application in person at the appropriate centre. Then you collect them in person and taking them to the next place. So once again we employed the services of Real Russia to do the leg work for us. They organised our visas last time and they are amazingly efficient. They processed the Russian and Belarus ones first. Then held onto our documents over Christmas to lodge the other two at the right time for our travels.
They also check the applications. Fortunately, they picked up a couple of things missing. I’m sure this helped things to go through more smoothly. No mean feat considering the volume of paperwork involved. For the Chinese visa, we had to show proof that our travel originated in the UK and that we were going back there. Our detailed itinerary for this tour around the world was 7 pages!
Ready to Go
In addition, there were electronic travel authorizations to apply for in order to travel to the USA and Australia. Both approved Paul immediately and made me wait all weekend for approval. No idea what that’s all about! Then we needed an e-visa for Cambodia. Who also processed Paul’s straight away and seemed to have deleted mine until it reappeared a few days later. Our visa bill was pretty hefty in the end but it’s often a necessary part of international travel.
So, here we are – ready to set off again. Just the packing to do. We’re travelling light this time. We bought wheeled cabin bags for our recent trip to Eastern Europe and they were much easier than the rucksacks. Smaller though! Paul always seems to have plenty of space in his bag but mine needed strategic packing to get everything in and still zip the sides up.
So, over the next few weeks, I’ll share the details of this new amazing trip around the world. I hope you enjoy reading about it.