Early Planning Stages
Updated: Apr 8, 2018
I thought we would share some of the planning and preparations which took place for this adventure. Friends and family were curious on how we would pull this off. Truthfully, so were we.
The trips were originally planned for 2018 vacation since we both had the available days which they would accommodate our trips. During the course of the year we were asked if we could attend a wedding in Tasmania, Australia. This would be the 4th major trip, and thus became the foundation of the of our journey traveling to various parts of the world.
1. Winter Olympics - Korea (Feb.)
2. World Cup - Russia (Jun./Jul.)
3. Wedding - Tasmania (Jul.)
4. 100th anniversary of the end of WW1 - (Nov.)
We knew we had until mid-March until 2nd week of June where will we be in Beijing for a couple of days before taking the train to Russia. We purchased a world map and determined the routing, knowing we wanted to return to Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, before finally making our way up to China.
Europe would provide (and still does) the challenge. Due to the Schengen Agreement, foreigners can only stay 90 days within a 180 day window in about 26 countries.
We began with what countries were part of the Schengen Agreement, and which countries we wanted to see. Being somewhat organized, lists are key to helping me stay on point. Mark loves excel, so a spreadsheet of countries we wanted to visit with the approximate number of days provided us a guide to where we need to spend our days outside of the Schengen area. We also have to consider travel days when leaving one country to get to another and to include these days as part of being in the Schengen. Thankfully, Croatia, Romania, and Bulgaria are not part of the Schengen, and that will help us avoiding our overstay in Europe, or so we think.
I broke it down to each trip.
The Winter Olympics are 2 weeks every 4 years, and when the schedule for events came out, we looked at the events we wanted to see, and made the decision to go the 2nd week. It would have been nice to see the opening ceremonies, but skiing and biathlon were our top priorities.
The next was the decision on where to stay. The hotels where we could make reservations back in February 2017 were minimal, and very expensive. Additionally, they were still a distance away, and the question was how to get to the stadiums. We decided to stay in Seoul since we knew high speed rail service to the events would be forthcoming. The decision to stay around the main train station figuring either the trains to the events would leave from the main station, or at least would allow us to connect to get to Pyeonchang or Gangneung.
Similar to the Winter Olympics, World Cup schedule for the games were posted, with the dates and the stadiums around Russia. If you were looking for specific teams, this wouldn’t be announced until after the qualifications later in the year. As we didn’t so much care who we saw, we put our names in the draw for 3 games with 2 being in Moscow, and 1 in Saint Petersburg.
Then we had to wait until October before we knew if and who we would see at the World Cup. Once we put in our request I went ahead and booked the hotels on Expedia to avoid the increase of costs of hotels. We booked 4 nights in Saint Petersburg, and 4 nights in Moscow.
If we didn’t get tickets to the games, we would still go to World Cup, except to see the games from a bar rather than a stadium. We were lucky enough to get all 3 games we requested.
Additionally, we decided to head back to Saint Petersburg after Moscow, since everyone thought we were a bit crazy only spending 4 days in Saint Petersburg.
Note: If you get tickets for the World Cup, you do not need to apply for a visa, just a Fan ID, which basically is has your information, and the visa on the back. This was free of charge. Additionally, trains within Russia, if you are attending the games are free. One less cost we have to worry about.
Once we received confirmation, we then discussed whether we wanted to take the Siberian train from Beijing to Moscow. Although tricky with timing, we managed to find a travel agent who had worked out the details of the train, along with stops/tours along the way. The train trip/tour will take 15 days.
Tasmania, we determined we would need a few days in the area of Lauceston, where the wedding will be held, and probably a couple of days in Hobart. Since we had been to Tasmania a few years back, the need to do more exploring wasn’t there. Additionally, we felt that we wanted more time in other parts of Europe so our visit to Australia will be a relatively quick portion of our overall trip.
France/Belgium: 100th Anniversary of the end of the war WW1
Lastly, the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1, (Armistice Day). Now that we have more time to spend in this region, we went from approximately 7 days to 35-40 days to further explore battlefields and memorials in this area. There are plenty of smaller memorials on farmer’s lands which we have always wanted to stop and see, but due to limited time, were unable. This will allow us the opportunity.
Other parts of Europe will be a bit more fluid, and should we have the need to stop for a few weeks somewhere to catch our breath and relax we will do so, but we also know we have limited time to see the places we have our hearts on, so time will tell how we fair.
That’s about it.