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RTW with toddlers .... AGAIN.. where to go? (thinking maybe S. Africa/Madagascar?)

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May 21st, 2018, 09:23 AM
  #1
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RTW with toddlers .... AGAIN.. where to go? (thinking maybe S. Africa/Madagascar?)

We are a couple, me .. mid 40's, wife, 40, and two boys, 5 and 3. We are Colombian/American and normally live in NYC. We rent out our apartment and one other small studio to fund the trip (not trustafarians... I wish )

We traveled RTW last year (I work as a psychologist for the NYC Dept of Education and they hold my job for me until our baby turns 5). Last year we did an impromptu 11 month RTW stopping in Maui, Tokyo, Hong Kong, cruise to Vietnam/Thailand/Singapore, then headed to Cambodia, Thailand, Maldives, UAE, Jordan, Greece, Montenegro, Croatia, Czech Rep., Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, Iceland and finally back to NYC.

This second year (now) we are in Panama... just relaxing, breathing, and happy to be staying in one place. Amazing location and experience here!

We are planning on going back to NYC for the Fall (Sept-Dec) and then heading out for our last big trip .. from Jan-July/Aug.. than its back to work! AGHHH!

Any ideas of amazing places to go .. we are thinking of doing 2-3 places.. more like small towns that have a good healthcare, easy, walk-ability, close to beach, etc. If we could do 2-3 towns for 2 1/2 months each, .. we could stop at two places along the way for a week to break up the flights.

We are open to anywhere .. but want something kinda laid back and with a school for the kids. I am looking for something like: Antigua, Guatemala.... Oaxaca, Mexico......Nafplio, Greece; ....Maui, Hawaii ..... Sucre, Bolivia.... etc if that gives you an idea.

We thought perhaps Argentina/Chile .. for 3 months, and then either head west to New Zealand, Fiji (possibly Bali) .. or head east and go to South Africa, Madagascar, Israel, Barcelona .... but really have no idea!!

Any suggestions are welcome, as although we are well traveled, we are not foolish enough to realize that we don't know A TON.

Thanks so much for any help / tips / info... as it is much appreciated! Enjoy your travels!!

Roberto
Our travel blog now... from Coronado Panama (last update was us getting robbed in the middle of the night.. ahhh fun fun!)

*MERCADO FAMILY TRAVELS* : A home robbery in the middle of the night isn?t as sexy as it sounds. Our time in Panama.
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May 23rd, 2018, 11:46 AM
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Since your last trip focused on Asia, the Middle East and Europe, I suppose this one could be focused on the southern hemisphere - South America, Australia/NZ, Africa. Given your heritage and relative proximity to the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America (as well as North America) I'd probably be reluctant to include too many of these areas in this trip; these can be saved for later when family trips can be undertaken over shorter periods of time.

I used to run a small travel consulting business that focused on RTW, sabbatical and similar "unconventional" travel planning, and I commend you for seizing the opportunity for extensive international travel with young kids with which you've been provided. It's not my (nor anyone's) position to offer parenting or logistical advice; you're obviously pretty adept at that already.

Instead I'll comment on some of the possible destinations you could include just to fuel some analysis on your part. One thing I do want to mention is that January - August, if that's the travel period under consideration - involves a variety of seasonal opportunities, or sometimes problems, that you'll need to weigh as you plan. Take South Africa. July and August, midwinter, is the ideal time to visit the safari zone in the north of the country (Kruger National Park and surrounding areas.) It's the dry season, making wildlife viewing easier because of the lack of foliage blocking your sight, and there are no mosquitoes, hence no need for malaria prophylaxis if you're so inclined. The temperatures are warm in the days but cool at night. It's really ideal. HOWEVER, those same months are wet and chilly in Cape Town, which has weather more akin to San Francisco than the tropical north.

Or in Australia, summer visits to the Great Barrier Reef, say between January and May or June, will put you in high heat, high humidity, and swimming is risky because of poisonous jellyfish. But summer farther south in the country can be lovely, or hot, dry, and prone to wildfires. The winter, on the other hand, is a great time for Queensland in the north, but so-so for Melbourne in the south. In New Zealand they can be scuba diving in the Bay of Islands in the north, and skiing in the Southern Alps on the South Island.

And of course in South America, in Chile alone you can experience all four seasons at once depending on how far south or north you go, or whether you're at sea level or up in the Andes.

Where does this get you? I guess I'd start by drawing up a strategic timing chart. What places are best visited when? Top of my head, I'd start in South America and work west, something like South America, possibly a stop in the south Pacific, then New Zealand/Australia, and finally southern Africa.

Out of force of habit I tend to think of long trips from the perspective of air travel planning - it helps me arrange my thoughts. This might or might not be appropriate for you, but I just knocked out a plan using (my personal favorite product) the Oneworld Explorer RTW ticket. Without going into horrid detail, this is a product that allows up to 16 flights over the course of up to 12 months. It has an unlimited mileage allowance, but only allows four flights in any continent touched, except North America (which includes Central America and the Caribbean) in which you can take six flights. The price of the ticket varies widely depending on where you start and end, leading to some bizarre routes on occasion.

Here's the map with my idea -



This trip starts in Norway of all places, because the price there is almost $2000 cheaper than other places, like anywhere in North or South America. I also picked Norway because Norwegian Airlines offers dirt cheap fares from the US to Oslo, which you'd take for "positioning" before and after the RTW ticket kicks in.

Anyway, this would take you first to Israel, which you mentioned above, and which is best in the winter. I think Israel would be a terrific place to spend some time with the kids; I don't know of a more kid-friendly place, and as long as you stay away from overpriced Tel Aviv and Jerusalem hotels, can be a decent budget destination.

Then you'd transit Spain and head to South America. I've included Buenos Aires, Lima and Santiago as stopping points, but these are quite flexible - pick the one(s) that best suit your preferences, or some other places. Uruguay might be appealing, or maybe Ecuador. I've only visited a few places in South America myself and found Chile to be the most interesting, but others will have a different perspective.

You'd then proceed west to New Zealand and Australia, however I've included a brief visit to Easter Island along the way. (Easter Island is one of those places that make "real" RTW tickets worthwhile; it's hard and expensive to get to on its own, but included in the fixed-price RTW fare, so why not?) Anyway, spend some time in Australia/NZ depending on what you want to see and do. Everybody's right that NZ is glorious, but Australia is too, and you could pick and choose between various locations for a sojourn there.

Anyway, the last continent touched before your return to Europe and then home is Africa. To me, South Africa is one of the places on the planet where Mother Nature let 'er rip - I can't think of a more beautiful, fascinating, friendly and desirable place to spend some time with a young family. I've just included Johannesburg and Cape Town as principal destinations, but the whole country - from the game reserves in the north to the winelands and stunning Garden Route coast in the south.. is simply gorgeous, with umpteen cultures and languages, umpteen climate zones, some of the world's best food, the most wacky politics, and a real sense of movement... positively addictive.

So for what it's worth, those are some disconnected thoughts. Once again, I applaud you for taking on these adventures, and by all means happy planning and come back with more questions or thoughts.

Last edited by Gardyloo; May 23rd, 2018 at 11:51 AM.
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Jun 29th, 2018, 05:32 PM
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Gardyloo-great notes. i may use some of that info for my planning if you don't mind. nycroberto-i can only give you my perspective after two visits to Australia, one to NZ, and one to Madagascar. I cannot recommend AU and NZ more hardily. hands down the most friendly, helpful, caring, and lovely people live here. we have spent a total of 32 days in these two countries and would go back again in a heart beat. so much to do, so beautiful, and such a culture that it bears many visits. we have done the full east coast from Cairns to Sydney, Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road starting in Nelson to Torquay, Adelaide-including Kangaroo Island twice, and Perth. Along with a two week drive thru both NZ islands. If you have not bee or loved them, go again.
But same can not be said for Madagascar, at least in my opinion. It's a tough trip for adults and I WOULD NOT advise anyone with toddlers-or even kids before their teens-to try this country. Infrastructure very poor, logistics proved quite difficult, and a good chunk of folks we encountered only wanted your money. All somewhat expected for a seriously poor country. As adults we managed but still not sure seeing the Lemurs was worth the difficulties. Instead of Madagascar I would recommend the Seychelles. Extremely beautiful and the people are outstanding also. Also, Botswana, St. Lucia, Moorea, Span, and Costa Rica. Just my 2 cents.
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Nov 8th, 2018, 04:02 PM
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Definitely dont pick Madagascar. Just back from there and although beautiful it is one of the poorest countries in the world. WHO is predicting even worse Plague outbreak this year
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Nov 9th, 2018, 10:29 AM
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Thank you all for the tips/help... we are semi planned for our next trip.

Hi.. I have to say thank you so much for your response as it was amazing and so informative. It took me a while to respond as we were moving, traveling, and now back in NYC planning our last trip. I am looking into that RTW ticket as it looks great, but the thing is that my wife would kill me if we had to fly from NYC to Norway, then Israel, and back to S. America, as it can be quite daunting with the kids.

I just figured I would give you an update (but will also post it on the Fodors page) to see what you thought as well as I wanted to thank you for your help and time. As of now we are going to fly to Buenos Aires approx Dec 27 and stay there till Jan 3. Then we are looking to take a cruise from BA to SANTIAGO via Tierra del Fuego as it seemed easier than dragging the kids all over the place on buses, etc down in Ushuaia, plus we got a great price on it, so it should be nice.

When we disembark in Santiago, we have 5 weeks to relax and chill. We are trying to find a small town within about 5 hours or Santiago. Options so far are Pucon, Chile, Zapallar, Chile, La Serena, CH, or Vina del Mar CH... or Mendoza AR (although that looks a bit too big for what we want). If you have any ideas of where to go for those 5 weeks, please let me know.

From there, we found a deal on yet another cruise (we really didn't want to go on another one but the itinerary is amazing) that leaves from Santiago and goes to Easter Island, Pitcairn Island, Bora Bora and a few other Tahitian islands, and then ends in Tahiti. We are trying to decide how long to stay and if we stay in Bora Bora or Moorea (airbnb's rent for about $100 so not as expensive as one might think). We will probably stay about 10 days and then fly to Christchurch NZ, stay 2 weeks (?), then to Melbourne and Sydney (another 3 weeks?) then to Bali for about 2-3 weeks.

From there, we are going to gauge how we and the kiddos (3 3/4 and 6 y/o at that point) and decide do we have it in us to continue on and hit perhaps Myanmar, Laos, Egypt, Israel, Malta, Ireland, .. who knows... ... or do we fly back to Hawaii, relax for our last 3 months and then fly back to NYC at the end of August. The second half is all up in the air.

So.. that is the "plan" but since we have nothing really booked except the cruises, .. we are flexible.

Anyway, .. thank you once again for that amazing itinerary and map, as well as your tips... as we definitely appreciate your help and time! Talk soon and take care,
Roberto
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Nov 9th, 2018, 10:52 AM
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Wow, sounds fabulous!

I don't have a lot of experience in South America, although I'm sure you'll get terrific ideas on the SA board. I have, however, also cruised from BA to Valparaiso, and we stayed a few days after the cruise in Concon, on the coast just north of Viņa del Mar, and also visited Zapallar and other coastal towns. It's a spectacularly beautiful area, but can become a wee bit crowded on weekends when all of Santiago heads to the beach -



Viņa del Mar is quite a big town but very visitor-friendly, with wide beaches, lots of shops and apartments. Concon is quite small but very nice, and Zapallar, while a bit farther north, is really beautiful, with some spectacular waves-on-rocks scenery as well as great beaches.



The South Pacific cruise sounds terrific. Pitcairn Island, wow!

Happy planning and keep us posted!
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Nov 17th, 2018, 07:36 PM
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Thank you all for the tips
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Nov 26th, 2018, 07:17 PM
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I did both of the cruises you are mentioning and both were two of the best I have done. Not an avid cruiser, but these two mentioned are pretty much the easiest way to see those sights along the way. We went from Chile to Argentina stopping at Tierra Del Fuego, The Falklands and other places. This cruise was one of the costlier ones I have done however. Do you actually arrive in Valparaiso? Outside of Santiago.

I also found a sweet deal, repositioning, to Easter Island and then onto Bora Bora, Moorea and then Tahiti. We chose to stay on Moorea for a week at the end and loved it. This was one of the best cruises ever. Be aware however that only smaller ships usually have success tendering into Easter Island. Ours was a 600 passenger ship.
This is my blog if you want to look.https://debbeanddougstravels.travellerspoint.com/30/
the legend is on the right side. Cruise around the horn in South America is https://debbeanddougstravels.travellerspoint.com/19/

Last edited by live42day; Nov 26th, 2018 at 07:27 PM.
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Nov 26th, 2018, 07:45 PM
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Merci pour ce magnifique partage !!! bonne continuation
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