End of the odyssey

So we finally made it home to Oxford. There’s nothing like flying in from São Paulo to make the air at Heathrow seem clean and the M25 seem civilized. We seem to have been lucky with the weather too – it’s been sunny and warm since we got back. It’s taken a while to get used to being home – we’ve been travelling so long that it just felt like just somewhere else to stay at first. The girls complained that it “didn’t feel like home”. But I think we’ve settled in now.

Since we gave some lessons learnt at the halfway point, I thought I should come up with some more. So here goes:

  1. If we were planning this trip with the benefit of hindsight, we probably would have done it in reverse, with South America first. Travelling is more work there, especially with the language barrier, so it would have made sense to have tackled that straight away. By the last few weeks of the trip we (and especially the girls) were running out of steam a little, meaning we didn’t see quite as many things as we might.
  2. Don’t rely on hotel internet connections being any good. Just because they provide one doesn’t mean it’ll be cheap, fast or reliable.
  3. Take one of these pegless washing lines – invaluable.
  4. Don’t carry a monopod in your hand luggage. It can look like a telescopic baton as used by police. I was told at Rio’s Santos Dumont airport that I couldn’t take it on the plane. Luckily they let me go back out of security to check it into the hold. I can imagine if that happened in the UK it would be a case of “tough luck, mate”.
  5. Your children may be more concerned about how fashionable they look when travelling than you are. You might need to supplement their wardrobe as you go, just for your own sanity.
  6. The BA in-flight map thinks that the translation of “Aberystwyth” into Spanish is “Alberto Lea”. Not sure if that’s some kind of in-joke or what.

All I have to do now is process the gigabytes of photos into some sort of sensible shape. This may take some time! Thanks for following along on the journey…

Halfway through

So we’re into the second half of our trip now. It seems like it has gone by pretty quickly, although it also seems a lifetime ago we were catching the taxi to Heathrow. So what lessons have we learnt so far about travelling around the world (with children?)

  1. It’s a good idea to have multiple bank accounts. So if the ATM rejects one card, it might accept the other. From our statistically insignificant sample of 2 accounts, HSBC beats Smile hands down. Beth has only had her card rejected once. I’ve had my card rejected in every country we’ve been to. I have been given cash on the odd occasion though.
  2. Kids like routine. So if you’re staying in a different place every other day they might find it hard to get off to sleep. So take this into account and build in some time just to ‘chill out’. They say you should pack by getting everything you need and then take half of it. I think when travelling with children you should draw up your itinerary and then cut out half of it.
  3. TripAdvisor is generally a good guide. If it gets a good write up, then it probably is a pretty decent place. Unless it’s in Alice Springs. Seriously, that place is just screwed up (with the exception of the excellent reptile centre). But read between the lines. Somewhere that’s great value for backpackers might not be right for you.
  4. Don’t bring light coloured socks for the children unless you really like handwashing in hotel sinks!