Noi6 means "the 6 of us" in Romanian.

We are five, you are the sixth one.

We thank you for joining us in our trip around the world...


Itinerary (actual trip) Updated on January 22, 2013 --- started on October 16, 2011 
  1. Leaving USA, travel to JFK New York  Oct 16-17
  2. Japan, Oct 18- Nov 2 (Kyoto and Tokyo)
  3. China, Nov 2-17 (Beijing, Xian, Xining)
  4. Tibet, Nov 18-29
  5. Nepal, Nov 29-Dec 11 (Kathmandu, Chitwan)
  6. India, Dec 11-Jan 15, 2012 (Delhi, Agra, Goa, Hampi, Mysore, Bangalore, Kochi)
  7. China, South, Jan 16-22
  8. Hong Kong, Jan 22-25
  9. Macau Jan 25-27
  10. Malaysia, (Kuala Lumpur, hotel at the airport) Jan 27
  11. Cambodia Jan 28-Feb 4 (Siem Reap), 
  12. Thailand Feb 4-28 (Ayutthaya, Bangkok, Ko Tao, Bottle Beach),
  13. Malaysia Feb 28-29 (Penang) 
  14. New Zealand, South Island - March 1-20 (Christchurch and the rest) 
  15. Hawaii - March 20-31 (Big Island, Honolulu) 
  16. Australia April 1- May 7 (Sydney, Melbourne, Alice Springs, Uluru, Darwin) 
  17. Indonesia (Bali, Lombock, Gili Meno, Java) May 7- June 5
  18. Singapore June 5-8
  19. Malaysia (Melaka, Kuala Lumpur) June 8 -16
  20. Saudi Arabia June 16
  21. South Africa (Kruger) June 16-23
  22. Madagascar (Nosi Be, Diego Suarez, Tana, Antsirabe, Tsiribihina) June 23-July 21
  23. South Africa (Kruger, Kwazulu Natal, Free State, East and West Cape) July 21-August 17
  24. Lesotho !!! (day trip on August 5)
  25. Dubai Aug 18- Aug 20 (the girls in America)
  26. Scotland (Edinburgh, Oban, Isle of Skye) Aug 21 - Aug 27 (the girls in America)
  27. England (London) Aug 28 - Sep 3 (the girls return on August 29)
  28. Austria (Vienna) Sep 3 - 7
  29. Czech Republic (Prague) Sept 7 - 11 
  30. Germany (Berlin) Sept 11-16
  31. Spain (L'Estartit, Figueres, Barcelona) Sept 16- 23
  32. Italy (Milano) Sept 23-24
  33. Greece (Mykonos, Santorini, Crete, Delphi, Olympia, Ermioni, Athens) Sept 24 - Oct 22
  34. Italy (Milano, Torino, Florence, Venice, Napoli, Rome) Oct 22 - Nov 10
  35. Switzerland (Geneva) Nov10-12
  36. France Nov 12
  37. Egypt (Sharm, Dahab, Aswan, Luxor, Giza, Cairo) Nov 13 - Dec 5 
  38. Turkey (Istanbul) Dec 5 - 9
  39. Romania (Sinaia, Câmpina, Bucharest, Craiova, Tg. Jiu, Cluj-Napoca, Sighisoara, Câmpina, Iasi, Bucuresti) Dec 9 - Jan 20
  40. Germany (Berlin) Jan 20-21
  41. Arrival in New York on Jan 21st and arrival home on Jan 22nd!

Itinerary (pre-trip, tentative, updated August 28, 2011)
  1. Japan (Osaka on October 17, then Tokyo)
  2. China - Beijing, Xian, Xining (November)
  3. Tibet - train to Lhasa and trip to Everest base camp among other places
  4. Nepal - Kathmandu and maybe Pokhara (December)
  5. India - from North to South by train (December -January)
  6. China (again) for Guilin, Hong Kong, Macau and the Chinese New Year (Jan23)
  7. Cambodia (Siem Reap)
  8. Thailand (Bangkok and some islands in February)
  9. Malaysia for a few days in the end of February.
  10. New Zealand (March)
  11. Hawaii - Oahu and the Big Island (March)
  12. Australia (April)
  13. Indonesia (Bali and Borobodur)
  14. Singapore
  15. Malaysia again for visas and visit of Kuala Lumpur (June)
  16. Paris and maybe other places in Europe (June)
  17. South Africa (June, July)
  18. Namibia
  19. Botswana
  20. Zambia (just Victoria Falls)
  21. Madagascar (in June or August)
  22. Europe somewhere (for a month)
  23. Romania (September)
  24. Turkey
  25. Jordan
  26. Ethiopia
  27. Egypt
  28. Romania again in December 2012
elm-jfk-kix-hnd-bjs-xiy-xnn-lxa-ktm-del-cok-kul-kwl-can-hkg-mfm-kul-rep-bkk-kbv-urt-bkk-pen-kul-chc-syd-hnl-koa-ito-hnl-syd-mel-asp-drw-dps-cgk-jog-cgk-sin-kul-ory-jnb-tnr-jnb-vfa-wdh-cpt-lon-gva-nap-mla-otp-saw-dxb-add-dxb-amm-cai-lxr-fra-otp-nyc-elm = 83085 miles

Click on the map for bigger picture

Here is what I wrote long before we left:

The process of deciding how to go around the world is very interesting. There are various articles and books about this and we read plenty of them. The general suggestion is to go where you want not where others think you should go and try not to do too much and too fast. Some people would buy round the world tickets and try to arrange and plan every step from the beginning and others would pick where they start and decide their next destination as they go. There are advantages and disadvantages to these two approaches and of course there are lots of variations in between. Because we are five and we will have some children with us, we all agree there should be some broad lines decided from the beginning, but there should be plenty of room for impulsivity, flexibility and last-minute decisions. 

I spent a lot of time trying to understand how other families chose their itinerary and I think it is worth keeping track of how our plan evolves. Before and after our trip I will post above the pre- and post-trip final itinerary, but until then here is a part of the process (from June 2009 to May 2011).

As we began to learn about the world and our possibilities we had a simple plan that looked like this: start in New Zealand, continue to Australia, Thailand, Cambodia, India and China, then transfer to Middle East in time for Easter, spend a few weeks in Egypt, Israel and Jordan and then travel through Turkey, Greece and Italy. Ending sometime in June in Romania and returning to US in the summer.
Immediately after that we thought that we should include a few months in Europe and maybe spend the summer in Northern Europe, finishing in Romania and returning in the US in September. On our way back we could visit England, Ireland and Iceland.
Pretty soon we realized the we need to spend more time in various places and we are also interested in South America and Africa. So the plans evolved to include some time in Argentina and a flight from Chile to New Zealand. Of course this would include Easter Island. Then Ileana, our youngest daughter,  demanded that we go to Japan and repeatedly requested that we should plan more time there. Nepal soon became another highly desired destination and by the fall of 2009 we are talking about a land trip from Kathmandu to Lhasa, Beijing and with the TransSiberian through Mongolia and Moscow, maybe ending up in St. Petersburg and then Helsinki. Of course to this we would need to add Africa, not just Egypt but Ethiopia, Tanzania, and South Africa. South Africa comes with Namibia, maybe Botswana and Victoria Falls (Zambia, Zimbabwe). Ioan requested Madagascar. By now time was too short, any option was open and there were too many places to fit. 

For the following months I learned a lot about how this world is connected, what trains, ships or planes exist, what are the seasons for the cheap repositioning cruises, what airlines sell affordable one way tickets, what agencies in the world sell round the world tickets, etc.  I can easily tell anybody how to get from one place to another almost anywhere in the world. Did you know that the only airline flying from Cape Town to Buenos Aires is Malaysia Airlines? Wouldn't it be nice to end the trip with one week cruise crossing the Atlantic?

For the longest time we had the question of east or west. It took a lot of exercise to define the east route, considering that we want to leave in the winter. Among hundreds of itineraries a possible one would be: start in February 2012 in Argentina, go to Sao Paolo, get a repositioning cruise to Europe, spend the spring in the Mediterranean countries. We could ship our car to Europe and have it there for several months. Then in the fall go to China, India, South East Asia, end up in Australia and New Zealand by January 2013.

Besides agreeing on our top destinations a major goal will be getting the best possible weather and reaching most places just around the peak travel season (so we can save some money and avoid crowds). This means more travel, zig-zagging and not just going in one direction all the time.  Hopefully more flying will not mean more expensive tickets so the other goal is also to get the best possible price. Whatever we decide we want a full 360 degrees round the world trip.

We realized at some point that we are not going the right way about this, that we really need to focus first on the destinations and later we would figure out the itinerary. In the same time some places just cannot be connected easily or affordably and this will affect our plans. I am collecting all sorts of information, throw it all in the mix and trying to look at it from different perspectives.

It is May 2010 by now and for the last few weeks my mind settled on a simpler trip and schedule. I will mention it here for future reference even though I am sure many more things will change. In short Australia (November 2011), New Zealand (December), India (January 2012). One week in Nepal from Delhi. Singapore with side trips to Cambodia, Indonesia and/or Malaysia in February. Japan in March for my daughter's birthday and a girls festival, China in March-April, then Middle East and/or South Africa. Land trip from England to Bucharest in the summer and land trip through Greece and Italy (plus Malta!) to Spain in October. Then South America in November with Ecuador, Galapagos, Easter Island and a couple of weeks in Argentina. This could be on land or on a 12 day cruise from Santiago to Buenos Aires through the Magellan Strait. We would be back on December 16, just in time for Maria's 18's birthday. As crazy as this itinerary might look, using a One World ticket bought from New Zealand the total cost for the plane tickets would be below $30,000. 411 days! We'll see. Some advantages of this plan would be a free trip to Easter Island, skipping New Zealand's north island, starting the whole trip in Australia's shoulder season so we can make it to the outback. Also the possibility of extending our trip besides the one year limit of the round the world ticket.

Only a couple of weeks after posting the above paragraph: India is out! Of course we still go to India, but since there are  many cheap options to get there I need to find the place from where we can get there. It might just make room for Sri Lanka or Indonesia. But we are not just adding possible places, we also try to eliminate as much as we can so we have more time and a better trip.

And again a couple of days later: why not go east? The map shows a 68352 mi (110001 km) going
LHR-JNB-HKG-SIN-NRT-PVG-PEK-LXA-KTM-DEL-BOM-KWI-JFK-ROC. (click on picture for a bigger view)

It is just another exercise, but all of this gets us one step closer. Even better we ended up going twice around the world, once east and once west. "At least this solves the problem of having to chose one!" someone said last night at dinner.

And then again - two days later. During my lunch break I felt that another idea is coming. I asked everybody to wait for a minute, shhh, wait... it is coming wait... I can't loose it, shhh, this is it! We stop again in Romania on our way back from India to US and the last and most important of the requests would be accomplished. Maria will turn 18 in December 2012 and wants to be with her grandparents and the rest of the family in Bucharest. So the completion of the west round the world trip would be DEL-BOM-(IST/LHR)-OTP-JFK-ROC. Pure strike of luck and genius, I was shocked and exhausted, I couldn't believe it. It took me days to recover and comprehend the whole thing. I gave it a couple of weeks to settle. I cannot believe that we could do a round the world trip going twice, but if it keeps my plane budget under $30000 why not? It is June 2010 - the only change in the last couple of weeks has been the (re)inclusion of Madagascar after figuring out the connections and the prices. Only 512 days to go. Here it is: 
This is a 73358 miles itinerary (118058 km) on the following map:

The above route included Milan as a point in Europe where we could divert for Romania. It could also be Rome or Vienna or any other european city with connections to Amman and London. Since then we decided against going to Israel for a couple of motives and because of this we can make that section as Madrid - Cairo - Amman - (surface transportation) - London. The road trip is through Syria, Turkey, Romania, Italy. Maybe we would skip Greece, we've already been to Athens and Zakyntos in 2006. The projected duration is now 435 days. It is July 2010 and we have a good plan...

Fast forward to November 2010, I have a pervasive feeling that this is too much and we should make it simpler. Talking on a quiet afternoon, sitting on a beach in Puerto Ayora, we decide that we should skip South America. We would still leave in a year, go west and return in January 2013. Going west, we miss the Easter and my father's birthday in Romania, but everything is back on the map again. We could go to Russia, spend more time in South East Asia, more time in Europe, maybe even make it to Ethiopia. Of course, this way we would not get RTW tickets, just buy some of them from Airtreks and some of them on the web. My whole plan is now up in the air and open to being redesigned. Updates will be coming here at some point :-)

Updates from March 2011: After figuring out when we leave - everything becomes more clear. Just in the last week I came up with a new plan, compared it with the previous master plan and now everything is changed again. Based on estimated travel cost and distances, the new plan is better:
Comparing distances for a section of our trip

Last week we had a "Friday" plan, a "Saturday" and a "Sunday" one.  As strange as this process has been I always felt that we were moving forward. Even when things set in stone were totally eliminated and everything restarted from scratch it felt like a progress in the right direction. Amazingly we found ourselves pretty ready to leave without a clear idea when and where we go. We just bought the first plane tickets, from Asia to New Zealand on February 29, 2012. It sounded like a good day to travel. This sets up the order of the continents, Asia first, Oceania second. We'll have 4 1/2 months in Asia and it will have to be just that. We will decide later how much time we will spend in various countries (and also what countries we'll visit). Here is a tentative list:
    • Japan (in/out Tokyo and out/in Osaka?), (October 2011)
    • China (November 2011 - Beijing, Xian, Chengdu)
    • Tibet (by train) and land to Nepal
    • India (December 2011/Jan 2012)
    • South East Asia (Thailand, Malaysia, wherever AirAsia flies, including Siem Reap and Laos). We could also skip Laos and go back to South China, Vietnam; it’s too early to decide on this.
    • Bali in May 2012 out of Australia, or in February if necessary.
    • New Zealand (March 2012, just bought AirAsia ticket KUL-CHC on 2/29/2012.
    • Australia (Melbourne, Sydney and Uluru April 2012, cross Outback to Darwin in late April) and from there to Bali and next Singapore or Kuala Lumpur or whatever so we can change continents to Africa or Europe.
    • Romania in September.
    • South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Madagascar 
    • Europe (Malta, Italy, and maybe other places)
    • Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Egypt (by land from Romania in the fall 2012?)
    • Ethiopia, Tunisia (if there’s anything left)
Is this progress or what?

A special word about Airtreks. This is a niche agency for consolidator round the world plane tickets. They are based in San Francisco. Their website has a special tool for building an itinerary and they give you estimated prices and suggestions for destinations. When we decided to skip South America it also meant that we will not use a one round-the-world ticket from one of the airline alliances. My thoughts turned to them, they will surely help us. I wrote a 2 page letter detailing some of our plans, send it over and waited for someone to contact me. The guy who answered by email said that it was too much detail for him and we need to talk on the phone. We talked for almost 40 minutes. I was sorely disappointed in the end. He obviously didn't read or understand my letter, he didn't even realize that we are five. He didn't realize that I know about AirAsia, he wanted to spell it for me so I can check the website. He appeared pretty stubborn making some suggestions, I had to give up on explaining to him what I want. They advertise that they also give advice and their agents are well travelled. He made suggestions after thinking for 30 seconds on issues that I thought of for 6 months. Then I got a quote for a $7000 ticket per person. I replied saying that I want him to refer me to someone else. He wanted reasons, I didn't feel like explaining myself. I decided that I will get the plane tickets on my own. Maybe you will have a different experience, try them out as you are building your travel itinerary.

Maps from (thank you!)

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