aroundtheworld q&a part 2

2015-03-22 18.22.23-1 2015-06-09 18.51.30
^^ our before and after airport photos! march 22 and june 9, 2015. ^^

Would you tell us how things ended up with your job? I believe you were teaching - what happened to your class for the rest of the year?

sure! i transitioned from a teaching role to a school leadership role at the beginning of the 2014-15 school year, so when i left my job i luckily wasn’t leaving behind a specific class of students! i was, however, leaving behind projects that impacted students and that i had worked really hard on throughout the year and was sad to not see through. i did get to be involved in the recruiting and hiring process for my replacement, and i wrote a very thorough manual for my role, which was created for and by me before i stepped into it. all things considered, it turned out to be fairly good timing for a transition. i have been checking in on my former colleagues to see how things are going and am excited to hear of their continued success serving students. i will always be so grateful for the opportunity that i had to contribute to and learn from the important mission of alpha public schools.

I'm not as interested in how you afforded it, as much as just how much something like this costs for others that want to do it and the best tips of saving money! Can I rent Ian to book a trip for me!

a post on budgeting for travel is {still} forthcoming from the boy (it’s been a bit of a busy time for him!), but i will provide some surface level answers in the meantime. due to our diligence in finding the best rates, all our major flights cost around $3,500/person. costs on the ground in different countries varied widely – in nepal each meal was about $3; in new zealand and dubai we had to pay more. we filled up on breakfasts that came with our accommodation, and grocery shopped or tried street food rather than ate out on many occasions. most of our accommodation was under $50/night (sometimes much cheaper), but we did splurge a few times when it felt like the sleeping arrangements were a big part of the experience. we feel that we struck a pretty good balance between being frugal and spending on experiences that were unique to an area and part of the reason why we went there. i won’t publish our grand total of costs, but will say that doing your research and being okay with less-than-luxury can go a long way (and sleeping in a bunk bed in a room with twelve other travelers is actually mostly really awesome!).

maybe sometime in the future we will offer some trip-planning services – haha! ian is really good at being thorough in budgeting and planning, and i compliment him nicely with my experience – we make a great team :)

I'd like the template for Ian's spreadsheet!

here are the columns from our travel planning spreadsheet:
date / city / sleeping (hostel/hotel/airport name and any confirmation details) / cost (of sleeping) / transportation (anything booked, with confirmation number) / cost (of transportation) / itinerary (activities for that day) / cost (of activities for that day) / other (a place for other notes about that day and place)

at the end of each cost column, we had formulas that added everything up so we could constantly look back on how much we had/were spending. we looked at our spreadsheet every single day to keep track of all the logistics!

A quick question as a non-Mormon Christian; you've mentioned in previous travel posts about going to local congregations/branches on Sundays. What do you and your family do if there isn't a local branch that's accessible? Do you just have a small service on your own?

yes! as i’ve mentioned in a few posts since you asked this question, we always had some type of church service on sundays, whether it was at a church building with others or on mountaintops or airplanes or hostel beds on our own. we sang hymns, said prayers, shared testimony, read scriptures and manuals and talks from prophets/apostles, and spent time in quiet contemplation.

How did you decide where to go and how much time to spend in each place?

a few months after we got married, we made a big ole list of every single place we want to go in the world, organized by continent. then, we took our best guess on how many days we would want to spend in each place. then, we started categorizing each destination into different buckets – places we would go if we lived in europe (that was the hope, and here we are!), places that should probably be done as a trip on their own (not as part of our aroundtheworld trip), places we wanted to go with our kids one day, etc etc. then, we each got to “star” 5-10 places that we had left over. we looked at where our stars overlapped and thought about what would make sense as far as a circle around the globe heading east from san francisco, and assembled a mock itinerary.

as we got closer to being able to buy tickets (because we had made a decision that we were moving to london in late july), we adjusted our itinerary with flight prices and schedules. we ended up taking two destinations out completely (patagonia and machu picchu) and had more or less days in certain places than we had originally thought out. but we think it worked out pretty swimmingly!

What do you mean by "less-than-ideal cultural aspects in the usa”? Also, what made the ice cream so great in Turkey? What did Ian do to help him with the altitude?

the first question here is a pretty loaded one, but i’ll do my best to answer it briefly. being away from the united states for an extended period of time in so many different countries and cultures gave us a new perspective on our beloved and inspired homeland. we came back to the usa feeling so grateful for so many things that we often take for granted. but we also had a more keen sense of certain generalized aspects of american culture that aren’t overwhelmingly positive: a sense of entitlement, a norm of competition, an air of arrogance, a feeling of worldliness. we learned so much from the humility and openness and kindness of people we met on our travels, and hope we brought some of that goodness we gleaned back with us.

i have no idea why that turkish ice cream is so dang good!

luckily neither of us had to use oxygen supplements or any altitude medication when we were affected by the elevation gains in tibet and nepal. we got by with drinking lots of water, taking ibuprofen, and getting lots of rest. the boy struggled with altitude sickness more than i did, but he was able to be patient with his body adjusting and it did without too many problems.

Did you ever feel unsafe in your travels?

for the most part, no, and we are grateful! we educated ourselves about the scenarios in which we should be particularly cautious, or places/situations to stay away from. we were vigilant about staying safe and tried to be calculated in our risk-taking. of course we felt some fear during and in the aftermath of the earthquake in nepal, and there was one night when i was out on my own in buenos aires when i was quite scared for a little while. we absolutely attribute our safety – and health! – throughout the entire eighty days to answered prayers and believe that god’s spirit was guiding us as we sought that guidance.

I've enjoyed reading about your trip and love how positive you are about the whole trip but I would love some top 5 or 10 lists. Like top 5 places and why. Or top places for high risk adventure. Or top places for food/nice people. I know this probably will be insanely hard but for those of us that have to narrow down a trip to 1 or 2 locations I'd love your opinion on what spots depending on what we are looking for. Thanks for sharing such an amazing adventure!!!

everyone asks us what our favourite place was, and it is such a difficult question to answer because every place was so different, and we really loved each stop. also, everyone is so different in their travel styles and preferences, so it’s hard to make recommendations because something we enjoyed a lot someone else might really not! but, for what it’s worth, here’s a few of our absolute highlights:

the place we most eagerly want to go back to: new zealand (this is probably mostly because we just didn’t have enough time there and our appetites were only whetted by the spectacular scenery (and we both love the outdoors)! but also partially because goody good gumdrops ice cream).
the boy would also really like to go back to the galapagos islands, one of his ultimate top spots from the trip.

ian’s all-around favourite experience: cage diving with great white sharks
charity’s all-around favourite specific spot: the grand mosque in abu dhabi

my personal top five places/experiences from the trip (whoops, it turned into top seven!): crossing the pass at thorong la in the middle of the himalayas, hanging out with penguins at boulders beach near cape town, floating down an underwater river through glowworm caves in new zealand, exploring the summer palace just outside of beijing, walking the pilgrim circuit around the jokhara temple in lhasa, watching the sunset over istanbul from the galata konak cafe, and repelling down waterfalls in the andes in ecuador.

my opinion on the best country we visited to fulfill cravings for natural beauty, fascinating history, and fantastic cultural exposure all at once: turkey

and since you asked about these two things specifically, if you want yummy food + really nice people, go to nepal.


i am almost getting to the finish line on posts about our around the world trip! it has been so fun to look back on our adventures and reflect on the things we learned and the great privilege it was to have this experience together. i’ll gladly do one more q&a post if you have questions – leave them in the comments if so!

have a great day!


  1. Thank you for answering my questions!!!

  2. Wow, how on earth did you cope with sharing a room with 12 other people?

    I'm a terrible sleeper when I'm away from home & wouldn't have been able to sleep in a room with other people.

    Hope you & Ian are having a fun bank holiday today. Apparently it's raining a lot at the Notting Hill Carnival.

  3. Thanks for answering my question!

  4. Thanks so much for this helpful info!