Our family world tour is over and now is the time for a final summary, the summary of all the summaries, and much more than a simple summary, it is a massive summary in three orientations: human, organizational and financial. I will tell you about the achievements, the highlights, the wonderful encounters, our favorites. I will then describe the whole organization and the costs associated with our wonderful project. In order to help you plan your next trips, I have compiled a detailed logistical and financial statistics. You will know everything about our flights, car rentals and accommodations, as well as the savings we have achieved through Travel Hacking. I will flood you with figures so you can also, in turn, consider an experience that will leave its mark on you forever! Are you ready? Here we go!
This article is the first of a three-part summary of our round the world trip:
Our world tour in a nutshell
First, here is a brief summary of this assessment with some statistics:
- 444 days of travel;
- 50 countries visited;
- 56 flights;
- 9 visas required;
- 33 rental cars;
- 181 habitations;
- 213 cities visited, including 39 capitals, not to mention the many villages and sites outside the cities;
- 120 UNESCO World Heritage Sites;
- 50% of expensive countries, 50% of countries considered cheap;
- 95,000 km covered by plane;
- 57,000 km traveled on land, by car, on foot or by other means of transport;
- 152,000 camera shutter releases (an average of 342 per day);
- 91,240.84 CAD (69,974.07 USD) spent on our family of 4;
- Pro-rated over 365 days: 75,006.00 CAD (57,523.31 USD) or 18,751.00 CAD (14,380.44 USD) per person;
- 2 health problems: 1 wrist fracture for Mateo and 1 gastritis for Jessica (and 1 or 2 diarrhea);
In addition, we traveled exclusively with carry-on baggage and we took part in Travel Hacking, a discipline that allowed us to stay very regularly, and completely free of charge, in luxurious hotels and in airport lounges.
The map below shows the countries we visited. We had designed our itinerary in order to enjoy as many experiences as possible in the most favorable climate possible, while minimizing time differences. This has led in the effect that we have not carried out a “round-the-world tour” as such (although I often describe it as such), but rather a return trip to the other side of the world with multiple stopovers.
A perpetual wonder
We have lived 444 days (14 months and a half) of discovery, pleasure and wonder.
City, sea, mountain, forest, desert, we walked in the middle of amazing landscapes, each one as exceptional as the next.
Castles, palaces, cathedrals, temples, fortresses, mosques, ruins, we visited impressive places filled with history.
Architecture, sculpture, painting, music, we have appreciated art like never before.
Proboscis monkeys, Orang Outans, tarsiers, vultures, elephants, giant bats, snakes, koalas, camels, we have seen countless animals, all as incredible as they are amazing in the wild.
Pizza, sushi, paella, fish & chips, tandoori chicken, falafel, pho, couscous, dim sum, goulash, pad thai, we ate the best cuisine prepared by the locals with the best local products.
Crocodiles, scorpions, tarantulas, silkworms, crickets, ants and other flying or crawling insects, we also dared to eat special creatures. Not because of a lack of choice, but because it’s also part of the journey!
From India to the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and Fiji Islands, we have seen as much poverty as wealth, exotic cultures and traditions, chaos and highly organized societies.
Plane, car, camper, ferry, train, bus, subway, tram, taxi, Uber/Grab, tuk-tuk, scooter, bicycle, cable car, horse, donkey, and even helicopter (Vanuatu) and hot air balloon (Turkey), we have used all kinds of possible and imaginable ways to travel.
Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Protestantism, Judaism, Sunni and Shia Islam, Hinduism, Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism, Shintoism, Taoism, Confucianism, Atheism, Esoterism, we have reached some of the most sacred places in each religion and observed the practice of faith among peoples.
Before we left, we had several goals.
We needed to escape our daily routine and comfort zone: we lived like nomads, each day differently from the previous ones. It had become our way of life.
We intended to detach ourselves from our material possessions: we traveled with only 4 suitcases of 8 kg each. But we came back full of memories in our heads and in photos.
We wanted to enjoy our children as much as possible and build strong family ties: living together 24 hours a day for 444 days was not always easy. But we overcame each difficulty together. We can now say that our relations have never been so close and that we are more than ever ready to face the winds and tides that the future holds for us.
We want to transmit the values of selflessness and humanity to Mateo and Luka. We want to equip them to succeed while avoiding being conformist, in a society where being different is perceived as a failure. We believe that during this year, they learned to develop much more than if they had attended school. They were confronted with the different realities of the world and were able to observe scenes that they would never have been able to see in Quebec. We have seen them grow and flourish. They have become more coherent, mature and responsible. These boys make us proud.
However, I must admit that Mateo and Luka probably didn’t enjoy this adventure as much as Jessica and I did. At their age, we think they do not yet realize the inestimable value of the experience they have just lived, but we have no doubt that they will realize it as they get older and thank us for it. We see this trip as an investment in their lives. If it will pay off, only the future will tell us, but we believe it will!
Of course, travel is one of our greatest passions. For years, we had been organizing one “big” family trip per year, lasting an average of one month. This trip has therefore, in a way, satisfied our thirst for discovery, allowing us to save 15 years on our objectives of exploring the world.
As Christians, we felt the need to let ourselves be guided by God. We took part in celebrations with brothers and sisters of faith in about ten countries. We were very curious about all religions and beliefs. And our faith in God has grown considerably stronger.
This experience has allowed us to question ourselves and focus on the things we consider to be the most important. Tolerance, openness, positivism, empathy, sharing, caring and minimalism are values that we will continue to perfect in our lives.
Our desire was to come out of it collectively more human, intellectually grown, emotionally transformed and spiritually better equipped. Today we can say “mission accomplished”!
Special moments in each country
Here are a few moments for each of the 50 countries that we will always remember:
- To be in ecstasy in front of the ice chunks on Diamond Beach in Iceland.
- Realize Jessica’s little girl’s dream of seeing the Buckingham Palace in London, England.
- Immerse ourselves in the festive atmosphere of Cardiff in Wales.
- Admire the sea from the ramparts of Saint-Malo in France.
- Eat French fries on the main square of Antwerp in Belgium.
- Have an ice cream on the banks of the Utrecht canals in the Netherlands.
- Walk along the Corniche in Luxembourg.
- Watch people swim in the crystal-clear water of the Rhine in Basel, Switzerland.
- Tour the beautiful castles of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg in Germany.
- Enjoy a panoramic view from the heights of Vaduz Castle in Liechtenstein.
- Take a boat tour on Hallstatt Lake in Austria.
- Having the strange feeling of living in the communist era in Bratislava, Slovakia.
- See the sparkling parliament of Budapest during the night in Hungary.
- Succumb to the beauty of Krakow’s main marketplace in Poland.
- Drink the waters of the thermal springs in the heart of Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic.
- Contemplate the inside of the amazing Orthodox churches of Sofia in Bulgaria.
- Fly in a hot air balloon over Cappadocia in Turkey.
- Be amazed by the beauty of the Santorini caldera in Greece.
- Swimming in the warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea in Ayia Napa, Cyprus.
- Walk amidst the impressive Roman ruins of Baalbek in Lebanon.
- Feeling afloat in the Dead Sea in Israel.
- Contemplate the religious fervor on the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, Palestine.
- Bedouin-style sleeping and eating in the Wadi Rum in Jordan.
- Ascend to the 124th floor of Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
- Watch the torrential rain fall on the sand dunes in Oman.
- Witness the permanent controlled chaos of Varanasi in India.
- Participate in the lantern festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
- Stroll all day long by boat on Lake Inle in Myanmar.
- Tour the temples of Angkor in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
- Tasting a Pho in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.
- Travel across the tea plantations between Kandy and Nuwara Eliya in Sri Lanka.
- Contemplate the extraordinary sunsets of El Nido in the Philippines.
- Admire the color changes on Uluru in Australia.
- Immerse ourselves in the universe of the Lord of the Rings at Hobbiton in New Zealand.
- Take a helicopter tour in Port Vila, Vanuatu.
- To be greeted by everyone you met with a nice “Bula!” in Nadi, Fiji.
- Enjoy Kobe beef in Kobe, Japan.
- Touring street food stalls in Taipei on the island of Taiwan.
- Cross the island of Hong Kong on the historic tram.
- Live like millionaires in a sumptuous suite of the JW Marriott in Macau.
- Observe proboscis monkeys in Bako National Park, Malaysia.
- Walk in the middle of the rice fields of Munduk, on the island of Bali in Indonesia.
- Taste all varieties of durian during the durian season in Singapore.
- Stroll through the narrow blue alleys of Chefchaouen in Morocco.
- Enjoy the vaporetto on the Grand Canal of Venice in Italy.
- Take a tour of Ljubljana in Slovenia by tourist train.
- Admire the waterfalls of the Plitviče National Lakes Park in Croatia.
- Attend a flamenco dance under the arches of the Plaza de España in Seville, Spain.
- See 3 countries, 2 continents, a sea and an ocean from the top of the Gibraltar rock.
- Survey the walls of the Moorish castle in Sintra, Portugal.
- Hong Kong, Macao and Gibraltar are not officially countries, but non-sovereign territories.
- Israel and Palestine are two States recognized by the United Nations.
- I have not included the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is a partially recognized independent state, as Taiwan is.
- Canada is not included in the list.
During this trip, we prioritized the encounters. It was an opportunity for us to reconnect with family and friends. Our itinerary had been planned accordingly. I must admit that we probably would not have been to Lebanon, Sri Lanka or Vanuatu without it. And it would have been a real loss for us, as these countries are so beautiful! Here is the list of people we visited:
- Isis (England);
- Nicolas, Charlène and family (France);
- Ernest and Nicole (France);
- Edith and David (France);
- Pascal and Delphine (France);
- Almut (Germany);
- Itzia and Philipp (Germany);
- Mirella and all the Aoun family (Lebanon);
- Vaibhav, Sangeeta and their extended family (India);
- Mai, Duc, family and grandparents (Vietnam);
- Mr and Mrs Ky (Thailand);
- Nipuna, Jayomi and family (Sri Lanka);
- Shailja, Bikram and family (Australia);
- Iris, Morsen and family (Vanuatu);
- Ing, Jason and family (Japan);
- Joeva (Japan);
- David (Taiwan);
- Tante Martine (France);
- Mrs Houtmann (France);
- Mr and Mrs Seng (France);
- Maria and Manuel (Spain);
- Hector, Susana and family (Spain);
- Steven and Nadeen (Portugal);
- Rachel (France).
People who are dear to us have joined us on the trip to share a slice of life and unforgettable memories:
- My parents and sister Emilie with her boyfriend Johan (France, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg and Germany);
- Karla, Guido and Stefan (Israel, Palestine and Jordan);
- Marilyne, Paul and family (Italy, Slovenia and Croatia).
A whole lot of meetings
Both among local populations and travellers, there are always people who are open to exchange and generous to share their inspiring stories. New friendships have been made. Our world tour was also marked by meaningful encounters with 28 wonderful families who, like us, also chose that year to take the plunge and travel around the world. It was a great opportunity for us to meet them, and some of them even on many occasions, in as many as 4 different countries! Dear FAMs, you are also among our highlights! In chronological order:
- Lucie, Mathieu, Vagabond Family (India, Cambodia);
- Chloé, Mère-ados en cavale (Thailand);
- Clémence, Cédric, All In Family (Thailand);
- Delphine, Nicolas, 4 O Tour du monde (Thailand);
- Aurore and Nico (Thailand);
- Sylvain, Julie, Katpaksaks (Thailand);
- Amélie, Fred, Coqs Of the World (Thailand);
- Vanessa, Benoit (Thailand);
- Richard, Annie, Des allers simples (Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia);
- Maxime, Yan, 3cycle (Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore);
- Carlo and family (Thailand);
- Céline and Jérôme (Thailand);
- Céline, Arnaud, Les Marjoc, La Parenthèse Enchantée (Thailand);
- Gwladys, Arnaud, de Pornic autour du monde (Thailand);
- Séverine and Julien (Cambodia);
- Josiane, Nicolas, Les Pas Perdus autour du monde (Vietnam);
- Julie, Hugo, laviesurplay (Sri Lanka, Hong Kong);
- Stéphanie and Thomas (Philippines);
- Marine and Loïc (New Zealand);
- Leila, Nico, Par 4 chemins – Nos escapades autour du monde en famille (New Zealand);
- Céline, Raphael, Nous deux autour du monde (Japan and Indonesia);
- Céline, David, Une Vie Mille Aventures (Japan);
- Charles, Tonia, VNTC 360 Ouest (Indonesia);
- Émilie and Matthieu (Malaysia);
- Geneviève, David, Et si on partait (Indonesia);
- Léa, Patrick, Sparks and Bloom (Spain).
Also worth mentioning are several encounters as surprising as they are amazing, which we cannot categorize but which have also contributed to some moments of happiness. It was a real pleasure to have you on our path!
- Zainul, our super driver in India;
- Maxime and Laura (India);
- Rachel and Maxime (Cambodia);
- Nyein, our super driver in Myanmar;
- Gilles, Aventure de vie (Myanmar);
- Joy and Andrew (New Zealand);
- Anthony, the famous French travel influencer, French Adventurer (Greece);
- Drew Binsky, the famous American travel vlogger that we met in Sri Lanka and who propelled us on the world stage by producing a video about us!
Unfortunately, I cannot mention the countless other locals and travelers I met throughout the trip. We also have a special thought for you! Whether you have given us several days or only a few minutes of your time, we are grateful!
Since our return, the question we have been asked repeatedly is “what is your favorite country?” The answer is here, as well as many others, in the form of rankings. Besides the first 4 answers which are personal, the following ones are presented to you by mutual agreement between Jessica and me.
Poly’s favorite countries
- Turkey, for the landscapes, history, culture, people, gastronomy… and hot air balloons!
- Iceland, because it is the most beautiful country in the world. Period.
- Japan, for the exotic experience, the extraordinary culture, the excellent food, the way society is organized, the integrity of the people.
- The Philippines, for the heavenly beaches, the kindness of the people, the tranquility, the sun.
- Sri Lanka, for its green landscapes, tea estates, unique history and rich culture.
Jessica’s favorite countries
- Iceland, because we were so impressed, no matter where our eyes turned.
- England, for the “so British” culture, the way people behave, the beautiful English countryside.
- Japan, for cleanliness, a culture of respect, extraordinary architecture, the best food.
- Australia, for the beautiful nature, the quality of life, the cool attitude of the people, the fresh air.
- Turkey, for the diversity of its landscapes, architecture, climate, good food, service of the people.
Luka’s favorite countries
- Iceland, for its abundant extraterrestrial landscapes: waterfalls, volcanoes, glaciers, geysers, fjords, mountains, icebergs, thermal baths. Iceland scores 10/10 for the 90% amazement rate.
- New Zealand, with a score of 3/10, is still in second place. It looks like Iceland, but a lot more diluted.
- Austria, for its lake and mountain landscapes.
- Turkey, for the diversity of its landscapes.
- Sri Lanka, for its tea plantations as far as the eye can see and its magnificent beaches.
- Lio Beach, Malcapuya Beach, Nacpan Beach, etc… Philippines. The beaches of the Philippines could have completed our Top 5 alone. It was the “beach destination” of our journey.
- Silent Beach, Tangale, Sri Lanka.
- Natadola Beach, Viti Levu, Fiji.
- Prokopios Beach, Naxos, Greece.
- Nissi Beach, Ayia Napa, Cyprus.
- India, for its cultural and religious diversity, as well as its rich history.
- Japan, because of its unique and homogeneous culture. It is the only country where we had difficulty communicating.
- Myanmar, because it feels like you’re going back in time, away from Western influences.
- Oman, because it has an extraordinary historical and traditional cultural heritage.
- Turkey, at the crossroads of Europe and Asia.
- London, eclecticism, excitement and free museums!
- In Tokyo, we definitely haven’t had enough of 9 days in the megalopolis of the megalopolises.
- Singapore, wealth, cleanliness and food.
- Hong Kong, the city of skyscrapers, at the junction of Asia.
- Kuala Lumpur, modernity, tranquility and quality of life.
In these places, we liked the low cost of living, the tranquility, the kindness of the people.
- Iran, for its history, its culture, the beauty of its landscapes.
- Madagascar, for its plant and animal diversity.
- Papua New Guinea, for its cultural diversity.
- Syria, for its rich history.
- South Korea, for its culture and cuisine.
- Norway, for its landscapes.
They talked about us
In the press, we appeared on the cover of two Quebec newspapers. First in Le Soleil, a daily newspaper with a large readership in the Quebec City area, then after our return in Beauport Express, a weekly newspaper in our district.
Before the big departure, we appeared in an article in Tripili along with 12 other travelling families. During our trip, we met 5 of them!
Also, before departure, an article on Milesopedia, the French-speaking reference in credit card loyalty programs, describes how we used credit cards to provide us with luxury at a low cost. If you live in Canada, I recommend that you join the Milesopedia community, which is simply the most amazing French-speaking community on social networks! You will find lots of tips on how to save on your next trips!
I will close by telling you about Drew Binsky, who travels the world in search of video reporting opportunities. By chance, while we were in Sri Lanka, we met this very popular traveller. When he learned that we were living a family trip around the world, he decided to introduce us to the whole world with a beautiful video about us. Thanks to him, we received a lot of encouragement from all over the world, beautiful encounters were made, and one person even spontaneously recognized us in Fiji.
A return to sedentary life
After a long year of studying math and French on a tablet, whether on a beach, on a ferry, on a plane or in a hotel room, and constantly hearing Mom and Dad’s desperate sighs, Mateo and Luka are happy to be back on school benches. In fact, they are quite happy to be reunited with their old classmates and to make new friends! As expected, they have adapted very well to the traditional way of life.
For Jessica, the return is also a smooth one. She intended to continue to do what she does best, which is to take care of her family and our home, in the pursuit of a happy family life! Two weeks after the start of the school year, when she went to pick up the boys from school, the daycare director approached her and offered her a part-time job as an educator, which she graciously accepted. Her pursuit of family happiness therefore continues with the privilege of enjoying the presence of the boys in their school, in addition to an unexpected additional income. It’s a new beginning!
As for me, two weeks after the end of the trip, I returned to my job as an IT consultant within the same company as before I left. My adaptation was also very rapid, and I was able to regain my professional instincts almost instantly. I must admit that the fact that I had to keep my brains busy during the trip helped me a lot. Moreover, if you have a company and are looking to optimize your business processes through IT solutions, let me know! My colleagues at CMI Group and I will be pleased to assist you in propelling your business to the next level!
A sequel for the Wonderlusters?
I can assure you; we will not stop travelling!
With these 15 additional months of experience, I will continue to share tips and tricks with you through blog posts. In addition, I will keep adding to the Wonderlusters Facebook page with future trips.
Luka (our youngest son) is a visionary and this trip around the world has given him great ambitions for the future. He’s already talking about his next world trip! His plan is to bring Mom and his brother Mateo with him for a 3-year trip to visit even more countries. However, he allows me to join them in their adventure under the condition that only he and his mom decide on everything. I don’t understand why….
Anyway, you have every reason to keep following the Wonderlusters!
A big thank you!
Among you, there is family, friends, close or distant acquaintances who follow us assiduously! But there is also a crowd that we do not know, that we have never met and that we could not recognize in real life, and yet who know us through our photos and who encourage us in our quest for amazement, by sending us likes, comments or private messages. Be assured that each of your virtual gestures of encouragement, compliment and gratitude touches us deeply.
And finally, to those who prayed for us from the beginning to the end of our journey, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you! For it is thanks to your prayers that He who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, has protected, renewed and transformed us. To Him alone be glory. Ephesians 3:20-21
Through our sharing, we also wanted to inspire you and encourage you to go and see how things are going elsewhere, so that you can also be amazed by the nature and the people, their cultures, histories and religions.
Today, we are convinced that our journey is a real source of inspiration for many people.
So, on behalf of the Wonderlusters, thank you!
Self-examination and conclusion of Part 1
I could not complete this self-assessment without giving you a little examination of conscience.
As you can imagine, we are no longer the same after such a trip. I must admit that before we returned, Jessica and I were afraid of falling into sadness, monotony, boredom, nostalgia. It is therefore right that we are very often asked the following question: “So, is it difficult to return?” From there, 4 options are usually offered to our interlocutor:
- Either we pull out the great back kick to break his neck and save him pain;
- Either we hug him tightly, crying hot tears to make him uncomfortable and hoping to see him disappear from our lives;
- Either we pretend to be hypocrites by saying “it’s all right!”, before quickly changing topic because we know that in reality, our trip did not interest him, as he may be obsessed by the cult of his ego and materialistic dogma;
- Either we tell him the truth.
The truth is that we really feel good, because we have no good reason to complain.
We have seen people who, because of lack of resources, are content to simply eat, shelter and dress, but who lack nothing, and for whom a simple gesture means a lot. We have seen crowds of people who live in corrupt to the bone regimes but who, through community, work and mutual support, are worthy of the life they are given. We have seen crowds of people for whom sacrifice is an honor, and for whom giving is more important than receiving. Therefore, we give ourselves the duty not to complain.
In addition to feeling fulfilled by the satisfaction of having achieved the goals we had set for ourselves, we returned with a new mindset, a transformed perspective and a tenfold increase in motivation. This journey has totally revitalized us and has led us to be satisfied and contented by our lives today.
And if there is one essential thing that we learned from our experience, it is that our happiness must not depend on where we live, our living conditions, or our occupations, but rather on the attitude we choose to adopt when it comes to the hardships of our life.
To continue, I now invite you to read the organizational summary of our world tour, where I share with you everything about our flights, visas, car rentals, accommodations, photos and Travel Hacking!
To navigate to the other sections of our summary: