Jenss Family Travels: Where in the World is Swaziland?
In just a few days, Rainer Jenss and his family will set off for a year to travel the world. They’ll be blogging about their adventures here at Intelligent Travel, and today Rainer offers up his itinerary for where they’re headed.
Searching for Swaziland
When putting together an itinerary for an around-the-world trip with the help of an eight-year-old and an eleven-year-old, there are going to be some pretty interesting requests. Stefan (8) learned of Swaziland through a piece of a world map puzzle we worked on together to familiarize the kids with different countries. He said wanted to go there because he liked the name. I explained that we would not go there specifically, but we’d be really close by when we visit South Africa. Fortunately, he quickly learned that saying “Namibia,” “Botswana,” and “Tanzania” sounded pretty cool too.
As we prepare to head out next week, we‘ve come up with the following game plan, knowing that we’ll have to comply with our around-the-world airline ticket, weather considerations, transportation and lodging logistics, and of course, budget. Here’s what we’ve worked out so far.
July – August, 2008: Drive across the U.S. and Canada
We figured we’d start on our home turf to ease into the trip; it will provide us with a good foundation for what lies ahead. But we do plan to get our first passport stamps while visiting Montreal and Quebec City.
Arriving in Beijing shortly after the Olympics, we’ll head on a two-week “Inside China” tour with National Geographic Expeditions. This should make watching the Games a little more interesting.
What boy wouldn’t want to visit the birthplace of Nintendo, Pokemon, and in the case of my guys, sushi? To do so within our budget, we visited the Japan National Tourist Organization, which helped put together an itinerary that provided us with unique access to the “real Japan.” We’re looking forward to a professional Japanese baseball game between the SoftBank Hawks and Nippon Ham Fighters in Fukuoka. But who do we root for? Stefan wants to know. Good question.
Early October: Bhutan
We’ll be four of only about a few thousand visitors allowed into this Himalayan country each year. It’s rugged, beautiful, and very remote, and it measures success not with GNP, but by Gross National Happiness.
Late October: Thailand
We’ll take what we learn about Gross National Happiness and apply it to life on the beaches and jungles of Thailand. I’m looking forward to sampling authentic Thai food.
November: New Zealand
We’ll be trading in the hotel rooms for a camper van, where we’ll explore this beautiful country on the road. With it comes adventure: bungee jumping, white-water rafting, and an assortment of other thrills. It also seems like the ideal time to kick back a little and spend some time focusing on our home schooling, all while enjoying the spectacular scenery.
The kids are anxious to see the reef and its marine life, not to mention the crocs, kangaroos, and Tasmanian devils found on land. 2009 will be welcomed in with the fabulous fireworks over Sydney Harbour.
January – March, 2009: Africa
We’ll be joined by friends from the States in both South Africa and Tanzania, and we’ll visit with Dr. Laurie Marker’s Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia, whose work helps protect these endangered cats. We’ll then head to Kenya on a Micato safari, which concludes with a visit to an orphanage in Nairobi, putting in perspective what life is like for so many children on the African continent. We finish off the continent with a National Geographic Expedition down the Nile.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
In typical Nat Geo fashion, we’ll have exclusive access to some of the sites still being excavated and learn directly from Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.
April – May: Europe
The goal here is to integrate into the European lifestyle, and quite literally, do what the Romans do. Because Europe is relatively easily navigated, we welcome the opportunity to be more flexible and spontaneous with our scheduling.
June: Peru and Brazil
As our adventure winds down, we’ll join the 4th annual Hands-On Explorer Challenge winners in Peru during their Nat Geo Kids Expedition. The trip to Brazil will mark the first time I return to the country I lived in from ages 2 to 5. My first childhood memories are of Rio, so I want to help build my children’s own memories of this magnificent city, with its beautiful beaches, landmarks, scenery, music and food.
July: Arctic Circle
To put the icing on the cake, quite literally, we’ll finish the journey by flying back to Europe to board a Lindblad Expedition to the Arctic Circle to see the “Ice Bears”. With global warming such an important issue, particularly with the kids, seeing polar bears in the wild should be a profound experience. And besides, we’ll eventually have to readjust to wearing coats again, so why not start here?