The end of the road (one year later)

We’re home! One year ago today, we landed in Stockholm for the very start of our trip and 3 1/2 weeks ago we left Colombia to return back to the states. We stopped at my parents in St Louis, but have now spent the last two weeks in Chicago slowly unpacking things into our house after 343 days of travel.

Here’s an overview of our trip by the numbers:

  • 51 COUNTRIES TOTAL! From the onset, we were hoping to maybe get to 40, but the Eurail pass in the beginning kind of set the tone and we moved around quickly. Eventually, I’ll have the map on the landing page of this site link to posts from each country. It’s about halfway there now.
  • 126 hotels/Airbnb’s/family & friend stays! That includes staying with family in Bergen, Norway and Betzdorf, Germany. It also includes staying at friends’ places in Zurich, Switzerland, La Paz, Bolivia, and Chicago. That’s also basically the count of the number of cities we visited. Lodging was 31% of the cost of the entire trip. We stayed almost exclusively in Airbnbs in Europe and then hotels booked through almost everywhere else. (Hotels were usually of the quirky local variety, although we had a handful of lovely lodges, especially in Uganda.)
  • 91 trains! 65 of those trains were in Europe, so the first 3.5 months were definitely more train heavy than the rest of our time.
  • 48 planes! Almost all of our flights were direct, but there are a handful of connections baked into that number. Airfare was 16% of the cost of our entire trip. (It probably would have been about 30-40% higher but we generated A LOT of travel points on our credit cards during the year. Also, the free food at airport lounges that came as part of that credit card was worth several thousand dollars across all of those flights!)
  • 14 car rentals and 10 ferries! If you count Israel & Jordan as Asia (which is technically where they slot in the 7 continents), in the past year, I’ve driven on every continent but Antarctica. Along with the rail travel and a number of buses (not counted), ground transportation accounted for 12% of our total expenses for the entire trip.
  • To round out expenses, food was 24% of what we spent for the year, and the rest (basically activities but also things like taxis) was 17%. My budget tracking spreadsheet has 1,657 rows in it and it would be bigger, but Karen wouldn’t let me count souvenirs, which are “off budget.” (Technically they’re simply transfers from cash assets to physical ones, not expenses, so she’s not wrong! Also, maybe I should stop with the accounting content?)
  • 26 SIM cards purchased for my phone! We started the trip with “unlimited international roaming” on GoogleFi. It turns out that didn’t really mean unlimited and they cut us off after 3.5 months. I am now very proficient at buying new data plans upon arrival in a foreign country. If you happen to be traveling abroad soon, getting roaming with your carrier is definitely the most convenient, but what we did is quite cheap–data for me, Karen, and Henry cost us less than $100/month. If you compare it to “International” data plans you can buy separately, those usually cost about $10/GB and buying local plans was usually only several GB per dollar! (GoogleFi kept our phone calls and texts active, so all those bank login texts still came where they needed to.)
  • 20% of Henry’s math curriculum covered in the past week. We tried our best, but the kids will end up spending some of their summer weeks finishing our homeschool plans. Henry is 80% of the way done with Advanced Algebra now and we’re hoping to finish in the next two weeks. This past week was a little intense for both of us!

After all of that, here’s our final country counter:

  • 51 countries in our trip.
  • Me: 74 countries lifetime, including 46 eating McDonald’s. Do you think McDonald’s is interested in giving me some kind of award or recognition? Lifetime Big Macs, maybe?
  • Karen: 79 countries lifetime. She blew past me in the Phillipines and I’ll likely never catch up again as she’s got Swaziland, Montenegro, Latvia, Lithuania, and Turkey on me. We’ll almost certainly go to Turkey sooner vs. later, but Swaziland is not high on our current list.
  • Henry: 62 countries lifetime. (That’s more than I had at the start of this trip as a 45-year-old! He just turned 15!)
  • Charlie: 60 countries lifetime. (He needs to get to Uruguay and China if he wants to match Henry’s list. He’ll be 12 in a couple of weeks.)
  • James: 57 countries lifetime. (That’s ALSO more than my 55 country count at the start. He’s still EIGHT-years-old until July, by the way.) James is getting pretty fluent with multiplication nowadays, so could probably tell you that he’s averaging more than 6 countries per year. He’s missing Spain, Portugal, and Morocco if he wants to catch up with Charlie.


Here’s my Instagram post with my favorite all-family pictures from the second half of the trip:

And here’s the “halfway through” post I did with similar pictures from the first half of the trip. I think the boys are bigger!

Also, although we’re home and busy reconstructing our lives here, not to worry, I’ll continue to post about the trip! I’ve got a few more blog posts from James and I also plan to write more from my perspective. Stay tuned!

2 thoughts on “The end of the road (one year later)”

  1. This is how William Raldolph Hearst grew up. He tuned out to be the most influential man in America for about 40 years. Heowned many newspapers and the first TV networks. His Dad was a civil engineer and mother a German.

  2. Love reading about your journey! What an adventure for all of you!! Glad you are back though.

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