Basic airfare from San Francisco to San Francisco
London, Budapest, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Frankfurt, Zurich, Delhi,
and Hong Kong, booked through Delta Airlines and carried on Virgin
Atlantic, Swiss Air, Delta, and Air Singapore; with side trips
to Dublin, per person, via British Midland, and
$98 to Paris, per person, via the Eurostar "Chunnel" train
each on the train from St. Petersburg to Moscow
$25 each on the taxi from Moscow to the Sheremeyevo airport
$102 each on a private car hire from Delhi to the Taj Mahal at Agra
and back to the Delhi International Airport
each for a Gray Line tour of Hong Kong Island.
$2770 TOTAL for all air and ground transportation, excluding transit
under $15 per person. PLUS:
$843 ALL OTHER daily expenditures excluding souvenirs and personal
by 20 days = $42.15 per day
$3613 GRAND TOTAL INCLUDING AIR AND GROUND TRANSPORTATION
by 20 days = $186.50 per day]
brother Bob (67 and retired), and I (about to turn 54) decided to see
"the world" on an economy budget within my three-week vacation
from my job as executive editor of a community newspaper group in San
Jose. This was by far the most adventurous trip either of us had ever
taken. I'd been on a group tour of England, Wales, and Ireland two years
earlier and had been to Geneva, Paris, Amsterdam, and Rome 30 years earlier
as a public relations functionary for a world congress in Geneva. Bob's
international travel had been to Mexico while living in California and
to some Caribbean islands while on duty with the air force just after
World War Two.
were inspired to undertake such an adventure by an ad I'd seen in
a travel publication offering around-the-world itineraries for $2500,
about the same as I'd spent for my British Isles trip in 1994 (though
that included two meals a day and all hotels; this was airfare only).
That 'round-the-world itinerary also included stops in Kenya and Nepal,
which would have been excellent. It also (like ours) allowed unlimited
time at each stop. But the downside was that from London to Hong Kong
the flights were on Aeroflot, Air India, and Air Nepal, which my travel-agent
friend, Judith Heilman, said she and the U.S. Government both decline
to recommend. I asked Judith if she could come up with an approximation
of that itinerary for about the same price and within my three weeks
vacation time on "approved" airlines, and this is what we
came up with.
chose to travel "budget" not because our credit limits wouldn't
have allowed us to pay off a more luxurious vacation over the next
decade, but because that mode of travel has always been part of my
basic philosophy. Many would rather not go at all than travel middle-to-low
class. But to me, seeing the worldnot being able to dream better
dreams than I get at home because I'm on a $120-a-night mattressis
the point. We had no need to lack for anything we might want along
the way, but neither was there any point in splurging. Sleeping is,
in my opinion, just sleeping. I can do itor not do it as is
often the casejust as well on a hostel bed as one in a Regency
Hotel. For my money, I'd rather take another vacation next year than
spend next year's vacation money upgrading this year's tour.
I thought there might be a "market" for a trip journal of
this sort on the Internet, and hence it would fill a need.
we didn't deprive ourselves, we did try to see how economically we
could get by, in the hopes of opening a new travel frontier for many
who might not otherwise think such a trip within their means. I, for
one, didn't think it possible to go around the world for $2500 when
I first saw that advertised. "Yeah? What's the catch," was
my attitude. So the following gives as much economic detail as I was
able to record, recall, or reconstruct. And this is an interactive
forumI encourage others who follow, or who preceded us, to share
their information through emails which we will post and interactively
link to these pages.
once, I feel, we may have made a mistake by not spending more. Yes,
we visited Moscow without seeing the Kremlin and Red Square.... We
probably should have hired a taxi before the one to the airport, but
at the timefrustrated in our attempts to get there by subway,
tour bus, or on footthat option didn't occur to either of us.
You'll get the details later....
some days most of our expenses were included in the cost of our airfare.
For example, there were no dinner or room costs for the first and
last days, as they consisted of overnight flights with dinner shortly
after take-off and breakfast just before landing.
San Francisco at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, May 2, due to arrive in London
something like 10 hours later at 10 a.m. London time, May 3. I kept
my watch on California time through the overnight Virgin Atlantic
747 flight via the arctic route crossing northeast Canada, Greenland,
and Iceland, to keep track of the time-length of the journey.
daughter Chris, granddaughter Brandi, and infant grandson Antony saw
me off. I was scheduled to arrive at London's Heathrow International
Airport within five minutes of my brother Bob, who was flying simultaneously
via Virgin Atlantic from New York's Kennedy airport, having made the
trip from Chicago's O'Hare earlier in the day (he lives 90 miles from
O'Hare in Goshen, Indiana). We would be together from then onmore
together than we'd ever been in our lives before. Thirteen years older
than I, he was in the air force by the time I was five years old.
the Internet, I had found and booked rooms in Dublin, St. Petersburg,
and Moscow. For the rest of our nights, including this first one in
London, we were depending on the luck of the draw, not necessarily
the most economical way to travel.
are some thoughts recorded in flight over the frozen north:
now just before midnight so we must be about two hours out of London.
They haven't turned the "cabin" lights back on on the
plane yet, so breakfast is still a while away. At home I'd be watching
Jay Leno now. But we flew into darkness around 9 p.m. and into sunrise
again about an hour ago. I managed to keep my eyes shut most of
that time. But that's the closest to sleep I expect to get until
Friday night in London.
These Virgin Atlantic jets are definitely a cut above the average.
Tiny color TVs in every seatback (about three inches diagonal) with
six channels of programming including movies like Leaving Las
Vegas, Father of the Bride II, Dead Man Walking, and Othello,
and television programs like Friends.... The "goodies"
bag was also upper class (Virgin's term for "business class"),
though it has no cologne to match a bottle I got on my Air France
trans-Atlantic flight of 30 years ago.
the dinner menu included three tasty-sounding choices: beef, chicken,
and vegetarian au gourmet.
Breakfast is over. Corn flakes from Battle Creek, choice of blueberry
muffin or croissant, citrus sections (two orange, two grapefruit),
coffee. The offering is taken to teach teenagers and children avoidance
of HIV and AIDS. Political correctness at 30,000 feet.
2:10 a.m.; nine hours, 40 minutes from San Francisco.
expense tallyroom, food, transit: $5 (SF airport incidentals)