To make things a little more interesting, we’ve set up a few guidelines to our trip in which we’ll try to adhere to. Of course we had to include some exceptions to allow us some reasonable chances to break the rules every once in a while if circumstances deem it fitting. So here are the rules we’ll be adhering to.
1) Make best attempt to travel overland or water.
We subscribe to the theory that getting there is half the fun. Using trains, busses, and boats helps us to see and experience the land we’re visiting. It really allows for a greater emergence into the countries we travel to. As we pass overland, we get to notice those regional differences that would otherwise get overlooked.
Also since we’re traveling for this long period, we are now rich on time so we can afford the time of a long journey. Typically in the past, we’ve only had a week or two to cram as much travel in as possible. International flights were the only way to make such trips possible. Since we can now afford the luxury of time, we enjoy making our way from one city to the next and experience all that is in between.
Here are some notable overlanding segments that we’ve done so far:
- We overlanded from Cancun, Mexico down to Cartagena Colombia using a series of shuttles, chicken buses, and even a sailboat to transport us throughout all of Central America.
- We’ve traveled from Morocco, Africa to Ukraine without using a single flight.
- Perhaps our longest stint was traveling all the way from Barcelona, Spain down to the Southern sip of Chile without a single flight. We accomplished this using repositioning cruises and many long bus rides throughout South America.
- Most recently we traveled from Budapest, Hungary to Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA without using any flight, utilizing Europe’s trains, budget bus lines, and again by snagging an incredible repositioning cruise deal.
The exceptions allow us to take flights when it proves economical. We love overland travel but it can sometimes be cost prohibitive. Value trumps this overlanding principal for us, so when overland travel becomes cost-prohibative, we’ll defer to the exceptions. Really this rule helps us to not be lazy and just use a flight when its convenient. Here are all exceptions to this rule that we allow:
- Any emergencies will allow for an exception.
- If we must get somewhere in which a flight is the only viable option, then a flight it will be.
- If the cost of overland or overwater travel is 150% higher or $150 higher than a flight, flights are permitted. (Hey, we can’t spend our entire budget just to ensure we we go overland or water, so we have to draw the line somewhere.)
2) Visit all nearby UNESCO World Heritage Site.
If a UNESCO World Heritage Site is within 30 miles of anywhere we stay, we visit it. World Heritage sites are found to be of outstanding cultural or natural importance to the common heritage of humanity, as determined by an international committee, which they must find that it meets rigorous criteria. If this committee has found that the criteria is met and declares them to be of outstanding importance, that’s a good enough reason for us to visit a site as any, and we’ll try to do so. We’re particularly interested in the natural designations.
Here are some exceptions allowed:
- If there is an area particularly thick with UNESCO sites (e.g., throughout Europe), the radius can be shrunk from 30 miles to 10 miles. If there are still happens to be numerous sites, visiting one site for every night staying there will be acceptable.
- If a site requires a difficult border crossing or dangerous conditions to get there, it may be omitted.
3) Eat the national dish of every country visited.
For each country visited, we always seek out and dine on the national dish, if there is one. If there is no official national dish, notable and unique dishes to the area should be sought out. No exceptions allowed.
4) Drink the national drink or liquor of each country visited.
For each country visited, we seek out and imbibe the national drink. No exceptions allowed.
5) Only drink beer brewed and bottled within the country.
We enjoy a good beer. This rule helps us to explore the beer of each country, get out of our beer comfort zone, and not gravitate to the standbys we already know that we enjoy. Only beer brewed within the country will be consumed. An additional rule associated with this will be that we never try the same beer twice unless all other domestics at the restaurant/beer/store have been tasted first. This forces us to try a variety of different local beers.
- If a bar restaurant for some reason doesn’t have any domestic brews then whatever the drink of choice should be consumed instead of beer. Only if no other local beer or drink is available should an imported beer be permitted.
- If all domestic beers on the menu have already been sampled AND a bar/restaurants has something interesting, rare, and not easily available, then such a beer may be ordered.
6) Visit any nearby brewpubs, taprooms, and microbreweries.
Following our quest for good local beers, we gladly adhere to seeking out local brewpubs within 15 miles from any point we’re staying or visiting. In our travels we’ve found that visiting local brewpubs to lead us to unexpected locations we wouldn’t have otherwise traveled to. Usually while there, we happen to stumble upon a great local restaurant, a park to explore, a nice town or part of a town that we would have otherwise never visited. On top of all that, we get to indulge in a tasty brew direct from the source and see their operation.
- If in a location particularly thick with breweries (e.g., Belgium), shrinking the radius from 15 mile to 5 miles is permitted. Additionally, visiting one location for every night stay will be acceptable.
- If no beer is available for purchase or consumption on-site, such a brewery may be bypassed.
Carolyn Pullman says
I like the way you have thought out your objectives and parameters. It is a very good idea especially having it written down. I’ll have to think about mine.
John Widmer says
Thank Carolyn! We wrote this in the early stages of our trip yet we still try to live by them. It’s really helped to shape our trip and sometimes we’ve reluctantly gone out of our way to abide by them and were so glad we did. Surprisingly the brewery rule has perhaps lead to some of the most delightful and unexpected places!