Our Family Gap Year Itinerary

Is finalizing a family gap year itinerary anything like planning a vacation? NO! Planning a one week vacation is relatively easy. Select a location, search flights, book a place and then go. But figuring out where to go for a one year trip with a family requires a totally different approach.

We started by looking at other family gap year itineraries and then used a flight strategy detailed here. Our family gap year itinerary ultimately became the following:

July 2023: Alaska

We spent most of July in Alaska, visiting Kate’s brother and seeing the Kenai peninsula.

August 2023: Norway

We spent a chunk of August visiting family in the Southeastern United States before heading out to start the Europe portion of our Family Gap Year in Oslo.

September 2023: Denmark, Czech Republic, and Hungary

We met James’ parents in Copenhagen and enjoyed a week of sightseeing with them. We then headed to Prague followed by Cesky Krumlov in Bohemia, Czech Republic. We finished it off with a visit to Budapest to see Kate’s parents as they were finishing a river cruise.

October 2023: Slovenia and Croatia

We spent the early part of the month in Slovenia and discovered a new favorite place. It was reminiscent of Switzerland, without the price tag, and was filled with stunning alps and beautiful lakes.

We then traveled to Pula, Croatia to begin a two week bareboat on sailboat, Fides. Sailing the Adriatic was one of the highlights of our trip and we loved the simplicity and intensity of daily life running a sailboat.

November 2023: Italy, Thailand, and Indonesia

After Croatia, we enjoyed a trip out of a movie in Tuscany, Italy. We learned how to make homemade tagliatelle and ravioli as well as enjoyed the beautiful hills at the beginning of autumn.

We then left to start the Asia portion of our trip. We knew we wanted to spend a significant amount of time in Asia as part of our family gap year and chose to start in Bangkok. We had an incredible week seeing temples and sampling the local cuisine before heading off for a month in Indonesia.

December 2023: New Zealand and Singapore

We decided to splurge on a trip to New Zealand to escape the heat of Southeast Asia. We were planning on returning for several month so we thought it would be a nice reprieve to spend some time wearing jackets and pants. We spent most of December on the South Island of New Zealand before leaving on Christmas day to enjoy a week (and New Years Eve!) in Singapore. Seeing what the father of modern Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, built was an incredible sight for all of our family.

January 2024: Malaysia

We spent most of January in Malaysia, spread between Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, and Penang. What an incredible diversity of people, cultures, religions and foods!

February 2024: Cambodia, Vietnam, and Hong Kong

We spent a week in Cambodia, before leaving in early February for Vietnam. We spent about three weeks in Vietnam, starting in Hanoi. We then headed south by train to Da Nang and ended in Hoi An. We wrapped up the month/early part of March in Hong Kong, mainly seeing James’ friends from his previous job.

March 2024: Japan

In early March, we started our Japan adventures in Okinawa. Okinawa was a total dream and we loved being on the main island. From there, we headed north to Hiroshima, followed by a bike ride in Onomichi. We left Onomichi to head to Osaka, then Kyoto, and finally ended our Japan portion in Tokyo.

April 2024: Guatemala

We spent most of April in Guatemala, based out of Antigua. The kids spent four weeks enjoying a world school and we were focused on improving our español with classes each day. After busy weeks, we spent the weekends exploring the surrounding areas with trips to volcano Fuego and to Lake Atitlán.

May 2024: Panama and British Virgin Islands

We spent the first two weeks of May in Panama. Week one was in Panama City, were we met up with James’ parents for a week of learning about Panama, the Canal, and the rainforest around the city. We then headed to the mountains and spent a week in Boquete, primarily focused on spending time outside. Between several beautiful hikes and whitewater rafting, it was a nice change of pace compared to Panama City.

We then spent the last 10 days of our family gap year in the British Virgin Islands. We met Kate’s parents and skippered a sailboat to explore the islands. It was a full circle moment for me since my parents took us on the same trip almost 30 years ago. It was an epic way to wrap up this incredible adventure.

Planning Thoughts

We’ve learned a lot during this year, including how to do a better job planning a family gap year itinerary! We’re looking forward to writing about everything at some point over the summer.

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