A few of our tricks and tips….
Tickets– We used Airtreks.com for our tickets this trip as well as our trip in 2001. They specialize in these types of open jaw patchwork tickets; for example, we flew into Barcelona, then out of Istanbul two months later. Around-the-world tickets can be restrictive in where you stop, number of stops, and the direction of travel (no doubling back.) This gave us the greatest flexibility. We had to buy tickets in two tranches because you cannot buy tickets more than 330 days in advance. There were small discounts for the kids on some of the segments (Della counts as an adult after she turns 12 in April.) In all we spent $21,600 on flights.
Mail- We are using a forwarding service called Travelling Mailbox that photographs our incoming mail and emails the images of the envelopes to us. We tell them whether to open and scan, pitch, save, deposit (if it’s a check) or physically forward the item to us. It costs $29/month.
Phones- We bought out the end of our AT&T contract and brought our unlocked iPhones with us. We’ve bought SIM cards in every country along with way without issue (bring your passport when you go to the SIM store.) Having phone and data has been immensely useful and it is much, much cheaper this way than if we had used a roaming package (in fact, it is much cheaper than our regular cell phone service in the US.)
In New Zealand- We stayed at a lot of Top 10 Holiday Parks, which are independently owned and operated but maintain pretty reliable standards of clean, family friendly facilities (including requisite playgrounds, pools, and jumping pillows.) Most offer a dizzying range of lodging options from tent sites to basic cabins (with shared kitchen) to stand-alone units. A membership for $39 entitles you to 10% off stays and discounts at many local attractions as well as the Interislander Ferry. Ours more than paid for itself in a few weeks of driving around the South Island.