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Missing Out On Madagascar?

Alright, so we have a decision to make….and we sure could use your help.

Whether or not you were able to be a part of our wedding, 16 short months ago, you probably remember what a production we made about determining what our honeymoon location would be. Heck we even went on CBC radio to talk about it…TWICE! In short, we chose to make it an interactive process involving all of our family and friends. If you are looking for the more long, drawn-out explanation (and we hope you are), it can be found here!

The end result was that we were going to go to Madagascar, the not-so-small, island nation off the southeast coast of Africa. Home to incredible biodiversity and a couple of animated movies!

From this idea, the current RTW dream evolved.
It wasn’t just Madagascar anymore….we were going to spend one year, maybe two travelling the globe, and well….here we are!

Today we sit, in Mali, trying to vaguely map out a the next 6-7 months of our round the world journey. We know this seems pretty extreme to plan so far in advance, but the fact is that we have a few really cool people who have agreed to meet up with us in the near future and so a little bit of strategic planning is definitely required.

Looking forward to our visitors!

My parents will be meeting us in Vietnam for a whole month beginning January 31st!! And less than two weeks after they depart, we will be spending a month with Shawna’s sister, Carly, in Thailand! Obviously, we are looking forward to both of these visits more than you can imagine! It will be so incredible to see our family (in the flesh, as opposed to over a sketchy Skype call)!

The other fixed point on our itinerary is in Ghana. We will be arriving in Tamale, Ghana within the next week, where we will be settled for the next six weeks. Shawna has found a organization which we will be volunteering with from the time we get there until Christmas.

And now for the dilemma…when is Madagascar supposed to fit into all of this??

We could head to Antananarivo (the capital of Madagascar) at the end of December, before making the trek to SE Asia. That is possible. The positive being that we could do it without any backtracking. The negatives are that during this time of the year, from all the information we can find, there are parts of the island which fall victim to monsoon rains. Washed-out roads and torrential downpours do not make for a romantic honeymoon, in our opinion. We believe that some of the island must be accessible as it appears to be a big resort destination for European tourists over Christmas. However, we want to ensure that if we spend the time and money to get to a place as incredible as this, that we are able to travel through more of the island than just the small areas where the resorts may be located.

Should we really pass on scenery like this?

Secondly, we could backtrack to Madagascar and other East African countries after our time in SE Asia, say mid-May. The weather would be more conducive to an awesome time, and this is a good thing. However, the cost to doing this may be prohibitive.

To tell you the truth, flying there at all is not going to be cheap. We aren’t talking hundreds of thousands, but it will definitely put a dent in our budget. Stopping in Madagascar before Vietnam will actually cost us an additional $2,500 as opposed to flying to Ho Chi Ming directly, based on the cheapest flight we could find.

So, we actually threw out an idea the other night…as ghastly as it might sound, and after all the effort, on our part and yours to select our original destination….

What if we gave Madagascar a miss?

Oh my, say it ain't so !?!?

Would you consider us frauds? Would you feel deceived? Would you even allow us back in Canada?

Or, alternatively, does this line of thinking make sense to you? Is it alright if the lemur-friendly Isle is taken off our list of countries we will visit? Maybe it is wiser to get more value for our dollar, by spending it on experiences in places which are a little more cost-effective to travel to?

Looking for your opinions here? We would love to hear what you think or what you would most likely do if you were in our shoes? (Yes, we realize that if these are the toughest decisions we have to make, life is alright, eh?)

Madagascar or no Madagascar….that is the question!

UPDATE (DECEMBER 1, 2012): Well it looks like our decision has been made. Shawna and I have booked a flight leaving Accra, Ghana to Ho Chi Ming City, Vietnam on January 19th, 2012 and we have done so without any stop over in Madagascar. In the end, we just felt as though there was more of a draw to other countries than there was to Madagascar, and so we have decided to forgo it this time around. Thank you all for your comments, suggestions, and advice. It was not an easy decision at all, but now that it has been made it is one we are both happy with.

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38 Responses to “Missing Out On Madagascar?”

  1. Graham November 11, 2011 at 2:35 am #

    You guys have a great blog and taking a year or 2 off is definately something i will be doing in the next 5 years. Some of the things you are experiencing have made their way on to my list of things I want to do. I’ve been to SE asia 2 times and I would say save your $2500 and spend an extra month plus in Asia. From everything I have read I doubt this will be the final big trip in your lives so there will always be another time to hit up Madagascar. 5 or 10 year anniversary to keep in line with the wedding theme for the madagascar trip?

    On a side note, Vietnam is amazing. Definately look into doing a homestay/hikking trip up in Sapa if you can.

    • Skott and Shawna November 14, 2011 at 12:23 am #

      Hey Graham – thanks for the compliment! And thanks for your opinion as well….you are right, $2,500 would easily get us a full month somewhere in SEA. Good luck on the planning of your RTW adventure, let us know if you have any other questions. PS. Any more parent-friendly ideas for Vietnam???Send em our way!!! Cheers!

  2. Candice November 11, 2011 at 9:53 pm #

    That is a tough decision! Whatever you decide, we’re all behind you! Go with your heart. <3

    • Skott and Shawna November 14, 2011 at 12:33 am #

      Thanks Candice!! We’ll be sure to keep you posted,,,as always, thanks for your support ; )

  3. M&D Hughes November 11, 2011 at 11:03 pm #

    HMMM decisions, decisions! We think that the interactive approach to your honeymoon destination was a very creative one that folks had lots of fun with. I think everyone who is following your travels will realize that flexibility and maximizing budget & experience are important for you. Madagascar may prove to be impracticle however we think it will be a small footnote in your whole crazy story. In fact kind of ironic that Madagascar was the spark that started your whole RTW jouney but may not be included. You are the captains of your ship!
    Cheers M&D

    • Skott and Shawna November 14, 2011 at 12:32 am #

      Well said Mom & Dad : ) We’ve been pretty lucky to experience all of the amazing things that we have so far so I think no matter what, our whole year will be an incredible journey-with or without Madagascar. It will be interesting when all is said and done, to look back on how we came to arrive in all the places that we did. Thanks for the advice!!

      • jackie (mom) November 14, 2011 at 4:51 am #

        My opinion about Madagascar was that you go.Whats $2500.00 on the whole scheme of things.But I know that if I said Go during Monsoon season you would get into trouble and then it would be my fault. I seem to be the only redneck becus the consensus from Rob even was don’t go> I’ll end like the Hughre parents –yiu are the Captains you are on your own(well I guess that isn”t really what they said. Go Winnipeg Blue Bombers

        • jackie (mom) November 14, 2011 at 4:54 am #

          That was from your Dad not your Mom,sorry about the spelling(must be all the sugar in this huge cinnamon bun)

          • Skott November 15, 2011 at 1:11 am #

            Whoever it was, we are both very jealous that you are munching away on a sugar laced cinnamon bun…..oh wow, I wish they had those here!

        • Skott November 15, 2011 at 1:10 am #

          Um Dad…errrr, Mom?? I promise you that regardless of the decision we make, we will not hold either of you responsible. We are trying to figure it out and so that is why we are asking about….just looking for different rationales!! Thanks sooo much for your help!!

  4. Rowena November 14, 2011 at 1:54 am #

    :-) Ill go against the flow here (just to play devils advocate) and say go to Madagascar! This of course is for purely selfish reasons as i deal with a non sleeping baby and live vicariously through your travels – Madagascar is in the top 5 of places that id love to visit! You are so close – itd be heaps more expensive to go there another time from Canada!! Itd be a shame not to go there and you are already by the sounds of it spending a great deal of time in SEA. Have you guys been to SEA before? I have a feeling Skott may have? Perhaps spend less time in Thailand and head for another place – highly recommend Cambodia and have been recommended Laos (in my top 10!).

    No-one will judge you for your choice so dont worry about that – its your adventure after all! :-) Traveling is all about the non planning and the evolution of the journey as you take each day as it comes. You will have fun wherever you go so keep enjoying and know that you are making the rest of us completely jealous. In fact i have to admit i cant read your blog as it makes my feet too itchy!! :-D

    • Skott and Shawna November 15, 2011 at 12:59 am #

      Thanks for throwing a wrench into it!!

      You make an amazing point, several of them actually. Yes, I have been to Thailand before, and although it is beautiful, I still want to make sure we spend some time in the “less common” SEA countries. The thing for us, I think, is that although Madagascar will be incredible, it actually wouldn’t be on either of our top 5 lists… It is definitely a tough choice. What if, instead of Madagascar we came to visit you and your non sleeping baby in Oz? Would that change your opinion? :) Hypothetical at this point, but…..

  5. Ashley Lenzen November 14, 2011 at 3:20 am #

    I say do what feels right. That’s part of the beauty of a trip like yours… you can go with the flow when you want to. If you’re really going to regret missing out on Madagascar, you may want to splurge – it’ll be worth it. If you’re truly okay with skipping it (or leaving it for a later trip) then save the money and stretch your budget out a little longer. Who cares what the original plan was? We were only going to spend a month in Central America and now we’re going to be here until at least February! The great thing is that there’s no wrong answer here as long as YOU are happy with what you are doing. Good luck with the decision.

    P.S. Mike says just skip it for now, and we can all go together after horseback riding in Mongolia.
    Ashley Lenzen recently posted..Orange Walk, Belize: A Dud

    • Skott November 15, 2011 at 1:17 am #

      There till February??!! Jeez, we might even just meet you two in Belize on our way back to Sask!!
      We were worried that people might feel cheated a little, as we did put some fairly intense production into our honeymoon plan.Fortunately it doesn’t sound like ppl would take it too hard.
      I think we would “like” to go to Madagascar, but I think we would also be okay with giving it a miss…..we are swaying back and forth, but will need to get a decision made asap. Tickets need to be booked…..

      Send our deepest love to Mike. Divemasters, eh? I like the sound of that. Now I just have to convince Shawna that there are no sharks in the water, and maybe she will be interested too???

  6. PostcardFromBK November 14, 2011 at 2:42 pm #

    Skip it. It wouldn’t make you frauds. Nobody can predict the future, when you made the decision to go all those months ago it was still in the realm of possibility. However, now that conditions have changed, it sounds either too expensive, too impractical, or too much of a headache to make the trip.

    We recently had to make a similar decision because of similar factors. As a result were skipping both Iguazu Falls AND Machu Piccu :(

    Trip happens I guess you could say.
    PostcardFromBK recently posted..A Day at Pompeii Part 3: Vesuvius

    • Skott and Shawna November 15, 2011 at 1:01 am #

      Nice to know we are not the only ones with these type of choices to make…. thanks for the ‘vote’.

      Trip Happens….I like it!

  7. jill November 14, 2011 at 2:56 pm #

    I’d say no Madagascar on this trip. That’s the great thing about leaving things over ended such that when the original plan becomes too expensive or impractical you can come up with an alternative plan. Unless of course, you’ve been dying and dreaming to go to Madagascar for as long as you remember… then go for it:) Either way, I think you’ll enjoy the adventures regardless.
    jill recently posted..Vietnam Veterans – The most depressing monument

    • Skott and Shawna November 15, 2011 at 1:04 am #

      That is likely what it comes down to….Madagascar isn’t, for whatever reason, a place we are completely blown away by… we have no doubt it would be ridiculous to visit, but there are other places which seem to be grabbing us alot more. Thanks for the feedback Jill!!

  8. Jarrett November 15, 2011 at 1:38 am #

    Ok I read this and I was seriously wondering what was shaking, you guys have been amped on Madagascar for a long ass time!

    IMO I say go for it, I guarantee you will regret it if you don’t.

    Jackie and I were faced with a similar situation earlier in our trip when we were tossing up the idea to go to Japan. We knew it was gonna be a shitload of good money spent, not only getting there and back to mainland Asia, but also being there.

    We decided to bite the bullet and went for it and it turned out to be one of the best stops on the entire trip. Are we out of money? Pretty much. Do we have six weeks left on the road? Yes. Do we regret spending the money on hitting up the big J? Absolutely not.

    Our justification was that it was going to be a lot cheaper to visit on this trip than it would be to come back after we returned to Canada.

    If it’s just money holding you back, throw caution to the wind and go for it. So you go home a month early or whatever, seems like a small price to pay to visit your most looked forward to destination.

    Good luck on making the decision, always a huge part of being on the road and something that definitely separates traveling from vacationing, keep on keepin’ on!
    Jarrett recently posted..Challenge #3 – Representin’ the Old Country

    • Skott and Shawna November 15, 2011 at 8:46 pm #

      Thanks Jarrett – in one sense it is money that is holding us back a bit, only because we realize that we can get soooo much more for that dollar in other places on the globe. That being said, we do feel a little bit of obligation to those who played along with our whole “Honeymoon Game”. I think it will just come down to how bad we really want to see Madagascar, and if we would be willing to sacrifice a few other ‘must-sees’ in order to make it over there.

      But we definitely hear you, we saved the money for many months so that we can spend it now, going to places we may never get to go to again… so in that sense it does make sense to book our tickets to Madagascar, doesn’t it?

      Yeesh…talk about indecision!

  9. Ryan November 15, 2011 at 8:24 pm #

    Hey guys, I say you skip Madagascar and head to SEA. By the way, $2,500 should get you much more than a month in SEA. As a matter of fact it should get you at least 2-3 months. That’s a lot of money in those parts of the world. In the end, I think everyone will still consider you guys as fraudsters. Just kidding! Keep up the great posts…
    Ryan recently posted..Our Anniversary Stay at the Inn by the Sea

    • Skott and Shawna November 15, 2011 at 8:47 pm #

      TWO-THREE MONTHS!?!?!? Holy smokes…that does it, we are selling our home in Canada and moving to Vietnam full time….done deal! :)

      Thanks for the heads up Ryan!

      • Ryan November 15, 2011 at 8:51 pm #

        Well put it this way. I rented a studio apartment in Chiang Mai for $180/month. Lunch/Dinner usually runs you $2-3 if you’re down to eat yummy Thai food. As far as Vietnam goes, I’d say it’s a little more pricey than Thailand but not that much. It also depends on what your comfort level is when it comes to accommodations, food, etc.
        Ryan recently posted..Exploring Portland and Catching a Sunset on Crescent Beach

        • Skott and Shawna November 15, 2011 at 11:50 pm #

          Yeah, that sure makes SEA sound extremely appealing, doesn’t it….we have spent the last 2 months in West Africa, and can tell you that at this point prices are nowhere near that cheap. We both recognize that once we get to Thailand, Vietnam, etc it will be very challenging to leave when the cost of living is so uber-affordable.

  10. Dale November 15, 2011 at 9:04 pm #

    Comes down to whether Madagascar is a must see for you, not something on a piece of paper. If you skipped it would you really care in a few years time? ‘Madagascar’ could simply be a small part of the dream, the big picture, so changes to the course matter not because the journey is the important thing. You are doing that.

    On the flipside however, you have to consider whether you will ever get back to Africa, and if so when. $2,500 may see like a lot now, but is nothing going forward in life. If Madagascar is truly a place you must see and have to experience, DO IT. Worry not about the money. You can always make more money later. My style, is go for it. You won’t regret it.



    • Skott and Shawna November 15, 2011 at 11:45 pm #

      Great advice Dale…you’ve offered a few different perspectives that have us thinking. I think we know that Madagascar would be amazing, on the other hand, we also don’t want to go just to say we went. I have this feeling it will all work itself out. We’ve had incredible luck so far with things just clicking into place and either way we both know that we are amazingly lucky to have this choice at all. You’re totally right that experience far outweighs money…there’s just so many places in the world to go, so much to see and so much to do!! Ahhh the choices!!

  11. sarah taylor November 16, 2011 at 12:06 am #

    hey guys. i feel like because you are asking in the first place, you are trying to make sure no one will be upset that the whole vote thing didnt end up happening. i also know that you guys were hoping brazil would be the winner in the end. and i think anyone who would hold it against you if you decided to not go, for whatever reason, is stupid. SO, having said that i think madagascar sounds cool but make sure you go for you guys, not because you dont want to let anyone down. have fun!
    from your favorite cousin

    • Skott and Shawna November 17, 2011 at 4:25 pm #

      Hey favourite cousin!! I appreciate you coming to our defense – too funny! Yeah, I suspect we were thinking Brazil on our wedding day, but at the time were more than happy with Madagascar. I think what we are figuring now, is that not only is it financially a wee bit more expensive (although that isn’t the end of the world), but that there are other places we would rather be…… I think our decision is close to being made….we may indeed be Madagascar free.

  12. Jennifer Burton November 16, 2011 at 4:56 am #

    you MUST got to SEA…’ll love it and it’s super cheap! If I could recommend one place in my travels it would be Ankor Wat in Cambodia. This experience gave me goosebumps. It was magical.

    Btw, can you please do a food post for me? Please!!!

    • Skott and Shawna November 17, 2011 at 4:26 pm #

      Oh don’t worry we will absolutely be in SEA. The bigger concern is if we will ever be able to leave! Food post? Never fear……!!!!! :)

  13. Stephanie Weiss November 16, 2011 at 8:21 am #

    Do it! Go to Madagascar! I wasn’t involved in the process but heard about it & was envious right from the get go. Since being informed of your “original destination” and looking forward to hearing about it/seeing pictures….dare I say… I would feel “cheated” if you didn’t make it there.

    CBC radio won’t want to interview you again….LOL!!

    Just my 2 cents…

    Follow your hearts & be at peace with whatever decision you both make! Good luck!!!

    • Skott and Shawna November 17, 2011 at 4:28 pm #

      Hey Stephanie – you are right, CBC might be mad….yikes!

      It is true, we don’t want the people who participated to feel cheated, but things have just evolved so much during this journey, so it is really tough to say!

      Thanks for the well wishes!!

  14. Greg & Lisa November 20, 2011 at 5:25 pm #

    Hope you can make the trip to Madagascar as that`s the detination we picked for you. But do what works out best for you guys. The good thing is the time you want to go is right at Christmas and now the MA & PA`s know what you NEED! Good Luck & Have Fun. Greg & Lisa !

    • Skott and Shawna November 21, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

      Thanks for visiting the site Greg & Lisa : ) I’m thinking it will likely work itself out…once we finish our visits with everyone in South Asia, then we’ll decide for sure which direction we head. For now, we are loving Ghana and I do know that we would love Madagascar if we get there. Take Care!! Skott and Shawna

  15. Nomadic Samuel December 10, 2011 at 4:20 am #

    That’s a tough decision! Best of luck making it :)
    Nomadic Samuel recently posted..India Is | Video Competition

    • Skott December 10, 2011 at 11:22 am #

      Thanks Samuel! We have made it indeed….we decided that as Madagascar wasn’t on either of our ‘must-see’ lists (right or wrong), we will be giving it a miss this time around. It was a tough one indeed!

  16. Doug January 11, 2012 at 10:16 pm #

    hey guys // so excited for you: i am just wrapping up an 8 month trip thru 18 countries in india, SE asia and africa: my best advice is to just listen to yourselves: there are no wrong decisions: i spent a lot of time in the beginning debating so many destinations and getting advice left and right from everyone i met online; in cafes wherever; but in the end it all will be fantastic wherever you wind up: madagascars on my short list as well: maybe ill see you guys there and we can start a massive dance party with the lemurs: DANCE WITH THE WORLD!!!! Doug
    Doug recently posted..My Adventure: From Blazers to Backpacks

    • Skott January 12, 2012 at 7:10 pm #

      Dance with the world!!!! We love it! Thank you so much Doug for the advice. Congrats on what we can only imagine must have been an incredible journey!

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