Why Are You  Doing This?

In 2000, my dad’s cousin, Tom Shields, and his wife Louisa, went on an around-the-world trip. They were recently married, did not have any kids and both had just quit their jobs. It was an opportune time and they jumped on it. As a kid, I followed their trip on ShieldsAroundTheWorld.com. They spent 12 months traveling across every continent (yes, even Antarctica!) and have millions of stories from it.

So they are our inspiration but I never actually thought we would get to do this. Sometimes we feel crazy for doing this but it is nice to hear constant reassurance from friends and family that are excited for us. This trip is meant to be fun and educational. Who knows what will come about in our five months?!

Please sign up for the emails and follow along with our journey! We will be posting recaps for each location on this blog. Follow along on our instagram, @shieldsnotes for daily updates. 

How Did You Plan For This?


Airtreks is the company we used. They partner with airline alliances and bundle flights on off-days and during weird times. Our flights are all with One World Alliance (American Airlines, British Airways, Qantas, and many more) and mostly take place on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. For 25+ flights, the cost is surprisingly reasonable (my mom was shocked!). I highly recommend you check them out.


Hotels and Airbnbs are the name of the game for us. We used Mr & Mrs Smith for almost all of our hotels. They offer a vetted list of boutique hotels all over the world. Just like other hotel chains, they offer loyalty points. Unlike other hotel chains, they have great customer service and will send you gifts along the way (i.e. Away suitcases)! 

As for Airbnbs, we tried to position them in between hotels so that we could do laundry. We are not kidding! We tried to find Airbnb Plus listings, which is vetted by Airbnb, but if not we just read a lot of the reviews for each place before deciding.


This is the hardest part…We want to do the “quintessential_[insert city name here]_” things but we also want to go off the beaten path.

There are so many resources (i.e. travel blogs, guidebooks) out there that it can be paralyzing. The sites we read religiously are

  • CondeNast Travel – This has become our go-to for restaurants and hotels. It is really fun to read, too!
  • Suitcase - Similar to CondeNast, these are great quick guides. Also, read the Insider Guide interviews!
  • Monocle Travel Guides - We found these along the way and LOVE their city guides. It has everything we are looking for. The only downside is you have to buy them in print. We may have snuck into a few book stores and scoured the pages of these for recommendations.
  • AFAR - good insiders guides
  • Lost In... - these are great guidebooks and easy to travel with! 
  • Abercrombie & Kent – They are very high-end and publish all their itineraries in detail, so I steal from them
  • TripSavvy – almost too much information to digest but good for checking a recommendation
  • NYTimes Travel – their “36 hours in ____” segments are great!
  • Black Tomato – A couple friends recommended this and I’m starting to love it

How Did You Pick Your Route?

We had to be smart about this because of the time of year. Most people vacation in the summer and there is good reason why…the northern hemisphere is warm! Going from January to June limits our options. Also, we both have a few “bucket list” places in mind and then we pieced the rest together with AirTreks. Marykate’s bucket list included: climbing Machu Picchu, tanning in Bali, hot air ballooning in Morocco, taking a cooking class in Italy, chilling with George Clooney in Lake Como, and instagramming from the Amalfi Coast. Patrick's bucket list included: wearing Patagonia in Patagonia, attending the Australian Open, exploring the ruins of Angkor Wat, surfing in Portugal, and drinking beer in Berlin. The rest of the stops are based on the easiness of transportation and recommendations.

First, we headed to the southern hemisphere for summer weather. We started with South America and then continued onto New Zealand and Australia. For the month of February, we were in Southeast Asia, which was our warmest month and then we flew a long way to be in Morocco/Southern Europe by March. In order to avoid the chance of a cold late spring, we hugged the Mediterranean coast from Spain to Greece. Then, we ventured North until we hit Stockholm. Our trip finishes with two stops in London and Dublin.