If you’ve been following my blog or social media for a little while, then it’ll be no surprise to hear about my dreams to travel the world. And how in 2017, they finally came true. Planning my round-the-world trip has certainly been a bumpy road. But it’s finally sorted and I leave in just under two weeks. So I thought I’d talk to you through how to go about planning a round-the-world trip and all the things I wish I knew before…
Research. Research. Research.
Why? Because, it’s impossible to know everything. A first person account of what someone else did before you is only as good as their brutal honesty. The good, the bad and the ugly. I read a lot about what you should do, but I found nothing documenting what not to do on when planning a round-the-world trip.
Not everything you read will work for you…
Most of the blogs and books I read about travelling, whether it one country or many, mentioned that it’s ideal to have a vague idea of what you want to do but go with open possibilities. You don’t need to book every hostel, bus and guided tour before you depart.
When I started my planning process, that’s what my intentions were. I was going to book my outbound flights and my first few nights accommodation in Iceland and the rest would be an open road. Going where the wind took me. Sounds dreamy, right? Well it was, until I realised that there are restrictions to travelling the world as a free bird. And it’s most certainly not as ‘easy’ as everyone makes it sound. But more on that later…
A round-the-world trip is only as adventurous as ones imagination, however being unrealistic will knock you down someway or another. Having a bucket list of idea’s is a great start and comparing that to what you want to get out of your trip and what your budget is will help you to filter and be more realistic.
Whilst you don’t need to plan every detail, it’s great to have a list of hightlights. Or ‘not to miss’. Things you know you must do and is part of the reason you’re travelling in the first place. Clear idea’s will help you book what is necessary and you can figure the rest out later.
It’s easy to go into planning for your round-the-world trip too nonchalantly. I was under the impression that my money would go much further than it does here in England. Which is possible, but not with the countries I was wanted to travel to. For the most part, anywhere in the west is notoriously expensive and you can look at spending anywhere up to triple what you’d be spending in Asia.
My best advice would be to figure your budget out first, then decide where you want to go after. Research will tell you if your plans are feasible. And don’t get misty eyed when you look at your bank balance. It’s easy to look and see £1,000’s and think the entire balance is spending money.
Why are you going travelling? What you want to achieve?
Knowing what you want to get out of your round-the-world trip is key. If you want to go swimming with Whale sharks in the Phillipines, write that down. Want to climb active Volcano’s in Bali? Write that down too. Figure out where in the world your dreams are taking you. Would you rather explore mountain tops in the snow or walk bare foot on white sand beaches?
Once you’ve got a list of must-see places, you’ll be able to whittle it down based on your budget.
East or West? Know that the further East you go (until you hit Japan or China) the cheaper things get. So if your mission is to be gone as long as possible, Asia is your best bet. However it’s not impossible to do Europe or the America’s on a budget either. If your dream is to tackle lots of cultures and multiple climates, then larger budgets and shorter time scales are ideal (but again it’s not impossible).
“Sorry Sir. No Visa, no entry!”
The idea of buying a one way ticket is dreamy, but not practical or realistic. Once you get out of Europe, you’re fairly restricted to where you can go next without the proper paperwork and permission on entry. Which can take up to 6 weeks to receive.
In Asia, the visa situation is fairly relaxed and for the most part, you’re allowed to travel with a tourism visa for up to 6 weeks which you can get upon entry for free. However, some Asian countries, like the Philippines and Japan only offer 30 days travel without a paid for Visa.
Once you have an idea about where you want to go and how long for, it pays to do a little research into visa’s and travel permits. Your local Embassy website is a good place to start and the Lonely Planet Guides are a great source of info too.
Ask a travel agent about a Round-The-World airfare!
If you’re planning to circle the globe or visiting multiple far set destinations, then round-the-world air tickets are a must. They’re not something often advertised on online travel websites but they can help you save a lot of dosh.
A round-the-world ticket allows you to book up to 15 flights, going in one direction and offering unbeatable discounts. George and I managed to pick up our round-the-world flights for just £1,200. Which included 6 flights and a total journey time of 41 hours. For comparison, an average return flight from London to Bangkok would cost you £500+.
STA Travel were absolute rockstars at helping us to book our flights and getting us the best deal possible. They even offer flexi passes too which allow you to change your flights for free if you decide you want to stay somewhere longer!
When is the best time to go?
Now this really depends on where you go. George and I decided we wanted to visit Iceland in March because it’s the best time of year to spot the Northern Lights. Plus, there’s more daylight than in the winter at this time of year, but it isn’t as busy as during the summer. This does mean however, that by the time we arrive in Asia we’re going to be battling the monsoon rains.
You’re not going to get the best weather and the best time of year in every destination unless you’re zigzagging back and forth across the globe. When you write your list of things you’d like to see, it’d be good practice to highlight one or two that would really make your experience. For us, the Northern Lights was just that. We’d travelled to Asia before, so the monsoon season wasn’t too much of a issue to us.
Be open minded…
Go in knowing what you want to achieve from your round-the-world trip and what is necessary for you to achieve that. But remember that you can’t control everything. Being prepared is fantastic because it will make you better equipped for when things go tits up.
I hope this was insightful and helpful when you plan your round-the-world trip. It’s always fun and exciting to read the inspiring blog posts from people who have adventured before you. But I too think it’s important to be able to learn from other’s mistakes and be prepared.