Ever wanted to see the world?
If you ever have an inkling to travel around the world or pursue travels for a long period then I want to help you plan out your steps. At this current point in time, I am embarking on the first leg of my trip but I want to share some insight into what I did to prepare and also some choices you have when you want to do it yourself. Ready?
Decisions – Where to go?
So as I said in the previous blog, I am planning to go to Canada then down the West coast of America, over to Cuba, down to Peru, across to Argentina, swim over to South Africa and over to Australia. Then explore abit of New Zealand and carry on over to Indonesia, Phillipines, Cambodia and Vietnam. As you can see, I am being greedy as I want to do it all in my trip. I will be honest, it won’t be an extensive trip in terms of hunting for hidden sites and doing extensive touring. Nope, you would probably need at least two years to even get started, but that’s just my opinion. There are a lot of people who have done a round the world trip in a matter of months but then they do not do any tours or sightseeing but can say they’ve done it.
There are a lot of factors into deciding what you want to do:
- Interests – Beaches vs culture; if you prefer beaches and want to see more nature then going over to Australia and New Zealand may be a better option. As I am going down the East Coast of Oz from Cairns to Melbourne, there are a lot of adventure activities and beaches. South East asia has alot of culture but you may want to do abit of both.
- Length of time – if you have decided to go on a round the world trip then you will have considered how long for, is it 3 months, 6 months, 12 months, 18 month? Or are you just considering taking a month off? If you are taking a month off then I would highly recommend exploring a single country, when me and my friend embarked on our trip to India, Nepal and Tibet – the trip only lasted a month and I wished we had more time in Nepal to do the Annapurna trek. A month is the perfect time if you are going to see a single country unless it is exceptionally massive – like USA/Canada/Russia/China/Oz – if you want to do a Europe tour then you might be able to squeeze in a lot of countries but will have to prioritise them. If you are desperate to see a large country in a month then you can either hold off until you are ready to take off more time e.g. if you quit your job or retire or be selective of where you go – so when we went to India, we only went to Mumbai, Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.
- Cost – the cost of a RTW for 6 or 12 months will be a lot, so definitely save up a big lump sum before you do it. For flights crossing the continents you will want to save about £2500-3000 for flights and any internal flights too. If you are desperate to do it and you don’t quite have the funds then you can either borrow from family/friends or sell stuff. I actually sold my car so that I could get a contingency fund just in case I needed extra money. A lot of sites vary in terms of how much you would need but your money will stretch in some places rather than others, for example – go to Thailand and your pound could buy you a cheap meal, I remember me and Bev spent £3-4 and had a feast fit for a king! However you go to Iceland and you will have to fork out £15 for a mid range meal. A lot of RTW tours may be only in South East Asia which is a good choice but it will leave you wanting more and thinking why didn’t I go to Australia o New Zealand too. There are also some websites you can use to compare the cost of living in certain countries, which is very useful – I believe I used numbeo.
- Who’s going? – if you are going solo like myself then you have the choice to choose where you wanna go. If you are travelling with friends or partner then the choices will have to be agreed upon – if Bev was able to come with me on this trip then I would not have chosen to go to South Africa as crime rate there is higher and I don’t think she would enjoy the area, not saying its bad– but you just have to be careful and be sensible.
How to plan it? How to wing it?
- I love it when a plan comes together
My friend recently said to me, “Vince, how do you plan a holiday? You always go on these trips and I wouldn’t know where to start”, to which I replied, “Elementary my dear friend”. Ok I didn’t really say that but I did have some tips, you guys probably have better ways of doing it or maybe you do it already!
- Decide where you wanna go – if you are going to Japan then do you want to visit Osaka, Kyoto, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Sapporo, Nagasaki? Or do you want to see Tokyo and Osaka?
- Set the amount of days – in this case, it may be a matter of months but then how do you separate the days. You need to research what each city or area has to offer then depending on that you can separate the days up, for example if you go to Mumbai then you may only need 4 days to 7 days – if you beast the sites then you can spend less time there or if you want to take it easy then you have to factor this in
- On a side note you should also look at what time of year you are going – if you head to Iceland in the peak of winter season then you may get disappointed on more than one occasion due to the weather but if you decide to go in the warmer seasons then the weather factor is not an issue.
- After you have decided where to go, what cities and sites you want to see and the time length in each part then you are ready to make some bookings – so I tend to book the flights and obviously look for the best deals, you can then maybe shift the dates forward/backward if there is a serious change in price. Then after that is done, I will search for accommodation – I am actually staying in mainly AirBnBs because the prices are either cheaper or similar to hostels and you get your own room! There are some downsides and upsides to this, you may not meet as many travelers on the trip and so lose out on meeting some interesting people or joining them on a random adventure but then you may also get valuables stolen in a hostel and also not have that level of privacy you want. Swings and roundabouts.
- Research the sites in detail and note down their costs and opening hours, some sites may close on special holidays or note be open on certain days.
However, you may be the type of traveller that works better when you wing it, you may book the flight and first weeks stay of your trip and see how it goes from there, this is also a good idea because you won’t have any stress if you get a spanner in the works or if you think, I wish I had an extra day here. However the downsides are you may take longer to prepare for entry into a country – Visas, vaccines etc. and there will always be that level of uncertainty of where you are going but it is more of an adventure. Unfortunately this is up to you to decide, but I’ve given you some options. The way I planned my trip was I actually planned the first 3 months and did a skeleton plan for the rest without actually booking everything – I left some things open ended in case I wanted to stay a few extra days here or there. So if you decided, lets spend a month in the Phillipines and did some research and booked 2 nights in Manila and went from there, you can just decide on the way.
Funnily enough, I did help my friend as he was planning his Honeymoon (I’m missing the wedding – such a bad friend!) and it took about 20 minutes to come up with a skeleton.
Some sites also offer a pre-made itinerary which you can use or you can research itineraries that other people have tried and tested and can give you some ideas also. I stole someones New Zealand 14 day itinerary which was really useful.
Preparing for it
So you’ve decided how you’re gonna plan it or where you’re going and the sites you want to see. What essentials do you need?
- Is your passport in date? I had to get my passport updated as I had 6 months left on it – if it is expiring in 6 months/ year then update it – a lot of countries will not let you enter unless it is valid within 6 months of entry
- Vaccines – if you are going to more exotic places then do you need certain vaccines, go a month or more beforehand in case you do.
- Visas – oh this is a big one. UK/US passports are great as they allow entry into countries without visa but if you want to stay for extended periods you still need a visa. I know some people will apply for a visa on the border and pay the fee, you can do that but its easier and faster to do it beforehand – even if it is week or 2 weeks beforehand.
- Packing list – you’re almost there, the jigsaw pieces are starting to form the big picture. It is really difficult to decide what to bring with you, you want to bring your Xbox but then what games should you bring too?
- Clothes: definitely an essential, but I toyed with the idea of bring the minimal amount of clothes and buying on the way or washing these clothes regularly. If you are heading to South East Asia then you can pick up clothes for cheap! I decided to bring 8 t-shirts, 1 pair of jeans, 2 gym trousers, 2 pairs of shorts, 8 pairs of pants and 4 pairs of socks. Its up to you how much you bring
- Sleeping bag: this will add a weight to your backpack, a ball of mass just sitting in your backpack. It all depends on whether you want to carry it or not, if you are staying in hostels you could use the sleeping bag to protect yourself from any hidden gems found on the sheets but if you are doing a trek or trail then you will need one – but you can rent it too.
- Medication: if you have any medical conditions then you should definitely take the prescribed medicines with you and also more for the trip. You should also take some plasters, paracetamol, “diarrhoea relief” tablets and laxatives in case your diet lacks.
- Travel Insurance: take tour travel insurance print-out or details with you. If you are unable to afford insurance then you need to wait abit longer until you can get it, don’t risk going out there and forking out an arm and a leg for hospital treatment. The insurance is a piece of mind even though it may be pricey but definitely worth it even if you don’t claim. After some research, I decided going with World Nomads, a lot of bloggers highly recommend them and I paid about £400 for my trip.
- Gadgets: camera and mobile phone is pretty essential, especially if you need to use it to call loved ones or use GPS. However if you are going for a long trip then bring two. If you head to somewhere like Jo’burg and are worried you might get mugged, take the cheap mobile with you, its expendable. Also get a hidden money belt and take two wallets. I’m taking my waterproof travel wallet and also a cheap wallet I bought in Chiang Mai, which has lasted 2 years!!! (it cost 50p) My plan is that I am going to take one spending card and some cash in my cheap expendable wallet in case it gets lost or mugged and lock away my valuable stuff (fingers crossed). Also I’m bring my laptop so I can share my journey with you guys and plan on the way.
- Wet wipes: it’s been a long day and you been sweating like mad. You can take having another freezing cold shower or you’ve just hiked up the Inca trail and you want to refresh your soul. A wet wipe is a great tool for just freshening up and also if you don’t have access to water to clean, this is a shortcut – ok you won’t smell as sweet as Mary Berry but it’s a good compromise.
- Is there anything else: you might wanna look into getting an international sim card if you don’t want to hoard a stack of sim cards – unfortunately the sim I wanted would have taken 2 weeks to arrive but if you plan early enough then you could save a lot of hassle. There are a few sims you can get:
- Three: this network is really great as it offers coverage in 71 countries with its Feel at Home function, if you have the right plan then you wont need to spend a thing. When I travelled across Europe, a lot of the countries were covered but check if the places you are going to are
- WorldSim: this offers minutes and data but I decided against this sim as reviews from other users said that the data ran out rapidly after minimal use. However some users said it was great in European countries
- Gigsky: primarily offers data which is a great idea as a lot of smart phones have internet calling apps and don’t utilise minutes or texts. This was a contender but the poor reviews put me off.
- Keepgo: offers data only. I really wanted to get this sim, the users praised it and it could be used in a lot of countries, unfortunately the delivery time is long as it ships from Europe.
- Condoms: in case any of you travelers get some action out there then I would advise bringing extra measures in case you get a surprise at the end of your trip.
- Waterproofs: take some overalls and a light jacket, carrying a winter coat will be tiring and you wont need it in all the countries
- Shoes: take one pair of trekking shoes and take some trainers
I think I’ve covered most of it. If there’s anything you don’t bring then you will have to buy it over there so think carefully. Is it more expensive over there, will it really need it?