Ok, our route is set, tickets have been booked and our rough itinerary is planned. But how the hell did we decide where to go? Whatever people may say about the world getting smaller due to the internet and globalisation, fact is, it’s still a pretty big place.
So how do you decide which countries to visit, which continents to skip and which way round to travel?
Well for me it was a very long process from start to beginning, I will talk you though the decision making a bit.
Through my PhD and all the years of studying beforehand I was lucky to meet quite a few people from all over the world. And a few of them actually became very close friends, even though I sadly can’t see them as much as I would like to. So when I started sketching out my dream route I knew California had to be on top of the list as a very good friend of mine (let’s call her Ting Ting) lives in San Francisco with her husband. So that was destination number one sorted.
One thing that always comes up when you read about how to plan long term travelling is not to focus on what you want to see but on what you want to do. I am not actually the most adventurous or sporty kind of girl (some might even call me chicken) but there are a few things on my bucket list that I really want to do so I wall have to overcome my demons and just try them.
Somewhere close to the top of my bucket list is hiking the Inca Trail in Peru. I’ve been wanting to do this for a while but I had to actually think really hard about if I can pull it off. As I’ve mentioned before I have never camped in my life and I am not exactly a seasoned hiker. But I will face my fears and with some training, much determination (and a porter who will help me carry my stuff) I am sure I will make it to Machu Picchu in one piece and it will be totally worth it. So that’s how Peru made it on to the itinerary.
Wonders of the world
The only one still standing of the seven ancient wonders of the world are sadly the Pyramids in Gizeh. But there are plenty of wonders of nature, architecture and culture out there for us to explore. Some of my must-haves are the Taj Mahal, Angkor Wat, Machu Picchu, the Golden Gate Bridge, Ayers Rock and Chichen Itza. So there you go, that’s how quickly you can fill up your itinerary.
Having lived in Bavaria for most of my life and in England for the last 4 years of it I knew I wanted SUN. Preferably for 12 months in a row. If I would never see any snow again for the rest of my life I could handle it.
If you’re travelling for a year it’s hard to always chase the sun and avoid the cold and rainy seasons everywhere you go. But you can try, so we will be staying within the tropics as much as possible and tried to get our timing right. This is why we completely changed the order of the first half of our trip when we realised that we would be arriving in Peru smack bang in the middle of rainy season when the Inca Trail won’t just be treacherous but even completely closed.
Ah, this is the big one. Even if I was a big fan of snow and frost it would be hard to travel to Scandinavia, Antarctica and Canada on a budget for a year, I simply can’t afford it. Let’s face it, we will have to stick to the cheapest countries in the world and even then we will have to constantly keep an eye on our pennies. But the cheapest countries also tend to be warm countries, so that’s a win-win situation for us. Apart from three countries (the US, Fiji and Australia) we will be spending all our time in developing countries in Central America, South East Asia and India. This will allow us to travel for longer.
Which order to put them all in?
This one is the easiest one. Grab a world map, mark all your destinations and it will be relatively simple to figure it out. Most RTW tickets only let you go in one direction so just pick one and put everything in order.
For a while we were actually debating if we should turn around our whole trip, starting in India and finishing in Peru. The reason behind this is the fact that we will be arriving in India in the rainy season which has been described by some travellers as “hotter than the hinges of hell”. In the end we decided against this for two reasons. India is probably the country with the highest culture shock factor that we will be visiting, so I’d much rather embark on this adventure after having travelled the world for 10 months. The other reason was that we would have had to be in Peru for a specific date to do the Inca Trail this would take away quite a bit of flexibility.
Originally Australia didn’t feature in my route at all, not that I didn’t want to go there but I simply ruled it out as too expensive. When I found out that we would have to make a stopover there anyway on our way from the US it kind of made sense to hang out there for a bit. After all, when will I get to Australia next? Exactly. And that is also how Fiji ended up on our itinerary. Airlines used to offer free stopovers in Fiji on a flight to Oz from the US. Sadly they don’t do this anymore but we were able to add a stopover in Fiji for only £150 extra. I know that’s a lot of money but in the grand scheme of things it’s actually a really good deal, I certainly won’t ever get a £150 flight to Fiji again.
Even the trip of a lifetime can get exhausting, running after trains, sleeping in noisy dorm rooms and constantly looking after your budget. So you have to allow enough time for relaxation. We will be in many countries with beautiful beaches so there will be no shortage of chilling at the beach. And if we get bored we can always go for a swim or snorkelling, at least it’s free.
So there you go, that’s how we created our itinerary. Of course this was a process that lasted a few months and required a lot of research and help from our travel agent but I am pretty pleased with the result. Let’s see if we stick to it.
How did you plan your itinerary? Did I forget anything? Please share your advice.