Planning a round the world trip

Round the world

Setting off on a round the world trip isn’t only about packing a bag and slamming the front door. That globe-trotting adventure you’ve been dreaming of requires some serious planning. Now that you’ve graduated, set some money aside or simply decided to take a year long sabbatical, you finally have time for long-term travel. But how do you organize round the world travel without taking the fun out of the experience by over planning? Selecting the countries you wish to visit, dealing with the budget issue, completing the pre-departure tasks: learn how to get ready to trot the globe. On your marks, get set… get on the road!

Choosing a travel route

Maybe you will spend two extra weeks in Buenos Aires and decide to leave Sao Paulo earlier than planned… What you need is an itinerary outline of your trip around the world. Because it’s quite likely you’ll be enjoying some parts of the globe more than others, schedule details might change during the journey.

Drawing up an itinerary

Have you thought of a list of must-see countries or would you rather plan a themed itinerary (visiting the world’s major cities or most beautiful islands…)? Are you looking for a challenge such as travelling around the world on a bike? Whatever the purpose of your trip might be, you should leave knowing which countries you will be crossing and how long you will be gone. Many globe-trotters roam the world for a year but the length of the adventure may vary depending on how much time off you have and what your budget is. Finding a balance between pursuing your dreams and remaining realistic might be the tricky part of the task. Seasons, political stability and visa issues must also be taken into account. Maybe you would prefer not to enter India during monsoon season. To spend ten days in China, you will need to enter the country within three months following visa issuance…

Flying around the world

Though taking airplanes is the most common way to roam the planet, some travelers decide to go around the world without ever taking off or landing. Instead, they take boats, buses, trains… Buying plane tickets for each destination as you go is an option but purchasing a round the world ticket usually ends up being a money saver. Valid for a year, these tickets (which usually are airline alliance passes) allow you to travel wherever you want, making a few or many stops. It’s up to you! The more continents you visit or the more stops you make, the more expensive the ticket. A round the world ticket in economy class usually costs between 2,500 and 3,500 Euros.

Where should you stop? As you will be pre-booking all of your flights upon purchase of your ticket, you must have a clear idea of what your schedule will be. There are endless itinerary options but selecting a popular travel route is the best way to keep the price as low as possible.

For instance : London > Bangkok > Sydney > Los Angeles > Buenos Aires > London

Do you simply cannot seem to get enough of Australia and wish you didn’t have to leave Sydney in a week, as planned? Round the world tickets do not all offer the same flexibility: you may make changes in dates but do check how much these changes cost before making a choice.

Round the world travel budget

Are you used to backpacking-type journeys or is comfort one of your priorities? Whatever your travel style is, you will need a daily budget. Make a realistic estimation of the cost of the adventure!

Main expenses

A year around the world costs between 14,000 and 18,000 Euros per person. The countries you visit and the level of comfort you seek are the factors which can greatly affect your budget. Are you planning to spend a lot of time in the southern hemisphere? Apart from Australia, most destinations are quite cheap, compared to Europe or North America. In some countries, the amount you spend per day might actually turn out to be ridiculously low. To figure out how much money will be needed to travel around the world, make estimations of two different costs:

  • fixed costs, which include the round the world ticket, visa fees, vaccines, your travel insurance, your equipment…
  • flexible costs, which include overland transportation, accommodation, food and sightseeing expenses.

Trying to convince yourself you will hitchhike across countries, stay with the locals and live off of bread is quite useless if that type of travel seems quite unbearable to you in the first place. This would simply cause you to go way over budget. Because taking a trip around the world also is about regularly adapting to the unexpected, don’t set up to rigid a budget: sometimes you’ll just have to adjust it while you’re on the road.

Odd jobs here and there

Are you leaving with very scant savings? Why don’t you fund part of your round the world trip by working in some of the countries you aim to visit? Giving English lessons in China, grape harvesting in Australia, dishwashing in a Canadian restaurant… If you are less than 35 years old, check if the country you are from has signed Working Holiday agreements with countries you will be crossing. You could use a Working Holiday Visa to legally take up short-term employment. This is an effective way to get to know a country through a different perspective.

Before hitting the road

You’ve pinned a map with your travel route to your living room wall and almost all the boxes on your packing checklist have been ticked… Before you go around the world, keep your feet on the ground: think about your return and don’t underestimate the importance of leaving safely.

Leaving part of your life behind

What about your job?

Returnees frequently have an urge to change jobs or even do something completely different. However, taking a year long sabbatical is a much wiser choice than deciding to quit. Once your adventure comes to an end, you will be able to return to the position you had before you left (or equivalent). This won’t prevent you from making new career plans if you wish.

What about your home?

If you own your house, you might consider putting it up for rent instead of leaving it empty. If you rent and will be away for a long period, maybe you will prefer to end the rental agreement. Whatever you decide, don’t forget to cancel your bills (gas, electricity, phone…).

Bringing the essentials along

Your round the world insurance

Going for a complete health check up before leaving doesn’t mean you can’t be hit by tourist sickness while crossing Kenya or sprain your ankle during your Australian road trip. Your insurance should not only cover your medical expenses abroad but also include repatriation assistance.

Your travel documents

When planning your route, check what the requirements to enter each country on your list are. Before leaving, request the necessary visas for the first countries you will be visiting. Once you have made sure your passport will remain valid for the entire duration of the journey, adventure may begin!

To find out more about round the world travel :

Need more tips? Take a look at the round the world guide on Bootsnall website.

Date of publication Jan 28 2013

Other articles on this subject