Get Excited! You’re About To Embark on a Real Adventure!
To start things off, planning a RTW (Round the World) Trip is not a decision you take lightly. Such a once-in-a-lifetime experience requires some serious thought and sacrifices in the finance and career department, but it can also lead to more rewarding work & life opportunities down the road.
Taking a look at the larger picture, here are the three questions and steps you need to take in order to properly get started on your RTW Trip planning:
- Determine how long you can travel
- Decide which regions and countries you want to visit most
- Visit different RTW flight agencies to figure out your route (and bare minimum costs!)
How Long Do You Plan to Travel
Oded and I took our trip for 5 months and originally I thought that was too long. I was concerned we’d be “away” for too long, that we wouldn’t have enough money, and that we’d be “wasting our time” by spending a month or so in each country. However, after experiencing such a backpacker’s lifestyle, I can understand why so many choose to travel for a year – or potentially take up the nomadic lifestyle full-time. It’s amazing experience and can certainly be accomplished on a tight budget of even $20 / per person / per day (including accommodations).
First and foremost, you will not get bored and at times, a few weeks travelling around a country is oftentimes not enough to experience even half of the country. Thirteen-hour bus rides, sleeper trains, and connecting flights will drain a lot of your energy and you’ll want to give yourself enough time and space to explore cities and towns at a leisurely pace.
I would say give yourselves at least 2 months for a RTW trip. This can be a great summer break experience, but try to extend it to half a year if you can. I can promise you, you won’t regret it. Remember, these are months you probably won’t be working, so you have to be comfortable with going into your savings.
We saved up around $20,000 and were willing to give this trip a shot, knowing that most of the countries we would visit would not be very expensive and we could stretch our money. But before deciding where to visit, you need to determine how long you can be away from home.
Decide Which Places to Visit
Once you have an idea on how long you’d like to travel, your next step should be figuring out the places you want to visit. You need to be realistic, given your budget, but don’t let that constrain you too much. Come up with a list of regions (e.g., East Asia, Central America, Western Europe, etc.) and from there, try and get a sense for how many countries you would want to visit.
Before reaching out to a travel agency that specializes in RTW flights, try and get a sense on how much it will cost to travel from place to place. Since budget is a concern for us all, make sure to take advantage of buses and trains to cross borders at cheaper prices. We can’t always fly, so doing research on which countries you can cross either by land or water can help you save money – and also give you a unique experience.
Originally, Oded and I wanted to go to a wide array of countries from various parts of the globe. We quickly realized that given our time and budget, this would not work out for us. So, we opted to focus more on South East Asia, China, and the US – rather than also try to tackle parts of South America in a mere 5 months.
Go to the Experts
Figuring out all the flights and using different airlines and websites can get complicated and overwhelming fast. I recommend getting in touch with one of the travel agencies that specialize in RTW flights. This way you can book your flights in bulk and in advance, saving you money. You can go directly with their airline alliances (One World or Star Alliance) or go through a third party agency.
Oded and I went with the latter, with a travel agency called Travel Nation. Here we were able to speak with an expert who could give us various flight itineraries (along with a breakdown of the costs) based on our personal talks
RTW tickets are great if you can abide by the rules. You can only travel in one consistent direction and you must start and end in the same location (hence “round the world”). In additional, the tickets are usually valid for 1 year from the start date and there are typically fees associated with changing flights after booking.
Remember, just build out your general plan with the flights and itinerary. Where possible, consider taking buses, trains, and even speedboats to cross countries at a cheaper rate.
In the end, Oded and I purchased our general flights around the world at a cost of $2,430 per person. That includes several flights each, which is a great deal since we started from London and went all the way around to the US and ended back in London.
We want to hear from you, too! Did you go a long trip around the world? How did you get started? How did you buy your flight tickets?