Starting to Plan a RTW Trip

One of my most popular pages is my Travel FAQ which I think reflects people’s confusion as to where to start with all the information bombarding them when they start to plan an extended trip. The amount of information out there is just too over the too and although the Internet is great for research tool you can end up going down endless dead ends.

Step 1: Brainstorm where you want to go

I’d suggest that you don’t initially hit the big travel forums and the airline sites. Instead turn the computer off and get out a blank bit of paper and a pen (quaint eh!) Write down the places or countries that you’ve always wanted to see, think about the activities you’ve always wanted to do! Don’t worry about whether its possible, whether you can afford it on any other practical detail – just brainstorm your ideal places to go. You won’t be able to do it all but it gets you focussed on what you want to do – not what everyone else thinks you should do! If more than one of you are going on the trip – why not both do this exercise, separately and then compare notes – the overlap should be a good starting point, if there isn’t an overlap maybe you have some other discussions to have! Rank your lists to see what is more important than others.

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Step 2: Join the dots

So taking the list you created from step one – lets add the countries to it.

  • Taj Mahal (India)
  • Everest (Nepal)
  • St Peters, Rome (Italy)
  • Antarctica
  • Easter Island (Pacific)
  • New Zealand’s South Island
  • learn to cook Thai (Thailand)
  • Mandalay (Burma)
  • Timbucktoo (Mali)
  • Ayers Rock(Australia)

For the purposes of this exercise lets decide that you live in the UK.

To cover the above wish list we are looking at Europe-Africa-Indian Sub-continent- SE Asia-Australia-New Zealand-Easter Island-Chile-Antarctica-South America-UK

Where did South America come into it – well that’s the only way to get to land anywhere near Antarctica, actually South Georgia, is by cruise ships which depart southern Chile or Argentina. You happily go off to price this routing from your friendly travel agent, I hope you are sitting down because between the expensive Antarctica trip and including Africa and South America in a RTW airfare its not going to be cheap! You also discover that flying into Mali is a bit problematical and the only options most RTW airline tickets offer are via southern or western African countries.

Step 3: Check the weather!

Yes the weather can be a problem in some places of the world – for our itinerary:

  • Rajasthan best time to visit is considered December – February
  • Antarctica ships can only run in the southern hemisphere’s summer: December – February.
  • Australia’s deserts are best between season when its neither very hot or very cold – March – May would be good time to visit
  • You will only get views trekking in the Everest region from December to April avoiding the monsoon.

Step 4: Fit your budget to your destinations.

Is it important to see what you want regardless of the cost? Can you only afford the cheapest destinations? Or like most people are you somewhere in between?

Lets do some research on the prices involved on our wish list :

  • Antarctica – is going to be expensive – we have to go on an organised trip and the cruise is at least 10 days because of how far south we have to go.
  • Australia and New Zealand will be cheaper than Italy especially if we have £ to spend.
  • India and Thailand are very cheap destinations and great value for money too. You could stay in an ex-Maharajah’s Palace hotel for less than a 3 star hotel in Italy – that appeals! Burma is cheap too – a quick flight from Bangkok and train from Rangoon will get you to Mandalay.
  • Mali is going to be expensive because of the lack of tourist infra-structure.

Conclusion:

  • Drop Antarctica – it can be a once-in-a-lifetime trip some other time;
  • Drop Mali – it just seems too difficult and you have some safetly concerns too.
  • Drop Italy – its close enough to home to do another time

Step 5: Fit your time-frame to your Itinerary

Now how long do you have to do the trip – for this exercise lets assume you have 6 month’s leave of absence from your job and you have to be back home by August for a family wedding – so you are traveling February to July. The logical order of countries that you have left, flying east, or the reverse flying west, is:

  • Taj Mahal (India)
  • Everest (Nepal)
  • learn to cook Thai (Thailand)
  • Mandalay (Burma)
  • Ayers Rock(Australia)
  • New Zealand’s South Island
  • Easter Island (Pacific)

Unfortunately February is the ideal time to be in New Zealand as well as northern India – so you have a conflict! What to do – you are probably going to have to choose one. You realise too that you want to spend at least 1 month walking to Everest base camp, a month in India, 6 weeks in Burma and Thailand, and a month in New Zealand so that would only leave 6 weeks for Australia which seems too little – again you need to drop something!

The final itinerary – well that’s up to you – its the process which is important not the final result! Leave me a comment and let me know how you did with your itinerary? Was this post helpful?

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