So you’ve decided you’re off on the big adventure. You’ve got a savings plan underway, you’re religiously checking your fave travel blogs for updates and your new favourite pastime is day-dreaming of travelling whilst lusting over people’s travel photos on Instagram.
But now where do you start with the planning?
One of the first things you have to tackle when you’ve decided to take a big trip is actually deciding where to go. To some people this will sound like the easy part. You’re doing this trip because you want to visit certain places, so where you’re going was decided pretty early on.
But for others, it’s a tough decision. If you’re anything like me, the wanderlust is overwhelming and you just want to go EVERYWHERE.
So here’s my advice on how to plan your dream round-the-world route.
1. Create your Wanderlust List
This is the first step and is you literally compiling an endless list of all of the countries you want to visit in this trip. Pretend money and time are no issue and just go for it. A pinterest board is great for this – just pin to your heart’s content! Although you may want to make it a secret board as to not piss off your mates and spam their feed. Just saying.
2. Create your Bucketlist
This may sound like the same thing, but is more activities and experienced-based. So think about what you want to achieve from your travels and whether there are any particular experiences you want to have. For example, you may want to go rock-climbing or go on a yoga retreat. You may want to go somewhere where you can party all night or have some alone time to ‘find yourself’. Jot all this stuff down as well.
3. Match them up!
This is where you match up your first list and your second list to narrow down the options. So if you wanted to go to get your PADI diving qualification and you also wanted to go to Thailand? Well that’s a match made in heaven and it should definitely make the cut for your shortlist. If you had a country you wanted to fit in but it doesn’t really match any of your goals for your trip, save it for a rainy day.
4. Pick your priorities
Now, I know when I do this exercise my shortlist is still bloody long. So at this point I think it’s important to pick your top 3 combos. You know you can’t do it all in one trip (unless you’re super ambitious, have years to complete it and a endless supply of cash), so it’s important to nail down your priorities.
5. Speak to the Travel Experts
This is the point that you start chatting to the expert travel agents and flight-booking gurus. You can either do this online by checking out ready-made routes on places like STA Travel and RTW Experts, but it’s very rare that you’re going to see a ready-made route catering to your exact hit-list of destinations. Unless your hit-list is London – Bangkok – Sydney – LA – London that is… So it’s usually best to actually go and speak to a travel agent to talk about it.
This is when you’ll get an idea of how feasible your shortlisted destinations are and whether they fit into your budget. For example, when I booked my RTW flights, I wanted to go to San Francisco on the way back from Australia as it’s one of my favourite cities. But it would’ve added on an extra £400 to the flight price than if I stopped at LA. I was only planning on staying for a week, and had been before, so decided it wasn’t worth the additional money. This is when your priorities come into play. You know they’re the must-haves and everything else is optional.
You’re route really starts to take form at this point so it’s important to think about your budget and timings as well. Be aware that it may take several meetings with travel agents and a lot of emailing backwards and forwards before you nail it down. And they will get pissed off with you if you ask for too many route options. But just persist! It’s your dream trip after all, it deserves all of your effort in perfecting the route.
6. Decide on your route!
Voila! You now have your route sorted! I mean step 5 is pretty much the hardest thing ever but once you’ve spoken to the travel experts and made sure your priority destinations have been covered, you can have a big sigh of relief, start getting really excited about your trip and book those flights!
This is the exciting part of planning a big trip. Now you can go mental and read every blog post ever about your destinations, start searching for the hashtags of the countries you’re visiting and spending ages in the travel section of Waterstones perving over travel guides!
Oh gosh I’m so excited for you! Good luck!
Have you booked a RTW trip recently? Let me know all about your route! Did you find this process difficult? Leave a comment below or tweet me @HeelsInBackpack!