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How to Plan a Round the World Trip – What to do and When to do it

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Photo credit: Al_hikesAZ (flickr)

Many people dream of travelling the word but sadly the idea remains just that – a dream. Not so many take the steps of turning their dream into reality.

I can say with 100% certainty that my round the world trip was the best thing I ever did. All the best aspects of my life now – my husband, my children, my gorgeous home in the rice fields of Bali, the fact that I get paid to do what I love every day – all these things are a result of me taking the plunge and buying that RTW ticket.

If you’re constantly dreaming of where you’d love to travel to but never actually doing anything practical about it, you’ll never get anywhere. What you need to turn your travel dreams into reality is a plan.

The following lays out a rough timeline for anyone planning a RTW trip. Obviously timescales and other aspects may vary depending on your personal circumstances, but it’s a good base on which to start your planning and you can change things around as you go along.

Are you ready?

One year to six months from departure

Photo credit: William Cho (flickr)

Photo credit: William Cho (flickr)

  • Pick a date. Any date but you need to make sure you can save enough money in the meantime on which to support yourself. You can change the actual date you book your ticket later but it’s really important mentally to have a date on your calendar circled in big red pen. Without setting a date it’s all too easy to let a year slip by, and another, and another… I’ve used this technique of setting a date to great success for lots of different things – quitting a job, getting a promotion, taking an exam. It works, trust me.
  • Research. Start browsing travel websites and blogs to get an idea of where you’d like to go.  Pop into your local travel agent and pick up some glossy brochures for inspiration. Again, this is not set in stone and will probably change a lot over time but it helps to stat to build a rough itinerary in your mind.
  • Start saving money. You probably won’t be working much, if at all, once you’re on the road and so you’ll need some savings to keep you going. Maybe you’re lucky and have another source of income such as from a rental property, but it’s still a good idea to have a cushion of cash to fall back on. Reduce your monthly outgoings where you can – stop your daily Starbucks habit and take packed lunches to work, keep your heating turned down and wear lots of layers instead – whatever it takes to save a bit more money every month.
  • Bring in some extra cash.  As well as saving what you can from your regular salary, it will really help to increase your earnings. There are so many ways to do this from freelancing in the evenings, to selling your stuff on eBay. Be creative and keep the end goal in sight!

Six months from departure

Photo credit: Paul Bica (flickr)

Photo credit: Paul Bica (flickr)

  • Call your travel agent. Around about this time you’ll want to have a more definite idea of your itinerary and take the plunge of buying your ticket. It’s possible to buy RTW tickets online but this is one of those occasions when it really pays to discuss all the different options with someone who really knows what they’re talking about. I found a specialist in RTW tickets who managed to save me hundreds on the same ticket and route that I’d discussed with several other agents. It really does pay to shop around. Depending on your travel plans, you may want to buy a one way ticket to your first destination, rather than buying a RTW ticket with multiple connections but again, discuss this with your agent to decide what’s best for you.
  • Sort out your passport and visas. It can be a real pain renewing your passport when not in your home country, so if it expires within the next year, it’s best to apply for a new one. Many countries also will not let you in if there are less than six months left on your passport. Check out the visa requirements for the countries you plan to visit and apply for at least the first country on your list if needed. In many cases it is possible to get a visa at the border but this is definitely something you should be aware of before you leave.
  • Talk to your manager. If you’re planning to leave work permanently, they’ll appreciate as much time as possible to find a replacement. If you plan to return then you can try to negotiate a period of extended leave. This does depend somewhat on your job – if you think they’ll try to fire you as soon as they know you’re planning on leaving, it’s probably best to leave this one till the last minute.
  • Sell up or rent out. If you own your home and you’re planning on selling up entirely, it’s best to get this out of the way as soon as possible and stay in some temporary accommodation until it’s time to leave.  If you’re planning on finding tenants to live in your home while you’re away, start with plenty of time in case things fall through at the last minute. 

Three to four months from departure

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