We started talking about the possibility of a Round The World trip about 2 years before we left and started making solid plans about a year out. Here are the trip planning steps we followed.
Step One: Who
First you must decide who will go. This will definitely affect planning; you may be going solo, with your family, with a friend or with your partner.
We obviously are traveling as a couple and found out early on that not only did we both enjoy traveling, but we traveled well together.
Finding the right traveling companion or the decision to travel solo is the first step!
Step Two: What
What do you want to do?
We decided to go around the globe slowly, which meant possibly leaving some of our top places to another trip.
You may want to see as much as possible spending short amounts of time in each place, or you may do a different country each month. There are many options and the second step is deciding what option fits your style best.
Step Three: Why
Why do you want to go?
Answering this question will help in answering the next couple questions. Do you want to see all the world’s oldest buildings, hike the national parks of the world or see tons of wildlife?
We wanted to travel to see the world, plain and simple. But we also had individual passions and hobbies that led us to travel. Jason had a passion for photography and Scuba Diving as a hobby. Simone had a passion for education, specifically Early Childhood Education and a love of learning. We wanted to immerse ourselves in different cultures, meeting locals, celebrating local customs and seeing what life was like outside the U.S. We also really love animals, wildlife and nature.
Step 4: Where
Many people may jump right to this step, but once you have answered the first three questions you are better prepared to decide where you want to travel.
We started by listing all the places we wanted to go and comparing our top choices, most of which were on both lists! From there we talked about a feasible route, broadly listing continents and main countries. We decided early on that 2 of our top choices (South/Central America for Jason and Africa for Simone) really deserved their own trips and were left out of this RTW itinerary.
Before going further into the route, you must go to step 5.
Step Five: When
When do you want to go?
After you have a broad idea of where you want to go you need to decide how long you will have and when you will leave before fine-tuning your route.
For us we originally considered taking 2-3 months off during the summer to travel. We soon realized it would be the same amount of work to do a short trip and decided to quit our jobs and travel for a year. Since we were renting we would have had to pay for the 2-3 months we were traveling or pack up and move our stuff to storage and we weren’t sure we would be able to get that much time off work.
The timing for us had a couple factors. One was Simone’s job at the college as well as reports for her grant position at the Non Profit. Her semester finished in June as well as her current project year. Reports were due in July, so we knew we couldn’t go before that. We also had decided early on to go on a cruise with Jason’s parents to Alaska and decided that would be the start to our trip. The last consideration was the weather, we really liked the idea of chasing summer for a year.
Choosing when you will go may eliminate some of the places on your list, IE you may not want to visit Iceland in the middle of winter or the Red Centre of Australia during summer!
Step 6: The Where Revisited
Now is time to really get your route in order—if you are a planner. If not you may choose to skip this step and go with the broad list from Step 4.
We wanted to get the most out of our year and route, so we devised a flexible plan. We started with our route and then checked to see if flights went between those places (we knocked Tahiti off the list after seeing that no flights went between Fiji and Tahiti). Some countries were added after seeing that there may be a layover there anyway. Most countries have limits on how long you can stay, so that helped give us some ideas on how long we wanted to spend. This is also when we talked about more specifics of the things we may want to see or do in the countries on our list.
We concentrated on the first few stops (Alaska, Fiji, and New Zealand), before leaving home and the rest while on the road. By this time we had decided we wanted to housesit and had a housesit already set up in New Zealand which again molded our route a bit.
Step 7: How
How do you want to travel?
Like I said before we wanted to travel slow. We wanted to experience places, not just fly into one city and fly out. We wanted to try several modes of transportation and do overland travel as much as we could, limiting the headaches of air travel. Loving the outdoors, we wanted to do a campervan in both New Zealand and Australia. Since we wouldn’t have our tent camping gear with us, this seemed like the next best thing. We hope to experience trains and busses along the way as well.
Maybe you want to bike or have an interested in long hikes as a mode of transportation. The how is definitely something to consider before heading out on the road. THis can effect your budget as well as the length of your trip.
Those are our 7 trip planning steps, maybe they will help you in planning or in dreaming! Either way we hope they got you thinking. Can you think of any steps we left out?
Up next…What did we pack.