There are no shortage of logistics when you’re planning any sort of trip, but when you’re thinking about how to plan a round-the-world trip, there are even more. So when it came to planning my four-month round-the-world trip, I knew I was in for some major planning.
Here’s a recap of how I planned my round-the-world trip, with some lessons I learned from hindsight as well.
Put The Big Rocks In First
You know the story about putting the big rocks in first in life? It’s equally applicable when you’re planning a big trip. For me, the big rocks were the key things I wanted to do. Everything else could be planned around it.
For me, the big rocks were wanting to see the four wonders of the world I hadn’t yet seen – the Taj Mahal, the Pyramids, Petra, and the Colosseum. So India, Jordan, Egypt and Italy went onto the itinerary first and composed the big places I’d hop between.
Decide Early What a Happy and Successful Round-the-World Trip Looks Like
I set it up early that the trip was going to be a success if I was happy, and if I saw the four remaining wonders. Everything else was a bonus. Having that mindset allowed me a lot more freedom to go with the flow – I didn’t feel like I HAD to do anything else. Just those four things.
If you’re scrambling from one thing to another, it can make a big trip incredibly tiring and difficult. So planning a few key things and then discovering everything else can reduce the stress level quite a lot.
Build Flexibility Into Your Round-the-World Trip Plan
If there was one thing I knew heading into the trip, it was that I knew the trip wasn’t going to adhere to a perfect plan. So one priority for me was to build flexibility into the trip. I decided to use the idea that anytime I was heading into a country, I should have plans to exit it. This also helped with a lot of countries that require proof of departure plans. But past that, I didn’t have hard and fast plans or bookings.
This gave me the flexibility to find the best flight prices I could, and it let me choose which country I wanted to go to next.
Start Thinking About What You Want the “High” Points of the Round-the-World Trip to Be
Studies have shown we really do (cheesy as it sounds) remember moments. Rather than plan to distribute things equally over your round-the-world trip, decide on (or just have an idea of) what you want to be the high points ahead of time. That lets you really plan for those moments that will be life-long memories.
For me, besides the four wonders of the world, I knew I wanted to learn how to surf, see Angkor Wat, have a hot air balloon ride, float in the Dead Sea and see the Acropolis. I started to plan for those moments, and knew I’d want them to be lifelong memories.
I also left room in the plan to find moments to create without much planning.
Give Yourself Grace
One of the biggest things I did for myself and my own sanity was give myself a heaping helping of grace. Whatever happened, this wasn’t my “I’m about to die” trip – I could go back for places I missed and I knew I’d have other trips. So it was ok if I was tired and wanted to take a day off sightseeing. It was ok if my stomach was upset and I ate McDonalds rather than local food. Whatever it was, I gave myself grace to just be. It was hard but effective.
Decide What Your Round-the-World Trip Budget Is
Yes, this is one of the most critical steps in planning a round-the-world trip. It’s also not what I would consider the most important step. Deciding where you want to go and what you want to do are going to be critical for deciding what your budget needs to be.
You can look at what others have done and use their budgets to guide you. Make sure to adjust for your own habits and plans. For instance, you can see what I spent on my four-month round-the-world trip. But I spent the vast majority of it not drinking alcohol. If you love to party, adjust accordingly.
Make sure you plan to have extra for emergencies, scams, and changes of plan.
Find Your Go-Tos for Flight and Hotel Planning
Some places to book flights are cheaper than others. I’m a giant fan of Kiwi.com and Skyscanner.com. I’ve found Kiwi has the best interface for showing the variety of places you can go and how much they each cost. I used it extensively on my trip to decide where to go next.
Agoda.com was my preferred site for hotel and hostel bookings – I found their reviews to be pretty accurate, the pricing was good, and it was easy to manage.
Once I made it to Europe, I highly recommend AirBnB. I found getting a rental was the best way to do Europe. You got to live in a cool place, have a kitchen, and it was far cheaper.
Figure Out How You’re Going to Figure Out Logistics
Don’t think you’re going to be able to plan every train ride, hotel room, bus ride, etc before you go on a long trip. It’s just not going to happen, or if it does, you’re going to have to deal with changes. The key is to figure out the best way to figure out the logistics once you’re on the ground.
Do research ahead of time for airport transport options. That tends to be one place that tourists can get very taken advantage of. Know the options for legal cabs, how much a car service would cost, if there’s a public transit option, etc. You’ll be glad you did your research!
For other logistics, make sure you know the websites for the local train and bus companies so you can look up timetables and book tickets. And just prepare yourself for how you’re going to handle unknowns and crazy things happening.
Download Offline Maps to Your Phone
Before you leave, download an app like Maps.Me for offline maps. You can use the GPS on your phone even when you don’t have cell service, so an app like that can be a lifesaver for figuring out where you’re going. You can also download offline Google Maps. Pick which you prefer, and get it sorted out ahead of time.
Plan to Be Surprised
Last, but not least – plan to be surprised. You’re going to get lost, get scammed, find awesome places you want to stop and so much more. Plan for those things. You’ll have fun as long as you see each part (even the getting scammed!) as part of the adventure.
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