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How to Plan a Round-the-World Trip: Itinerary Tips

A "Choose Your Own Adventure" Book

"The world is a book and those who don't travel read only a page."

You've probably seen this St. Augustine quote if you’ve ever read any travel blog or searched through travel-inspired images on Pinterest.

Growing up I loved reading the Goosebumps books…but only the ones with the sparkly covers.  Why favor the bling?  The Goosebumps books with the sparkly covers indicated that they were a “Choose Your Own Adventure Novel”.  The reader was able to decide the outcome of the story. 

"Harry walked closer to the creaky oak door.  The handle was rusted.  He reached out his hand...  Turn to page 117 to open the door.  Turn to page 56 to go to the neighbor's house."

Reading this type of book, I got to choose the outcome of the story.  I chose where the journey began and where it would end. 

Odd costs per day: Germany = Oktoberfest; Turkey = Paragliding, Hot air ballooning.  You can certainly do some of these countries on much less than what you see here.

Odd costs per day: Germany = Oktoberfest; Turkey = Paragliding, Hot air ballooning.  You can certainly do some of these countries on much less than what you see here.

Deciding the Itinerary

Planning for our RTW adventure, I've spent hours and hours...days?  Months... thinking of places, dreaming of destinations and scoping experiences online.  I call this daydreaming.  I look at picture, make “favorite” destinations to add to our bucket list and read trips other people have done. 

We both had a relatively good idea of the various places we wanted to go, so I created an excel spreadsheet and wrote them all down.  After all the research I had done I knew, for the most part, what length of time would be appropriate for each destination.

These destinations will soon become the chapters of our book.  We finally now have an index. 

Just like Goosebumps, using a spreadsheet can help you choose your own adventure and create the outline of an itinerary.  

WHAT GOES INTO THE decision?

Logistics, timing, weather and festivals were key ingredients in putting together the list of destinations.  Sure, change and disruption to the plan is inevitable; the unwritten footnotes of the story; but that’s the excitement!  Those are the parts of the book you don’t realize were even in there until you turn the page.  After a bit of research and jotting down a few numbers on a page you have now written the chapters of your book!


The result:

1. a rough budget

  • Spending 3 months in New Zealand vs. 3 weeks changes the overall budget for the entire year.
  • Shorten the length of time in expensive countries or look for cheaper alternatives - ex. Free Camping in Norway instead of hostels.
  • What do the experts say?

2. a continent-driven outline

  • SAVE MONEY: Long-haul, intercontinental flights are expensive no matter if you're paying cash or using miles (those still have value, ya know).  Limiting the number of long flights between continents significantly changes the final cost of the trip
  • SAVE TIME: We are scheduling Europe and Asia/Pacific in the one year.  I can't even imagine trying to cram-in another continent like Africa or South America!  Once you can identify your "must-have" destinations, you'll know - we need at least 2 weeks for southern Italy.  All the numbers start to add up and you'll realize you don't want to shorten the length of time in your favorite places just to hit a new destination.

3. a Time-sensitive itinerary

  • You can sit around all day and whimsically say "oh, a week in Spain would be magical!"  While a week in Spain WOULD be magical, if you think you can see more that just Barcelona in that amount of time you may have underestimated your time-budget.
  • Once you start to research a location you'll start to learn what length of time is appropriate...even if you're short on time.  Some resources may say "you'll need at least 4 days, but I promise you won't get bored even after 2 weeks!"  After using multiple sources you can then determine what's right for you.

Giving yourself a rough itinerary is, of course, step one.  From this day-dreaming stage there are several more details to put into place!  ....Those articles are yet to come, because it's too early to tell for us!

EDIT:

8 Months after writing this post - we still haven't even left yet, but so much has changed.  It is need to see how one idea morphs and take different shapes.  I'm sure the most laughable part will be after the year-long trip how inevitably DIFFERENT it will be from the list we created here. :)