So you’ve made the decision to go on an extended, round the world trip. You fought through the naysayers and are making your dream come true.
Often people get stuck immediately after making that decision. It all seems so daunting at first. You have so many questions. Where should you begin when planning your RTW trip?
All are important questions that eventually need answering. But let’s take a step back for a minute and prioritize. Don’t try to plan everything at once. If you do, you’ll drive yourself crazy. Just remember that even though you may not know anyone personally who has done something like this, there are thousands upon thousands of people who have, are currently, or planning a big trip right now. You are not alone.
The first two things you really need to think about before anything else is your budget and your route. Each will have the most impact on your trip.
Knowing how much you will have to spend will directly impact where you go and how long you can travel for. The first step, if you haven’t already, is to start a budget. Figure out exactly how much you are bringing in versus how much you spend. If you have some money leftover already at the end of each month, that’s great. Start putting it away in a separate travel account and don’t touch it.
Regardless of if you’re in the green or red each month, you should always look at ways to save more money. Do you really need that cup of coffee from the local coffee shop each morning, or can you start making your own? Do you really need to go out to lunch 3 times a week, or can you start bringing your lunch each day? Do you really need to go to the bar to watch the game, or can you just have friends over to your place? All those little things add up over the course of a year, and you’d be shocked at how much more you can save with a little discipline and change in priority.
Once you can get in the green each month and start putting some cash away, it’s simple math. How much can you save in 6 months? A year? 18 months? 2 years? There is no magic number when it comes to how much you should have before leaving. Some have taken off with a couple thousand dollars in their pockets and managed to travel for years, picking up jobs along the way. Some saved $25,000 and traveled for 6 months, living it up and not working a second. It’s all up to you and what you want out of your trip. Don’t let anyone tell you that you have the wrong amount – it’s all personal preference.
As you’re figuring out your budget and how much you will be able to save for your round the world trip, you should be thinking about your route. You certainly don’t have to plan everything out, but you should at least have an idea of where you want to go. If you’re traveling on a tight budget, then hitting 6 continents, moving fast, and spending time in Western Europe and the US is probably not the smartest decision.
Keep in mind that the faster you move and the more places you go, the more you spend. The more flights you take, the more you spend. My biggest suggestion to someone who is just starting to plan their round the world trips is this: Choose a handful of must-see destinations or activities that you plan your entire trip around. Always wanted to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, explore Patagonia, see Angkor Wat, and spend some time on a Thai island? Then plan on spending time in South America and Southeast Asia, start looking at multi-stop international flight prices (as the flights are going to be your biggest expense), and go from there. If you are looking for some advice about accommodation you can look here.
Planning a trip around the world doesn’t have to be done at one time. It’s a long process, sometimes taking years. Knowing where to begin is half the battle, and once you make a few basic decisions, things will start falling into place.