Around the World in 8 Steps: How to Plan the Trip of a Lifetime
Posted about 5 years ago
At first glance, this seems like an impossible feat. But when you lay it all out, there are some quite simple guidelines to follow that can make planning such a big trip seem a lot less stressful, and a lot more like a great idea to get cracking on. Taking my traveling experiences from the last few years, here’s how I would go about putting together a world-round trip for 2015.
1. Get a map!
It may seem obvious but this will really help you with planning your route, choosing destinations and eliminating others based on the path you are going to take. Pick your top destinations and match the dots, or retrace the steps of someone who’s done it before. If you’re going in a group, prepare for lots of competition, voting in favorite destinations and eliminating less popular ones. You won’t be able to see it all, so make sure you choose wisely.
Not only will this be an expensive trip but the prices in every place will vary dramatically. It is vital to prepare for different cultures as well as various levels of wealth, currencies and affordability. Plan your money carefully and be aware of periods that will be more expensive than others. Also, notify your bank of your activity so that they don’t shut down your account when you go to take out $500 in Calcutta.
Flights will be the glue that holds your trip together – try to avoid planning without them as they’re good to keep you on a solid time track and keep the pressure on to make the most of each place before your due date to leave. Buses and trains can vary and can be easily booked last minute. Book flights to connect you the greater distances and use smaller means of transport within those to give you some flexibility without straying from your overall plan.
4. Dream Destinations
South Africa, South America, Antarctica, Asia – having traveled mostly in Europe & North America, these are all on my bucket list. However, if I hadn’t already done it, I would include 2 or 3 months of inter-railing around Europe and – something that is on my to-do list for this Fall – rent a car with a few equally broke friends and do a huge road trip of North America – like they do in the movies.
5. When to go
Plan based on climate of places you’re visiting – try and map it out so that nowhere is too hot or too cold. Granted, this may be difficult to avoid seeing as some locations are built on glaciers while others are entirely jungle. Perhaps chose a landmark date or occasion like a significant birthday, a graduation anniversary or New Year’s Day. Give yourself a solid 6 months to plan everything, save enough money, and ensure that no career bridges are burnt and you have a strong network of opportunities to return to.
Don’t shy away from unusual or experimental places to stay – get on board with local trends and fully embrace the surrounding culture. Stay in a tree or an igloo – once they’re safe, of course. Needless to say, hostels are a must when traveling on a budget and are the best place to meet fellow travelers who will have recommendations and stories to share. You may need to treat yourself to the occasional hotel during times of desperation, exhaustion and the need of a good night’s sleep – no shame in that!
7. Capture the moments:
Document everything – I keep scrapbooks of everything, to the point of insanity, and it’s always great to crack them open on a rainy Sunday afternoon with a cup of tea and reminisce about the good ole times. Share them with friends and family when you return, or with new friends who want to learn about your life – it’s a lot more interesting than scrolling through your Facebook timeline! Plus, one day you will be pushing 90 in a nursing home and having photos and scrapbooks and journals will be a great way for your grandchildren to learn about you and keep your memory alive!
8. Pitfalls to avoid:
Not allowing enough time for each place, adjustment time, rest periods, contrast relaxing places with adventurous places – have all relevant shots & vaccines done before you go, allow ample time for flight delays and smaller planes & airports in more remote destinations. ALSO choose your travel companions carefully. Likeminded people are key – you need a group that will work well together with some leaders and some chilled out followers. Go for the adventurous and sociable types who are also sensible enough to not land you in a sticky situation! People you have already lived with and not fought to death are a good call as you already know each others boundaries and are used to each others intense levels of company.
Most of all, try your best to enjoy it. Things might go wrong, a flight may be missed or a passport may be stolen or a limb might break while cliff jumping – these are all worst case scenario. Likelihood is you will have a blast, make memories to last a lifetime, and build a collection of stories that you will be telling for years to come. I know this is something that I have been hoping to do for a long time, and writing this has reignited that urge to go and see it all!