5 April 2017

How to plan a Round-The-World Trip

If you've been following me on social media, then it'll be no surprise to know about my dreams to travel the world. And how in 2017, they finally came true. Planning my circle the globe trip has been one of the most bumpy and uncofortable roads. So I thought I'd talk to you about all the things I wish I knew when planning my round-the-world trip!

It's no word of a lie that the planning process for this trip was the most stressful trip I have ever planned. Ever.

I read all the travel blogs you could think of. Nomadic Matt. Expert Vagabond. Hand Luggage Only. I read them all (Which I 100% recommend, they tell you about some really invaluable information!) I took notes. Prepared calendars and spreadsheets, and it was something I felt really prepared for! Yet, it was still something I lost a lot of hair over. Why? Beacause it's just impossible to know everything, and a first person account of what they did before you, is only as good as their honesty to the mistakes they made. I read a lot about what you should do, but nothing about what not to do and why they wish they hadn't.

Most of the blogs and books I read about travelling, whether it one country or many, mentioned that it's ideal to have a vague idea of what you want to do but go with open possibilties. No time constraints. You don't need to book every hostel, boat and tour. It's great to have an idea about what you want from each of your destinations but open dates and times make your travelling more flexible.

When I started the planning process, that's what my intentions were. I was going to book my outbound flights and my first few nights accomodation in Reykjavik, Iceland and the rest would be an open road. I'd go where the wind took me. Sounds dreamy right. Well it was, until I realised that there are restrictions to travelling the world as a free bird. And it's most certainly not as 'easy' as everyone makes it sound. Running with the wind is only as good as the wind blows. Ironically, the wind blows very strong in Iceland but accomodation and transport are limited. Plus, Iceland is a hot commodity on a wanderers bucketlist at the moment! It's not somewhere you can go and just 'see what happens.' 

Why are you going travelling? What you want to achieve? What is most important to you?

Knowing what you want to get out of your trip. If you want to go swimming with Whale sharks in the Phillipines, write that down. If you want to climb active Volcano's in Bali, right that down too. Figure out where in the world your dreams are taking you. Would you rather explore mountain tops in the snow or walk bare foot on the beaches in Asia? If you're on a strict budget, it'd be best to try to narrow your destinations down. East or West? Know that the further East you go, the cheaper things get. So if your mission is to be gone as long as possible, Asia is your best bet. However it's not impossible to do Europe and the America's on a budget either. If your dream is to tackle lots of cultures and multiple climates, then larger budgets and shorter time scales are ideal (but again it's not impossible).

Try to be as realistic as possible and as knowlegeable about what you want to do whilst you're away. Having a bucketlist of idea's will help you to filter down to the things most important to you, this will help you decide on a budget. Or if you already have a budget, whether there's enough money to realistically achieve what you want.

Whilst you don't need to plan every detail, it's great to have a list of hightlights. Or 'not to miss'. Things you know you must do and is part of the reason you're travelling in the first place.

Set a realistic budget and stick to it

The most important bit here is the word 'realistic'! I went into this whole planning process thinking that my money would go much, much further than it does here in England. Which is possible, but not with the countries I was travelling to. Anywhere in the west, bar maybe south America is notoriously expensive and you can look at spending anywhere up to triple what you'd be spending in Asia.

In Scandinavia prices are extortionate on an all around basis, North America is cheaper but transport and accomodation is where you'll spend the most money! Japan (I'm told), is a sort of middle ground. Accomodation and food can be super affordable, just as long as you look in the right places but if you want to ride the bullet train, you're looking at about £200 for a 7 day ticket.

My best advice would be to figure your budget out first, then decide where you want to go after. Research will tell you if your plans are feasible. And don't get misty eyed when you look at you bank balance. It's easy to look and see £1,000's and think the entire balance is spending money. It'll be a big shock when flights are booked, accomodation is reserved and you only have half left! It was for me!

"Sorry Sir. No Visa, no entry!"

The idea of buying a one way ticket and just flying free is dreamy, but not practical or realistic. Once you get out of Europe, you're pretty much restricted to where you can go next without the proper paperwork and permission. Most countries require you to obtain a Visa before entry, which can take up to 6 weeks to get. Definitely not ideal.

In Asia, the Visa situation is a little more relaxed and you're allowed to travel to and from without permission for up to 6 months in some countries. However, most Asian countries, including the Phillipines and Japan only offer 30 days travel without a Visa.

Once you have an idea about where you want to go and how long for, do a little research into Visa's and travel permits. If you're on a strict budget, this could change how long you plan to stay or whether you go to a place altoegther. I recommend your local Embassy website but the Lonely Planet were also great sources of information. Whilst I didn't have too much of an issue obtaining my Visa's where they were necessary, it definitely put a holt in the 'one way ticket' plan!

Ask a travel agent about a Round-The-World airfare!

If you're planning to circle the globe or visiting mutliple far set destinations, then round the world air tickets are a must. They're not something often advertised on online travel websites but they can help you save a lot of dosh.

They work by purchasing flights with airlines who are affiliated with one another, such as the Star Alliance. You can buy up to 15 flights and will get considerable discounts, so long as you're travelling in one direction. George and I managed to pick up our RTW flights for just £1,200. Which seems like alot. However, if you consider a flight from Iceland to Vancouver alone works out at almost half of that, and then factor in the 4 extra long-haul flights we have included in our deal. It's quite the bargain.

STA Travel were absolute rockstars at helping us to book our flights and getting us the best deal possible. They even offer flexi passes which allow you to change your flights for free if you decide you want to stay somewhere longer! Meaning the 'free bird' plan isn't as far from the horizon as it was measuring up to be!

When is the best time to go?

Now this really depends on where you go. George and I decided we wanted to visit Iceland in March because it's the best time of year to spot the Northern Lights. Plus, there's more daylight than in the winter at this time of year, but it isn't as busy as during the summer. This does mean however, that by the time we arrive in Asia we're going to be battleing the monsoon.

You're not going to get the best weather and the best time of year in every destination unless you're zigzagging back and forth across the globe. If you can, then by all means, but I'm willing to bet you don't quite have the budget for that! Decide what you to see, do or experience the most. What is the most important thing for you to return home with. For us, the Northern Lights was just that. We've been to Asia before, it's just a little bonus at the end of our trip. Plus the monsoon isn't always so bad.

How many times did I say the word 'realistic'? I think it's important for me to tell you the negatives of planning to travel the world. I read so, so many blog posts and travel guides and not one of them told me how easy it is to get carried away and forget to be realistic. I hope, I was insightful and helpful and not too much of a negative nancy!

I'm currently in Japan, but if you're planning to travel, whether it be round the world or just on a quick-nip-vacation, and have any questions let me know. I've got all the time in the world now I'm unemployed to help you out!

Love always,

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  1. Fair play to you Mel for doing this round the work trip! I'd love to visit Japan! I miss Iceland so much! Also your Instagram pictures are making me just want to jump into Vancouver!

    Isobel x

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  2. Really want to go travelling but I'm so nervous about it. I'm thinking about going once I've finished university for a bit. Lovely post, just followed you on blog loving xx

    Jasmine | http://jasminelaurenfancy.blogspot.co.uk

    1. Hi Jasmine,

      Firstly, thank you so much for following me on Bloglovin, I really appreciate the support.

      I completely agree, take some time out after Uni to travel even just a little. That's exactly what I'm doing at the moment and I don't regret it one bit! As for feeling nervous, it's totally normal and I'd be lying to you if I told you I never once doubted my abilities to do this in those few days before I left. But the experience is beyond anything you can imagine and I recommend it more than anything!



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