Preparing for a Round The World Trip (RTW)
When we first started to plan for our travels we had no idea where to start in terms of budgets, places to see, airfares or even how to start the process. Having now gone through the planning and preparation process we thought it would be beneficial to share our information with others planning their own round-the-world trips.
Where to Start
It may sound obvious but the first thing is to decide where you really want to go versus where it would be nice to go to. Cuba would have been nice to go to, but did not make financial sense in terms of airfares when it came to booking.
This probably takes the most time and most research, and if travelling with someone, the most compromise. We found that guide books, fellow travel blogs and online country tourist boards provided us with a good overview.
We already knew we wanted to see South America and New Zealand but after spending more time investigating the area, we decided that Central America should also feature as part of our travel plans.
Fixed Airfare versus RTW Tickets
A key aspect for us was flexibility, even early on in our planning we knew that we would not want to be dictated by set departures dates, which left us with 2 options:
Option 1 – Buy airline tickets when we needed them.
The plus side to this option would be flexibility, as it would allow us to fly to any destination we would want to, when we wanted to.
The down side would be cost. I put this as a negative as there may be some cheap last-minute deals but mostly it would work out quite expensive. It would also require us to ensure we budgeted for flights into our daily costs.
Option 2 – Buy a round-the-world airfare ticket.
Each airfare price bracket is determined by the kilometers in the total airfare, so in essence you can have more stops as long as you go in a straight line.
The plus side is you in essence book your ticket in advance, but are able to move your dates for free to when you need to fly. The cost is also generally a lot lower than buying tickets as you go.
The downside is you are restricted to return within 12 months and you cannot change destinations once booked, only the dates.
We opted for this ticket as we were sure that 12 months would be enough and we also liked the idea of buying all your tickets in advance, which would make the budget easier to manage.
The other plus side we found was in essence free stop-overs. The flight back from New Zealand allowed us to have free stop-overs in Australia, Bali and Singapore – which could be used as either stop-overs or as actual destinations.
Remember to shop around as prices seem to vary greatly, we opted for Travel Nation as they were friendly, flexible and seem to be available at all hours!
This again may sound obvious but don’t forget to get these done early on. Once you have your tickets/itinerary in place find out about the vaccines you will need and any other medications, such as, anti-malaria tablets.
For example, Malarone, the anti-malaria we opted to take, we have been advised cannot be purchased in Central and South America, so we have had to ensure we have enough for our trip.
This was the hardest part of the preparation. How do you set yourself a daily budget for countries you have never have been to?
Guide books such as, Lonely Planet and Footprint, are great for a general reference, but you can’t beat the first hand experience from blogs.
Using a combination of blogs and guides, we decided to create an average daily spend per country, multiplied by the time we think we would like to spend there.
For example our Mexico budget per person: $40 x 21 days = $840. This then becomes our maximum spend for that time, in that country.
If we spend less money by the end of the 21 days we can decide to either stay on for a bit longer, or roll the extra cash over into the next country.
I plan to post an actual budget versus cost, on a country by country basis, to help provide an up-to-date reference point.
The more you pack the more you have to carry!
When packing, ask yourself in what situation would I need this? If it takes you more than 3 seconds to answer, or the answer starts with “If”, then scrap it.
For a full list of what we took on our round the world trip view our “what we packed” page.
Personal Security and Banking
For us this was the most important aspect of our preparation. We wanted to ensure that we would not only be ok if the worse happened in terms of being robbed, but that our identity would still be secure too.
We also had to find ways in which to ensure our main budget pot would stay safe and that accessing it would not cost us extra as most banks like to charge you for accessing your money.
For more information on how we planned on “banking and security while travelling” read our dedicated page.
Don’t forget that backpacking travel insurance is different from a regular travel insurance. We spent a couple of weeks shopping around for the best deal, and in the end managed to half the costs of our original quotes.
We opted for backpackertravelinsurance.com as they provided the best fit for us and the most competitive price.
Enjoy Your Trip!
We hope this article gives you an overview of things to consider when planning your own round the world trip, and we hope you enjoy your time travelling!
If you have already travelled or are on route and have any other items/tips to share please let us know!