Logistics of RTW travel – part 1: When & where are you going?

I mentioned a few weeks ago when I introduced our #👫WorldTour that I was going to put together a little series of posts to explore the logistics of organising a round the world trip and wanted to get started now. I figured with so much time between now and when we’re actually leaving, I’ll give you one every few weeks during the lead up, and the most logical place to start with that is to work out when and where you’re going!

They may seem like a simple enough questions, but actually, there can actually be a bit more thought that needs to go into the decision making process than just picking a place on the map. Here are some questions that are worth spending some time mulling over before you really get started…

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WHERE?

Where do you WANT to go?
That should be easy enough – make a list of all the places you really want to see, however far fetched and impossible to get to they seem, and for whatever ridiculous reasons. I mean, to start off with, I only wanted to go to New Orleans to explore some of their more macabre history, myths and legends, even though it was on the other side of the world (and a damn expensive airfare away), and we all know how that worked out!

WHY do you want to go?
Similarly to the last question, work out WHY you want to go. Why you REALLY want to go. You want to walk through the cemeteries in New Orleans? Eat at the oldest restaurant in Rome? Visit that city your favourite movie was filmed in? The only person who needs to know the why is you, so be honest. Once you start asking yourself this question and answering honestly, you’ll be able to work out if your reasoning is good enough reason to warrant the time and money that’ll go into the adventure.

Are you compromising on destinations?
Once you’ve answered your first two questions, you can start putting a rough “itinerary” together – it may be nothing more than “London, Paris, Rome” at this stage. Once you have that list, ask yourself if you’re compromising on any of your destinations. For example, maybe in Italy you actually really wanted to go to the Amalfi Coast, but it looks way too hard and complicated to get to, so you compromised on Rome instead. When I catch myself thinking like this, I always stop; if I’m taking the time off work and spending that much money to get across the world anyway, I may as well do EXACTLY what I wanted to do, difficulties be damned. Because it’s never not been worth it, in the end 🙂

How much is it going to cost?
Some destinations are just expensive, even if you’ve budgeted carefully and stay in cheap accommodation. London, Tokyo or Geneva, for example, are all going to cost a lot more to spend a week in than Phuket, Hanoi or Goa. Ask yourself if you are going to realistically be able to save enough money to actually enjoy yourself in your chosen locations – there’s nothing worse than finally getting there and being dead broke and unable to make the most of your time away.

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WHEN?

Are you taking paid or unpaid leave?
This is a big one to consider and weigh up, because it can have a huge impact on your trip. For example, you may be able to take paid time off with restrictions around the time of year you take off (but you’d still be getting paid) versus unpaid time off any time of the year you please. Ultimately, that’s a call only you can make!

What’s going on in the world at that time?
Is it school holidays? That can drive prices up quite a lot. Are there going to be public or religious holidays on? That can limit opening hours of certain attractions and transport options. Are there any special events like major art exhibits or sports games on? That may mean accommodation will book out super early.

What’s the weather going to be like?
Again, this is a pretty individual one; I’m a winter girl, myself. I’d rather risk a flight delay due to a snow storm than risk missing a few days of my trip due to sun stroke. There’s also the consideration that certain places and attractions can have seasonal limitations – for example, driving around Iceland, we’re having to be quite aware of road closures during winter months, but there’s also a much better chance of seeing the Northern Lights at that time of year, so it’s worth it for us.

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Don’t let these any of these things put you off, but don’t go in blind, either; weigh up the pros and cons. And now, your turn to get planning 🙂 If you have any ideas for trips you dream of taking one day, feel free to share them here, too – more ideas for the bucket list is never a bad thing!

 

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The #👫WorldTour…

This week, husband and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary, and 12 years together… wow. When we started dating back in 2004, it wasn’t immediately apparent that we had a heap in common. Except for travel. We used to spend hours talking late into the night about all of the places we wanted to see, all the adventures we wanted to take. He wanted to drink rum and listen to music in Havana. I wanted to  sail on the Nile and see the pyramids in Cairo. We discovered that we both desperately wanted to see New Orleans, which led me to discover a surprising appreciation for jazz music in this guy, and he to discover my odd fascination for mythology and the occult. We wanted to safari through Africa and stare out over the concrete jungle of New York City. We wanted to eat pizza in Rome and hot dogs in Chicago. We wanted to world.

But, we were young. We were university students with casual jobs and wages. We graduated together and wasted no time getting to work; we were both big dreamers, but husband had no idea just how stubborn or determined I could be once I set my sights on something, a fact that I think he’s come to respect (and fear).

Not quite a year after graduating, we were renting our first place together. We had to set aside our dreams of world travel so that we could get established in the working world and pay the rent and bills. A few years later, we felt the pressure to be “responsible” and bought land to build a house on (“because you should have been paying off our own home instead of someone else’s while renting,” said all of the grown ups). We moved into our shiny new home on a big chunk of land over Christmas 2009. A few months later, we were engaged, and in October 2010 we were married. We wanted a big, USA adventure for our honeymoon, but with a new house and a wedding within 12 months, it was impossible. So, once again, our dreams were shelved so we could be responsible adults.

Not long after, we realised we were both miserable. We loved each other very much, but we hated where we lived. It too big a house for us, with a mortgage that wouldn’t allow us to actually LIVE. We started planning our escape, allowing ourselves a glimmer of hope that our dreams of travel might actually be possible after all. I didn’t need dreams, though; I needed something concrete. I went into woman-possessed mode, and before long had a plan to get us on a 4 week trip to Egypt and Europe. In March/April 2013, I finally got to fulfil my lifelong dream of travelling to Egypt. I think  a lot of people assumed that we’d take that trip, “get the travel thing out of our systems” and be a proper married couple and start having babies. It just made us more determined to not make the same mistake again of doing what everyone expected; we already tried it that way, and we were both miserable.

Move along another few years, and were in a new house which we both adored. We got braver and planned our big trip to America (finally), for 6 weeks. Financially, it wasn’t easy (we went less than 2 years after the EuroTrip) with a mortgage and bills to pay, but hard work, a lot of sacrifices and sheer determination saw us get it done, and it was incredible. I also managed to save enough money to take a few trips on my own in that time, which was twice as tough, but also infinitely more rewarding.

Not long after returning from America, we realised that if we weren’t ready to “settle down” and have a kid because we wanted to travel, then we should stop wishing and start doing. We set ourselves a gargantuan goal; a four month trip around the world, the one we’d been talking about since 2004, to depart in September 2017 (keep in mind, we only got back from America in January 2015, just got back from Vietnam last weekend, and still have the mortgage & bills to pay). And guess what?

It’s happening.

Finally.

This time next year, we’ll already be a week or so into our 4 month adventure of a lifetime, and we are beyond excited! The planning and budgeting and sacrifices that are making this trip possible are bordering on absurd, but none of it seems hard. This is what we have both wanted for the longest time, and we’re so very ready for it!

Our itinerary will include…

  • Banff & Jasper National Parks
  • Yosemite & Sequoia National Parks
  • Ketchikan
  • Chicago
  • New York
  • New Orleans (duh)
  • London
  • Dublin
  • Iceland
  • Paris
  • Barcelona
  • Ronda
  • Bern
  • Munich
  • Berlin
  • Prague
  • Vienna
  • A whole lot of Italy
  • Osaka
  • Tokyo
  • Koh Sami

 

We have a whoooooole hell of a lot to organise between now and then; being on a budget and having a set date we need to be back home and at work, we’ve decided to book our flights and accommodation in advance rather than winging in. That may sound incredibly daunting, but it’s actually not as scary as it sounds; over the next 12 months leading up to the trip, I’ll be putting together a series of posts on how to deal with the logistics of such a big trip, so if this is something you’ve always wanted to do, too, you can’t use the “too hard” card as an excuse 😉

I’m also putting a call for help out there – if you have any recommendations on where to stay (cheaper hotels/Airbnbs), what to eat, what to see, lesser known experiences, please let us know!! We want to see and do and eat as much as we can, and if you live in any of the places we’re planning to visit, I’ll bet you can tell us a hell of a lot more than any guidebook can!

But for now, it’s head down, bum up, and off to work I go. On the train to work, it’s hard to believe that this time next year, I’ll be on my way around the world…