For the past two months I have spent a lot of time planning my round the world trip, so, I thought I would share my experiences so far, and offer some essential booking tips. My trip is going to go through eight countries in three continents and while I don’t want to plan every single hour of my six-month trip, they’re essential tasks that you need to bear in mind when planning.
Planning your route
Get out a map of the world, or use Google Maps and plan your route; have a think about the places you would like to visit, and things you would love to do. Write down a long list of places and then have a think about the route that you want to take. My advice would be to travel overland at some time during trip, which basically means you travel from one place to another by train or coach, etc. This way you aren’t spending the whole of your trip stuck in airport departure lounges.
Once you have a list of places you want to visit, do some research on the weather during the months you’re travelling. You might not want to visit a place when it is the tornado or rain season for example. I found the Holiday Weather website really useful for finding out what the weather would be like in the countries that I’m travelling to. Also, bear in mind the seasons that you’re travelling, and try and avoid the peak times if you’re travelling on a budget.
If you’re looking for inspiration on where to go then they’re tons of travel websites, blogs and magazines out there that will help you. I joined the Lonely Planet Thorntree forum because I had a lot of questions to ask, and the community is really helpful. For South East Asia then I recommend checking out Travel Fish which has tons and tons of great content. A few other of my favourite sites for inspiration are the National Geographic and Travel & Leisure.
Booking your flights
I would recommend only using a travel agency that specialises in booking round the world flights, get some advice from them on the route that you have planned, and go through with them your visa requirements. Once you’ve confirmed your route, they should then go away and plan your flights; my advice would be to ask them for a few hours for any connecting flights and to cut down on accommodation costs fly late at night so you arrive at your destination in the morning.
When paying for the flights I would use either a Visa Debit card, or a credit card. The reason for this is that you’re financially covered, should the worse case happen that any of the airlines go bust. Also, check that the company you are booking the flights through is ATOL protected, look out for the logo on their website and check the membership number on the ATOL website. If you’re booking on a debit card, it is also a wise move to take out scheduled airline insurance, so, should the airline go bust, you’re also financially covered.
Travel Insurance is essential
As soon as you have booked your flights use a travel insurance comparison website and compare quotes. There are a few things to bear in mind; check the small print for any exclusion that the policy does not cover. If you think you’re going to be participating in water sports, or, any other adventure sports then make sure that you’re covered. I am type 2 diabetic, and I wanted to be covered should anything happen while I’m abroad, so make sure that you mention any illnesses and get these included in your cover. Of course, it’ll cost more for your premium, but it is worth it for peace of mind.
I cannot stress how important it is to purchase travel insurance while travelling around the world; in some countries medical costs are astronomical, and you never know the situation you might be in, so, please take out insurance and don’t be left with a huge medical bill to pay.