Planning a Round-the-World (RTW) trip can be exciting, fun and sometimes daunting. Making the decision to travel around the world is probably the easiest part of the journey – but after that comes researching, buying airtickets, insurance, and so on… I’ve compiled a few tips that will help calm your nerves and help lower the stress level for what will surely be one of the biggest adventures of your life.
Decide on how and when to leave your job
There is always a right time and wrong time for everything in life. Leaving your job should still be done in a professional matter even if you don’t believe you’ll be returning. You don’t want to leave so abruptly that you destroy the rapport you’ve established with your boss and colleagues. Write a two-week notice that explains your departure (hint: travel can be a very good thing to gain experience), thank them for the opportunities and turn it at the proper time.
Determine your budget and must-do’s
This is critical to making sure you can travel for as long as you’d like. Research the cost of living in each country you would like to visit. Figure out the cost of food, shelter and transportation, which are more than likely going to be your biggest cost factors while traveling. After that, your activities and sightseeing will come into play, so you’ll need to decide what are the essentials you’d like to do in each country and how long you plan on spending there before continuing on your journey. While planning, make your travel gear purchases throughout the year before your departure so it doesn’t feel like your spending a chunk of your savings right before you leave.
Down-sizing your life
All you need on a RTW trip are the basic essentials. The rest is just clutter. When you’re living out of a backpack you learn just how little one needs to get by in a world that has become filled with unnecessary things. A popular solution most do is have a garage sale to make some extra money. Alternatively you can donate to charities, or simply purchase a storage unit to leave your stuff until your return. Most tend to sell their car because it brings a huge boost to the travel budget.
Research on itinerary and obtain visas
Before you leave on your one-way ticket, research what countries require a visa. The time and cost vary from country to country, so you should definitely keep this in mind for your budget and time constraints – especially when it requires travel to a consulate. There are also some required paperwork involved that may take time to gather depending on the type of visa.
Get medical information and vaccinations
Most round-the-world travelers will probably visit a few countries that have health concerns and require an assortment of shots – check the NHS website for the vaccinations you’ll need in each country. It is best to schedule a doctor’s appointment about four to six weeks in advance of your trip since the vaccines take time to actually begin to take effect in your system. Some vaccines will also need more than one shot over a period of time. It is helpful to go to a specific doctor to administer all the shots because they will let you know what is routine, recommended or required.
Buy your RTW ticket and travel insurance plan
Most people choose to book RTW tickets offered by alliances as they’re often much cheaper than purchasing flights separately. All airline alliances (SkyTeam, OneWorld, Star Alliance) have RTW tickets that range in price according to flexibility and rules. Do your research and give yourself ample time to decide on which RTW ticket to purchase before leaving. In addition, it is best to have a comprehensive travel insurance plan before you go – make sure to check the travel insurance cover before buying. Look for travel insurance that will help you in scenarios such as medical emergencies, replacement of lost documents, missed flights or border crossing issues.
Find out the best method to exchange currency. This can affect your budget tremendously and may impact your travel route depending on the exchange rate for a country at that time. I suggest exchanging some currency for the country where you are first arriving just to calm nerves. From there, it is probably better – and more than likely – less expensive to wait until you leave the airport to exchange currency.
Take care of life back home
Are you leaving a house back home? Pets? Bills? You’ll need to get all these in order before you take off. See if you can set it up to rent out or see if your bank can take your rent or house payment out every month. Cancel other bills that you’ll no longer be paying such as your mobile plan and car insurance. Ask a friend or family member to look after your pet until you return. Make sure your bank and credit card companies know that you’ll be traveling for an extensive period of time so they don’t assume your card has been stolen if they see charges being made abroad.
Prepare yourself for new cultures and languages
Wherever you’re going, it’s going to be different from where you left. That’s the whole reason you’re traveling. Research the customs and traditions of where you’re going so you can minimize the culture shock you’ll more than likely experience. It is also highly recommended to learn the basic greetings and other phrases in the language so that the locals can see you’re making an effort to connect with their country.
Are you planning a RTW trip? What other tips did we miss? Feel free to share your comments below.