Pre-Trip Planning: Choosing Your Destinations & Picking A RTW Route

So you’ve decided you want to travel? Excellent. Good choice. But now comes the hard part. Where the hell are you going to go?! This was my dilemma too. You suddenly start to realise how huge the world really is, and how many options you have, not only about WHERE to travel, but also HOW to get there.

Where is the easy part. Hit the web, do some research, read up about a few countries and see what appeals to you. Are you an adventure and adrenaline junkie? If so, I’d recommend New Zealand, adventure capital of the world, with its jet-boating, bungee jumping and skydiving to keep you occupied. Or do you want to lie on a beach and soak up some sun? Then head off to Australia, Fiji or Hawaii, where you can sunbathe to your heart’s content, and see incredible sights like Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsundays, or watch the sunset from an idyllic deserted island. Want a bit of a culture shock? Asia is your place, with such a mixture of diverse people and things to see, from the craziness that is Bangkok to the calm tranquility of Siem Reap’s Angkor Wat, you’ll definitely find something to suit your mood.

Now, once you’ve decided on the where, it’s all about the how. Do you just want to get to places quickly by air, or are you more of a slow and steady traveller who wants to do it all overland? Either option works, but for me, I’d go with a mixture of the two…you have to experience the overland to appreciate the flying, and visa versa. While sometimes it’s great to just get on a plane, sit there for a few hours and then disembark in a totally new place, it’s often far more rewarding to sit on a bus for 20+ hours and watch as the world goes by your window. You get a better taste for the country you’re in and appreciate it so much more when you finally arrive at your destination. Long bus journeys are also a great way to meet fellow travellers – you can bond over your boredom, or talk excitedly about where you’re headed.

The route of your round-the-world trip is probably the trickiest part of the pre-trip planning. You don’t really want to waste time and money going back on yourself, and you need to work out how long you want to stay places and when you want to be somewhere (for example I knew that I wanted to be in Sydney for New Year’s Eve, and on the east coast of the USA to work at summer camp again in June, so those were my dates to work around). There are plenty of different ways to go around the world, east to west, north to south, but my route looked a little something like this:

London – (air) Thailand – (overland) Laos – (overland) Vietnam – (overland) Cambodia – (overland) Thailand – (air) Malaysia – (air) Singapore – (air) Australia – (air) New Zealand – (air) Fiji – (air) USA – (air) London.

I did a lot of flying on this trip, but I also travelled overland quite a bit too, using various modes of transport. In Australia I drove from Melbourne to Sydney and then travelled on a greyhound bus pass from Sydney all the way up the east coast to Cairns. In New Zealand we hired a campervan and drove all over both North & South islands on an epic road trip, and in the States we used a combination of buses, cars, trains and planes to get around.

So as you can see, there are so many different ways to travel and directions to take, and you’ll get a lot of differing advice from people telling you to go here or there, or to do this or that, but at the end of the day, the final decision is yours, and only you can make it!

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