Planning process


 

Tap up friends, family and Facebook

With initial ammo gained from the pub fantasising session, expand upon it with other friends and members of family. Get as many suggestions, ideas and dreams as you can. Incidentally, this is where all of those people you’re ‘friends’ with on Facebook but have not been in contact with for years come in handy. A quick query along the lines of “Anyone been to Cambodia? What’s it like?” or “If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?” can bring all manner of sage advice out of the woodwork from people you’d forgotten existed.

Head to the pub

There’s no point in going into the detail before you’ve got the juices flowing. And the best place to get excitable about an impending round the world adventure is the pub, preferably aided by a gaggle of mates. Get a few drinks, bat a few ideas around, compare war stories from trips past, drool over dream destinations and pick up top tips about life on the road.

Scour the web for information

With a few ideas in mind, dip a toe into the vast ocean of information that is the World Wide Web. The likes of Lonely Planet, WAYN, Gadling and Vtravelled have heaps of material to sift through and gain information from. Newspaper websites – such as The Guardian, The Telegraph and The Independent – have a vast back catalogue of articles online too. Don’t limit yourself to UK sites either. The Sydney Morning Herald has a lot more on the South Pacific, Asia and Australia, while the New York Times will have more on the Americas.

Read magazines and guidebooks

The likes of Condé Nast Traveller and the Sunday Times Travel Mag work only if you’ve got towers full of money, or have no intention of going anywhere and just like to look at pretty pictures of spas. But Wanderlust, Travel Africa and Geographical are superb – as are other, smaller niche titles.

And then there are guidebooks. Most people only buy them once they’ve decided where they’re going, but they’re just as useful in deciding where to go. They’re also brilliant for learning about a destination’s history and culture.

The quality of guidebook varies enormously depending on the brand and author – which you prefer depends on your tastes. Lonely Planet and Rough Guides are arguably the best all-rounders (and Lonely Planet has by far and away the best structuring of information and maps). But Footprint is excellent for detail, and Bradt covers some of the more obscure corners of the world with undisguised affection.

If you’re not so keen on buying guidebooks to every country you may consider going to, try the cheat’s method and take them out at the library.

Get a map out

Once you’ve a rough list of what you want to do and where, get a map or a globe out (or use Google Maps) to put things in approximate geographical order. So, for example, it could be Great Wall of China – Thai Islands – Great Barrier Reef – Sailing on Sydney Harbour – trekking the Franz Josef Glacier in New Zealand – island hopping in Fiji – star spotting in Hollywood – flying over the Grand Canyon in a helicopter – home.

Check the weather

Unless you want to follow monsoon season around the world, it’s probably work out when you want to go where. January, for example, is great for Thailand but bad for a rather chillier Japan. July is good for northern Australia and the South Pacific, but bad for southern Australia or New Zealand (unless you like skiing). Other countries – and even regions of countries – have bizarre microclimates to look out for. Weather will be a prime factor in deciding when you go and how long you spend in each destination.

Decide when you want to go

The other key factor, of course, is cost. Some parts of the year are cheaper than others for RTW flights. These seasonal differences are largely based on weather (either iffy weather in Asia and Australia or people wanting to come to Europe when it’s sunny) – and the period between April and July usually offers the cheapest deals. A rough run-down of the seasons is as follows:

January - Shoulder / Low Season
February - Low Season
March - Low Season
April - Low Season
May - Low Season
June - Low / High Season
July - High Season
August - High Season
September - Low Season
October - Low Season
November - Low Season
December - Shoulder / High Season

Work to your budget

If cash is tight, then plan to spend more time where it’s cheaper (ie South East Asia or South America) rather than where costs are high (ie. Japan, Australia, much of the Middle East and the US). Also remember that you’re not going to be able to do everything and see everything on one trip. It’s far better – and cheaper - to do a few areas slowly and in depth than to try constantly rushing between tickbox highlights. Check out our budget section

Chat to a consultant

The guys at roundtheworldflights.com are extremely well travelled and know their stuff on how to get the best value routes. They’ll also be able to give insider knowledge on cool stuff to see. Call them up on 020 7704 5700 to get an idea of what’s feasible and what might be too ambitious for one trip. Alternatively, drop into the office - Third Floor, 32-33 Upper Street in London (very near Angel tube station) or give us a call on 020 7704 5700. Opening hours are 8am-6pm (Monday to Friday), from 10am-4pm on Saturdays and online

Youtube, Facebook, blogs and forums

Roundtheworldflights.com has plenty of videos on its Youtube Channel, and has sent top writers David Whitley and Mark Eveleigh off on RTW trips to write about their experiences. Their blog entries make for great reading and include some top tips on what – or what not – to do. There are plenty of other great travel blogs out there – try 501places.com and Everything-everywhere.com and explore their favourite sites for others you like. Web forums, such as Travellerspoint.com and Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree are good for picking up tips and asking specific questions. You can also connect to us on Facebook

Web reviews

Web review sites (notably TripAdvisor) can be useful, but they should be taken with a pinch of salt. The main problem is that you don’t know who is reviewing the hotel, tour or restaurant, what they’re accustomed to or what their expectations were. Hence every hotel on TripAdvisor has reviews ranging from gushing praise to accusations of receptionists spitting in the customer’s face. These sites are generally better for pubs and restaurants than hotels – and they tend to be more up to date than the guidebooks.

We've got some great writers and bloggers at roundtheworldflights.com, who we give free reign to produce some of the best features on the planet. Just click on the map above, kick back with a long cold drink, and enjoy...

 

Try out Twitter and Google Plus

roundtheworldflights.com is on Twitter as @rtwflights and Google Plus here. Expect plenty of information, inspiration and potential routes there. But there are other great people to follow for ideas and different cultural perspectives. However, you can search using keywords to find out what’s big news in destinations you’re going to, follow expert travel writers and ask in-the-know strangers for local tips. The best method for deciding who to follow is to check who people you respect and enjoy the musings of follow themselves.

 

 

by Stuart Lodge

Best for beaches

 


For many travellers finding the best beach (whatever that constitutes) is a serious mission. Here are a few of what are widely regarded as the world’s finest beaches.

Hawaii
Nowhere in Hawaii is far from a gorgeous beach. On the northern coast of Kauai, the big waves at Hanalei Bay make it a favourite winter spot for confident surfers. Those in search of that secret bit of sand could do worse than make their way to Cathedral Beach, also on Kauai. Swimming from a boat is the only way in and out, and the stunning location was used in the filming of King Kong and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Brazil
Ipanema and Copacabana beaches, in the heart of Rio, may be Brazil’s most famous beaches, but people-watching and caipirinhas aside, they’re certainly not the most attractive stretches of sand. For a memorable escape, head to Lopes Mendes; it’s a day’s travel from Rio by road, ferry and taxi-boat, before a hike through a forest reveals a 3 km stretch of perfect white sand, without a bar or a cafe in sight.  

Mexico
Only in Tulum on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula will you find a beach below the ruins of an ancient walled city. The Mayan site overlooks a long stretch of white sand, and while hundreds of tourists a day visit the ruins and stare out onto the sea and beach below, the unique setting and the warm Caribbean water more than make up for the lack of privacy.

Australia
Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world, so there’s no surprise that it’s home to a half-decent stretch of sand; there are miles of pristine beach set against ancient rainforest. Rainbow Beach, also in Queensland, is named for its remarkable sand dunes; thanks to the particular mineral content the sand is a striking combination of red, yellow, orange and black.

Bora Bora
James Cook called it ‘the pearl of the Pacific’ when he sailed through the South Pacific in 1770, and its secluded beaches and high-end hotels have made it a firm favourite with honeymooners wanting to escape from the world. Matira is the best known beach, with a mile of soft white sand framed by palm trees and dropping into a shallow, emerald-green lagoon.

Cuba
Cuba is blessed with a decent selection of beaches; for some of the best head to Cayo Largo, a resort island off the southern coast. Playa Sirena is the place to go for watersports, while Playa Paraiso, as the name suggests, is a quiet spot with white sand and clear water, popular with those wanting to do precisely nothing.

Philippines
Head away from Manila and you’ll find no shortage of world-class beaches. The massed ranks of foreign tourists head to the party island of Boracay; if that’s your scene you’ll find the obligatory white sand, along with all-night bars and beach clubs. Alona Beach on Bohol offers a more chilled-out alternative, while Palawan offers stunning, often empty beaches.

 

Best for nature

 


While planning a round the world trip may involve plotting a course between major cities, it’s often encounters with the local wildlife which create the most memorable moments of a trip. So what are some of the natural attractions worth going out of your way to experience? Here are a few suggestions.

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Best for Cuisine

 

 

One of the most satisfying ways of experiencing a country is through its food. Every place has its own delicacies and its own style of cooking and eating, and some are more rewarding to adventurous diners than others. Here are 6 countries where the food is likely to be one of the highlights of your stay.

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Best for History and Cultrure




There isn’t a country in the world that doesn’t have a fascinating story to tell; but it’s also true that in some places it’s particularly easy to uncover parts of the local history which will appeal to your interests. Here are five countries where it is the historical and cultural attractions which are the main draw for international visitors.


India
India’s most famous symbol, the Taj Mahal, is even more beautiful with your own eyes than in any film or picture; that is, once you’ve battled through the army of touts at the entrance. The Golden Temple in Amritsar, the holiest site for Sikhs, offers a much calmer, more welcoming and refreshingly hassle-free experience. For the ultimate immersion in Indian culture, nothing can match a dawn boat trip on the Ganges in Varanasi, to see the burning cremation ghats.

Vietnam
If your interest lies in 20th-century history, the vast Cu Chi Tunnel network is bound to appeal. Used as shelters, military HQs and supply channels less than 50 years ago, the tunnels are now a popular tourist attraction. Vietnam’s history goes back much further, far beyond the French colonial buildings of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Head to Hue, the former imperial capital, or visit Hoi An, an important commercial city since the 1300s and still home to a maze of narrow alleys with traditional artisan workshops.

Cambodia
Angkor Wat is high on the list for most visitors to South East Asia, and rightly so; you need at least three days to see the major temples, with ruins spread over 30 kms apart. In the capital Phnom Penh, the lavish Silver Pagoda in the Royal Palace complex is the stand-out highlight. Meanwhile the horrors of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge years are easy to access (but impossible to comprehend) at the Killing Fields site at Choeng Ek, and at the Tuol Sleng Museum in the city centre.  

Sri Lanka
You cannot fail to marvel at the men who built the 5th-century palace on the top of the rock at Sigiriya; the 200 metre climb is hard enough carrying nothing more than a bottle of water, although the views across the old royal grounds and surrounding countryside reward what is a very sweaty workout. The nearby caves at Dambulla are home to an impressive cave temple system, while the ruins of the ancient capitals of Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura still contain an impressive collection of temple buildings and giant Buddha statues.

Egypt
The Pyramids of Giza remain one of the world’s most instantly recognisable sights. Along with the Sphinx and the priceless collection of mummies and sarcophagi in the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities in nearby Cairo, these offer an unforgettable introduction to Egypt’s ancient treasures for the first-time visitor. Further up the Nile meanwhile, a river cruise provides access to the Valley of the Kings at Luxor, the sprawling Karnak Temple complex, and the Philae Temple at Aswan.