Things I learnt while planning my round the world trip

 

 

 

It will be the trip of a lifetime, navigating yourself round the world, while experiencing different cultures, and tasting new cuisines.

 

Planning a round the world trip (RTW) can be time consuming, and with only a few weeks left until I depart on my own adventure, I wanted to share what I have learnt from my experience.

 

Research your trip

 

Researching your trip can save you a lot of time and money when you reach your chosen destination, but you should only read information from knowledgeable, trusted sources, because there is a lot of inaccurate content published on the internet.

 

Smart phone apps are brilliant for planning

 

Technology has advanced somewhat since the first mobile phone came on to the market over thirty years ago, and booking accommodation while on the road has huge benefits - obviously, providing you have access to free WiFi, or an affordable international SIM card with a decent data plan. 

 

For accommodation my favourite apps are Booking.com and Airbnb. Tripit is a useful app for keeping track of your trip, and allows you to log flights, hotels, and restaurant reservations. The Trip Advisor apps are helpful for browsing reviews, and reading travel guides offline (if you download them).

 

Hotel cancellation policies

 

There is a likelihood that you will change your plans, and if this is your first time travelling for a significant period of time, you might be tempted to book your accommodation in advance – if you feel the need, book a hotel that does not have a strict cancellation policy. Make sure that you can cancel the hotel up to a few days before you arrive; this gives you the comfort and flexibility to change your mind.

 

When booking any part of your trip, make sure you have read through the booking terms and conditions and look for any hidden charges – I discovered one hotel that had a ludicrous charge for paying by credit card, and many hotels in SE Asia only accept cash.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ATM charges

 

If are a UK resident, think about opening up an account at the Norwich and Peterborough Building Society because they do not charge for transactions abroad, both withdrawing cash at ATM’s and when using your debit card in shops, restaurants, etc. 

 

Bear in mind though that in some countries, the banks add on a hefty ATM fee – in Thailand: banks charge foreign card users 180BHT per transaction, that’s nearly £3.50!

 

Do you have any tips from lessons you’ve learnt while planning your RTW trip?   I hope this helps you plan your round the world trip – it’ll be an adventure, so make sure you enjoy every moment, and remember, what you’re creating are memories that will last a lifetime.

 

by Darren Cronian

 

 

Disclosure: Darren is travelling on a Navigator round the world ticket which is valid for 12 months and is date changeable free of charge. His RTW consultant is Stuart, the handsome one.

rtwflights vs Google flights

 

                                                versus

 

 

 

Twitter is a wonderful invention. A speedy knowledgeable database filled with experts, folks with encyclopedic knowledge of the middle of nowhere and lots of funny looking animal memes. But sometimes, it can scare the absolute bejayus out of you. Take last Tuesday. There I was, hard at it on the RTW coalface when these two tweets appeared...

 

 

 

 

 

So I thought a little RTW comparison experiment was in order. It's pretty unscientific, but we took 5 of our biggest selling RTW routes and did a price comparison search leaving in September (a shoulder season). We also took a screen grab of the results. It threw up some really rather surprising results...

 

 

1. UK - Bangkok  - Australia - New Zealand - Hawaii - UK

 

roundtheworldflights.com - £1995 See here

 

Google Flights - £3695

 

 

2. UK - Bangkok  - Australia - Santiago surface Lima - New York - UK

 

 

 

roundtheworldflights.com - £1912.95 See here

 

 

 

Google Flights - £5038

 

 

3. UK - India surface Nepal  - Vietnam surface Thailand - Australia - Cook Islands - UK

 

 

 

roundtheworldflights.com - £1889.15 See here

 

 

 

Google Flights - £6512

 

 

4. UK - Hong Kong - Singapore - Australia - Cook Islands - UK

 

 

 

roundtheworldflights.com - £1862 See here

 

 

 

Google Flights - £4998

 

 

5. UK - Johannesburg - Bangkok - Australia - Cook Islands - UK

 

 

 

roundtheworldflights.com - £1942.15 See here

 

 

 

Google Flights - No results

 


 

Of course you would need to call us, or we'll call you, but you could be saving up to £3K on these result, and we are lovely people - look nice (verified) reviews on Google Maps. Plus we'd tell you about the The Do’s and Don’ts of Using a Mobile Phone in Australia, or countries where you're pound will go further, the Art of Packing, and when not to go to places, and visas, and jabs, and insurance, hostels, tours and hotels; Important stuff like that. Plus the aftercare, which sometimes becomes vital...

 

On round the world tickets we really do know what we're on about.

And Twitter, I still love you.

 

ps you should all follow Brian Whelan (the bloke who broke the missiles on his roof before the London Olympics story) and Benji Lanyado (travel journo turned coder). Both good value

Timeline


One year to six months out


Start having a think about where you’d like to go. Start tapping up your friends for ideas and utilise the internet for inspiration. Put potential destinations in a rough geographical order, check out weather patterns, get ideas of what you want to do where and generally get rather excited about the whole thing.

Five to six months out

  • Check how long your passport is valid for. As a general rule, you need to have a spare six months available from the date you come back. So, if yours expires in the next two years, get down to a photo booth, fill in the forms and send off for a new one.
  • Give your friendly expert travel agent a call to get a rough idea of how suitable your dream itinerary is, and get a rough idea on costing. Just about every route can theoretically be done, but some are a lot cheaper than others. For example, if you want to island hop through the South Pacific, it will almost certainly work out a lot less expensive if you combine Samoa and Tonga rather than Samoa and Tahiti. Once you’ve got a rough idea of what you can and can’t do for the price, you can fine-tune your plans.
  • Start saving some cash. The temptation is to regard the round the world flight ticket as your only big expense, but you will need some money to fall back on as you’re travelling round, and the more you can stick in the bank, the more you’ll be able to do while you’re away. The budgeting regime doesn’t have to be drastic, but eating in more regularly, making rather than buying lunchtime sandwiches and cutting down the alcohol intake will create a surprisingly large pot
  • If you’re taking a break from work, negotiate the time off with them. If you’re just quitting, make sure you know what your notice period is


Three to four months out

 

  • Go over your itinerary with roundtheworldflights.com's  Flight Builder , and buy your personalised RTW ticket.
  • If you’ve not done so already, buy some guidebooks and give them a proper read to get an insight into the history and culture of the places you’ll be visiting – as well as getting ideas of what you want to see and do. Start pencilling in a few probable highlights between the flights.
  • Sort out your visas. Many countries either give visas on entry or don’t require them. Others (such as the US and Australia) can be got pretty much instantly on the internet. Some, however, require you to send off your passport. And the likes of China, India and Vietnam won’t let you in without that magic bit of paper.
  • If you’re not already covered, start on the jabs. Get your tetanus booster, hepatitis A inoculation and any others – such as Yellow Fever if you’re heading to much of South America.
  • Apply for frequent flier accounts with the airlines/ airline alliance you’ll be using and get your number added to your ticket.
  • If you haven’t already, get either a credit card or an extra bank account with a globally recognised debit card (Visa or Mastercard are most widespread). Having a spare card can save an awful lot of pain if one goes missing/ is stolen.

 

Two months out

  • If you need to hand in your notice on your rented accommodation/ find tenants for the place you own, now is the time to do it. If you’re planning to sell up, you probably should have done so before booking your tickets.
  • Arrange for gym memberships, utility accounts – such as electricity, gas, telephone – and the like to be closed or put on hold for the expected duration of your trip.
  • Contact any friends, family or friends-of-friends you may have in the places you’re visiting. Get tips, arrange to meet up and cadge whatever free accommodation ou can wangle.

 

Four to six weeks out

  • Buy some decent travel insurance, and check that it covers you for the duration of your trip, all areas you’ll be visiting and any risky activities (such as skydiving) you may intend to partake in. A cheap policy that leaves you uncovered can cost you far, far more in the long run.
  • Start buying any specialist gear you want to take with you – be it clothing, walking boots, backpacks, a new camera, adaptors or toiletries. And, just as importantly, test that the electronics work and the rest are broken in before you leave.
  • Arrange for your post to be stopped or redirected, with any subscriptions cancelled.
  • If you currently use a work e-mail account, set up a free one that can be accessed worldwide with the likes of Yahoo or Gmail. And, crucially, tell everyone that you’re switching to it.

 


Three to four weeks out

  • If required, arrange for a medical appointment and get your malaria tablets. If you’re immediately heading to a malarial zone, you’ll need to start taking them before you leave. In the case of Mefloquine, you should start two-and-a-half weeks before you leave.
  • Start embarking on your farewell tour – make sure you catch up with all the friends and family you want to see before you go.
  • Work out how you’re going to get to the airport on the big day. If by train, now’s the cheapest time to book tickets. Make sure you factor in time for things to go wrong (train delays etc).

 

Two weeks out

  • Get any foreign cash and travellers cheques you’re planning to take. Be careful not to leave this too late – some currencies need to be ordered in. The Post Office do pretty good currency deals these days.
  • Book your first night’s accommodation if you’ve not done so already. The rest can be done on the road, but you really don’t want to have to find somewhere to stay after landing in a strange foreign city on a long haul flight.
  • Check your ticket and itinerary for any discrepancies.
  • Make copies or scans of important documents such as your passport, insurance policy, driving licence and tickets. Give one copy to a family member, store one copy separately from your real documents in a safe part of your bag, and e-mail copies to yourself.


One week out

  • Make a proper packing list and start gathering everything in one place. If something’s missing, go and get/ buy it. If something’s dirty, wash it.
  • Write down the phone numbers of roundtheworldflights.com, bank lost card helpline and travel insurer in case something goes wrong. Preferably e-mail them to yourself as well.
  • Set up playlists on your iphone/ipod/MP4 player.


Two days out

  • Reconfirm your first flight with the airline (always good practice before any flight).
  • Check your itinerary in View Trip
  • Start packing.


One day out

  • Make sure batteries for phone, tablet, notepad/laptop, MP4 player/ipod, camera etc are fully charged.
  • Finish packing, checking everything off against your list.
  • Say those last goodbyes, but resist the urge to get absolutely hammered. Being violently hungover on a long distance flight is an excruciating experience.
  • Check in online – it’ll save you a lot of time at the airport and allow you to reserve a good seat.

 

Day of departure

Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration, don’t eat too much if you don’t want to feel bloated on the plane, and feel free to yelp with excitement – the adventure of a lifetime starts today.

 

 

 

 

by Stuart Lodge

Common mistakes


 

 

 

 

 

When planning round the world adventures, there are some common mistakes that crop up time and time again. But they can be avoided – and this is how.

 

 

MISTAKE ONE: Overplanning

 

There’s so much of the world you want to see, and so little time. To cram in everything you want to experience, there needs to be a certain degree of efficiency and time management. But don’t fall into the trap of planning a strict itinerary for every day months in advance. It’ll turn the adventure into a gruelling exercise in following self-imposed orders. You need to build in time to do things on a whim, deal with hangovers and do laundry. A rough outline of what to do where and when is good, but overplanning can turn a joy into a chore.

 

MISTAKE TWO: Too much travelling, not enough time

 

Just because you’re going round the world doesn’t mean that you have to try and see the whole world. You can always go back to see the bits you missed the first time. Trying to do the works often means you do very little - other than sitting in airports or trundling buses. It’s not a race to tick off as many countries as possible, and it’s better to see something more sedately and take it in rather than rampage round it for two hours, then get a five hour bus journey to somewhere else.

 

 

MISTAKE THREE: Too little planning

 

Some travellers are inherently more relaxed than others, and some destinations are all about doing nothing. But you can only get so far by going with the flow – sometimes you need to get organised. At an extreme example, going with the flow too much can get you turfed away from India, China or Vietnam because you haven’t sorted your visa out. But perhaps worse is that nagging feeling when you get back that you’ve been away for a year, yet haven’t seen or done anything. Even the sketchiest of plans is worth having.

 

 

MISTAKE FOUR: Not checking the weather

 

Many people have a tendency to work on the “it’s abroad, so the weather must be great” policy. Such assumptions can turn a round-the-world jaunt into a constant trek through biting winds and monsoons. Unless you really like getting wet, you’re best off avoiding Northern Australia between December and March, for example. Similarly, Cape Town has a beautiful climate for most of the year, but descends into chilly, drizzle-lashed gloom between June and August. Armed with a little meteorological nous, you can make sure your itinerary largely follows the sun.

 

 

MISTAKE FIVE: Letting the ticket become a strait-jacket

 

Once the ticket is bought, the flights are paid for and the dates are set, it’s all too easy to assume that that’s it. But what if you’re having such a great time in Thailand, there’s more you want to see of the country and there’s a potentially amazing festival coming up in the next few days? It’s tempting to say: “Shame – I’m booked to fly to Australia tomorrow” and just go. But often the cost of putting the flight back a few days is very low – and your initial ticket itinerary shouldn’t be seen as something that has to be rigidly adhered to.

 

 

MISTAKE SIX: Showing up without somewhere to stay

 

There’s a lot to be said for the make it up as you go along attitude, but not when it comes to that first night’s accommodation. Even if you book just one night in advance in a new destination, it can save you an awful lot of stress and mental anguish. Turning up in a strange city after a long flight, not really knowing where you’re going, is horrible. It’s even worse if it’s hot/ chucking down with rain, you’re pounding the streets with a 70kg backpack and most of the accommodation is booked up due to a festival or major conference you didn’t know about.

 

 

MISTAKE SEVEN: Skipping the travel insurance

 

You may congratulate yourself on saving a few quid, but you won’t if something goes wrong. And while we don’t want to sound like your mother, a lot can. A stolen phone or wallet, a cancelled hotel because of a flight delay, a bag going missing – the cost of all of these tends to be higher than the cost of the insurance. But where it gets really serious is injury and illness – medical expenses on the road can be terrifyingly expensive without insurance, while something grave enough to require repatriation can leave you in debt for life.

 

 

MISTAKE EIGHT: Being unrealistic with the budget

 

Travelling costs money – even in relatively cheap destinations such as South East Asia and South America. And they’re not as cheap as they used to be. Most travellers end up spending at least 50% more than they expect to – but very few of them regret doing so. Just be realistic – you’ll get by on £10 a day some days, but not every day. Another key mistake is expecting to make money through work as soon as you land in Australia and New Zealand – it generally takes at least three to four weeks to find a job, and even then you might not get the first pay packet for a fortnight or a month.

 

 

MISTAKE NINE: Being too tight

 

You’re on what might be a once in a lifetime trip. If you get an amazing opportunity to experience something you’ll probably not be able to experience again, you should probably take it, even if it blows the budget a little. In later life, what are you going to regret more – spending that extra £50 or not riding the elephant? Trying to eke out a trip on a microbudget can be a miserable existence. There’s no point in going to the other side of the world to do and see nothing – sometimes you just need to put your hand in your pocket and realise why you came away in the first place.

 

 

MISTAKE TEN: Putting it off for too long

 

Taking a few months to go off around the world can seem like a big step, and thus it’s something that many people decide to put off for a couple of years. And then that couple of years goes by, they’re in a good job or personal circumstances have changed. This goes on until it’s white picket fences, school runs and a nagging feeling that you’ve missed out. Look for excuses TO do the RTW trip – not excuses not to do it. As a general rule, if you really fancy taking the plunge, now is always the best time.

 

by Stuart Lodge

rtwflights vs Kayak

 

Interesting report from Bootsnall released this week. Conclusion being the Kayak was cheaper when it came to RTWs. We were a little taken aback as this didn't seem to be our experience. Kayak are excellent for point to point fares (we like them) but not generally for multi-stops or RTWs. So we thought we'd do a little experiment. It's pretty unscientific but we took 5 of our biggest selling RTW routes and did a price comparison search leaving in May (low season). We also took a screen grab of the results. Some really rather surprising results...

 

So here we go

 

1. UK - Bangkok  - Australia - New Zealand - LA - UK

roundtheworldflights.com - £1178 See here

Kayak - £5739

 

 

2. UK - Bangkok - Australia - New Zealand - Fiji - LA - UK

roundtheworldflights.com - £1378 See here

 

Kayak - £4443

 

 

 
3. UK - Bangkok - Australia - New Zealand - Fiji - Hawai - LA - New York - UK

roundtheworldflights.com - £1578 See here

 

Kayak - £4899

 

 

4. London - Dubai - Bangkok surface Siem Reap - Singapore - Borneo - Australia - New Zealand - The Cook Islands - USA - UK

roundtheworldflights.com - £1478 See here

 

Kayak - No results found

 

 

 

5. UK - Lima surface Santiago - Auckland - Fiji - Australia - Bali - Bangkok - UK

roundtheworldflights.com - £1678 See here

Kayak - No results found




Of course you would need to call us, shock horror, but you would be saving £3k+on these results , and we are open 7 days a week. On RTWs we really do know what we're on about.