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 David Whitley


David Whitley