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
This article on Where to go when on a round the world trip is also worth reading.
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 in Islington, North London. It’s next to the Angel tube station at 102 Islington High Street (see map). Opening hours are 8am-7pm (Monday to Friday), from 10am-5pm on Saturdays and online or on the phone on Sundays from 11am-4pm.
Youtube, Facebook, blogs and forums
Roundtheworldflights.com has plenty of videos on its
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.
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