If you’ve already made the commitment to get out on a round the world trip and see some of that great big world you keep hearing about, well done. It’s no small task. But having made it, you might already know of the many things that can get in the way of actually hitting the road.
Trip planning may seem like an impediment, rather than an avenue, to your departure – there’s simply so much to do – but I wanted to help today with some steps to get you through your most overcome moments. These are a few things to keep in mind when you’re trying to filter the noise of the planning process.
Step 1: Oversee it
Keep in mind the “big picture.”
It’s easy to get overcome with the little details of travel planning for a round the world trip, the forest for the trees, as it were. But if you take a minute, say, every week of your planning process to take a step back and remember why you’re doing this and how far you’ve come, you’ll start to notice that all those little tasks have become a machine that carries you to the final goal of your departure. Pardon the metaphor, but they’re the stones you must step on to get across the raging river of the planning process.
Step 2: Envision it
Be realistic about what you’re doing and who you are as a traveler.
Deciding where to go can cause heart palpitations. So take a day, a week if you need it, before you set your final itinerary to just sit back and envision yourself on the road. Take a deep breath, let your eyes blur and picture how you’ll be at the midway point. If you still have a waist-high scroll of destinations to cover, you’re trying to see too much.
It doesn’t make a lot of sense to plan the entire world into one trip, but it also may not be fit to spend a third of your trip lazing around the backpacker haunts of Khao San Road. Keep the balance – keep the flow. Give overland travel a try. Plan to travel slowly, organically, imbibing the environment. Like osmosis. Perhaps with a view of the Ganges.
Step 3: Assemble it
In order to get across the torrent of your planning process, you’ll need to approach your planning in a way that doesn’t make you want to bang your head against the wall. It may seem like there are an infinite number of things to do, but if you take each planning phase as a tiny piece of the big puzzle you’ll make it.
Allocate your time to different tasks and don’t let them mix together. A hugely helpful resource is our Official Planning Timeline. This will help you triage what’s important to do now and what can wait till later.
And try not to neglect your current life. You’ll be happier keeping a semblance of normalcy alongside the process.
Step 4: Estimate it
Keep your travel budget within reason.
The biggest impediment to a successful trip is the feeling that you don’t have the money to do the things you want. The best solution is to find out how much places cost per day, throw in a handful of paid activities (1-2 per week), and create a budget to suit. Balance your travels between expensive and inexpensive countries, weighted of course toward the inexpensive. If in the end you find you can’t afford the total, take some places off. It’s okay. It happens.
Step 5: Afford it
Reduce your pre-trip expenses.
In order to make your trip happen you’ll have to be able to pay for it. Unless you have dumptrucks that unload cash on your lawn, you must save the money yourself. Make it easier by reducing your unnecessary expenditures pre-trip. Steph at 20 Something Travel saved $20,000 for her RTW trip and has some great insight on how that’s done.
Here’s a short list of common saving-killers (with their potential monthly savings):
- Afternoon latté – $75
- Gym membership – $25
- Cable TV – $80
- Movie concessions – Potentially $10 per visit per person.
- Movies – movie entertainment value is not directly proportional to ticket price – catch the DVD.
- Alcohol – Ease up there, Bukowski.
- Restaurants – is your trip more important than a white tablecloth?
- Flavored drinks – Tap water is delicious!
Step 6: Outfit it
Accumulate your gear.
Also known as “What, no raincoat?” Making good choices about what you bring with you will be the difference between blithely tossing on a backpack and trundling around like a geriatric packhorse. So, if you’re not really a photographer, don’t take 3 DSLR lenses, if you’re not a hiker, don’t take the 4 pound boots. On the flipside, a light netbook can be a communications godsend.
Also, it’s not necessary to buy an inventory of new products, but some good new travel-worthy items are highly valuable in your possession.
Step 7: Brave it
Don’t fear the unknown.
One of the biggest obstacles to international traveling for first timers is the totally normal fear of venturing out beyond your comfort zone. There are plenty of ways to manage this – I wrote about this recently, but don’t take my word for it. Chris Guillebeau examines it eloquently.
Don’t let your id backhand your rational mind as it reassures you that you, in fact, can do this.
Other suggestions on what helped make YOUR trip a reality? Tell us in the comments.
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