Going on a round-the-world (RTW) tour is something that each and every traveling enthusiast aspires of doing some day or the other. Circumnavigating the earth in one go is a truly fascinating experience and gives the traveler a sense of achievement and pride. The very feeling of having seen and experienced the moods and fancies of the world is immensely satisfying and then, one can proudly tell people that he/she has “seen the world”. However, planning such a long trip can seem exciting and overwhelming, both at the same time. While on one side, the traveler feels an adrenaline rush, he/she may also be confused about the manner in which the trip should be planned, and what all might go into the planning process. While you are excited about your upcoming RTW trip, we, at Buzzle, have compiled a set of some important tips, which will help plan your tour appropriately.
Planning a World Tour
As amazing an experience it can be, planning a RTW trip, owing to the fact that it involves a large number of places in different countries and continents, can be an extremely tedious, and at times, a confusing process. While people rarely embark on such journeys on their own, it is more advisable to hire an experienced and a reputed tour operator who can help you out, especially with your visa and entry requirements. Here’s how you can go about planning your tour.
Booking Air Tickets
► A RTW tour is obviously going to be more expensive than a trip to a particular country or region. Owing to this, it is very important that you start thinking of saving money right from the very first stage of booking airline tickets.
► While your tour operator will be able to give the best possible deals, the real catch will be when you intend to travel independently. Your best resource then would be the Internet; however, asking people who have been on a world tour in the past (if you know any) is a great idea.
► Even while booking tickets on the Internet, do it via reputed websites such as Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, and so on. Do not get too excited if you think you have found a cheap deal on one website. Compare prices with other websites, and only then choose the deal which best suits your needs.
Note: Do not forget to check for any sort of hidden costs/surcharges/extra taxes. These might later cost you a hefty sum of money.
► Many airlines around the world have alliances that offer round-the-world tour tickets at cheaper prices. This is, by far, the most economical way to take the world tour, wherein you purchase only one RTW ticket and travel by a single airline alliance. For instance, the Star Alliance involves 27 different airlines throughout the world, which fly to 185 countries and about 1185 airports. So, if you book with Star Alliance, your RTW ticket will come with a maximum of 15 stops.
Note: While booking with an airline alliance is the most economical way to travel around the world, there are certain rules that you will need to follow. For one, you will have to start and end your trip in the same country. Moreover, you will have to follow only one global direction (east to west or vice versa); if you happen to change the direction in the middle of your trip, your ticket will be automatically canceled. Also, all your flights must be booked well before the day of departure.
Duration of the Trip
► It really depends on you as to how long you intend to stretch your trip. It is always better to have a little flexibility with regards to your tour’s overall duration, considering things such as flight delays/cancellations, natural calamities, etc.
► Ideally, the total validity of your RTW ticket lasts from ten days to one year. So, depending on the time at your disposal, you can either rush through your itinerary or take your own sweet time to explore each and every destination.
Note: It is always better to discuss this aspect with your tour operator who will be able to design a feasible itinerary for you, in accordance to the amount of time you may have.
When to Go
► Your main consideration while planning a world tour should be the weather. Now again, because you will be traveling all around the world, you will be experiencing a different weather everywhere―favorable somewhere and unfavorable somewhere else. Don’t get confused by the situation.
► Figure out what you want to be the highlight of your trip. For instance, if you are interested more in snorkeling in Western Australia, see to it that you are there between the months of April and July, which are considered to be most favorable for the activity you are looking forward to. Similarly, if trekking the Himalayas interests you, ensure that you do not land up in India/Nepal during the monsoons.
Note: Narrowing down the list of your interests and then planning when to go will take you to your favored location(s) at the right time; however, you might also land on the other locations during the off-season. This can sometimes be a blessing in disguise as you might reap unexpected benefits in the off-season. For instance, you will be able to avoid large crowds of tourists, get cheaper hotel deals, and so on.
Planning an Itinerary
► While budget is a major issue while planning the overall RTW trip, it becomes more prominent when it comes to planning your itinerary. The reason for this is simple―the more elaborate your itinerary is, the more pricey your trip will be.
► If you are traveling on a tight budget, you can buy a basic RTW ticket, which will also be among the cheapest ones. It will include limited stops at a few big cities of the world, such as London, Paris, Los Angeles, Sydney, Beijing, etc. But then, your trip will be limited only to the cosmopolitan areas of different countries, and there won’t be any time to get the “real feel” of the world.
► If budget is not much of a constraint, you can add more destinations to your itinerary according to your choice; however, this will make the prices climb to a considerable extent.
Note: It is important to note that flying from point to point, even within the same country, will tilt your budget on the expensive side. So, consider traveling overland and by public transport, wherever possible.
► Again, if you are a budget traveler, plan your itinerary such that you can spend more time in countries which are relatively cheaper. For instance, consider spending more time in Southeast Asia, which is much less expensive than North America or Western Europe.
Note: Consult your tour operator regarding your total budget and your favored itinerary. He/she will be able to pick appropriately from the list of your favored destinations, according to your overall budget.
Where to Stay
► If you are traveling with a tour operator (and book an all-inclusive tour), your accommodation will be a part of your travel package, and therefore, will be automatically taken care of.
► If you are traveling independently, you will have to book your own accommodations. Ensure that you book well in advance.
► Travelers for whom budget is not an issue may book wherever they want. In fact, it will be a good idea to try out something new, like staying in a B&B instead of a hotel, etc. While this may or may not save money, it will be a nice, different experience.
► For people traveling on a fixed budget, there are a number of cheap accommodation options available in different parts of the world. They range from hostels, to guest houses, to motels, and so on.
► If you are arriving at some place in an off-season, the hotel rates will be low. Check with some good hotels, and you may actually end up enjoying lavish amenities at a cheaper rates.
► If certain off-beat locations are on your itinerary and you intend to spend a night there, there might not be many accommodation options available. In such cases, you may have to pay extravagant prices for really low-grade accommodations, especially in the absence of any other choice.
Note: No matter where you stay, do not ignore the safety aspect. The country and the place might be completely new for you, so inquire properly before you book an accommodation.
► Travel as light as possible. Take only those items which are absolutely necessary and which you cannot do without. Leave out all the other unnecessary items, especially those which are available all across the world.
► Take all your necessary medicines, along with your doctor’s prescription. Also, carry documented proof of all the immunization shots you take before embarking on your journey.
► Do not unnecessarily carry more clothes, as you will be already carrying warm clothes, rainy gear, etc., which will add to the total volume of your luggage. Use laundry facilities wherever possible.
► Carry an extra pair of shoes, travel-sized toiletry bottles, mosquito repellents (depending on your itinerary), and so on.
► Carry all your travel documents including passports, visas, travel insurance papers, International Driving Permit, and so on. It is a good idea to keep the photocopies of these documents with you as well.
Cruising the World
Instead of an air travel, you can also opt for cruising around the world. While cruises are becoming popular ways of touring the world, you will then be able to take stops at some of the world’s major and most beautiful ports. The point to consider, however, is that because sailing is slower than flying, round-the-world cruises often take more time to reach from one port to the other. Nevertheless, if you love sailing and are ready to spend more time on sea, cruise around the world, and you’ll never forget the experience!
So, embark on a journey to circumnavigate the world, and make your dream come true!