You're finally going to do it! It's time to take that global adventure. Either you are taking a much-needed gap year, your long service leave has come up, you're enjoying your retirement, or you've won the lottery. Great. Now what?
- Where: You can't see everything. You can try, but it would take several lifetimes. Where do you want to go most? What have you always wanted to see? Make a map! (See below)
- Set a length of time: Round the World (RTW) tickets normally have a minimum time (about 10 days), but the longer the better. Most guides would recommend chunks of 3 months, 6 months or a full year.
- Set a budget: How much is enough? How long is a piece of string? After you've worked out the above, you'll have the basics (travel, accommodation). We've seen people do it for less than $20,000USD for a year, while other say at least twice that is a "safe" amount.
- Check yourself so you don't wreck yourself: What visas do you need? Do you need a vaccination? Do some countries forbid entry if you've been to another first?
- Book your tickets and pack your bags: there's no time like the present.
Once you get to stages 4 & 5, here's a few tools that might help you along the way.
I want to go from Myanmar to Kathmandu: is that possible? Tools like Rome2Rio make it very easy to plot a course between two points, letting you know how you can get there based on flight paths, train routes, and road maps in its system. Say you are going from Los Angeles to Paris, and want to go to Beijing by way of Berlin. Rome2Rio lets you select a flight option to Paris, a train if you like to Berlin and then flights on from there - or any other combination you can think of. It even estimates the rough cost based on available airlines. Airtreks is a similar tool. (For the record, the 35 hour drive between Myanmar and Kathmandu is the most direct, but not the fastest).
Lots of airlines and online travel agents have these, and the one pictured above the the One World alliance's trip planner. Say you are a Qantas Frequent Flyer and want to see what airlines you can bridge the gaps with, or more importantly, what is allowable under a RTW ticket. The tool will flag when you've made a move that's verboten, and you can cleverly let it know that you'll be taking a "surface sector" if you decided to use your Eurorail pass to get from one side of the continent to the other.
Just because the other tools have shown you that you can go somewhere, it doesn't mean that you should. Using Australia's Smart Traveller as an example, you can check the current government advisory of safe travel, any warnings issues, or any visas and vaccinations you might need before they let you in. For example, Australians who have travelled to Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen since 1 March 2011 will also no longer be eligible to apply for an ESTA to enter the United States under the Visa Waiver Program. So if you're planning a RTW trip, knowing where to visit first may save you some trouble down the line. Other versions around the world include travel.state.gov (US) and the UK's Foreign Travel Advice.