Planning Our Route
In the first part of the Plotting our Course series, we discussed how Sam and I decided to travel the world.
In this article we will tackle the question of how we decided what route to take on our trip. There are many variables that have to be balanced to determine the ideal route. Unfortunately, there is no computer program that can take all these variables and give you a perfect route (darn NP-complete problems) so mostly the route came about through a more organic process. However, we did take a number of things into consideration…
[ptcFlickr id=”8240081120″ position=”right” size=”small 320″ caption=”Holi festival, India”]
After deciding to go RTW, we had a long list of places we had to visit. This was the logical starting point for determining an itinerary. As we started researching, our list kept getting longer and longer…which is how our trip grew from one year to three. We were able to determine exactly when we wanted to visit some places based upon festivals and unique experiences that are only available at certain times of the year. For example, climbing Mt. Fuji in Japan was one of Sam’s must-do activities, but it’s only possible during the summer months. For this reason, we’ll make sure that we’re in Japan in July or August. We did try to keep hard dates like this to a minimum since they limit our flexibility.
Traveling Slowly, Overland
We are not going on vacation for three years. We intend to not only visit different countries, but to learn from our travels. With this in mind we decided that for most countries we visit we will stay at least a month. This isn’t a hard rule, we’ll allow ourselves the flexibility to leave somewhere earlier than this if we so choose, but as a guideline we’ll try not to judge a place too quickly.
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While much of our airfare will be sponsored by the frequent flyer miles we’ve accumulated over the years, there isn’t an unlimited supply, so we’ll be attempting to travel overland as much as we can. Overland travel has many benefits including being less expensive and far more scenic, plus it coincides with our basic travel philosophy of moving slowly.
As we’ll discuss in an upcoming article, we intend to travel very lightly, with one carry-on sized backpack each. With that in mind, we quickly realized there was no way we could take clothes for all weather conditions. Our solution for this is to chase summer around the globe.
Unfortunately we haven’t won the lottery quite yet, so our funds will be limited. We will be on a relatively tight budget, so in order to travel for 3 years we had to look at what traveling in different countries costs. For example, India is an inexpensive country for which we are budgeting $40 a day including food, lodging, sightseeing, and local transportation, but a realistic budget in Australia is closer to $150 a day. Obviously, if we spend all our time in places like Australia our bank accounts will quickly run dry, but we also didn’t want to only visit countries that happen to be more affordable. The key to this is to either spend less time in places like Australia, or to find ways to make those places much less expensive. Much more on how we plan to accomplish this in upcoming posts.
Where to Begin?
There is a hotly contested debate on the best place to start a RTW trip. Many people suggest starting in more familiar western countries where there are fewer language barriers and frustration can be kept to a minimum. We decided to completely ignore this advice and start off with probably the most difficult to travel country: India. No itinerary is perfect!
Stay tuned! In part 3 we’ll finally reveal our planned itinerary!