Are your social media feeds constantly making you want to jump on the next plane to an exotic destination? Do you catch yourself daydreaming about exciting adventures in faraway lands? If you’re suffering from wanderlust, then a world trip might just be the cure.
Planning a trip around the world is a daunting task, even if you’re a frequent traveler and have incredible organization skills. It often takes months of research to get to the stage where you’re ready to board that plane and take to the skies. So to help you get ready to for the adventure of a lifetime, here’s a step-by-step guide to planning your world trip.
Step 1: Pick which countries you want to visit
Choosing where you want to go is the first step of the planning process, as it provides you with focus and inspiration to follow through on your dream trip. But more importantly, knowing the countries you want to visit will determine everything else. It will help you decide how long you’re going to spend in each place, the route you take, and how much to budget.
If you’re even considering a trip around the world, then you’ve probably got a long list of destinations you’re desperate to explore. There’s no right or wrong way to do this, it’s just a case of writing down all of the places you want to visit so you can start to plan around them. (See also: 5 International Destinations Anyone Can Afford)
Step 2: Start planning a route
Now that you have a list of potential destinations, it’s time to start connecting them into a viable route. Unfortunately, at this stage you’re probably going to drop a few spots from your list, as it just won’t be feasible to include them all.
Remember that the fewer places you visit, the less money you’ll need to dedicate to transportation getting to each location, meaning your budget may stretch further. It’ll also mean you’ll get to spend more time in each place.
The best way to plan your route is to pull out a large map and place pins in all of the destinations on your list. You should start to see clusters of destinations that are close to each other and how you might be able to move from one to the next.
When mapping out your route, it’s important to take the weather of each place into account. Check the seasons beforehand as this may alter the direction you travel in and when you go. You should also consider whether there are any specific festivals or events that you’re hoping to attend. (See also: Savor Your Trip and Save Big With These 5 Slow Travel Tips)
Step 3: Create your budget
Once you have a rough idea of the route you’ll take, you can start figuring out how big your budget needs to be. Check travel blogs and guidebooks to give you an idea of the costs for each destination you want to visit. You should also look at accommodation sites to see the price of a room during your chosen travel dates.
You can then break it down into a daily budget for each location, multiply it by the number of days you expect to spend in each place, and add them together to get your total. It’s important to create separate budgets for each country rather than just a blanket daily allowance, as costs can vary wildly from place-to-place. Remember to include transportation, accommodations, food and drinks, as well as things like Visas and border fees.
How large your budget is will depend a lot on your personal style of travel. Whether you stay in luxurious hotels or budget hostels, and whether you plan to fly everywhere or are happy to travel by train or bus will have a significant impact on how much you’ll need. Be realistic about the level of comfort you require while traveling and understand that you’ll generally have to pay more for better amenities. (See also: How to Build Your Best Travel Budget)
Step 4: Organize your banking
The majority of your money should be kept in a bank account that doesn’t have access via a card, but can be accessed online, so you may need to open another account. From there, you can then transfer smaller amounts into an account with card access. So if your card is stolen, the thieves will only have access to a small amount. Because of the potential difficulties of getting new cards on the road, it’s also a good idea to have more than one account that you keep virtually empty, but can transfer money into if need be. (See also: How to Avoid Theft While Traveling)
Step 5: Check your passport
Visas can be both an added expense and complication, but unfortunately as a U.S. traveler, you’re going to need them for several countries you visit. Make sure you do your research and apply ahead of time for the ones that require you to do so. Some countries are notoriously difficult to secure visas for and it may only be possible to do so from your home state, so check this prior to buying a ticket.
Your passport needs to be up-to-date with at least six months to cover the end of your trip, as many countries won’t let you in with any less time left than that. You also need to have enough pages left for all of the stamps and visas you’re going to acquire, and most countries require a minimum of three full pages. It’s worth doing a quick calculation to ensure your passport will last you to the end of your journey and not see you turned away at any borders. (See also: How to Provide Proof of Onward Travel During an Open-Ended Trip Abroad)
Step 6: Start booking
Booking flights, accommodations, and even visits to major attractions ahead of time might not sound appealing, but in some instances it may be essential. For example, if you’re planning on walking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, there are a limited number of visitors allowed to do so each year. Because of this, you need to book around six months or more ahead to secure everything. Events and festivals will mean that accommodations get booked up quickly as well, so you should have this in place long in advance.
Booking in advance can be an excellent way to help manage your savings and budgeting as well, as things will already be paid for prior to setting off. However, spontaneity is one of the real joys of traveling the world, so having a rigid schedule will detract from that. Allow yourself some flexibility to stay longer or change your plans if you want. (See also: 10 Flight Booking Hacks to Save You Hundreds)
Step 7: Get your home affairs in order
If you own a house, are you going to rent it out while you’re away? Do you have any recurring bills that you need to automate or cancel? Are you planning to sell off belongings before your trip to raise extra funds? (See also: How to Sell All Your Stuff and Travel the World)
There are plenty of things you’ll need to get in order at home before you leave, and the earlier you start the less stressful it will be. Make a list of everything you’ll need to do and spread the tasks out leading up to your trip.
Step 8: Get vaccinated
Staying healthy on the road should be your main priority, as lots of countries are affected by diseases and illnesses that we just don’t get here in the U.S. Find out what vaccinations you need as soon as you have your route figured out, so you can get them done in plenty of time. There are even some countries that won’t let you in without proof that you’ve had certain vaccinations, most commonly for yellow fever.
If you take any medications, you should also put a plan in place to ensure you have enough to last the duration of your trip. You should also research whether you’re going to be able to purchase that medicine in each location you’re in, whether you need a prescription, and how easy it is to obtain. (See also: 7 Ways to Avoid Getting Seriously Sick on Vacation)
Step 9: Buy travel insurance
Lots of people take a chance by heading abroad without travel insurance, but when you’re going on a longer trip, it’s just not worth the risk. Get a solid plan that will cover you for health costs, travel cancellations, lost luggage, and anything else you need covered. As with any insurance, make sure you double check the fine print to ensure it’s suitable and worth the cost.
Step 10: Pack wisely
Packing for a world trip can be a huge task, as knowing exactly what to take and what not to can be extremely confusing. Start by looking at the places that you’re visiting, the climates you’re going to be experiencing, and the activities you’re going to be doing. These three things will help to determine what should go into your luggage. Remember, you’re able to get anything virtually anywhere in the world, so rather than overpack, it’s better to underpack and pick up things as you go. (See also: 8 Things You Should Always Pack in Your Carry-On)