Feb 10

RTW - Round the World Trip in more than 80 daysMany people dream of doing a ‘Round the World’ Trip (RTW) at least once in their life. There are many excuses why they don’t do it in the end.

The fact is: more and more of travelers ARE able to fulfill this dream – and they DO it. They plan a route, give up their rented home, pack the essential travel things and off they are!

You won’t see them back for the next 1-2 years – sometimes even longer. Some people even make it their life goal to permanently travel the world.

Anyway you do it – a RTW Trip is a unique and individual experience. It will broaden your horizon and you will see the world and your home country in a complete different light. It will change your perception of other cultures, religions and destinations which you only know from hearsay – dramatically.

Most people even say it can be a life-changing experience. There are so many destinations to chose from and so many things to take care of. You can end up taking years to plan one and usually you will carry more baggage than necessary around with you.

But the rewards are priceless and you will have 1001 memories you will never forget.

What can you consider before going on a RTW trip?

  • Plan a Route, but don’t stick too stringent to it, because most destinations offer interesting side trips as well and you might want to adjust things along the way – don’t stress yourself out over planning
  • Get informed about the countries you are planning to visit (websites, travel blogs, travel guides, travel forums) and don’t be afraid to ask other travelers you know or meet online
  • Work out HOW LONG you want to stay at your main stopover points
  • Check Air Ticket Websites AND Travel Agencies for the best deals for your main route and stopover points
  • Checking the right terminal should be the easiest thingMake it flexible tickets, as you might want to adjust your plans while on the road
  • Buy side track Tickets along the way
  • Check your Savings, budget your trip and plan a 30% reserve
  • Check what Money, Credit Cards or Traveler Checks you want to bring along your trip
  • Check your Passport regarding expiry and empty pages
  • Check Visa Requirements and apply beforehand where necessary
  • Check your own Health Status, “repair” what can be done home and decide what medical services would be cheaper to do abroad (e.g. Dental Services are very good and affordable in Thailand or elsewhere in Asia)
  • Get updated with Vaccines, Immunizations, Precautions and Prophylaxis (Tetanus, Measles, Polio, Malaria, Dengue, Typhoid etc.)
  • Digitalize all important documents (Passport, Visas, Driving License) and store them Online for easy access, things get lost and you might have to prove your existence ;-)
  • Check the Gadgets you want to bring OR buy during your trip (Camera, SLR, GPS, PDA, Digital Translators, Memory Cards are cheaper in most Asian countries than Europe or the US) – remember though: electronic things are fragile and the first target for shady subjects, which exist all around the world!
  • Decide, if you want to bring a Laptop or not. Get more how-to input at Laptop Travel Lifestyle, Have Laptop Will Travel or click here, for a choice of small, light-weight notebooks
  • Sell or give away what you can of your personal belongings (when you come back in a few years, most of it will be useless junk without value anyway)
  • Take care of and make sure, things at home will be okay – before you are away (Your Stuff, Bills, Mail Forwarding, Taxes, Pets, etc.)
  • Pack and bring as little as possible, but as much as absolutely necessary. Great packing tips can be found here or here
  • Use Online Services for staying in touch with friends and relatives and to store your Travel Photos and other Documents (again: things can get lost on a long trip)

While on the trip

  • Learn the local lingo (speaking English only will be sufficient probably anywhere – but knowing at least “Thanks”, “Good Morning”, “How much?” and some basics for haggling will get you a long way further) – Phrase Books, Lonely Planet or Digital Translators are your friends
  • Mingle with the Locals – this one can’t be overemphasized (you are probably happy to meet other fellow travelers to exchange experiences, but the local people who live in your current host country lived there all their life and have a lot of things to share and recommend; as well you will learn more about the culture and traditions of the country you are in)
  • Try plenty of local foods, drinks and other local activities, but don’t get stressed and try to pack in too much; it still should be more a pleasure ride than ticking off a “Been there done that” list
  • Respect other cultures, religions, traditions and foreign ways, be tolerant and forgiving – no place on earth is perfect and things are much likely completely different than at home

Meeting RTW Travelers in Bali

I recently met Dave and Gary, 2 RTW travelers from America. Both planned their RTW trips independently and didn’t even know each other before meeting accidentally here in Bali. They were coming from different angles of our planet and would disperse into different directions just a few days later. You can follow their journeys in details on their websites GoBackpacking and Everything Everywhere.

Chris and RTW travelers Gary and Dave in BaliEach site is an interesting mix of travel experiences and photos – nice reads about people who are doing it – that big trip.

Gary is on the road for 11 months now – having visited more than 30 countries so far – while Dave started only 3 months ago but has seen his fair share already.

We were meeting at the Food Court in front of Kuta Beach, chit-chatting a total of 5 hours about politics, life and our different travel experiences. A few Bintang beer did the rest and we had a great time, even though it was raining cats and dogs and we were probably the only customers for most of the time.

So far their experiences about Bali are a mixed bag: while Gary found it tough to get onward tickets and found the vendors around Kuta and other touristy spots very annoying – both enjoyed the cheap living costs, as well as Spa and Massage treatments.

Are you planning or doing a RTW trip currently? What were your most rewarding and least favorable locations so far?

What are your tips on what to bring and what better to leave home?

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written by Chris

25 Responses to “Checklist for going RTW – your Round the World Trip”

  1. Vann BlackNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Nice post. I am planning my around the world trip as we speak. (I am looking into a semi-permanent trip) I am looking forward to the Amazing Adventures podcast interview with you later this week too!


  2. I Gede Sanat KumaraNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Are they still in Bali? Any chance to meet them?

  3. AudreyNo Gravatar THAILAND Says:

    We’ve been on the road for almost fourteen months and my biggest piece of advice for an around-the-world trip is to stay flexible – both with planning and expectations. There were some places that we just clicked with and we decided to stay longer (Republic of Georgia comes to mind). There were other places that didn’t click, so we just changed plans on the fly.

    In addition to learning a few local words in each place, we’ve found that traveling by public transport (although sometimes uncomfortable) and eating at local food markets/restaurants are great ways to meet and engage with local people.

    When people ask us if we won the lottery to enable us to take such a long trip, we explain that we don’t own a house, car or many other things considered “standard” these days in the western world. We made deliberate choices about our money and savings before leaving our “safe” jobs and life behind and live simply on the road.

  4. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Vann Black and Audrey – thanks for your stories and all the best for your trips. Sometimes the most unconventional things work the best. And Audrey you are right – it’s more a matter of allocation of your resources than winning the lottery.

    I Gede Sanat Kumara – unfortunately they both moved on already, Gary was on his way to East Timor (my gosh – just seeing on CNN that the president there was shot!) and Dave wanted to go to Australia, if I’m not wrong. Please check out their websites for more details and contact information.

  5. lissieNo Gravatar AUSTRALIA Says:

    I think long-term travel you need to get into pattern : I travel a lot slower when I have months than when I only have a couple of weeks. A lot of 1st timers think they have to fit the whole world into 12 months because that’s how long a RTW air ticket is valid for. Personally couldnt travel that fast for 12 months- I usually burn out after 6 months and need to stay somewhere long enough to not spend my entire time lost and actually know where the best places to shop are! Air travel is so cheap now there is really no reason to fit the whole world in on 1 trip!

  6. MikeNo Gravatar THAILAND Says:

    What to bring: as little as possible. Gadgets are good though. An mp3 player, digital camera and laptop, make it easier to record your trip if that is what you are looking for.

    I have never really been to a place I disliked. Every city and town has its good points and bad points.

  7. RaniNo Gravatar SINGAPORE Says:

    thank you for the great article. We’re currently planning to RTW by a sailboat in 10 years. We love to travel and immerse in local culture and hopefully we will be able to work things out, in particular the financial aspects.

  8. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Lissie and Mike, thanks for your tips! I’m completely with you guys, a slower pace is much better than just ticking off as many countries as possible in the shortest time. As well I would bring the few necessary gadgets you mentioned Mike, maybe I would add a phone and use local SIM cards, when longer in a country. Of course no place is perfect, but then – who wants perfection anyway. We want adventure! :)

    Rani, that sounds awesome! I’m not sure if I could do that. Sailing for a few hours okay, but round the world? Wow! Maybe you want to check out about this trip ‘1000 days at sea’ trip, here – even though I was reminded by readers who commented, that it’s probably everything but hilarious. ;-)

  9. C KNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    A very comprehensive (and useful) article indeed. Would love to go for a RTW trip but just keep giving myself excuses. I think my family would freak out if I were to do just that.

    Anyway, there’s some travel agencies offering RTW packages that are essentially free and easy at some major cities round the world. It’s just air tickets that are valid for a year… will probably try that out.

    Anyone tried that out yet?

  10. Debo HoboNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    I dream of traveling around the world and I would if it weren’t so expensive.

  11. Annette from Tropicaltravel.netNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Amazing! A Round the World trip sounds like a great adventure. Great post, keep up the good work.

  12. CraigNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    Yeah, we’ve also been travelling for a while; since February 2006. I’d definitely recommend taking as little as possible. I noticed you mentioned a digital translator: forget it! I’ve never spoken to anyone that’s actually used one.

    RTW’s are definitely affordable, viable travel options. Look into work for money/accommodation options as well as things like couchsurfing to help ease the financial strain. We’ve worked about 2/5ths of our travel time and actually have more money now that we had when we started…and we’ve visited over 30 countries…so people should get out there and enjoy!

  13. AdamNo Gravatar VIET NAM Says:

    Great post!

    I really like what you wrote in the “While on the Trip” section. So many people travel, but they only mingle and hang out with other travelers. Whilst thats great, it’s fantastic to hang out/meet the locals, learn the lingo and to eat some weird and wonderful (or not so wonderful!) food.


  14. DaveNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    To steal the National Geographic tagline – Dream It, Plan It, Do It! No regrets from me!!!!!

    I leave Bali and Indonesia today. Despite the craziness in Kuta, it sort of grows on you. When I first arrived it seemed chaotic and overwhelming, whereas now it seems to have a rhythmn and beat all it’s own.

    It was great to meet you Chris – I’m off to Singapore!

  15. RichardNo Gravatar THAILAND Says:

    bring as little as u can. If u can draw that is great as i wish i could but instead I have to lug around my camera equipment..

    ! change of clothes as everything u need can be brougt. small tubes of toothpast/shampoo/etc as they can be replaced

    My first trip was in 1974 to ASIA and
    then in 1982 i spent 18 months on a bicycle covering over 15,000 miles in 18 months

    what a trip that was.

    Now i live in Phuket thailand still travel around the area as much as i can
    best palces??
    Nepal Bali and OF course Thailand

    Now a bit of a plug ok,,,,

    I wanted to place this up so all film makers and those interested in viewing great independent films and are thinking of a trip to Asia. The Second annual Cambodia film fest will be held June 6th-June 8th. We are really excited about this as last years was an eye opener for all those that attended.

    Please visit Cambofest and read all about us

    and this is our own home page; CAMBOFEST: Film and Video Festival of Cambodia

    One thing, where ever you go and wherever u are always keep an open mind, try not to lose ur temper and remmember a smile goes a long ways!!! ;-)

  16. 8 Tips to Fool Keyloggers in Public Internet Cafes | nomad4ever UNITED STATES Says:

    […] Checklist for going RTW – your Round the World Trip Feb […]

  17. digitalnomadNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    This is great, but any tips/ways to make a business on the road, or virtual income?

  18. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Great to have so many comments from RTW travelers! You guys rock and I love to follow your stories and adventures on your blogs.

    digitalnomad – I wrote a few articles about virtual or passive income, just click on the ‘money’ category and scroll back a bit. Regarding businesses on the road, this is something where I’m struggling a bit, never did it – although I saw, that Craig posted above that he works during his travels.

    From other people I meet, the usual jobs are English Teacher, Travel Writer for Magazines or Websites, Restaurant Reviews, Web Publisher or something Online related.

    A friend of mine worked 2 months as a casual/seasonal farm worker during harvest in Australia. Another good friend of mine wanted to do an Overland Trip from Germany to India together with some friends who did that before. Due to financial constraints they offered the trip as a guided service, with about 10 people signing up, paying a fee to be part of their convoy. They offered basically the whole organization and Visa applications for everyone, had a doctor/mechanic with them and a guide who did the trip before. In the end they financed their own trips with the fees of the ones who signed up with them. The link for their new trip is here, unfortunately only in German (wonder where the link to the 2006 trip went, it was in English). ;-)

  19. CraigNo Gravatar AUSTRIA Says:

    Yeah, Linda and I are working as we travel – mainly English teaching but we’ve also done a few other things and make a small income from online publishing. In lean times it’s enough. We recently produced a podcast on starting to teach english as a second language especially from a travellers point of view, so that might help DigitalNomad if he’s interested.

    It’s hard to run a fully fledged business from the road. Things like tax and legal are the tricky parts, rather than the logistics.

  20. CraigNo Gravatar AUSTRIA Says:

    I completely forgot to add the TESOL link, which is now here. We also have heaps of other travel tips on the podcast.

  21. lissieNo Gravatar AUSTRALIA Says:

    My best tip for passive income is own your home – rent it out and there you go nice little income stream! I don’t find blogging or writing on the internet to be at all passive but it is fun!

  22. lissieNo Gravatar AUSTRALIA Says:

    Oh and thanks for the link to the 5 lightest laptops – I have been trying to figure out why I was getting the traffic from your site – especially as when I had been commenting using my main travel page link!

  23. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Craig, thanks for coming back and elaborating a bit further! I’m sure Digitalnomad and other interested readers will take the chance and check out the plenty of useful information on your site!

    lissie – you are most welcome! Isn’t blogging all about linking back and forth and knowing how to find the right resources? ;-)

    And yes, a rented out home is a good way for passive income, although most people never get to it, as they pay back loans their whole life and never move on. For me that whole subprime mortgage crisis shows just that… :-?

  24. digitalnomadNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    @ Chris and Craig-

    Thanks for the follow up an links.

  25. Travel BettyNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Deb, RTW travel isn’t as expensive as you think. That’s usually people’s first excuse, but with a little planning and exploration, you’ll see that it is a LOT cheaper than a year spent living in America!

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