Flowers in Bordeaux

Tips for World Travel Planning #2

Travel Around the World, huh? You have probabley decided to take a trip around the world and since you are reading this, you are probably looking for some assistance in planning your trip. First let me say this, planning a trip around the world is fun, but it’s not necessarily easy.

towers in SpainThe hardest thing to decide? Where will you go? Sure, you’d like to go everywhere but unless you’re one of those fortunate enough to have big fat bank accounts, that’s not very realistic. The first thing to do is to really dig into where you want to go. There are a multitude of destinations and activities you can do. Which ones? Are you going to ride elephants, camels, or donkeys? Are you into resorts or hostels? Will you be looking for boutique hotels or couchsurfing with local hosts?

The first thing you should do is to sit down and create a top ten list of the places you want to visit. My advice is to first write down everywhere you have ever dreamed of going and cross them out until only your top ten remain. Don’t worry, you may be able to see those other places, but you have to figure out your main route before you do anything else.

Now go to the trip planning tool and see if you can chart a reasonable trip to those places going either clockwise or counterclockwise. Don’t worry about seeing them in the order you placed them. The important thing is to see them, not the order, right? Besides, you don’t want to take long flights or transport and end up doubling back over your journey.

Berber old womanSometimes, a destination just won’t work in a round the world trip. For example a visit to Zanzibar may not work if you want to go to Russia and take the trans-Siberian after visiting Munich and before going to Tokyo. You might be able to make it work, but try to make things easy on yourself.

Once you’ve got your basic route planned out, start reading about the destinations you’ve chosen. You can find a wealth of information on Vagobond and Wikitravel is a great resource or you can pick up guidebooks that cover just about everywhere on the globe in bookstores or on your kindle.

You probably have a good idea of what you want to do in your destinations, but research might just point out some things you didn’t think of. Are you into cultural travel, adventures, or culinary travel? Will you be white water rafting, hiking, biking, roller skating, or scuba diving?

Flowers in BordeauxI know you want to do all those things, but do you have the physical capability? Do you have the equipment? Is the equipment available for rent? Can you afford it? All of these things need to be thought about and written down.

In all liklihood you will be on ‘the tourist trail’ which means you will probably be seeing things that have been written about and experienced by others but if you want to discover new things about your destinations, you will need to get off the beaten trail. It’s not always easy to do.

There are many factors for why touristic places have become touristic. Usually they are easy to get to and they are safe. When you leave the tourist trail, you step away from those factors. One way to find off the beaten path experience is to get online and find the locals at sites like couchsurfing, tripitini, or vagobonding.com. The travel industry offers the easy path if you prefer not to put in the effort of talking with people who live in a place.

Kadikoy Beach Marmara SeaChances are, you are going to be visiting big cities. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but most big cities are pretty similar. There isn’t a lot aside from the cultural attractions that differentiates them. To really experience a place you need to head to small towns, the countryside, or even non-touristic suburbs. Sure, Sultanahmet and Taksim in Istanbul are great, but when you stay in Sisli, you get to really soak in what life in Turkey is like.

For getting around, I think local transport is one of the great joys of travel. Commuter trains, shared cabs, minibuses, bicycles, and the always wonderful feet. Cabs are easy, but you won’t get much more than a ripoff with most of them. Sometimes you meet a great cabby though and…they are usually safe.