You bit the bullet and decided to take a sabbatical to fulfill the glorious pipe dream that is traveling long term. Your savings account is ready for a big withdrawal, but how do you squeeze the whole wide world into just one year? The truth is you can’t, so consider these four things in selecting a round-the-world route.
Your Bucket List
You simply won’t be able to see everything over the course of twelve measly months, and you’d probably kill yourself trying. So take a few moments and boil down your bucket list to a few top priorities. Are you normally a thrill-seeker? If not, maybe bungee jumping in New Zealand isn’t the most important thing to pursue. If, instead you grew up obsessed with stories of the pharaohs, then it may be time for you to finally see the pyramids.
Traveling with a purpose can be a huge help in narrowing down your must-see sights. Having a purpose to your travels doesn’t have to mean joining a volunteer program or writing a book – although it certainly can. If you want to give yourself focus in your travels, pick three top interests. Love art, hiking, and wine? Make sure every stop on your journey fits one of those areas, like trekking the Inca Trail in Peru and sipping a Malbec in Argentina.
Naturally your cash flow will restrict some of the things you can do. If you’re traveling on a shoestring, you may want to stick to inexpensive regions like Central America or Southeast Asia. Western Europe, Australia, and Canada are all significantly more expensive.
You should also consider what level of luxury you’re looking for. Most backpackers stretch every dollar by staying in hostels, taking unbelievably long bus rides, and sticking to street food at dinnertime. If you’d rather spend time in traditional hotels or at sit-down meals, be prepared to add even more to your daily expenses and take others’ cost estimates with a grain of salt.
Seeing the Aurora Borealis in Iceland or Norway might be incredible, but the coats, sweaters, scarves, and boots you’ll need for the Arctic Circle in December take up an awful lot of room. If you want to save space in your pack, choose warmer climes.
If on the other hand, you’re ill equipped to handle extreme heat, traversing the Australian Outback in January is hardly your best option. When choosing countries to visit, research average temperatures and rainfall throughout the year. Remember you’ll find cheaper prices during the rainy season of many tropical countries, but poorer weather, so consider your needs thoroughly and strike the right balance.
Finally, don’t let your temptation to pack in as much as possible lead you to move too quickly. Give yourself ample time to enjoy each destination in your itinerary, and take advantage of the unique opportunity to stay in one place for longer than the average one-to-two-week vacation. Pick six cities to spend a full month in, and take the months in between to work your way from one hub to the next. Or set rules for yourself. Some travelers won’t stay in a city for less than 3 days, while others don’t want to leave a place until they feel they’ve had a good time.