So you’re planning an around the world trip? First of all, congratulations on actually starting to plan it! For many, an around the world trip is a life-long dream that they never actually get around to doing. You’ve taken the first step, or maybe you’re already well on with the planning, and have stumbled across this blog post as part of your research? Either way, I’m excited for you and I hope you find the information below genuinely useful.
Secondly, well done on making such a bold decision. Whether your trip is for 4 months, 6 months, a year or you intend to float around the world in hemp trousers for the foreseeable, bravo. Leaving behind everything you know to step into the unknown is a huge, knee-trembling decision for most people, and not one to be taken lightly. Everyone’s situation is different, but for a lot of people, it means leaving a stable job. That requires you to be comfortable stepping off the career ladder for the time-being, to prioritise personal growth. Perhaps the urge to get out there and see the world has overpowered your career aspirations for now? Well, with plenty of time, forward-planning and self-discipline, you can plan an around the world trip that makes you rich with experience, and doesn’t involve getting into debt. Read on for my advice on how to plan and around the world trip.
These are the first things you need to work out first:
- Work out your budget based on time scales and what you predict you’ll be able to save between now and setting off. You don’t want to be taking out any kind of loan to fund this trip, because it will follow you around the world and always be in the back of your mind. Give yourself plenty of time to save up, and don’t rush into booking anything at this stage.
- Can you take a career break for a few months? Does your company offer sabbaticals? If you need to leave your job, can you give them a date you’ll be back home and promise to check in near the time to see if they will have you back? Can you do some work remotely for them? Timing for these conversations is key, so don’t rush into it and make sure you’re serious about travelling before you bring it up with your boss.
Now work out ways you can increase your budget by saving as much as possible (and not getting into debt).
- Do you own your home? If so can you rent it out? Can you get a tenant in to help you save and to live there whilst you’re away? The government’s Rent a Room Scheme is worth taking a look at as it allows you to earn up to a threshold of £7,500 per year tax-free from letting out furnished accommodation in your home.
- If you live in a popular city, is it worth renting your room on Airbnb on weekends and staying with a friend? If you don’t own your home, can you sublet?
- If you rent, could you move somewhere cheaper and make significant savings? Moving is a lot of hassle, but if you could save a lot more, it’s worth considering.
- Have you got stuff you can sell on eBay? A decent camera you never use? It all adds up and selling this stuff now will be a good starting point for your savings.
- Can you cut back on your spending habits? Go through your bank statements and cancel any subscriptions you feel you can let go of. Identify how much you’re spending on nights out, meals out, coffees, takeaways and clothes. Cut right back on all of this stuff and make your trip a financial priority. You don’t need to miss out on everything, just choose to eat at home before you go out, go for a couple of cheap drinks rather than four expensive cocktails, etc, etc. It will be so worth the sacrifice and friends and family will understand.
The first step is to write down all the places you really want to go to, and then based on what you predict you’ll be able to save (BE REALISTIC, NOT OPTIMISTIC), start to look at flights and costs. This is a time consuming task as you’ll need to get lots of quotes for lots of different routes. You really need to research the weather in each place at the time of year you’ll be there. Our itinerary changed so many times and we used STA Travel for our flights. They were really helpful, but I would say, don’t be pressured into booking anything, just because they’re doing lots of research and flight searching. Take your time deciding on the best route and check out the flights on other sites before you book with them. They do offer a good deposit scheme and some discount for under 26’s.
Your itinerary will probably change 10-15 times before you’re ready to lock in any flights. Gather the quotes and itineraries in a spreadsheet so that you can compare each route like-for-like. It’s also a good idea to add in what it’s likely to cost you in accommodation per night. For example, Singapore is the cheapest route for us to get to Asia, but costs around £80 per night for something decent, which is four times as much as in Thailand. Start this process at least 9 months before you’re setting off and you’ll have loads of time to play around with the options, organise your route and pay off the flights.
So you’ve booked you’re major flights, what next? Well, if you’ve got a year or plenty of time to float around the world and don’t need to rush, that’s great! The hard work is pretty much done. If like me, your trip is much shorter with a fairly tight budget, you’ll probably get more out of your trip if you plan it in more detail. Maybe it’s not quite as exhilarating as it would be to fly by the seat of your pants, but hey, you’re on a deadline!
One of the first things I did at this stage was to create a spreadsheet with a column for each date of the trip, and rows for Travel, Costs, Accommodation Options (top 3), Costs, Activities, Costs. I’ve filled this in for roughly 70% of the trip, and have narrowed down the accommodation options as I’ve booked some. We may be restricting ourselves in booking accommodation so far in advance but it’s necessary. Because we’re going to be working as we’re travelling, we’ve had to plan in days where we can just stay in a hotel with wifi, or have a quiet day and go to a cafe for a few hours.
It’s worth remembering that in Asia particularly, internal flights are really cheap and easy to book whilst you’re there, so don’t worry about booking those until close to your trip. Apparently you can book them a few days before you fly, but there wasn’t any benefit for us to do that.
Travel Insurance for a two week holiday can be a last minute thing you sort out the day before you go. But travel insurance for an extended trip is a whole different ball game. Longstay travel insurance that will truly have your back if the worst happens is something you need to research carefully. Don’t expect it to be cheap and definitely do not just go for the cheapest option. This is an important decision that could have huge consequences if you don’t read the fine print. Key things to look out for are:
- Gadget cover – are your items covered? Often they have to have been bought in the last three years, directly from the manufacturer.
- Medical cover – obviously hideous to think about but important. Are repatriation costs covered?
- Sports/Activities cover – white water rafting on your itinerary? Make sure you’re covered, it’s not worth the risk, to you or your family back home who will no doubt help you if anything happens.
- Personal items – Because bags go missing All. The. Time.
- What is the excess policy?
- What happens in the instance of missed flights?
- What happens if you book something with a tour company that then goes out of business?
We’ve chosen to go with Alpha and their Longstay Travel Insurance which covers us worldwide for our whole trip (but can cover trips up to 24 months). We’ve selected £0 excess but there are other policy excess options. We get £10 million emergency medical cover which includes cover for medical expenses and repatriation, and for extra peace of mind, there’s a Doctor managed medical emergency assistance helpline 24 hours a day, every day of the year. I feel like that could be really useful, knowing our luck!
We went with Alpha for two main reasons; they do Activity Packs so you can add on extra insurance according to the sports/activities you choose to do, and unlike a lot of other insurance providers, you can get in touch with them (via email, phone or social media) to add on more activity packs, say if you decide to do a last minute skydive. Simple, straightforward travel insurance to suit you and your adventure, because let’s face it – life is complicated enough.
Huge thanks to Alpha for partnering with me on this post, and throughout my trip over on Instagram.