I am always planning a trip. Even if I don’t have one booked, which is rare, I’m always planning one for the future. Just in the last little while I’ve planned out a North American road trip to Halifax, a month-long stay in Italy and a safari in central Africa – and that’s all while figuring out our real life move to Prague! But my favourite future travel plan to work on is my dream RTW trip itinerary.
For a while, I wasn’t sure I would want to go on an RTW (round the world) trip. And I’m still not sure I would actually enjoy living out of a backpack for months on end, constantly moving or travelling. But the idea of being on the road and having weeks, and not days, in a destination is so appealing. Plus, I realized I could fly around the world for less than $1500, which seems too good to be true!
Because I know that travel burnout is real, and is something I experience even on short trips, I would be sure to fill my RTW trip itinerary with lots of breaks and slow travel. I don’t want to be moving every few days. I want to settle into a location and have time to find a favourite cafe to work from, make a new friend or two, and get proficient at the local transportation.
How do you start planning a RTW trip itinerary?
For me, I wanted to balance bucket list items with a conservative budget. I wanted to pick places where I could see myself spending a good amount of time. And I wanted to prioritize places I had never been to before. I also added on a few places that were en route, since it made more sense to see them while in the area instead of planning a separate trip back.
Other things I kept in mind included the weather, the level of tourism/crowds, ease of travel and just general interest!
Map out your must-haves
The first thing I did was write out a list of my top bucket list places to visit all around the world. Of course, my list is longer than any one RTW trip itinerary could handle. But after cutting back, I came up with these as my must-haves:
- spending a month in Italy
- seeing Lake Bled and Ljubljana in Slovenia
- going on safari in Central Africa and seeing gorillas
- seeing Petra, Jordan
- spending 4-6 weeks in India
- visiting Sri Lanka
- visiting Bali
- road tripping around New Zealand
Consider your budget
I knew in order to keep my RTW trip itinerary from going into the red, I’d need to be conscious of my budget. The most expensive parts of the world to travel include Western Europe, Oceania and North America. In order to maximize my budget and time, I would want to cut down on the time spent in these places.
Make some cuts
You’ll notice that North America and South America are not on my must-haves list. And this isn’t because I don’t want to travel in the Americas! I would love to see the Grand Canyon, Cuba, Machu Picchu, Medellin, the Bolivian salt flats, Patagonia and so many other places! But I decided that North American destinations would be easy enough to get to from my home base of Vancouver. And South America is hard to connect to the rest of the world. I’d rather dedicate a second big trip to backpacking around South America for a few months.
Luckily, with cuts also comes additions. There are lots of places I can add to my RTW trip itinerary that weren’t necessarily on my must-have list!
Okay, let’s dive into this RTW trip itinerary!
One of my huge travel bucket list items is going on a safari to see gorillas in Africa. Gorillas are my favourite animal. As a kid, I used to want to name my future daughter Acacia because gorillas eat acacia leaves. I did every project in elementary school on gorillas. I had so many stuffed animal gorillas and a Diane Fossey book. Basically, I was obsessed. So I would love to honour my childhood dreams and finally see gorillas in the wild.
I would plan to spend 2-4 weeks in August in Central Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda).
Optional: If the budget allows, I would like to head to Egypt from Central Africa and cross another big one off the bucket list: the pyramids! A week in Egypt would be awesome.
Next up would be Morocco, another country super high on my bucket list. I want to walk through the old markets, ride a camel in the desert, and see the blue city of Chefchaouen. A week or two in Morocco would be the plan.
September: The Balkans
From Morocco, I’m heading into Eastern Europe and the Balkan region. While Europe is an expensive place to travel, Eastern Europe is considerably cheaper than Western. And less crowded. I would want to see it all, but with only 4-ish weeks, I know I would need to make some cuts.
Slovenia is at the very top of my list! I also want to revisit Croatia and Montenegro. I want to see the Stari Most Bridge in Bosnia, check out the gorgeous but undiscovered beaches of Albania, and learn about world history in Sarajevo. I’d also want to check out Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia and Bulgaria. But because I want to travel slow over this RTW trip itinerary, I might need to make some cuts.
Spending a month in Italy is probably not the most budget conscious decision. But it sounds like the dream! I love the idea of dedicating an entire 30 days to seeing (and eating) as much of this country as possible. I’ve been to Milan, Rome, Naples and Positano on the Amalfi Coast. I’d be happy to revisit these spots again, especially so Colin can see them.
But I would be most interested in visiting Tuscany! Everything I read about Tuscany makes it sound like a dreamy place to spend a few weeks. I want to drink all the wine, eat all the cheese, drive to all the castles, walk down all the cobblestones, and taste all of the gelato. And then there’s Puglia, Sicily, the Dolomites and so much more of Italy to discover.
October would also be a great time to visit Italy as the summer crowds would be gone but it wouldn’t be cold or busy for the holidays yet.
November: Sri Lanka
From Italy, we’re heading into Asia. I would love to be able to afford a stop in Jordan to see the old city of Petra. But I’ll call this an optional stop since I’m not sure we could afford it.
Sri Lanka is a country that has only recently come onto my radar but it has me totally swooning. The landscape is lush, the train routes are stunning, the cities have incredible architecture and there are lots of elephants!
Because Sri Lanka isn’t a country you hear about too many people visiting, there would be less pressure to run around and see everything. We could just chill. I imagine our first few months of this RTW trip itinerary would be a lot of go go go as we’ll be excited to be out on the road. So it would be nice to have a more relaxed month in Sri Lanka.
I couldn’t figure out when a good time to travel to Sri Lanka would be. Apparently, it’s always hot. And the rain and monsoon seasons change depending on what side of the island you’re on. So I think we’d go in November and hope for the best.
December – January: India
This is the big one. India is a country that I really want to visit, but I am also scared to visit. India is often described as an assault on all of your senses. The smells, the poverty, the crowds, the noises – it’s a lot for most travellers to deal with. Plus, there’s Delhi belly.
India makes me nervous. But it also makes me really excited. It would be a challenging part of the trip, but a challenge I want to take on. I would love to spend six weeks in this country to really see it more fully, to take time away from the crowds and to travel slow so I don’t get overwhelmed.
Heat also makes me very nervous, but India is supposed to be coolest from December to March, which is why I’d want to spend December and part of January here.
January – March: Southeast Asia
For the next few months, I would want to hang out in Southeast Asia. This is the dry season in Southeast Asia, so the weather should be a bit cooler and we wouldn’t have to worry about monsoons.
I don’t have anywhere that I would absolutely have to go to on my list. I’d love to visit Laos, as I hear it’s supposed to be amazing, and less busy than Thailand. I’d also love to visit Malaysia and the Philippines, where my mom was born and raised. Of course, I’m sure we’d want to revisit some places in Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam too.
Bali is another big bucket list spot for me. This place just sounds like paradise. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a photo of Bali that hasn’t made me smile. I’d love to dedicate an entire month to just relaxing in Bali, enjoying the scenery and hunkering down with the other digital nomads to do a little work.
April is the start of Bali’s shoulder season and dry season, so it would be the perfect time to go!
May: New Zealand
Here comes the money item. New Zealand is expensive. But you have to add some splurges to your RTW trip itinerary, right? I think so!
I would love to rent a campervan and drive both the South Island and the North Island. New Zealand just looks so stunning. I would want to see all of it – Milford Sound, that Wanaka tree, Hobbiton, and all the sheep. I’m not much of a hiker, but maybe that would change by the time we reached New Zealand.
Four weeks to see New Zealand would be amazing (for us, not for our wallets). May is New Zealand’s autumn, so I’m thinking the weather would be nice and the crowds would be manageable.
I’m going to call this part of the RTW trip itinerary totally optional. Since we’re in New Zealand anyway, it only makes sense to hop over to Australia and spend some time there. But Australia is another really expensive place to travel. Plus, June is Australia’s winter, so it may not exactly be beach weather. But if we could find the funds, and buy ourselves some jackets, a couple of weeks in Australia would be awesome.
Japan is another place where we’d have to weigh the pros and cons. I really enjoyed the month I spent in Tokyo in 2014, plus the 24 hours we got there this February, and would love to see more of Japan. But Japan is a pretty expensive destination. It’s also quite hot in the summer. However, I think we could pretty easily fit in a Japan layover on our way home from Oceania, so maybe it makes sense to spend a week or two there.
July: Homeward bound!
From Japan, we’d head home. But that wouldn’t make this a yearlong RTW trip itinerary since we didn’t start in Africa until August. And if you cut out Australia and Japan because of funds, it’s only a 10 month trip.
So I think the options would be 1) just head home, having had an amazing 10-11 month trip or 2) fill the last month or so with a few more stops. If we do end up in Japan, we could easily head to nearby Asian countries, like China or Korea, to continue travelling there. Or if we fly back to North America, we could travel around the US a little bit before coming home.
RTW trip itinerary recap
Okay, let’s recap the year (give or take) on the road, including all of the optional places:
- August: Central Africa, Egypt, Morocco
- September: The Balkans
- October: Italy
- November: Sri Lanka
- December – January: India
- January – March: Southeast Asia
- April: Bali
- May: New Zealand
- June: Australia, Japan
- July: Heading home!
How are you paying for this RTW trip itinerary?
Well, for now, this whole thing is hypothetical, so I’m not paying a dime! But I do have a working plan for when we
hopefully eventually go on this trip. They say that you can travel around the world for $20,000 per person per year, which is significantly less than what most of us spend on our lives at home. Isn’t that crazy? You can follow this entire RTW trip itinerary for less than what you spend on your life back home. That’s enough to get me on the plane!
And for couples, the number is even lower. When travelling as a duo, we’d get to split the costs of things like accommodation, so we wouldn’t actually need $20,000 each. Plus, my RTW trip itinerary includes a lot of countries where the cost of living is quite low.
My goal would be to budget about $35,000 for the year – or just under $3000 per month – or just under $100 per day – and that’s for two!
So where does that $35,000 come from? Well, here’s what I’m thinking:
- We do some serious saving. I’d love for us to have about $10,000 saved before we left. If we save $500 per month, we’ll have $6000 in one year and $12,000 in two years – so it’s doable!
- I’m also hoping we can line up this trip for when we sell our home. For one, it would be nice to not have to worry about being landlords while on the road. And for two, we could skim a little money off of the house sale to help fund our travels.
- And/or, we could line up this trip with the arrival of a future baby. We’ve talked about doing some travel on Colin’s paternity leave and I think it would be such a great way to fund our travels, have uninterrupted family time, and inspire our little one’s love of travel. I recently read this post by a fellow travel blogger about her son’s first year travelling the world and it totally inspired me to want to do something similar!
- Lastly, I would plan to work. As a freelancer, my work is 100% remote. So I could continue to work the entire time we’re travelling. If I kept up the same hours I’m currently working, we wouldn’t have to save at all. I could fund the entire RTW trip itinerary with my salary. But I wouldn’t want to be working that many hours on this epic trip. So I would plan to cut back, subcontract out some work, and hope to pull in about $20,000 over the year. And the great part about me being able to work from anywhere is that if we started to run low on funds or wanted to alter our RTW trip itinerary, I could just pick up some more work!
And that’s my RTW trip itinerary – how I arrived at it, where I’d want to go, and how I would pay for it. For now, this whole itinerary is just a dream in the planning phases. But it sure is fun to dream about! And I can’t wait to make my dream RTW trip itinerary a reality one day.
I’d love to hear from you. What places would make it on your dream RTW trip itinerary?
Let me know in the comments below!
Planning a RTW trip itinerary of your own? Pin it!