How NOT to plan a RTW trip!

I’ve been away from the blogging seat for a couple of weeks now as we’ve been so busy trying to sort out tying up loose ends, cancelling our entire life in the UK and basically trying to get into a position where we can literally just leave the country! We’ve still got three rooms full of ‘stuff’ that just aint packing itself, are still trying to get our last visa (which is proving to be a big, expensive pain – note to self: Just skip Iran next time), have only just bought our ‘supplies’ for the trip and are trying to fit everything in during the 2 hours that we have free every evening after work, the gym, dinner and the ironing!

The stress and craziness of these last couple of weeks – and the scary thought of this continuing all the way up until the day we leave – has inspired me to write a post about ‘how not to plan a year-long trip around the world’!

5 Do’s and Don’ts for planning to travel RTW…

DO give yourself more than 3 months to plan: [singlepic id=531 w=320 h=240 float=left]We made the decision in February that we wanted to take a year out and fulfil our dreams of travelling the world. Us being us, we couldn’t just take a long holiday or travel one continent for a month or two – oh no, we had to travel as much of the world as we could!

After settling on around 22 countries and about 4 continents, it didn’t take long to realise that we had perhaps bitten off more than we could chew. And instead of being sensible and deciding to leave in September, giving us 9 months to save as much money as possible and plan our trip to a ‘T’ we decided to jump in and get going on the 4th July.

Now, i’m sure that some trips of this nature are more than possible to plan and execute within 3 months, but for first time travellers like us, I really would recommend stretching this time out if poss – you may have the best laid plans and the most organised schedule in the world but as always, its other people who let you down – whether it’s your landlord, your visa agency, tour operator or employers – there will always be something that gets delayed or knocked off schedule. And not having that ‘contingency’ of a few extra weeks may well see the stress reach boiling point!

DON’T buy everything for your trip ‘upfront’: Now, I’m being a complete hypocrite with this one as we have done exactly this. We’ve listened to all the advice, We’ve read all the backpacker theory and we KNOW that other countries do have shops where you can buy your ‘essentials’ like shampoo, insect repellent, t-shirts and the like, BUT (and I’m pulling out the ‘first time traveller’ card again here) we just want to be sure! Having enough toiletries and other bits and pieces to keep us going at the start of our trip really is making us feel a lot more comfortable. And yes, I will probably regret bringing that full size tub of mouthwash with me when my backpack is buckling under the pressure – but for now, I feel better knowing that even if I’m slumming it in the middle of nowhere, I’ll still have squeaky clean teeth & gums!

DO listen to people who have been there and done that: There’s no substitute for experience and I am really grateful to everyone who has given us hints and tips in preparation for our trip (isn’t Twitter great?). We have a tendency to listen to what everybody tells us and then promptly ignoring it and I really don’t want to shoot ourselves in the foot this time! The main thing I think that i’ve taken away from other people is their advice not to plan TOO much. Most of the stress I’ve referred to in this post is related to just trying to LEAVE – i.e cancelling all the utilities, boxing up the apartment and getting our visas in time. It’s not actually related to the trip itself. We don’t need to worry about half of the journey as that’s all been pre-booked and the bit that we are doing completely on our lonesome is the bit that i really believe will benefit MORE without too much planning! We are hoping to just fall into it as soon as we get to China, and wing it all the way down SE Asia to Thailand. I’m determined to try and think like a true traveller and just take it all in my stride!

workaholicDON’T work full time right up until you leave: This again is related to the hassle involved in preparing to sod off for a year. All of those little niggles, delays and odds & ends I have mentioned are impossible to deal with if you’re working full time, particularly if you don’t have a very understanding boss. It’s just not worth the grief. Give yourself plenty of time to plan then add on another couple of weeks on top of that ‘just in case’ – if you’re lucky you may even be able to just chillax before you head off (wouldn’t that be nice).

DO learn to love the ‘list’: travel-listList’s are great. We love lists. Our whole lives have so far been helped along with the use of lists. And they’ve come in really handy during our planning phase too. Of course you’ll have the boring lists like what visa’s you need to get before you go, what clothing or travel gear you need to purchase before leaving, but these also come hand in hand with the best list of all – where to go and what to see! Our list for this is looking like the best bucket list of all time, and I am acutely aware of just how many people in the world would love the opportunity to do something like this so am going to make damn sure that I make the most out of every item on that list!

DO start a blog about your trip: This is a great way of keeping your nearest and dearest updated on your plans and believe me, you will soon be grateful for the chance to save your vocal chords from repeating your itinerary to everyone by simply saying ‘why don’t you check out my blog’! It’s also a great way to get to know people from the travel ‘community’ who are always willing to impart their knowledge and advice onto first time travellers!

If you are a first time traveller, we’d be really interested in hearing how your plans are going too. Or better still, we’d welcome any thoughts and comments from seasoned travellers on our blog post – perhaps you can point out other ways to ‘not plan a trip RTW’!..

Bye for now!

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6 Comments

  1. July 04, 20:48 #1 Aisleen Author

    Hiya! don’t worry, i’m sure your 9 weeks will fly by! We’re all just sat in the hostel in Bruge atm – been a busy day, but this town is great!

  2. July 04, 07:39 #2 rick davey

    Hi there!
    Im the muppet that is on the next Ozbus trip and saw you all off this morning from Cleopatras needle. (No, not the one who was climbing over the monument when he woke up!)
    Im actually quite jealous that your trip has begun and I have to wait another 9 weeks before mine does.
    I hope you are enjoying your trip so far.
    Have a great time!!

  3. June 22, 13:04 #3 Aisleen Author

    Hiya, thanx so much for ur comment. We’re really looking forward to it and trying our best to take in all the words of advice we are being given. Will let everyone know what Iran is like – must admit i’m intrigued, but not looking forward to having to cover up from head to toe in 30 degree heat!

  4. June 22, 12:38 #4 Caz Makepeace

    Great tips to help newbies take the plunge and start traveling. Your adventures sound like you are going to have a lot of fun. Good for you for braving Iran. I think when you go to places like that you do have to do a lot of planning. When you hit SE Asia you can certainly go with the flow more. The blog is a great idea- something we never did and I really regret not knowing more about it to do from the beginning of our trip. Would have been a great record of all we have done.
    As a seasoned traveler I would suggest like everyone to not plan too much. I know at the beginning of your trip you do and that is normal. But once you get into the swing of things you’ll realize how much things change and how easy it is to have a great time traveling without all the planning. It takes away a lot of the stress too.
    I look forward to reading more about your adventures guys! Good on you for jumping out of the box

  5. June 21, 11:55 #5 Ais Author

    Yes I think I should have put not working full time up to the top of the list – I haven’t even got time to get excited yet! If you think of any other vital Do’s and Don’ts let me know and I’ll post ’em up!

  6. June 21, 10:59 #6 JR Riel

    Chillax? I haven’t heard that one in a while…

    These are some really great tips, and it’s clear that you are totally speaking from experience. I especially have to agree with the not working full time up to departure. Readers, believe it…you will be punching yourself in the noggin for not taking a few weeks off before departure. Great post, reliable tips…thanks a lot!

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