How much is Too Much (Planning)? Plus! My Itinerary

So I’ve been planning to take this round-the-world trip since last June, but it only occurred to me around January that I should probably start PLANNING this round-the-world trip.  I was then faced with a decision: how much of this trip needs to be planned out? And how?

Obviously I will need to plan ahead of time for things like visas, immunizations etc. But I’m talking about planning my itinerary here- where I want to visit and in what order. Everyone seems to have different philosophies when it comes to trip planning. From what I see there are two basic schools of thought:

  1. The anti- planning people– Usually confident seasoned travelers, these folks seem to abhor planning of any kind. They like to buy a ticket, roll up and see where the wind takes them. While they have maximum flexibility, they are often subject to higher ticket fares by buying at the last minute, and the lack of plan can lead to inefficiency and backtracking.
  2. The must have a plan people- I think this is more common among newer, more nervous travelers, but it’s not exclusive to them. These people plan down to the day where they will be and what they will be doing. While this approach can mean maximum efficiency (especially if you are short on time) these travelers sacrifice a lot of flexibility. I mean what if it rains? What if you fall in love with a city and simple NEED an extra week?
guide books

Creative Commons License photo credit: johninbkk

Where do I fall? Well somewhere in the middle really.  I want to be flexible and open to opportunities that may come my way. I realize that making extensive plans is probably going to lead to more frustration than anything else 5 or 6 months into my trip.

However I also really, really love planning things. Ever since I was a little girl and my dad handed me Walt Disney World for Dummies and said, “Hey, you handle this” I’ve had a love affair with guidebooks. The anticipation that comes from learning about a country is a real and big part of the enjoyment of the trip for me. I can’t really imagine showing up in a new place without any idea of what’s important there or what I might like to do. I would hate to miss out on something really awesome because I didn’t do my research first.

So trip planning has become an exercise in compromise for me. I’m buying some of my tickets ahead of time but not all of them. I’m going country-by-country and pouring over the guidebooks but I’m steering clear of itineraries or concrete plans. I’m compiling lists of things I would like to do but not committing myself to anything. I think my notes will be really useful once I’m on the road, particularly as I won’t be bringing any guidebooks with me. At the same time it should leave me open to decide what I want to do and see as I go along.

Atlas, it's time for your bath

Creative Commons License photo credit: woodleywonderworks

When it comes to planning I think it’s important to do whatever makes you feel most comfortable. If you are a novice traveler, that may mean planning out every day of your trip. If you can’t stand the idea of concrete plans then don’t make them. In either case its important to remember that part of travel is being flexible in your plans, beliefs and practices.

So without further ado, here’s a first look at my (still evolving) itinerary:

***ETA: This is no longer my itinerary. For an updated look at where I’m going, check out my About page***

  • Japan- My first stop will also be my most expensive! My target date to head out will be September 15, but this is subject to change. I’ll be visiting a friend teaching English just outside of Tokyo and seeing as many highlights as I can fit in a scant two weeks.
  • New Zealand– Sky diving, bungee jumping and other adrenaline thrills await me here. After a quick relaxing jaunt to Fiji it will be on to…
  • Australia- I’m planning to spend about two months traveling primarily the east coast of this enormous country. It’s here I will be meeting up with my travel soul mate Liz and spending some quality time with my crazy old Australian roommates (on is in Brisbane, the other in Melbourne). I suspect these will not be healthy times for the old liver.
  • Southeast Asia– here’s where the plans get a bit fuzzier. Sometime slightly before or after Christmas I’ll fly into Bangkok. Over the next 5 or so months I’ll be exploring this region and reviling in the lack of snow. Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and hopefully Burma if I can get a visa. Eventually I’ll head south down to Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. This area of the world fascinates me and happens to be very, very cheap- wins all around.
  • Egypt- Around May I will fly from one of the major city centers of SE Asia to Cairo.  I’m not entirely comfortable exploring this region on my own so I will probably sign up for a group tour with Gap Adventures. Ideally, I would love to do this tour, which takes you through Jordan and Syria to Turkey, but it may be beyond my budget.
  • Eastern Europe– Some of my favorite places I’ve visited in the past were in this region, so I want to take some time to see more of the area. Tentative list of countries to visit includes: Turkey, Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo, Bulgaria and Romania (possibly the Ukraine and Slovakia as well) before I head up north to Poland where I fly to my final destination…
  • Northern England– My last stop on the trip, around August 2011, will be Hadrian’s Wall, which I hope to hike the length of along with my Dad and Step-Mom who will fly out to meet me. From there I’ll probably head down to my favorite city of London for a few days before flying back to the US.

***ETA: This is no longer my itinerary. For an updated look at where I’m going, check out my About page***

So that’s the plan, still very much subject to change and adjustment. So far in my readings/planning I’ve only gotten as far as Australia so there is a lot still to be figured out logistically. I’m really excited about the year ahead of me! Of course any comments and suggestions are appreciated.

Your turn: How much do you like to plan?


99 Responses to How much is Too Much (Planning)? Plus! My Itinerary

  1. Gary Arndt February 14, 2010 at 8:11 AM #

    If you play it by ear, you do not necessarily pay more for air fares. Get discount, one-way tickets and you will often find last minute deals that you can’t find if you book ahead.

    I’ve also never really had to deal with backtracking or being inefficient. You can still have a general plan or direction of where you want to go without having every single stop planned in advance.
    .-= Gary Arndt´s last blog ..Daily Travel Photo – Tokyo, Japan =-.

    • Steph February 14, 2010 at 10:37 AM #

      Yes that’s what I’m leaning towards; having a general plan and a good idea where I want to go but not restricting myself to exact dates and times, and generally just doing what feels right.

      I’m only going to but the first couple major tickets before I leave and play the rest out as I go in case my plans change drastically.

      • Jane February 14, 2010 at 5:13 PM #

        To be honest, I think the most important thing is just to be open to change. Having an idea in mind is great and sets you on your way, but be flexible to change at any moment as you don’t know what could come up, or inspire you to go somewhere else. 🙂

  2. Kirsty February 14, 2010 at 8:21 AM #

    Sounds like an awesome trip! Meeting up with old friends along the way will add a different element to things.

    I’m generally a non-planner with a few must-dos thrown in to work around like weddings, Olympics, World Cup etc. Unfortunately for my bank account, the things I have planned out don’t seem to work into the plans I make for the moment very well. An example is flying from Haiti to Australia and back for a wedding and planning on flying London – Haiti – South Africa in a few weeks. I do find that airfares aren’t nearly as expensive closer to the departure date as I would have expected so that’s some good news if you decide on winging things a bit (no pun intended).

    It sounds like your combo of planning countries but not planning exact routes or dates will be a winner.
    .-= Kirsty´s last blog ..January Earnings Report =-.

    • Steph February 14, 2010 at 10:39 AM #

      Thanks Kirsty! The planning to meet up with friends part does pin me down a bit more but I think it will be well worth it.

  3. Eric February 14, 2010 at 8:29 AM #

    The rough itenerary you have so far sounds amazing. I am with you on the planning aspect. I tend to overplan, so I don’t know how I would do planning a year long trip. I am learning to just go with the flow now though. The idea of getting on a random train or bus and just hitting the road to see where it takes me really appeals to me know whereas a few years ago I would be dead set against it.
    .-= Eric´s last blog ..Three Month Update =-.

    • Steph February 14, 2010 at 10:40 AM #

      Yeah curbing my overplanning aspect is going to be one of the big challenges of this trip. That and not overreacting when things don’t go as planned.

  4. Kelsey February 14, 2010 at 8:35 AM #

    Another thing, along with what Gary said, is that you can often find far cheaper flights from the country you’re in once you’re there. For instance, I found that flights to the rest of Asia from Korea were half as expensive if booked *in Korea* than they were if I booked the same ticket online through someone like Kayak. Domestic carriers and travel agents often have “local” rates, and these are generally much cheaper than what you will see on a “foreign” site (i.e. US, European, etc.)

    I think it’s a good thing that you’re getting the most expensive part done with first. That way you can adjust your future budget if you overspend there, rather than ending up there at the end with less money than you expected and not being able to see much.
    .-= Kelsey´s last blog ..Fallschirmjager by the Fire =-.

    • Steph February 14, 2010 at 10:40 AM #

      Thanks for the flight tips! That makes sense to me although I’ve never really though about it.

      • Kelsey February 14, 2010 at 10:46 AM #

        I’m running into the “local rate” thing a lot when doing theoretical planning for the Mongolian Experiment. A flight within the country (say from the capitol to one of the provinces), booked online, costs in the $300-400 range. If you’re already in Mongolia and have a local travel agent get you the ticket, it’s closer to $60.
        .-= Kelsey´s last blog ..Fallschirmjager by the Fire =-.

  5. Hogga February 14, 2010 at 9:22 AM #

    Amazing! I can’t wait to hear about Egypt!
    I wish I could be a planner like you, alas I am scrambling to find a flight last minute right now when I should be enjoying the beach!
    Congrats on preparing the itinerary!
    .-= Hogga´s last blog ..How to Cut Internet Costs While Travelling =-.

    • Steph February 14, 2010 at 10:41 AM #

      Thanks! I am trying to save myself some headaches while I am actually out on the world.

  6. grace b February 14, 2010 at 10:19 AM #

    I LOVE to plan things. Right now I’ve got a list of about six or seven possible day trips for my friends (or just myself, whomever) and I in the area of our school. However I also love the spontanaeity of just getting up and going somewhere (like last night when I took myself out for a slice of pizza). It really depends on my mood but 9/10 I’m a planner.
    .-= grace b´s last blog ..a real live wire =-.

    • Steph February 14, 2010 at 10:42 AM #

      See I wish I was a better planner in my day to day life. For some reason only things involving guidebooks bring out my secret type A-ness.

  7. magicant February 14, 2010 at 10:33 AM #

    Great stuff, Steph. I tend to plan out tremendous levels of minutiae, but I never follow the plan. I find that the ridiculous level of preparation enables me to roll with things more easily. Changes along the way are frequent, but I’ve learned enough about my destinations during the planning process that adjustments are simple and I do what feels natural, not what’s on the list.

    It all depends on what you’re comfortable with, but for me, travel is about discovery of little surprises at every step.
    .-= magicant´s last blog ..7 things I learned from being in the Rio Carnival Parade =-.

    • Steph February 14, 2010 at 10:42 AM #

      Very well said. Just because there IS a plan doesn’t mean I have to stick to it if something else strikes my fancy.

  8. Kelsey February 14, 2010 at 10:47 AM #

    I am so not a planner. I tend to make only my initial and final reservations (the first and last couple days) and that’s it. Occasionally it means that I miss things I wanted to see, but the relaxed nature of the experience is worth it. Then again, I often don’t really see much when I’m traveling – I’m more about experiencing life with the locals, and tend to spend weeks at a time in a given city or village.
    .-= Kelsey´s last blog ..Fallschirmjager by the Fire =-.

  9. brian February 14, 2010 at 10:55 AM #

    Planning is great and all but don’t get too caught up in your schedule. You’ll find that you are indifferent or hate someplace and want to leave early or meet some new friends who take you off track to some place you would not have known about on your own.

    Everyone falls off the best laid plans. Don’t worry about it and go with the flow.
    .-= brian´s last blog ..Help a New Solo Traveler on her trip to Spain =-.

    • Steph February 14, 2010 at 12:42 PM #

      Yup, it’s going ot be a lesson in flexibility. An important one i think.

  10. Gray February 14, 2010 at 11:53 AM #

    I tend to be an uber-planner, but that’s because my trips tend to be short, and I want to maximize my time. To maintain flexibility, I just make sure I divvy activities up into an A list and a B list. A list is must-do, B list is “if I have time”. For such a long trip, where you’re spending so much time in each place, you don’t need to worry about planning too much. Your itinerary sounds awesome, by the way. Although I’m thinking Egypt might be very, very, very hot in May.
    .-= Gray´s last blog ..Recommended Reads, Week of February 14, 2010 =-.

    • Steph February 14, 2010 at 12:44 PM #

      Yeah for short trips I think planning is much more important. I am only spending 2 weeks in Japan for example so I think I need to plan ahead a bit in order to maximize my time there where as with two months in australia I can totally go with the flow.

      I know Egypt will be hot! not much to do but grin and bare it I guess. I am looking forward to the tan I will aquire after a year in the sun.

  11. Nomadic Chick February 14, 2010 at 12:11 PM #

    Steph, this looks amazing, and so varied. I’m actually a bit reluctant to hit Egypt based on stories I’ve heard, but who cares! It’s the Pyramids, history like that should never be overlooked.
    .-= Nomadic Chick´s last blog ..What I’m Going to Miss About Vancouver =-.

    • Steph February 14, 2010 at 12:47 PM #

      Yeah I think that Egypt with a tour group will make me more comfortable. I’ve heard conflicting things but it seems too interesting to miss.

  12. Abby February 14, 2010 at 12:36 PM #

    This is a great plan!! You can just tell that you are dying to go to all of these places because you really want to go, not because people told you to, etc. Living on the road takes some getting used to — I wholeheartedly back having a plan. Of course, you might knock off whole countries for “next time” because you land somewhere you just can’t leave, or take off sooner from another because one place just isn’t working out. Mixing up cities based on new recommendations or new friends is no big deal. Dates become, “We’re leaving next Monday-ish, or next week-ish.” But for me, I do always like having a rough layout. Especially if you have people to see! Just because you are backpacking and living the dream, your loved ones might be rearranging schedules and booking their own flights to see you. This is a great mix, and you know it. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!
    .-= Abby´s last blog ..Working and living in Costa Rica =-.

    • Steph February 14, 2010 at 12:49 PM #

      Thanks Abby! I’ve had a lot of time to think about where I want to go and eliminate less essential spots. There is a lot else I wish I could fit in (Central America, Mongolia, Morroco) but I guess that will have to be the next trip!

  13. Kathy February 14, 2010 at 12:37 PM #

    Looks pretty good, except no China and no India??? You might find this interesting for SEA – – plus I got a visa for Myanmar in Bangkok in three days in ’04.

    I tend to be a planner (I did a ten month Scotland-Saigon train trip that was planned in advance to make sure I could actually DO the whole thing by train), but I’m always willing to change things on the fly. I can’t imagine leaving with NO guidebooks though!!!

    Awesome that you’re planning to hike Hadrian’s Wall. Don’t miss Durham while you’re in the area, and I liked the Beamish Open Air Museum as well.

    • Steph February 14, 2010 at 12:51 PM #

      I know, I am missing some major spots still. I want to do India at some point but I think it’s just too big a job to take on this time around on top of everything else. It may end up being it’s own trip eventually.

  14. Ayngelina February 14, 2010 at 1:03 PM #

    I used to be a very well planned traveler but this time for my RTW I just bought a one-way ticket to Mexico. I do have some people meeting me in May, August and October so it does help give me pinpoints to work toward but otherwise I’m just going to go where the wind takes me.
    .-= Ayngelina´s last blog ..The 8 Weeks and Counting List =-.

  15. Joya February 14, 2010 at 1:48 PM #

    Your itinerary looks amazing! I say wing it.
    .-= Joya´s last blog ..Three Travel Bites of the Week =-.

  16. Wille February 14, 2010 at 3:38 PM #

    When it comes to travel planning, I’ve found less is more, as long as you know your next step 3-4 weeks in advance.

    I planned a trip to South America in October, went in Jan-Feb (still there), but definitely overplanned. Bough a bunch of airline tickets in advance that I never actually used, money down the drain because I didn’t realise I might want to change my plans once I’m in one location (I decided to skip Panama this time and stay in Argentina longer).
    .-= Wille´s last blog .."Soulmates" – an utterly unromantic concept =-.

    • Steph February 14, 2010 at 6:29 PM #

      Yeah I think plans are okay as long as I haven’t committed myself to anything. I’ve decided not to buy a RTW fare so i cna purchase tickets as I go.

  17. Adam February 14, 2010 at 3:43 PM #

    Hey Steph,
    Awesome to finally see your itinerary. I go back and forth on the planning conundrum. Even what I have planned I’ve had to go back and re-plan several times.
    .-= Adam´s last blog ..#BostonTravelers TweetUp RoundUp Number 2 =-.

    • Steph February 14, 2010 at 6:28 PM #

      Yeah that’s the other thing- how can i decide what I might want to do in Vietnam a year from now? I’ve just come to accept that it’s all subject to change.

  18. Sean February 14, 2010 at 3:52 PM #

    Hey Steph, we’ve been planning our first big trip and driving across the USA is first. We’ve pretty much planned every day of that. Thom’s big on planning and there is so much to do we have to have some way of prioritising.

    We’re flying out of San Francisco to campervan around New Zealand for a month; the other night I said to Thom that I can be arsed to plan NZ and really just want to see what happens. He absolutely agreed.

    I think some countries lend themselves to certain planning. We haven’t worked out post-Oz because we’ll be there for a year bu thinking about Vietnam, that will need more planning, if only for the border it shares with countries we want to visit!

    • Steph February 14, 2010 at 6:33 PM #

      I think everyone just has to figure out what works for them, but the US lends itself to more planning because it doesn’t really have the infrastructure to just bum around. It takes so long to get everywhere and transport is way expensive.

  19. brian February 14, 2010 at 4:42 PM #

    you know, i also have a strong fascination with those travel books. i unfortunately have some travel books for countries that i haven’t even planned on going to yet haha.

    i too like to do some research and get an idea of what i want to do, but depending on my timeframe, i may or may not like to plan a day by day itinerary.

    have you done those gap trips before? they seems awesome. maybe i should save for one of those!
    .-= brian´s last blog ..hill country =-.

    • Steph February 14, 2010 at 6:34 PM #

      Yeah I love to check out guidebooks from the library. Anyone who looks at my record must think I’m just nuts.

      • Becs February 15, 2010 at 8:44 PM #

        i totally take guide books out of the library! not only to save money (and dorkly read as well), but then i only photo copy the parts i need. why do i need to carry around pages and pages of restaurant reviews (my least fav /pointless part of the book)? when i can carry around a few pages of stuff i may need?

    • Steph February 14, 2010 at 6:35 PM #

      Oh also I haven’t done any Gap trips yet but I’ve heard mostly good things. They do look like a lot of fun!

  20. Alouise February 14, 2010 at 4:53 PM #

    I’ve only really done shorter trips (two weeks or less) so I’m more of a planner. I also get excited over reading guidebooks. The thing that got me through my shitty job (at the time) before my Europe trip was reading the guidebooks and writing down how much it’d be to go The Louvre. I think if I was going on a longer trip or a RTW, I’d be more inclined to be more flexible. But when you only have a few days, you want to make the most of it. But I’m pretty realistic too, I knew that three days in London wouldn’t be enough time to see everything, so I picked a couple sites/activities that interested me.
    .-= Alouise´s last blog ..No Day But Today =-.

    • Steph February 14, 2010 at 6:38 PM #

      I was thinking today that all this planning is really what’s going to keep me sane for the next 7 months. Reminds me I’m working towards something.

  21. Kyle February 14, 2010 at 8:06 PM #

    I prefer to just wing it, but planning has its advantages. Make sure you leave enough open time to get lost, or stay an extra day or week somewhere. The extra, unplanned time is where the fun part of your traveling will be, so keep your mind open to the unexpected!
    .-= Kyle´s last blog ..Innocuous Sign or Commentary on Modern Love? =-.

    • Steph February 14, 2010 at 8:51 PM #

      plan unplanned time- got it! 🙂

  22. Keith February 14, 2010 at 11:02 PM #

    I recently wrote a post about trip planning as well. Based on my highly subjective thoughts, I think you’re on the right path. On my past trips I’ve been a hardcore planner, but I’m hoping to loosen up the reins a bit in the future.

    Your itinerary indicates you’re going to have a blast. If you don’t mind me asking, what happens when you return to the US in late 2011?
    .-= Keith´s last blog ..The Age of (Self) Discovery =-.

    • Steph February 15, 2010 at 10:32 AM #

      Good question, I’m not really sure. I could see things going a lot of different ways: looking for a job, teaching english abroad, really could be anything. Have to see what oppurtunities come my way.

      • Becs February 15, 2010 at 8:46 PM #

        ohmigod, thinking about what you are going to do when you get home should be the LAST thing on your mind at this point.

        such the most annoying (and american-ess!) question ever! (after of course, is whyyyy are you going in the first place?!)

  23. aelle February 15, 2010 at 2:36 AM #

    Great itinerary! You’ll have a great time, no doubt.

    Can I suggest a tip for South East Asia? I spent 5 months there, and find that it’s very convenient to choose a place as a hub and radiate from there. I am personally in love with Kuala Lumpur, plus Malaysia is home to the low cost airline Air Asia.
    .-= aelle´s last blog ..It’s friday… =-.

    • Steph February 15, 2010 at 10:18 AM #

      Neat, definitely something to consider. thanks!

  24. Garrett February 15, 2010 at 7:59 AM #

    Awesome! Anyone that ever claims they don’t need a guide book isn’t telling the whole truth. Sometimes, you just need it.

    The itinerary is looking strong! I’m very curious about the Egypt part (which is on the top of my travel list).

    Keep it comin’!

    • Steph February 15, 2010 at 10:30 AM #

      guidebooks and wikitravel can be so important.

  25. Chris - The Aussie Nomad February 15, 2010 at 8:11 AM #

    Looks amazing Steph, I’m excited for you and I have my own trip to sort out.

    I’m going to go with an open plan. I’ve picked the direction I want to go in, the rest will just work out as I go. There are things I definitely want to see along the way but I’m open to change.

    I’m also not setting time frames for any location. If I only make it half way around Europe in the 3 months then so be it. I’d rather see everything I want to see while there rather than rush to the next location.

    I intend to be traveling for many years to come so can always go back and finish off where I left off.
    .-= Chris – The Aussie Nomad´s last blog ..Travel Packing List Part 1 =-.

    • Steph February 15, 2010 at 10:28 AM #

      I think that’s a smart way to approach Europe. It’s very easy to navigate and has a great backpacker infrastructure.

      I do have to keep reminding myself that this is not the only trip I will ever take in my life, so if I miss out on some things that’s okay.

  26. DTravelsRound February 15, 2010 at 4:33 PM #

    Good job!! I am a bad planner. I like to have an idea of where I want to go, and talk about it a lot, and then, once I get there, figure it all out. When I went to Croatia, the only place I KNEW I would be was Zagreb (my flight landed there) and the hostel I would stay at the first night, and the day I needed to be in Dubrovnik to catch my plane home. The rest was up in the air. I got a little stressed at some points because I had no clue about what I would fill all that time with, but had a vague idea of the places I wanted to visit. When you travel solo I feel like you can’t plan too much because it holds you back from experiencing the moment. I have two flights to book for the beginning of my trip and that is in three weeks — still haven’t pulled the trigger (although since I am meeting people, I know I will). I think a healthy mix of planning and not planning works best. It all fleshes out and takes shape exactly as it should!
    .-= DTravelsRound´s last blog ..What I learned in Croatia (The List) =-.

  27. Becs February 15, 2010 at 8:50 PM #

    love this post! i think as americans we plan too much when it comes to vacations because we get so few days. i used to be a total planner. countrie like Australia and NZ taught me not to plan as much as that is just not how their tourism is built (especially NZ, with the weather changing so fast, you can’t do the country in anything less then 3 weeks, in my opinion. and even that is pushing it (i just love it soo much!!!)). when i did the east coast backpackers bullshit in australia, i did it in like 6 weeks, which was a veryyyy long time, and i didn’t plan anything more then a week out, if even. it was a great feeling!!! you’ll get used to it:-)

    • Steph February 16, 2010 at 3:10 PM #

      yeah I think it’s one of those things you just have to throw yourself into and go with the flow. We’ll see how it plays out in practice.

  28. Laura February 16, 2010 at 3:42 AM #

    For me planning is part of the fun of traveling – knowing where you’re headed and what to expect. And, like you said, not missing anything really awesome. At the same time I agree that too much planning can be a bad thing and there’s nothing like the freedom of having an open itinerary. It seems like you’re on the right track. Having recently completed my own travels I’m looking forward to following along on yours and learning about places I have yet to see. Cheers!

    • Steph February 16, 2010 at 3:11 PM #

      Thanks Laura! I’m really looking forward to writing about what happens to me!

  29. Alex February 16, 2010 at 1:13 PM #

    Wow, Stephanie! I’m excited for you! Look forward to seeing how it all shakes out.

    I’ll be here reading about it!

    • Steph February 16, 2010 at 3:11 PM #

      Thanks Alex!

  30. Shannon OD February 16, 2010 at 1:14 PM #

    Though I fall into the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants camp on planning travel, I actually planned my own RTW much like yours – with a rough itinerary and some highlights of things to see and do in each place. I love your route and really look forward to reading about Egypt!
    .-= Shannon OD´s last blog ..A Little Lesson…The Best Advice My Dad Ever Gave Me =-.

    • Steph February 16, 2010 at 3:13 PM #

      Oh that’s good to hear Shannon, I’ve read a lot of your backlog for tips- especially since we had similar budgets and timelines.

  31. Kelly February 16, 2010 at 6:27 PM #

    I am one of those people who think that you can never be too prepared! But that’s just me. Enjoy your travels. 🙂
    .-= Kelly´s last blog ..How to Take Action Photography =-.

  32. Allison February 17, 2010 at 10:51 AM #

    Your plan looks great! I will continue to live my world-traveling through you…. I’ve got a long way to go before I’m in a place where I can even start saving to travel again. I agree that having a rough outline, and then allowing yourself freedom within that, is the best way to go…. and doing as much research as you can ahead of time so you’re well armed with information… Go Stephi!

    • Steph February 17, 2010 at 5:15 PM #

      Thanks Allison, I’m hoping the blog will be a good way for the family to follow along with me!

  33. Mike March 5, 2010 at 8:57 PM #

    Great article and good advice/suggestions. I’m planning a RTW in October and am doing it similar to yours. Starting in New Zealand, going to Australia, up to Asia, jumping over to Egypt and ending in Europe. I’m doing open ended but I’m timing the countries by when I can get flights via FF miles. Have a good trip and look forward to reading about it.

  34. Gloria March 30, 2010 at 5:58 PM #

    Hi! I too am planning a RTW in September and am doing it similar to yours.

    Here is the general idea for more than a year away:

    September: NZ 1.5 months
    November: Nepal and India 2.5 months
    January: South East Asia and China 3 months
    April: Trans-Siberian into Mongolia and Russia 1 month
    May: Scandinavia 1 month
    June: Eastern Europe 2 months
    August: Germany 1.5 months
    October: Dalmatian Coast
    November: Turkey, Lebanon, the Middle East
    December: Egypt, maybe Tunisia, Morocco.

    I’m also hoping to add on some more extended stays to do some volunteering.

    I did have one question. I know you have been to New Zealand before. How did you get around then and how are you getting around this time?

    Keept writing! Maybe our paths will cross!

    • Steph March 30, 2010 at 10:58 PM #

      Looks like a neat itinerary! I actually have not been to New Zealand yet, but my basic plan at the moment is to take intercity buses. Hopefully this wont be too difficult to figure out…

  35. Shirley Kelly June 4, 2010 at 8:05 PM #

    I too am a “planner”. When it’s time for me to plan the family vacation, I have to do extensive research. I will pay for tickets and attractions well in advance of my arrival and every part of my day is planned before I ever arrive at my destination. However, I am intrigued by the idea of planning somethings ahead of time like my airline tickets and access to some of the must see attractions while leaving plenty of time for “on the spot” planning.
    .-= Shirley Kelly´s last blog ..How To Paint House Exterior =-.

    • Steph June 4, 2010 at 8:54 PM #

      I think that learning when to plan and when to go with the flow is a very important travel skill.

  36. Stephanie Laskoski June 29, 2010 at 12:47 PM #

    Dear Steph,

    I had this crazy idea to follow all the Stephanie’s I could find on Twitter, and of course, you are one of them. Strangely, I am embarking on an around the world trip this September too, and you can find my itinerary at

    Maybe we can find a way to cross paths? I am not 20 something, but 30 something, and will have children in tow.

    I like your blog a lot, and will keep it in my bookmarks to follow you while we are trekking the globe.

    All the best,

    • Steph June 29, 2010 at 1:35 PM #

      Hello Stephanie,

      That’s really awesome that you found me! I’d love to meet up along the way if our paths cross. Keep in touch,


  37. Suzanne July 16, 2010 at 4:25 PM #

    Sounds amazing!

    I hate tour groups, but since Egypt is hard to get around, I booked a tour through Expat Explore last year:

    My friend and I had a great experience, on the cheap. Just a suggestion

  38. Carnalito July 19, 2010 at 1:49 PM #

    Hi! Why the Philippines is not included in your itinerary in your Southeast Asian trip? Just wondering because I’m a Filipino. 🙂

    • Steph July 19, 2010 at 10:18 PM #

      Nothing against the Philippines at all- just a little bit expensive and out of the way this time around!

      • Carnalito July 20, 2010 at 5:32 PM #

        I thought about that out of the way thing. But I hope one day that you can visit the Philippines. I’m not sure though what do you mean by a little bit expensive. 🙂 A slice of pizza costs around US$1 or 45 pesos…hehehe

        • Steph July 21, 2010 at 12:28 PM #

          Expensive to get to mostly :). Someday I will make it though!

  39. Kirstin July 20, 2010 at 2:53 PM #

    This sounds like such an amazing trip! Malaysia is a cheap/delicious food PARADISE, and I absolutely loved it. I studied abroad in Jordan for a semester and visited Syria a couple times. Bottom line: they’re absolutely amazing and you shouldn’t miss out on them! But also, it can be tough for an American woman to travel in those countries by herself, especially with the language barrier. Jordan is more tourist friendly and they make it easy to plan day trips to do things like visit Petra or the Dead Sea pretty cheaply. Or, and this might sound weird, but try looking online for college kids studying in Jordan and Egypt who you could maybe plan a trip with. They’re also on a budget, they’re also seeking adventure, and they’ll know at least a bit of Arabic to help get around.

    Best of luck with everything!

    • Steph July 21, 2010 at 12:26 PM #

      It looks like the middle east might be off the table for this trip after all, but thanks for the tips!

  40. Ian [EagerExistence] August 4, 2010 at 5:51 AM #

    Great itinerary for a RTW trip. And you’ve left it very vague in places, which I bet was hard for such a planner 😀

  41. Kristen J September 2, 2010 at 2:49 PM #

    Great site! I am also leaving September 15th to travel for a year. I’m starting in England via Iceland and then heading off to India for a few months (and possibly Sri Lanka and/or Nepal) and then SE Asia in December (Thailand for New Years), New Zealand then Turkey, Greece, Scotland and then who knows! It sounds like we will be in some of the same places at the same time. It be great to meet up. Are you going to Thailand for New Years? Koh Phangan perhaps? I really like your website and your ideas so I linked you on mine:) You can check out my site too if you’d like:

    Happy Travels!

    • Steph September 2, 2010 at 4:33 PM #

      That sounds like a fun itinerary- Iceland is terrific! It’s looking like it’s probably going to be Bangkok for New Years for me- meeting up with some friends there probably. Will be sure to check out your site!

  42. Christian September 3, 2010 at 5:40 PM #

    I’m sure you know this by now but, as of a couple of months ago, Burma is visa on arrival now, so good luck with that.

    Awesome itinerary Steph, apart from finishing in Scotland in August – it’s the middle of summer, so don’t forget your rainwear!

  43. C.K. September 8, 2010 at 12:19 AM #

    I just found out your first stop is Japan. I was just there earlier this year. If you have questions/concerns, shoot me an email anytime.

    Btw, your site is excellent and always give me new idea the next time I am going on a trip.

  44. Anthony September 16, 2010 at 9:06 AM #

    Hey Steph, I’m not too far from Hadrians wall. May I make a suggestion if you have time?-

    Visit Beamish: It’s an open air museum which shows how English lived in the 1800’s. It’s pretty cool, especially for a 1st time experience. Just a thought!

    • Steph September 17, 2010 at 2:27 PM #

      Thanks for the tip!

  45. Donna Willingham September 21, 2010 at 2:20 AM #

    Wow, what a fantastic trip! . I feel I should share with you an amazing course I did while I was in Cairo, Egypt – Sarah Merron of Fire Dragon Coaching teaches strategies that really helped me focus on getting the best out of myself and others around me, for both my work and personal life. She runs courses all over the world, so it’s a fantastic way to combine travel with self improvement. Here’s the link, I found it had a very powerful effect on my life:
    You should check it out if you head that way.

  46. Jyoti January 11, 2011 at 8:12 PM #

    Just stumbled upon this blog. How awesome. I subscribed and I look forward to reading about your adventures!

    PS – I’m totally #2. I hate the thought of missing something because it was closed on a Monday and we are leaving first thing on Tuesday morning. I plan everything out in excel. Sigh.

    • Steph January 12, 2011 at 9:39 AM #

      Thanks! I’m learning to become more relaxed as I go though- otherwise things are just too exhausting!

  47. Carly January 31, 2011 at 3:06 PM #

    I am really enjoying all the great stuff on this site! I was curious Steph if you or anyone is buying each ticket individually or buying an around the world ticket? I am planning a somewhat similar trip…and wondered which people thought was more cost effective…this would definitely effect the level of preplanning that goes into a trip

    • Steph February 4, 2011 at 6:39 AM #

      I bought my tickets individually and I think it’s a MUCH better idea. You have much more freedom when you plans change- which I promise you they will.

  48. kashya April 7, 2011 at 4:52 PM #

    Hey since your already going to Poland def make a stop in the southern town of Zakopane – its a touristy place but unforgettable , great mountain hiking and you cant miss the Tatranski national park at the end of the “trail” its a bunch of lakes up high in the mountain called morkie oko, very beautiful.

  49. Brady Stump April 15, 2011 at 9:58 PM #

    Keep up the good writing!

  50. Bijuterii Argint May 25, 2011 at 8:15 AM #

    I like to plan the main activities, locations I want to visit, places I’ll saty in, but I can’t always stick to the plan as time is never enough.

  51. A September 26, 2011 at 9:09 PM #

    I was planning a trip around the world but I haven’t been able to save for the trip due to I can’t find a job, Well I have one but I can barely make it. But, who knows… anyway… I like your website and I feel the desire to persue my dream of traveling again. I have just being told by so many people that my idea was so inmature…

    • Steph September 29, 2011 at 4:17 PM #

      Hang in there and keep working for your dreams. It doesn’t matter what anybody else says!

  52. Kevin October 10, 2011 at 5:13 PM #

    I think you nailed this one on the head Steph. Being a backpacking, Hostel kinda dude, yes even at 47 yr.

    I make a very basic itenerary of where I’m going. The “only” part that may be detailed is leaving the U.S. From there, I know I will have a layover somewhere in China. I will pick the flight with a span of several hours until next connection, instead of a short layover, then go see what I can see. I may even ask the taxi where to go, as long as I’m back in time for the connection, if that fails, Hostel time.
    Once you leave your Homeland, hey…it’s your call. Fly straight thru (I’m doing U.S. to Malaysia) or blow off that concreten plan and hit a few side trips on the way. Concrete Iteneraries are stressfull, what do you get from that. Do a basic plan that can be flexible. Although, your right that maybe for the experienced, but I became experienced by not having an Iteneray.
    PS : If you blow off the strict Itenerary, get in touch with some Ex-Pat’s in the countries your going to. They are a wealth of info.

  53. Shanna Schultz November 29, 2011 at 12:09 AM #

    This post really resonates with me. When we started taking big international trips, I did an INSANE amount of planning. Now, it takes less time because I do a little bit less of it and I have become more efficient at it.

    I, too, hate to feel like I might be missing something great in a city that I am visitng, and I think, too that short trips require a more rigid itinerary than longer ones (if I have only a short time in a place, I want to make sure that I am taking full advantage of it.

    I am in teh midst right now of planning two weeks in Thailand…I have been researching for months and I am still changing the itinerary as I am finding other places that we will want to visit.

    • Steph December 4, 2011 at 5:03 PM #

      I agree, short trips require much more planning to make the most of your time.

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