Planning a Trip Around the World

So you want to travel the world, eh? Let me tell you my story – for someone who was an avid traveler, doing a world tour seemed, at first, overdoing it. I was graduating soon, and really had no idea what I was going to do after graduation. I looked at various ideas, such as volunteering abroad, joining the Peace Corps, going to grad school – everything except “get a job”, basically.

When my friend, Ryan, called me with the idea of a group of us leaving and taking a grand tour of the world, I was immediately enthralled. The idea was so obvious, yet, it was not something I had even considered. As so began the “fantasy” phase, where we just talked about how great the trip would be, how much fun it would be, without actually considering the logistics or “how the hell are we going to do this trip?”

90% of potential trips around the world end there.

Why do so many people fail to take that dream, that fantasy adventure and make it a reality adventure? Why do so many trips get stuck in the hazy dreamworld, or die a quick death in the dark seas of actual planning? How can I prevent my trip from because a lost cause, a regret?

Below I list the top reasons, in my personal experience, that most potential travel adventures fail in the early stages. Most of these reflect my own personal experiences.

1. Bad Motivation – Take a deep look inside yourself and ask – why do I want to travel the world? Unfortunately, too many people see traveling as nothing more than a non-stop party, of sex, booze, and worse. Quite frankly, you don’t need to go to Europe if that’s the only reason you can think of for wanting to travel. Others want to travel to experience the world, to learn a language, to explore their heritage, or to go on a quest of self-exploration, or to get away from the doldrums of American life – those motivations lead to a deeper understanding of what a trip around the world might mean and make the trip seem more like an inevitability on the path of life rather than a long vacation.

2. The World is Big. Very Big – If you began traveling the day you were born, and did not stop until the day you died, you still would only see a fraction of the immense cultural, historical, and natural wonders that there are in the World. It is impossible to see everything, most likely, you won’t even see 1/2 of what you want to. On my trip, we are purposely going slow, to enjoy the culture and immerse ourselves. This led to some tough decisions about where we wanted to go. Some people can’t handle being realistic about what to see, and that leads to total meltdown of the planning process.

3. Financial – Oh yeah, money. For many, this is a legit reason not to travel. But too many rule out even considering a large-scale trip on financial grounds without even exploring economic feasibility. As the great quote goes, “if their is a will, their is a way.” For many, the lack of will rather than the lack of money is what kills a trip. I recommend you do some research, read a good budget travel book like Rolf Pott’s Vagabonding, talk to other travelers on travel forums like Travelpunks. More often than not, financial issues can be overcome – traveling is not the luxury item that many take it to be.

4. Dreamers, not Schemers – It’s a sad fact of life that many people only like to talk about doing things, but never actually doing them. In high school, I tried to ramp up support for a road trip down to Mexico. Everyone thought it was a great idea, and we had long discussions on the all the great, fun things we would do during the trip. But then, when I tried to push them to book hotels/figure out cars and other logistics, the conversations disappeared. I never understood it, but some people are just naturally turned off to planning. If your travel partners are like this, you may be better off going solo.

4. – It’s a sad fact of life that many people only like to talk about doing things, but never actually doing them. In high school, I tried to ramp up support for a road trip down to Mexico. Everyone thought it was a great idea, and we had long discussions on the all the great, fun things we would do during the trip. But then, when I tried to push them to book hotels/figure out cars and other logistics, the conversations disappeared. I never understood it, but some people are just naturally turned off to planning. If your travel partners are like this, you may be better off going solo.

So, lets say you do have the right motivation, you’ve figured out your financial situation, and you’re dedicated to making this trip happen. Ready to begin planning and taking this trip into high gear?

Get everyone together (if it’s just you, get yourself) and discuss the trip seriously. Bring out all the negatives – a great way to weed out those who are truly dedicated those who are just there for the booze and sex. Come to an agreement that planning will not be easy, and require effort on everyone’s part. Make sure everyone understands what a trip around the world means.

The next thing to do is set a realistic schedule, agreed upon with everyone who is traveling. This way, you know when you are departing, and how much time you have to plan. Instill a sense of urgency – you may have 6 months, but that doesn’t mean put everything off till later. Begin to chart a plan of where you want to go – this plan doesn’t have to be stuck in stone (ours isn’t) but it should be comprehensive enough to give you a good idea of where you’ll be and when, generally.

After that, you’ll be ready, as the World Trippers’ say, to move into phase II – hardcore planning.

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