When you love to travel, few things are more exciting than planning a new trip. A round-the-world trip (RTW trip) where you spend months visiting several countries and making a complete loop around the globe is probably the most exciting planning adventure of all! Dreaming of all the places you can go and things you can see is full of joy and inspiration, but it can also be overwhelming. How do you whittle down your bucket list to a real RTW trip itinerary?
There are three key principles to keep in mind when you’re planning a RTW trip:
- Set your priorities
- Conduct thorough research
- Be open to changes
Table of Contents
Decide When to Go
Dreaming of where to go is the fun part, but you will also need to make decisions about when to start your RTW trip and how long you’ll be traveling. Be honest with yourself about your priorities.
When I started planning my RTW trip, I dreamt of two years on the road. It was much more realistic for me to travel for one year. I also decided I didn’t want to break my lease, which meant starting my trip in July.
Pick Your Pillars
Okay, now comes the fun part. Write out your bucket list and pick the top handful of things you want to do. You can give yourself a theme for your trip like the world’s best surf breaks or wine regions. Or if you’re like me and thrive best on variety, you’ll want to think about what experiences are the most important to you. What could you never forgive yourself for missing out on? These will be the pillars of your RTW trip itinerary — the major experiences that form the broad outline of your trip.
In its most technical sense, a RTW trip visits several continents. I decided to break my year of travel up into three four-month-long tours of Europe, Asia and South America.
These were the pillars I chose:
- hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru
- attend a traditional tea ceremony in Japan
- watch the sunset on Santorini, Greece
- swing a hammock on a beach in Bali
- zip line through the Monteverde Cloud Forest in Costa Rica
- tango in Buenos Aires, Argentina
- explore Angkor Wat in Cambodia
- stroll through the villages of Cinque Terre, Italy
- find my dad’s old house in Bangkok, Thailand
- kayak around the city walls of Dubrovnik in Croatia
- visit the Taj Mahal in India
- tour Iceland’s Golden Circle
Some of the pillars you choose will help you time your trip. For example, the best time of year to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is April or May. This was the most important thing I wanted to do, and because I already knew I needed to start my trip in July, that meant South America would be the final leg of my RTW trip itinerary.
Find Time for Slow Travel
Research Flights and Overland Routes
Understand Where You’re Willing to Make Sacrifices
Have a Backup Plan
Finalize Your RTW Trip Itinerary
You might have a lot of research ahead of you to figure out the best route for your RTW trip, but I hope this has helped you think about your priorities and develop a plan of action. Stay flexible and open to where this journey takes you! If you need more guidance on how to create your RTW trip itinerary, check out the Map It Out! Itinerary Planner workbook below.
Plan Your Own RTW Itinerary with Map It Out!
It took me months to figure out this itinerary. I know all too well the feeling of having a miles-long bucket list and no clue where to start, so I created a workbook to save you time on your own RTW trip plans. The Map It Out! Itinerary Planner will walk you through the outline of your own epic worldwide adventure. Click below for big savings on your dream trip!