How To Plan A RTW Itinerary
I am sure this is a common problem, but I am currently torn between trying to cram as much as possible into our year away so as not to miss anything out, but also wanting to travel slowly and really get to know the places we visit.
Having started with the expectation that we would buy a RTW flight ticket, I am now veering more towards buying a one-way ticket for the first leg of our journey and then taking it from there. I prefer the idea of having more flexibility as we travel, so that we don’t have to stick rigidly to whatever itinerary I might try to create in advance.
The beauty of having a year away from the real world should be that we have total freedom over how we choose to spend our time, so I really want to make sure that any advanced planning doesn’t constrain a spur of the moment decision to go “off plan” or stay somewhere for more or less time than expected.
So, why bother trying to create a plan at all? There are some practicalities that I’d feel happier at least considering in advance of departure to try to get the most out of our time:
- Visa requirements – try to save some time on the road by organising what we can in advance
- Vaccinations – need to make sure that all of us are fully boosted up for likely destinations
- Weather – trying to maximise time spent in more favourable conditions, while accepting that it might still rain occasionally
- Peak bookings – this might be trickier, but conscious that we will inevitably land in some countries during busy seasons, so we might need to plan slightly further ahead to secure somewhere to stay
Based on originally hoping to leave the UK in July, I created a really neat itinerary that saw us travelling round the world in a very logical anti-clockwise direction. Starting in the USA and Canada during summer, reaching Central America for around November (start of dry season), before heading south to New Zealand and Australia and then heading back home through Asia and India. Perfect.
However, due to our house sale taking slightly longer than we expected, I have now crafted a slightly more convoluted route based on a March 2017 departure. This sees us heading in the opposite direction from originally planned, heading out through New Zealand / Australia, before arriving in the USA and Canada in time for summer, and then coming back through Asia.
I appreciate this is not the most efficient route in terms of miles covered, because we are effectively travelling almost twice round the world rather than doing one neat loop. But I have tried to make the most of the places we would like to visit by aiming to arrive during the time of year that should give us the best combination of weather v crowds.
March 2017 – Depart UK
- Depart UK – this is the easy bit to plan
- Italy – Naples & Rome
We want to start heading south to warm up a bit, but have decided to begin with a relatively short hop to Italy. We have been to Italy before, but not with the kids, so this should be a gentle introduction to our trip with great food thrown in for good measure.
Plan is to start at Naples so that we can visit Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius, before taking the train to Rome to soak up some history and ice-cream.
After a couple of weeks in Italy, we are planning a short stopover in Dubai, before heading all the way to New Zealand.
March to May 2017 – Down Under
- New Zealand – North & South Islands
- Australia – Perth / Adelaide / Melbourne
A whole month to explore New Zealand, which is somewhere that I have always wanted to visit. I like the idea of being remote, even though Anja says that she won’t move there…yet!
I used to work for a very good bloke who came from Tasmania. Goodness knows why he decided to work with me. The idea of visiting the home of the Tasmanian Devil has struck me as a good idea ever since.
Aiming to arrive into Australia in time for Autumn, when the weather should still be reasonably warm by our standards.
Anja and I have both visited Australia previously, but neither of us made it to Perth, so we will start here. I have family in Adelaide, so this is also a must, but then we can see where the wind blows us.
June 2017 – Road Trip USA
- USA – West Coast from LA to Seattle
Everywhere looks a long way from Australia, so we’ll be in for a long flight at some point, but may break up the journey with a stop-over in Hawaii while we’re passing!
I’d love to take a really long road trip across the USA at some point, but the kids get a nose bleed when we try to drive across Gloucestershire, so I might have to save this one for another time. Having said that, we can’t go on a family gap-year without spending some quality time together in a camper van. So I have sketched out a nice route in my mind that leads all the way from LA to Seattle.
July 2017 – British Columbia
- Canada – Vancouver, Vancouver Island, Rockies
Vancouver was one of the first places on our wish list when we first decided to take this trip, and so we have set aside four weeks to explore this corner of Canada.
August 2017 – Almost Back Home
- Canada – Eastern coast, Nova Scotia & New Brunswick
Probably the closest we will come on our trip, both geographically and culturally, to home. Surprising fact alert – Canada’s eastern coast is closer to London than Vancouver. This is where the Vikings landed in North America and where plenty of Irish and Scots followed.
August feels like a good time to visit, on the basis that it is bloody freezing for the other eleven months of the year. I may exaggerate slightly, but we are trying to avoid too much cold and rain on this trip because we can get plenty of that at home whenever we fancy.
September 2017 – New England
- USA – New England, Boston, New York
A trip through New England in September is on the list, along with a visit to Boston and New York to take in some city life.
October 2017 – The Caribbean
- USA – South / Florida
- Some Islands
I’m starting to get a little sketchy on details by this point. In my defence, I am writing this in 2016 and it is a little hard to pin down precisely where we will be sleeping in a year’s time.
We are aiming for Central America in November, so potentially a good time to start heading south.
October is still hurricane season in the Caribbean, but there are some islands that we could aim for that are usually out of the wind, e.g. Trinidad / Dutch Antilles.
November 2017 – Central America
- Costa Rica
Very excited about all of the trip, but I’m hopeful that Central America will be a highlight and a good chance to practice some of my (extremely basic) spanish.
December 2017 to February 2018 – Second Honeymoon
- South East Asia
- Sri Lanka
Our first, real honeymoon, was in Goa, India. We have three months at the end of our trip to explore South East Asia and India with the kids. Again, this seems a very long way off at the moment, so I’ll leave the details for slightly nearer the time.
Finally, hoping to combine some rest and relaxation on the beach in Sri Lanka with some opportunities to spot wildlife. Sri Lanka may be a culture shock for the kids, because they have never really left the confines of Europe, but broadening all of our horizons is one of the main reasons for taking this journey.