This is our final post in the Planning Long-Term Travel Series.
Planning Long-Term Travel Series: This weekly series breaks down the steps we have taken to plan our long-term travel. This helped make the process less daunting. We hope you find it useful in getting your long-term travel goals off the ground. If you are new to the series start here with Get Inspired.
This is one of the most fun things you will do, except for the actual traveling part, of course. It is your excuse to dream about all of the incredible places you want to visit and why you want to go there. Whether it is sipping cold drinks on warm beautiful beaches or climbing into caverns in the jungle, everything is fair game. However, it is also when things start getting real. At this stage you will go from a loose idea to a fully baked, concise itinerary and you will finally be able to answer the question, “So where are you going?” It wasn’t a quick process for us, but it has proved to be worthwhile as we continue traveling.
Although this is a lot of fun, it can be a complicated process and without care your trip can easily become unwieldy, expensive, and unrealistic. Here are some helpful tips that we used to make sure that this didn’t become an issue.
Write It All Down
Make a long list of every place you are interested in visiting, big and small. Nothing is out of bounds just yet. We used Evernote to keep track of and share where we were interested in visiting along with all of the related research we had done.
Research all of the places on your list, not just for fun things to do there, but for cost, best time to visit, and any other information that could impact your decision to go there.
Decide Why You Want To Go
Determine what kind of experience you want to have in each location. For instance, our primary focus in Buenos Aires was to live like a local and really concentrate on the city and what it has to offer, whereas in New Zealand we will be caravanning around the country. Two very different experiences with very different impacts on our trip.
Do Nothing For a While
Just digest all of the information and see what really resonates and what doesn’t.
Whittle It Down
You will probably want to remove around 50% of the destinations because if you are like us, your list got quite long. Here are some criteria that we used to do this…
Do we really think we will want to spend at least 2 weeks in this destination? One goal we had for our trip was to not be exhausted because we were constantly hopping between destinations. We wanted to get a chance to explore and really experience a place (this is still very difficult to do in a month, let alone two weeks).
Is it too expensive? Would we blow our budget by spending just a week in this location? Are their other destinations where we would be well below our budget that allow us to go to this place?
Is this destination better as a stand-alone trip? Does it require lots of preparation, research, time or money that it would be a better experience as a separate trip in the future? We decided to skip the Amazon and China for this year for these reasons.
Does it have a negative impact on a clear travel route? As you start to look into flights you will most likely find that you want to fly in certain directions so you aren’t always on incredibly long flights. Or you might find that when you are in this part of the world it isn’t a great time to visit a particular destination.
Rinse and Repeat
Take additional time to think about your itinerary some more, talk to people about it, and get feedback. We found when we shared our thoughts on itineraries that we’d get lots of great feedback that helped us determine if we were making the right decisions or not.
This whole process took us about 4-6 months and multiple versions of our itinerary before everything was solidified and we felt comfortable with buying flights for the first half of our journey. Personally, we planned our trip so that we are in each destination for at least two weeks and we are generally in each place during their low tourist season. Incidentally, this also meant that we would be in each place during their cooler weather seasons (although right now it’s about 70 degrees in Cape Town’s winter as we write this). So don’t rush into it if you don’t have to. Besides, it’s a lot of fun thinking and fantasizing about all of these different options.
Here are some additional resources that can help along the way.
Some additional bucket list ideas from SkyBambi
Cheap places to travel on the US dollar from Nomadic Matt
10 Places You Should Go While They’re Still Cheap from Huffington Post
52 Places to Go in 2014 from NY Times
How to Plan a RTW Travel Route That Makes Sense from Vagabondish
Have any questions or thoughts about building your itinerary? Shoot us a message in the comments below.