Sunset in Zambia
How do you plan a round-the-world itinerary? That's always the question at the top of the Bootsnall message board for RTW travelers and everybody's got an opinion. You should "not plan," some say, while others tell you to have a "vague notion" of where you're going, and others say that you should plan down to the nitty gritty. You would think that, now, after planning a RTW trip and being a self-acknowledged planaholic, I would know how to plan a RTW itinerary. You would think that, considering I get at least an email every couple of weeks asking me to review travel itineraries, I would know about the pitfalls and the successes of a great RTW itinerary. You would be wrong. The truth is, I don't have any good advice for you on planning a round-the-world itinerary.
The reason: there are no rules in planning a RTW itinerary.
This is your trip. Your travel. Your dream.
There is no wrong answer to a RTW itinerary. If you are a planner --- that is, the sort of person who likes to know exactly where you are going to be on every day of your trip, don't let people tell you that you're a bad RTW traveler. (We did that in our first three months and it worked out just fine.) If you're a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pantser, that works, too. (We flew by the seat of our pants in most of Asia and it worked out generally great.) Whatever you decide, it is your trip.
And, the truth that nobody really mentions is that there are as many ways to travel around the world as there are people interested in traveling RTW. Don't believe me? Check out some of the unique RTW combinations out there:
Gary from Everything Everywhere: 90 countries in 48 months over 6 continents. (This includes some short stays as well. You can check out his very impressive lists of where he has been over here. I should really put something like this together for ourselves because I have no idea how many countries I've been to in my life.)
Audrey and Dan from Uncornered Market: 65+ countries in 48 months over 7 (!) continents. Yeah, they're totally our role models.
Danny and Jillian from I Should Log Off: 50 countries in 22 months over 6 continents.
Michael from Go See Write: 44 countries in 16 months over 6 continents, using entirely overland transportation.
Manali and Terry from Manali and Terry: 27 countries in 12 months over 4 continents.
Dave from The Longest Way Home: 18 countries in 72 + months over 2 continents.
Keith and Amy from Green Around the Globe: 17 countries in 10 months over 4 continents.
Gillian and Jason from One Giant Step: 14 countries in 12 months over 4 continents.
The Vogel Family from Family on Bikes: 14 countries in 34 months over 2 continents, entirely on bicycles from the northernmost point in Alaska to the southernmost point of Argentina.
Me and Patrick: 13 countries in 13 months over 4 continents. And, we spent 2-3 months in a specific region, returned home to the United States to check in on Chewy and Abby, and left to go to another region. We never purchased a RTW ticket, instead using discretely purchased transcontinental flights when we wanted.
Ayngelina from Bacon is Magic: 9 countries in 12 months in 1 continent. She just hit her one year traveliversary!