Over the past several years there’s been a rising interest in extended or round-the-world (aka, RTW) travel, perhaps because of recent innovations accessing information, or perhaps because planning travel has become a cool and nearly effortless process, but take it from me, people are achieving their dreams of long-distance travel every day. Let it be known, extended, multi-destination travel is no longer an activity reserved for the absurdly rich or pathetically directionless.
Because the long-term travel idea is working its way through the average traveler’s consciousness, today I’ve put together five very easy ways to get more enjoyment out of your commitment to undertake an extended RTW journey.
Take advantage of your resources
The travel Web seems like an overweight kid wearing five sizes too small pajamas – it’s practically bursting with travel advice. It’s wise to take advantage of these resources and single out those that cover the destinations on your itinerary. Twitter and Facebook and the rest of the social web, message boards, travel blogs and all the random 3rd party travel applications will allow you to plan with unprecedented organization and provide up to the minute guidance about places you’ll soon be.
Perhaps also ask travel bloggers directly about your favorite destinations. They couldn’t be more willing or quick to regale you with their first-hand experiences.
When your next 14-hour planning marathon ends and you realize you haven’t walked the dog in three days, it’s a sign you may be spending too much time researching. With all the channels available it’s easy to get carried away, so the best advice is not to plan more, but plan smarter.
It’s counterproductive to arrange activities or accommodations for every day of your trip, so don’t worry about it – you don’t know what life will be like once you’ve departed so it follows that you shouldn’t attempt to plan for it.
Arrange the first couple days in each new location and your major events and activities, then let the rest fall into place.
Don’t try and do too much
Overloading your travel calendar with items is one of the more common planning failures we see at AirTreks because it forces you to do everything you planned for, subsequently destroying any ability to travel at a leisurely pace. It also establishes a chaotic traveling regime that’s largely impossible to maintain. Not only do more flights equal more money thereby making the trip unnecessarily expensive, but a huge must-see list reduces rich and diverse foreign cultures to mere items on a list to be checked off. You don’t want that.
Pretend this trip isn’t your one and only chance to see the world and let it be life-affirming as it will without breaking your neck trying to get everywhere. Leave it to future trips to fill in your map’s blank spots. Remember, the world is huge and life is long. Don’t let your eyes be bigger than your stomach. So to speak.
Don’t try and go too fast
It’s not possible to understand France by having lunch on the Eiffel Tower, nor is it possible to comprehend the majesty of India from a photo stop at the Taj Mahal. The best way to really grasp a place is to imbibe it – that is to say, get it from as many perspectives as possible.
Spending time in a place to see its machinations, the gears of it culture, will leave a far deeper impression on you than a whirlwind photo tour could ever do. To travel slowly is to grasp these things. Slowness breeds spontaneity and spontaneity breeds serendipity. Give yourself time to be spontaneous.
Our advice for multi-destination trips is generally this:
• 0 – 2 month trip: 1 – 5 stops
• 2 – 3 month trip: 5 – 8 stops
• 3 – 6 month trip: 8 – 10 stops
• 6+ month trip: 10 – 12 stops
Generally it’s not advisable to crunch more than a dozen places into any one trip. But these figures will allow you time to really get to the heart of the place you’re visiting.
Don’t confuse economy with value
Yes, they’re different. One means you spent less than your brother did on his trip, and the other means, unlike your brother, you’ll never be cabbing in traffic between London airports on a panicked 2-hour layover. A little extra money spent can save you incalculable hassle when you most need it, while you’re traveling. Certainly a trip is more enjoyable when you feel comfortable about the amount you paid for it but please don’t forget that the cheapest option does not always equal the best option, especially when it comes to airfare.
Doing it yourself may be a trendy and pleasantly ego-caressing pursuit, but it can also result in unexpected problems later on. Why is my ticket canceled? What’s this stopover in Uzbekistan? Why is Delta telling me I can’t take my surfboard on the plane? A little experience from an established service can go a long way in bringing you a smoother, more enjoyable trip. In other words, this may not be the moment to prove your independence. Let someone else help you. There’s no shame in that, especially when you’re the one with their own surfboard in Bali.
This was a guest post by Nico Crisafulli, the world traveler and writer behind the travel blog for AirTreks, which helps travelers put together multi-stop and round-the-world trips. Check out their blog for travel news, inspiration and tips..