While the thought of going travelling fills me with so much excitement I could spontaneously combust into a million of pieces of globe-shaped rainbow confetti, I did find the prospect of actually planning the trip quite daunting. It seemed an impossible task, and I had no idea where to even start. Luckily for me, with Pete having done 6 months solo travelling before, he was a dab hand at the planning side and was able to guide me through it and together I think we’ve found a good balance to our plan; enough structure that we will get the most of our time, but not too much that it restricts us from any spur-of-the-moment fun to be had.
I doubt I’m the only person who finds the thought of planning a long term trip slightly terrifying so in a bid to help and encourage others to take the leap, here are the steps we went through to book our trip.
1. Decide the duration of the trip
We started out by deciding how long we wanted our trip to last. For us, anything over a couple of months would have required us to quit our jobs, and give up the lease on our rented house so it made sense for us to make the most of the opportunity and go for as long as possible.
Depending on your circumstances such as ability to save, job flexibility and personal responsibilities, the duration of your trip will be different. Be sure to pick a duration that you are comfortable with.
2. Decide Budget and Rough travel date
I think the budget and travel date go hand in hand, with 1 always informing the other. For us, we looked online at other travel blogs, and average round-the-world tickets and agreed that a budget of £20,000 should be enough to allow us to travel for a year without working. Once we had the target saving amount, we looked at how much we could realistically save each month and therefore what date we could depart.
This worked for us as we were free to pick our departure date, but that may not be the case for everyone. If you already have a departure date in mind, then you just need to work out how much you can save between now and then.
3. Create a wishlist of places to visit and then Prioritise
We wrote down all of the countries on our bucket list, the list was long! We then did some research in to average cost of flights, hostels, visa requirements and living costs in each place. Once we had a rough idea how costly each place would be, we prioritised the list. For example, our original list included a lot more European countries but they were so much more expensive than the South East Asian countries. With some more further research and compromise, we narrowed our list down to the places we wanted to visit most and that we were comfortable were within our budget. Don’t forget to include the cost of vaccinations, travel insurance and overseas bank fees in to our budget estimates.
The resources below can help narrow down your list;
4. Create a high level itinerary
We created a spreadsheet that listed all the countries we wanted to visit, how long we would be staying and added in the details of how we would get there; flight, boat, train etc. This really helped to understand our costs, and we later updated it and used it to record our booking details. We could easily track what we had paid for, what was outstanding and how this impacted our overall budget.
5. Shop around before booking
Before we booked our first flight, we did a lot of research with different price comparison sites, and played with slight alternations to dates and the order of countries we would visit. We compared the cost of a number of multi-stop flight tickets, against the cost of booking each flight individually. For us, it was much cheaper to book ourselves, but depending on your route and dates, it could save you a lot of money.
When it comes to accommodation, don’t rely on hostels having the cheapest prices, make sure you research other options too, such as work-for-rent options and couch surfing. For the Australian leg of our trip, we have combined our accommodation and internal travel costs by hiring a camper van for the duration. Not only has this saved us a huge amount of money, it has also given us more freedom to explore at our own pace.
Our trusty flight comparison sites;
Hostel comparison sites;
Other handy things to remember
- Make sure you book your vaccinations in early with your GP. If you leave it too late you may not get an appointment and end up paying over the odds to have them done elsewhere or not being able to get some vaccinations at all.
- Shop around and find the bank account/credit card offering the best rates for use abroad
- 2 things not to cut corners on; backpacks and decent walking shoes
- Don’t always chose the cheapest travel insurance. Make sure the policy you purchase covers all of the countries you plan to visit and activities you are likely to do.