Many travel-lovers dream of round the world travel — of one day escaping their 9-to-5 commitments and exploring the globe freely. A few years ago, I was among them.
That is, until I made the round the world trip of a lifetime come true.
In 2017, I packed my belongings into a 40-liter backpack and set off for a trip around the world. I flew to Paris on a one-way ticket for what would become a 10-month trip across Europe, South America and Asia. In just 300 days, I was able to explore three continents, 22 countries and countless cities.
It was the single most rewarding experience I have ever had, and I’m now determined to help make others’ round the world travel dreams come true!
Here you’ll find everything you need to know about round the world travel, including a step-by-step guide on how to plan your own trip, how to pack for a world trip and my own rtw trip itinerary for inspiration.
I also answer everyone’s most burning question: How much does a round the world trip actually cost? (Spoiler: It can actually be a lot more affordable than you may think!)
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ROUND THE WORLD TRAVEL
HOW TO PLAN A ROUND THE WORLD TRIP?
It’s not easy to plan a trip around the world, but I promise you it’s worth it. When I first thought of quitting my job to travel, I had no idea where to start. After months and months of research, I finally began mapping out my own trip.
I’ve now broken down the entire rtw trip planning process into seven (somewhat) simple steps!
- Decide where to go
- Create a backpacking route
- Determine how long the trip will last
- Identify a trip budget
- Create a savings plan
- Let go of current commitments
- Buy that one-way ticket!
Check out my RTW trip planner, where I break down each planning step for you.
HOW MUCH DOES A ROUND THE WORLD TRIP COST?
Ah, my most frequently asked question: How much does a round the world trip actually cost? The truth may actually surprise you!
Round the world travel certainly isn’t cheap. With smart planning, however, a round the world trip can become as affordable as you want it to be.
There are several factors that impact the total cost of your round the world trip, including geographical location, mode of transportation, pace of travel, accommodation and eating habits, among others.
Generally, your trip costs will fall within one of these 7 categories:
- Accommodation: Hotels, hostels and Airbnb.
- Transportation: Long transcontinental flights, plus any flights taken within a country. Also includes trains, boats and buses.
- Local Transportation: Buses, taxis and ride-sharing services taken within a city.
- Food: Restaurants and groceries.
- Entertainment/Activities: Everything from grabbing a drink at a bar to a sightseeing tour.
- Pre-Trip Costs: Travel insurance, vaccines, visas, etc.
Overall, my 10-month backpacking trip around the world cost me $18,559. This number breaks down to an average of $62 per day, including all of the expenses above. You can find a full breakdown of my trip costs here.
HOW TO PACK FOR ROUND THE WORLD Travel?
The first thing you’ll want to do when packing for a round the world trip is figure out if you’re bringing a rolling bag or a backpack. There are pros and cons to both, and I personally chose the latter.
Whichever you choose, I recommend keeping the bag small enough to bring with you on a plane. Traveling around the world requires quite a bit of plane travel, and checked bag fees quickly add up.
When it comes down to packing, the general rule of thumb is to always pack for a week’s worth of travel, regardless of how long your trip will be. That means limiting yourself to seven or so days worth of clothing (and doing plenty of laundry along the way).
Another tip to keep your luggage as small and lightweight as possible is to carefully plan your route around warm destinations. Summer clothing is a lot easier to carry than heavy winter gear, which is why so many world travelers choose to chase summer across the globe.
Here’s my personal round the world packing list, featuring every clothing item and essential travel products I brought with me on my trip.
HOW TO PLAN YOUR ROUND THE WORLD ITINERARY?
The first step in creating your round the world trip itinerary is deciding where you want to go. This is also the most exciting step!
I recommend making a list of every country and/or city you’ve dreamt of visiting. Then place these locations on the map to see if there’s a feasible route you can create between them.
There are a few factors to consider to plan the smartest, most cost effective round the world trip route:
- The number of transcontinental flights you’ll need to purchase
- Following one global direction
- The weather in each destination
It’s best practice to create a route that follows one global direction: east or west. For example, if you’re based in the U.S., you could start your trip in Europe. From there you could continue onto Southeast Asia and then to South America and back — literally circumventing the globe. You can find my actual round the world trip itinerary here.
Once you’ve decided on a route, you want to take a look at each city on your list and decide how long you want to spend in each. Add all those days up and you’ve got yourself your ideal trip duration.