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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Planning a RTW Trip

It's been a few weeks since the idea of trotting around the globe first came to me. Now that it's only a few days until I begin my hop around the world, I wanted to share a few thoughts/tidbits to anyone who's thinking about their own round-the-world (RTW) trip.

  1. It takes a lot more work and time than you think! 
  2. Figure out where you want to go. A great way to start is to look at the airline alliances' websites as they have great planning tools to let you know which routes are feasible and which are not for a RTW ticket (to learn more about what RTW tickets are, check out this site). The alliances include oneworld, Star Alliance, and SkyTeam.
  3. After you figured out where you want to go, contact a travel agent to confirm your routes or to get ideas on routes. I've found it to be enormously cheaper to buy from third-party travel agents and not from the airline alliances themselves. AirTreks and Air Brokers International are both good places to check out - although I've found AirTreks to be cheaper. AirTreks also includes travel insurance on all its tickets.
  4. Just because you have flight tickets doesn't mean you're going anywhere. Check out the State Department's website to figure out whether you'll need a visa for the countries you're heading to, how to get the visas if needed, and how much (believe me, this can eat away at your time/money if you're not careful)!
  5. Some folks may want to wait until they land at the airport to figure out where to stay and some may want to plan ahead. Even for the former, it's a good idea to virtually scout a few places ahead of time to get a sense of what's to be expected. TripAdvisor, Agoda, and Hostels.com are a few good places to start.
  6. After you've landed, transportation is just as important. Depending on where you're going, taxis won't necessarily be around every corner. Seat61 is an invaluable resource for learning how to travel via train in many regions of the world - e.g., train schedules, how to bypass certain restrictions, etc. 
  7. If you're surface traveling within the European Union, then it may be cost effective to purchase an Eurail ticket. Depending on the pass you select, it'll let you travel to basically any country within the EU without having to make a separate purchase each time - at the full price. Be forewarned, for some routes you'll still have to make an advanced reservation and hand over a small fee to do so. To see if the routes you're planning to take require a reservation, check out SCOTTY.
  8. It's time for coffee, so to be continued...


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