First, the epiphanies.
- I am a chronic over-planner. I was trying to plan out the minutia, and this wasn’t working. It drove me absolutely and 100 percent crazy to get that granular as I plan out the bigger details too. All of the stress was making me bummed out. My new plan of attack is much simpler. As long as I know how to get from the airport to my first hostel, I’m in the clear.
- I worry too far too much. This trip should be fun, but sometimes I get in the dregs of planning panic and I forget that it’s not all so serious. I have approached this in the entirely wrong way. No more excessive stress, migraines, nor mini-panic attacks. Having a panic attack this week was a very first for me. On the advice of a friend, I am getting myself away from my computer screen and away from the non-stop trip obsessing. Balance. Even in trip planning I need to find a better balance.
- My route was overly ambitious. It is with a touch of sadness that I strike New Zealand from of my RTW travel route.
In one of my brighter moments, I posted my planned route on the forums at BoostnAll. I was hoping that the seasoned travelers would offer advice and that others who have planned a RTW trip would have a better handle on if my route seemed sane. Mind you, I think it seemed sane or I wouldn’t have planned it that way. But their responses to my itinerary were less than favorable.
Okay, who am I kidding?
To be truthful, they schooled me. Various travelers took out some time to give me an in-depth analysis about the logistics of my previous itinerary and why they didn’t think it would work well. The consensus centered on the fact that my pace was too fast. They remarked that I would never have time to relax and enjoy each country. After many of them ripped apart my route, they told me to cut out some of the route. Will I regret hitting so many countries like they say? Perhaps. I am hoping for quality of experience over quantity of countries. So I need to reassess which places are the cornerstones of my trip, and which are ones that I will visit in future travels.
This page has a full breakdown of what I learned about planning a round the world route. So far, here’s the short version of what I have learned about route planning.
- Don’t over-plan: You can easily book hostels, transportation and activities as you go.
- Leave some to chance: Travelers you meet along the way will have tips and suggestions – an open route gives you a chance to take their first-hand advice.
- Plan a general route: Hit on the continents you want and then let the overland route take shape as you travel.
- Slow down!: This was the most rampant advice that I second (now that I’m partway through the trip). Slow travel costs less, you see more, it’s more fun to meet people and get to know them and you fight travel fatigue with a slow and open route.
With all of that in mind, I am “trimming the fat” of my trip, so-to-speak. I am also looking at each country with a critical eye toward my budget. It looks like I need to drop the more costly parts of the itinerary and limit my time in Europe. Scaling back should not only save me money in the long-run, but it will give me more time in the remaining countries. So, although I’ve heard New Zealand is amazing, I am saving that for another trip. Same goes for Scandinavia — I’ll have to head that way another year.
UPDATE! I am seven months into this RTW trip and I’m endlessly grateful that I took out parts of my itinerary from the trip plan. There has not been one place yet that I have felt like I had enough time visiting. I am also very glad that I didn’t buy a RTW ticket. Although I meet travelers who are happy to have their RTW tickets, I have loved the flexibility of planning and buying plane tickets as I go! And as much as some are glad they know the fixed-costs of their flights, others wish that part-way through their trip that they could better shift their dates and route a bit.