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Planning your big trip

Let's Travel the World

Okay, you have taken a sabbatical, or you"ve retired, or you are just sick of work and feel life is too short. Whatever your reason, you are going on that round the world trip you have always dreamed of. You will have so much fun. And have loads of new experiences. And make lots of new friends. You might even expand your view of life, the universe, and everything. By the way if you are looking for an answer to these questions it is 42.

In the last 3 years I have made two world trips, a world ski trip, a voyage to Antarctica, and a flight around the edges of the contiguous United States in a small airplane. I can confirm that travel is fun, does increase your experience with the world, and enables you to make many new friends. So what are you waiting for?

Video plan of my first world trip

Before you start you need a plan. I find planning my trips just as much fun as traveling. If you do your own planning you can: keep the costs down, ensure your best interests are always considered, and have fun researching the places you want to visit. Costs are a personal thing and can vary widely. I am happy with inexpensive accommodation and transport, most of the time. With what I save I can lash out occasionally. You need to form a personal budget and try to stick with it. For example how much are you normally prepared to spend on accommodation per night?

Video plan of my flight around the edge of America

When you plan your own travel you can design it to meet your endurance. For example if your happy with sitting on an airplane for 16 hours non-stop great. If you are like me and can do no more than 10 hour stretches then this will be incorporated in your plan. For example I have flown to and from Australia many times and I like to make the trip from San Francisco in three hops. One stop in Hawaii, one in Auckland New Zealand, and then Australia. I feel better when I get there and I get to have fun in Hawaii and New Zealand too. Your endurance can be traded against your budget.

Video plan of my second world trip

My experience using travel agents, airline ticket brokers, and tour companies has been very bad. I will not use them anymore. For example I booked my last round the world air ticket on the Star Alliance web site. This was the least expensive option and had only one glitch out of all 16 flights I made. All of the flights (except one) left and landed at times of the day that best suited me. And the ticket was still 50% cheaper than the ticket I purchased through a ticket broker for my other world trip.

The Internet is the way to go but, be careful with the site you use. Make sure you understand how they work. For example Expedia.com is a good site to book hotels worldwide. But be aware that when you book a hotel with them you have to pay upfront. My experience with getting refunds or changing bookings has been very complicated. When I booked my hotels for my Japan trip I used a local web site called: JapanHotel.net. They do not require an upfront payment, they were honest and reliable, it was easy to make changes to my plans, and their web site was simple to use. I was anxious using them at first, as I had no previous experience with them. But, I did not have a problem. I have found this with every local web company so far.

I use Google Mapsand Bing Maps extensively to plan my destinations and points of interests to visit. These two mapping sites have different things to offer. Google is great for locating hotels as it has a rating system which I found worked well. Whereas, Bing does a better job locating national parks and hiking trails.

Make sure you read the fine print on your airline ticket. When I flew from San Francisco to London I was charged $30 US for my excess baggage. I knew I was over weight as I had to pack for a 6 months trip and I had to take ski gear, winter clothes, SCUBA gear, and summer clothes. What I did not know is that when you fly with Virgin Atlantic from London to Tokyo you will have to pay £45.00 per kilogram excess baggage. I could have left all my gear at home and just bought all new equipment with the money I had to pay in excess baggage charges.

Finally I will not use tour companies again. They add to the cost, design the trips to suit themselves and not you, and they offer very little support if anything goes wrong. If you think you should pay the extra money because you have someone to sue if anything goes wrong, forget it. Keep your money, do the work yourself, and use the money to have an even better trip.

You will have the time of your life, so stop putting it off, get planning and go traveling.

"...nothing so liberalizes a man and expands the kindly instincts that nature put in him as travel and contact with many kinds of people." - Mark Twain, Letter to San Francisco Alta California, dated May 18th, 1867; published June 23, 1867

For more info:

Life, the universe, and everything

Star Alliance

Expedia.com

JapanHotel.net

Google Maps

Bing Maps

Antarctic Plan

First World Trip Plan

Flight Around the Edge of America

Second World Trip Plan


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