Where Will We Go…Building The Itinerary

04.October 2008

Itinerary

Well, that’s the big question isn’t it? Where will we go? The world is a big space and, even given a year to travel, we can’t see it all.

As much as traveling the world is supposed to be a serendipitous adventure, for us, there still must be a rough itinerary that blocks out where will we will be and the ‘must sees’ of each area. This was an overwhelming notion for me as it seemed that every time I started I would get bogged down in the details – and I can’t be worrying about little details a year before we even leave!!

Note: This post is a composite of some journal entries that I wrote while we worked out our preliminary itinerary earlier this year.

09May2008 – Where Will We Go?

Our first step was to purchase a world map, lay it out on the floor and stare at it for a few long days. Then we each placed 12 sticky arrows onto the map indicating countries we would like to visit. There were some overlapping and some that each of us chose individually. We also each indicated which might be ‘must do’s’ – for Jason, this is Spain, with hopefully some language training included – and for me, this is India, a country that has always fascinated me.

The next step was to get some books and do some research on these regions.

  • What is the weather pattern?
  • What is the best time of year?
  • What regions are most interesting?
  • What is the estimated daily budget?

This research was to help us include and exclude countries as we noticed patterns and trends that would determine an itinerary.

01June2008 – Overwhelmed!

We had been poring over guide books for the better part of a month by this time. There were more than a few days of anxiety and a general sense of being overwhelmed. There were just so many factors to consider and no clear answer to any of our questions.

We had managed to develop a very rough itinerary though:

  • South America – Peru, Bolivia Argentina – 3 mos
  • Europe – Spain through to Hungary – 2 mos
  • Turkey – 1 mos
  • India – primarily the north – 2 mos
  • SE Asia – Thailand, Laos, Vietnam – 3 mos
  • Australia – 1 mos

Then we had to figure which months to go where and how much each country will cost. This would mean adding some countries and deleting others but we hoped that with this as a starting point that it would be a little clearer than just letting it all run around in our heads.

It felt like we were on our way and, even though sometimes we were overwhelmed, I just told myself that it’s supposed to be overwhelming when you decide to sell your house, put your job on hold and travel around the world! If it wasn’t, everyone would be doing it.

06June2008 – Another Look at the Budget

I was starting to feel less overwhelmed. After realizing that the airline tickets were going to be considerably more expensive than we’d thought, J took a closer look at the budget. Using a combination of guide books, websites and travel blogs, he put together a generous ‘cost per day’ for each country we’d planned on visiting. Generous meaning budgeting higher level accommodation and eating than we will likely partake in so that actual budget numbers will be less, leaving us a lot of room for ‘extras’.

I could then work through the rough itineraries for each country, factoring in some of the ‘extras’, and get a general idea of where the money will go.

This meant taking a serious look at some of the more expensive countries we had planned. Europe is, by far, the most expensive place on our list and so it has been seriously curtailed. Our month in Spain taking spanish lessons has now turned into two weeks in Lima, Peru learning the language. And, instead of traveling across Europe to end up in Hungary, we are now going to spend 3 weeks in Germany to see where J’s maternal family is from, and hope that J’s parents will join us to show us around.

It’s hard to decide what to leave in and what to cut…but it really does all come down to the almighty dollar in the end. There is no getting away from that, even when trying to get away from it all!

10June2008 – Making It Manageable

So, we broke it down into more manageable pieces. After looking closely at the budget, we determined how long we thought we would be in each area/country. Then we looked at climate/seasonality chart to determine when it would be best to be in each country looking at weather patterns, high/low season and ‘travel flow’. We picked a departure date (b/c at some point a date must be set…it can’t be ‘someday’ forever!) – 01June2009 – and then we blocked out when we would be in each country.
And so, a high level itinerary is emerging – still subject to change, and still plenty of detail to fill in:
  • South America – Peru, Chile, Argentina – 3 mos
  • Germany – 3 weeks
  • Turkey -5 weeks
  • India – primarily the north – 10 weeks
  • SE Asia – Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia – 3.5 mos
  • Japan – 2 weeks

More detailed planning and research will occur as we get closer to each country we visit. This will allow us to benefit from talking to people on the road and hearing their recommendations. Really though, we can’t go wrong – everywhere we go will be somewhere we haven’t been before and an experience we haven’t had before – sweating about the details isn’t worth it.

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11 Responses to “Where Will We Go…Building The Itinerary”

  1. JP Jones Says:

    Wherever you go.. take us with you!!! please!! I can carry all your heavy stuff!

    JP

  2. Shawn Says:

    Great idea and route, I am in Turkey right now and you will enjoy the country if you choose to visit, the Kackar Mountains are beautiful if you get that way.

    Just wondering if you don’t mind I ask, most people that are traveling for a year seem to not travel Egypt, Jordan, or Syria. Egypt and Syria is very cheap and safe, Jordan is a little more expensive, although cheaper than Turkey.

    Just wondering on your thoughts considering that Egypt is has the oldest standing monuments and is the second oldest civilization in the world. Although, Egypt is more of a hassle to travel, it is very safe and the Egyptians really like Americans.

  3. Linda Says:

    Hi,

    Me and Katelyn want to know “where you will be spending Christmas in 2009??”

    Linda

  4. Gillian Says:

    JP: That’s quite the offer – depending on how much we pack, we may need to take you up on that!!

    Shawn: I don’t have a ‘good’ reason to not include Jordan, Syria or Egypt. When planning our itinerary this time they just didn’t come up. Perhaps it’s b/c we don’t know anyone who has traveled there? Perhaps b/c we don’t know enough about the area? More than likely it’s b/c, even with a year, we can’t go everywhere…we’ll have to leave somewhere for next time ;-) Thanks for the thoughts though, we’ll keep it in mind.

    Linda and Katelyn: We’ll be in India at Christmas time next year. I don’t know what Christmas will look like there – probably quite different than here don’t you think? Do you think we’ll have a Christmas tree?

  5. Michelle Says:

    Hey guys, that’s awesome, and I can only imagine how hard it is to plan it out. Every region means something different to everyone and I’m glad you were able to keep the ones that are important to you. Can’t wait to hear more. On the middle east – I know a couple people who have travelled there and did love it. But like you said, you can’t go everywhere (or you could try and you’d be DOA back home).

    Looking forward to reading more…

  6. Shawn Says:

    I agree a person cannot go every place or region, although I was just wonder the common thought or view of the Middle East, because from reading many blogs, most one year travelers don’t visit the Middle East including Egypt.

    Even though, your route looks great and will be very diverse in culture and cuisine.

  7. eoff Says:

    Sounds very much like the process I’ve been through over the past six months, I now have an itinerary sorted and the main thing left to do now is buy the tickets and then hope March 2009 comes round quickly, the waiting is the worst bit (despite all my best efforts to keep busy with reading and planning and trips in the interim).

    Looks like a great trip you have planned – the only one of those countries I’ve travelled extensively is Laos so get in touch if you need any advice!

  8. Anil Says:

    I am very excited about your trip!

    I think one of the best places to cut back is on food – local market and grocery shopping not only saves you money but exposes you to a variety of new foods and tastes.

  9. Christine Gilbert Says:

    I love this itinerary! Don’t worry, it’ll keep changing. Have you guys decided if you’ll buy a RTW ticket or just buy individual ones?

  10. Stevo | China Travel Says:

    Wow! What a trip.

    South-east Asia is great. Thailand, especially the north, is a favorite of mine. If you make it to Hong Kong drop me a line, we can meet up.

  11. Cam Says:

    Hey,

    I strongly suggest that you add Japan to your itinerary. It’s fantastic.