p1000696-300x225-7305890Well, 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?

world-map-300x225-4519146Our 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.