RTW Planning Advice Needed
Replies: 11 - Last Post: Mar 3, 2012 3:29 PM Last Post By: travelinstyle46
Feb 23, 2012 4:47 AM
RTW Planning Advice NeededHi everyone.
I'm female, mid 20s and currently in the process of planning a RTW trip that I'm hoping to set out on in January 2014. I've lived abroad before but never backpacked and I think I'm running into the classic first timer error of trying to do too much in one go. I was hoping to get some advice/perspective on how realistic my itinerary is and also if there are any obvious clashes in terms of location and bad weather that I haven't thought of yet.
At the moment my route is looking as follows (start point and end point will be Dublin, Ireland):
Hong Kong & Macau - 1 week (January)
East coast of China - 4 weeks (Jan/Feb) Yangshuo, Shanghai, Beijing - am concerned about trying to travel during Chinese New Year
South Korea and Japan - 3 weeks (Feb) Sticking mainly to Seoul and Tokyo with maybe some day trips
Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia - 6 weeks (Mar/Apr)
Malaysia - 1 week (April) Kuala Lumpur & Singapore
Australia - 2 months (May & June)
New Zealand - 1 month (July) North & South Island
Fiji - 1 week (Aug)
Chile - 3 weeks (Aug) Santiago de Chile, Valparaiso
Argentina - 1 month (Sept) Mendoza, Cordoba, Buenos Aires, Iguazu Falls
Bolivia - 1 month (Oct) Salt Flats
Peru - 1 month (Nov) Inca Trail, Macchu Picchu
Ecuador & Galapagos - 2 weeks (Dec) Mostly to see the Galapagos
Brazil - 2 weeks (Dec) Rio de Janeiro
I haven't done a lot of research yet on South America so I'd love some suggestions on what do see and do there. Same goes for China. My main goal is not to see everything in every country but to get a good flavour of everywhere I go (I know two weeks isn't enough time to see Brazil!).
Thanks for your help :)
Feb 23, 2012 10:58 AM
Feb 23, 2012 1:31 PM
has the makings of a great trip, here are a few of my suggestions
- 6 weeks is a bit rushed for thailand/vietnam/lao/cambodia.....maybe sacrafice your time in Malaysia
- would def suggest adding Salta and surronding areas to your Argentina plans....easy route north of salta to cross into Bolivia, if you an outdoors person Salta a must maybe over Cordoba. Argentina is a fantastic country to travel in, though seems to be getting more expensive every year. the bus system is fantastic, travel on overnight sleeper coaches
- for a month in Bolivia you could add Potosi, Sucre, La Paz and lake titicaca to your plans.....make sure to take time to acclimtise to the high altitudes
- in july it will be cold in NZ espcially the south island, if you plan on going to Queenstown budget a lot of money, the adventure activities (bungee, sky diving etc) have blown many a tight budget, including my own.
hope this helps a bit
Feb 23, 2012 2:20 PM
3@hurricanebertha I've wanted to go for a while but due to various commitments I can't leave for another 1.5/2yrs so I've a lot of time to think about it. Plus for me half the fun is in the planning :)
@ger Thanks for all the tips. I think you're right about spending more time in SEA. It's just hard to decide how to divvy the whole year up!
Feb 23, 2012 10:22 PM
4Your time in Asia is very, very short, especially trying to do S. Korea & Japan in 3 weeks. Tokyo alone is at least a week, and there's a lot more to Japan than Tokyo (Kyoto/Nara is a must). I'd think more about what exactly you want to see in that region and try to narrow it down. If you're more interested in cultural heritage and historical sites / ruins than big cities, you'll likely want to drop Hong Kong, Macau, KL, Singapore. I loved KL, but there's a lot more to Malaysia than KL. Also, consider the time it's going to take you to travel between each place. KL to Singapore by train is around 6-8 hours, so you have to build a travel day into your one week, not to mention added expense.
Also, does your trip have to be under a year? Are you limited by time or budget?
Feb 24, 2012 12:59 AM
5Look into the best time to visit places from what I can see of your itinerary you're hitting every country at a relatively bad time. Winter in China, Korea and Japan, the hottest, most humid time in S.E.Asia, winter Australia, NZ, Chile, Argentina, the start of the rainy season in Peru...
Now many destinations can be visited year-round but there are some times better than others
Also your time in SEAsia is defintiely too short.
Having said that, given that you've got 2 years before you travel I suspect you'll be changing your plans 100 times, have fun planning!
Feb 24, 2012 3:26 AM
6Yes, your current plans will put you in Australia in winter. Places like Broome, Darwin and Cairns are all excellent places to visit in our winter time, nice and warm. But the south of the country like Adelaide, Melbourne and Tasmania will be cold.
I also suggest you try and not fly to new cities during school holidays if you are booking internal flights along the way, should help save you some money.
Feb 24, 2012 7:44 AM
Feb 24, 2012 7:35 PM
8Like Toad said in post #5.
It sounds like you've given a lot of thought to your route with consideration to distance and time, but no thought to seasons and the weather. So if you go that itinerary you'll hit more than half you're destinations during winter.
And it does involve some research, because it's not just an issue of how far north/south etc. Going to Thailand/Laos in March/April/May you're hitting the dry hot season which is probably the most uncomfortable time there, but that seems counterintuitive to anyone who's not before gone to SE Asia. Most people from Europe or North America might guess that would be a great time to travel there.
And a place like Buenos Aires in SA is ok in winter, but SO much more worthwhile in spring or fall. I think you should do some research, and go back to the drawing board.
Feb 25, 2012 8:43 AM
9Potto85, why do you have an itinerary at all?
Almost every post on a long term trip starts out with some version of 'here's my route'. While researching destinations is part of the enjoyment of travel, this fixation on itineraries leaves me cold.
Consider what the prime motivators are for travel. When all is said and done, it is not a desire to see the Taj Mahal or whatever else anyone says. It is freedom from everyday life that is the prime motivator. Not having to get up in the morning and go to work and live a regulated life. Yet the first thing people tend to do when planning their 'escape from the rat race' is plan. Where is the logic in removing the freedom from the get go?
My advice to those who can arrange for a reasonably long period of time away from 'normal' life is to do 2 things. One, when you get on that first plane to A, throw the itinerary (figuratively) out the window. Second, throw your watch out as well.
The freedom of travel is the freedom to decide what you will do today, each day, not in advance. Itineraries are for tours. Whether you go to a travel agent and book a tour or whether you plan one yourself, it is still a tour. Today is Tuesday and I will be in X. Itineraries put blinders on you to opportunities.
I always remember a young guy in a bar in the south of France. A group of travellers were standing around and one guy said he was going to take his VW camper and go to the running of the bulls in Pamplona and was looking for a couple of people to share fuel costs etc. This young guy responded with something like, 'wow, I would so love to do that but I have a reservation at a hostel in Rome on Wednesday and a flight to catch on the next Monday.' Where is the freedom in that? Chances are, that Rome would still be there next year but what are the chances that someone would offer him the opportunity to go to the running of the bulls again?
We are all conditioned by society to regulate our lives. So the first thing we do is start making a plan. Here is the plan I suggest. Plan to buy a flight ticket to somewhere that you feel will interest you. When you get to A, stay as long as need to in order to see and do everything that interests you. When you are ready to leave and not before, decide where to go next. Spend as much money as you need to in order to enjoy each day, without throwing money away. When either time or money runs out, go home.
Whether you end up visiting 20 countries or 4 countries doesn't matter. What matters is that you got the maximum enjoyment out of each day of your freedom. No one can ever visit all the places that might interest them in this world regardless of how much time they have. The oft repeated phrase, 'to see as much as possible' is often mis-applied to mean 'as MANY places as possible'. Quantity is not synonymous with 'much'. The way to see as much as possible is to spend time IN places, not between places.
A friend of a friend showed up when I was living on a Greek island. His plan was to have a base on one island and then spend 6 weeks toing and froing to various islands over 6 weeks. I helped him find a place to rent, get a rental scooter, etc. and introduced him around to a few locals. After 5 weeks he came to me and said he was really enjoying his time, had learned a lot, met some great people, etc. but had yet to leave the island for even a day. With only a week left, he felt he should see at least one other island. So I asked him what he thought going to another island would do for him other than a slight change of scenery. Would he learn more about Greek culture? Meet more interesting people? What would he gain? There was no answer. A week later he flew home having never left the island at all. Now the question is, would he have had a better experience by visiting 10 islands than he did by spending all his time on that one island? I know the answer, it is no he would not. Quantity never beats quality.
Just pack your bag and go to A patto85. You'll know when you are ready to move on and deciding where to go next won't be a problem.
Mar 2, 2012 9:19 AM
10"Just pack your bag and go to A"
It sure sounds enticing, and I am not contradicting you, since I am still new to this travelling game myself. But surely booking flights, hotels etc is normally quite a bit cheaper done in advance. And how do you find decently cheap places to stay at each place that you get to? The best places would normally be all booked up in peak season I would have thought. Seems to me that only people not worried about budget could afford to travel in this way. How many days ahead do you think when you travel like this? Do you just think 'oh I might go to Manila today' and then look for hotels once you get there? Its probably good for other people but I cant help thinking that if I tried to travel like this I'd end up paying more than I wanted to for everything and spending a lot of time looking for transport and places to stay along the way (rather than now on the internet). Am I too pessimistic?
Again, not having a go, just wondering if it would be too difficult/stressful for someone like me.
Edited by: kennardjon
Mar 3, 2012 3:29 PM
11There are certainly plenty of backpackers who do not pre-book hostels for example. They find one when they get there. While it is true that certain places at certain times of year may be busy and a room hard to find, do you plan to go from one extremely busy place to another all the time kennardjon?
Booking in advance is not necessarily cheaper. A hostel price or hotel room price generally is what it is going to be on that date. There may be a cheaper day to fly somewhere on and a best time to book but that can as easily be closer to the date than farther away from it.
For every objection you might raise an equal and opposite benefit is probably possible. For example, you might find a hotel/hostel/B&B/etc. to reserve on the internet today or you might find a better one through word of mouth on the road. I mentioned the south of France in my earlier comments. When I arrived in Antibes I found a hotel and booked for 3 nights. After a couple of days I met some other travellers who had been there for a week and they told me about a place that was a student residence Sept-June but rented out to travellers from Late June through August, by the month. I moved there the next day. I paid less per day than a hostel cost but had to pay for a month in advance.
You can travel on any budget, it just determines where you can look at and how long you can stay.
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