Plan your
round the world trip
Planning a round the world trip

Planning a round the world trip: 20 sample itineraries

The most enjoyable part of preparing for a round-the-world trip is planning your itinerary. In this article we’ll explain, in detail, how to go about it and what mistakes you should avoid. We’ll also give you some examples of trips which you’ll be able to draw inspiration from.

Definition

In travelling forums and Facebook groups, you can read endless amounts of debates on the “real” definition of a round-the-world trip. In this article, we’ll stick to Macmillan’s dictionary: “Going round the world, and returning to the place that you started from.”

Doing a round-the-world trip doesn’t necessarily mean going to every country in the world, nor does it mean visiting every continent. For example, if you start in Europe and only go to Asia and America by crossing the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean, it’s still regarded as a round-the-world trip.

Our study

Between 17th and 20th May 2019, we carried out a huge study among 1435 people who’ve done a long trip. We asked them numerous questions about their itinerary. For the majority of the following statistics, we’ve only kept the responses relating to round-the-world trips (so about half), since that is the real topic of this article. The other responses will be used for future articles. Find out more about our methodology

Most visited continents

Infographie : les continents visités par les tourdumondistes

The most visited destinations by european globetrotters are the furthest away from Europe: South America, Southeast Asia, New Zealand and Australia.

Indeed, when we go on this type of trip we often pick countries which are further away, and which we’ll have less likelihood of visiting on future holidays. What’s more, Europeans don’t need a visa for the majority of these countries.

Just over half of european globetrotters go to North America. Perhaps this is due to the fact that America and Canada are expensive, and they have a similar culture to Europe. Central American countries, on the other hand, undoubtedly suffer because of their dangerous reputation.

Africa is largely avoided. Contrary to popular belief, travelling in Africa is actually quite expensive. What’s more, passing through this continent increases the price of plane tickets, as it requires a large detour. In addition, the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FDCO) Travel Advice advise against all but essential travel to many countries in Africa, classifying them as orange or red zones.

Travellers don’t really go to the Middle-East or Central Asia because of their proximity to Europe. They’re also less visited because these areas are unknown and there’s not a lot of media coverage of them. Moreover, some of their countries are difficult to access or considered dangerous.

Finally, Europe isn’t usually visited during a round-the-world trip. European, globetrotters are looking for a taste of the exotic and feel that there’ll be more time to visit their own continent after their world tour.

Most visited countries

We asked our globetrotters which countries they visited. We’re not necessarily advising you to go to the same countries as everyone else, but it’s always interesting to see what other travellers did.

Zoom sur les îles du Pacifique

The Pacific Islands are barely visible on the map. So, here are the percentages of globetrotters who went to each archipelago (unfortunately, we forgot Hawaii in our study).

  • Easter Island: 34%
  • French Polynesia: 31%
  • New-Caledonia: 15%
  • Galapagos Islands: 8%
  • Fiji: 6%
  • Vanuatu: 3%
  • Cook: 1%
  • Tonga: 1%
  • Papua New-Guinea: 1%
  • Micronesia: 1%
  • Salomon: 0%
  • Samoa: 0%
  • Tuvalu: 0%
  • Marshall: 0%
  • Kiribati: 0%
  • Nauru: 0%

Favourite countries

We asked our globetrotters what their favourite countries were during their trip. For each country, we divided the amount of times each country was mentioned in the top three by the number of respondents who’ve visited this country. Therefore, we were able to identify frequent travellers’ favourite countries.

The number of respondents is low for some countries because very few travellers visit them. When there are less than 30 respondents, the margin for error is increased. However, by setting a threshold of 30 respondents, there would have only been very touristy areas in our ranking, and we thought that was a shame.

By our calculation method, a country that is visited by a lot of globetrotters is no more likely to be more highly rated than a country that is rarely visited. For that matter, among the ten favourite countries of respondents, only one – New Zealand – is part of the ten most visited countries.

It’s true, travellers tend to prefer less touristy countries where the locals are often warmer and more sincere. So, we advise you to draw inspiration from this ranking, and include less visited countries in your itinerary.

Take a look at our globetrotters favourite countries

Events

We asked our globetrotters about the main events they went to during their trip. If you want to go to a festival in a specific city or country, you can include it in your itinerary. This can be a great experience, but you may lose some flexibility, as you’ll have to be in a certain place at a certain time.

Event Date
Chinese New Year in China and all over Southeast Asia End of January
Tapati Festival on Easter Island in Chile Beginning of February
Flower Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand Beginning of February
Shivarati in Nepal End of February
Rio Carnival in Brazil End of February
Barranquilla’s Carnival in Colombia End of February
Holi in India Beginning of March
Nyepi (Balinese New Year) in Bali and Indonesia End of March
Sakura (Cherry Blossom) in Japan End of March – Beginning of April
Kanamara Matsuri (Festival of the Steel Phallus) in Kawasaki, Japan Beginning of April
Holy Week (Semana Santa) in Latin America Beginning of April
Songkran, Pi Mai or Buddhist New Year (Water Festival) in Thailand, Burma, Cambodia, Laos and Sri Lanka Beginning of April
Khmer (Cambodian New Year) in Cambodia Mid-April
Ramadan in Muslim countries April in 2022
Inti Raymi (Sun Festival) in Peru End of June
Funeral Ceremonies in Sulawesi, Indonesia from July to September
Mama Negra in Latacunga, Ecuador End of September
Diwali (Festival of Lights) in India End of October
Halloween in English-speaking countries End of October
Dia de los muertos (Day of the Dead) in Latin America, particularly Mexico Beginning of November
Loy Krathong (Festival of Lights) all over Southeast Asia Mid-November
Full Moon Party in Kho Phangan, Thailand Every month

Departure and return month

Globetrotters usually start their travels between August and January. There’s a peak in January after New Year’s celebrations, and another in September after summer holidays.

They generally come back in spring or summer. Coming back in these seasons helps to lighten any holiday blues that are linked to a change in climate – after spending months and months in glorious sunshine, it can be quite depressing to come back to a rainy country.

Infographie mois de départ en tour du monde
Infographie mois de retour de tour du monde

Which way?

Among the respondents of our survey, there were almost as many travellers who took their trip from west to east as there were those who did it from east to west.

Which direction you decide to take depends on the departure date, as well as the seasons in the countries you go through. So, it’s mainly a question of weather.

Infographie sens des tours du monde

Planning you itinerary

When you’re planning your round-the-world trip itinerary, we advise you to take the following four steps:

1. Look for inspiration

Go and speak to your fellow traveller friends, read all of those travel blogs, forums and Facebook groups that you’ve been meaning to, and buy those travel guides and magazines you’ve always wanted. Perhaps then watch some relevant television programs, and listen to radio programs and podcasts. You can even look at UNESCO’s World Heritage Map. All of these inspiring resources will give you food for thought.

2. Make an initial list

When making an initial list of all the countries, places, events, and experiences that you’d like to visit, attend and experience, make sure that it’s pretty extensive. At this stage of the planning, there are no limits. If there are several of you going on the trip, you can each make your own list. Once you think your list is finished, then start to rank it by prioritising what you really want to do at the top and what you’re willing to give up at the bottom.

3. Put your lists together

If there are two (or more) of you, once everyone has completed their list you’ll need to compare your dream destinations. Places that come up on both of your lists are the easiest to choose. Then try to bridge the gap between each of your shared countries with countries that have only been chosen by one of you. It’s best to create an itinerary with as many bordering countries as possible. If you’re travelling with your family, you can involve your children in the decision-making by giving them the opportunity to choose a country.

4. Get rid of countries

This is possibly the most difficult step. Unless you’re willing to have a list as long as your arm and fancy dashing through each destination, you’re going to have to give up some countries. Start by getting rid of the countries which are far away from the majority of the places on your itinerary. In the rest of this article, we’ll review different criteria which will help you develop your itinerary further. This includes trip duration and pace, budget, transport, climate, safety and security, visas, borders and carbon footprint.

Budget

Money is usually the biggest constraint. In order to know which countries you can travel around and how much time you can spend there, you need to know what your budget is.

You can calculate the total amount of money that you have for a trip by analysing your savings, and by looking into any potential sources of funding that you can get your hands on (from family or sponsors, selling or renting your accommodation, travel grants, loans, pension…).

At the end of the day, your budget will heavily influence your choices. If it’s limited, you’ll need to visit cheaper countries, take less flights, opt for more economical means of transport and / or go on a shorter trip.

We’ve dedicated a whole article to budgeting your money. In it you can find globetrotters’ average expenses country by country. This will be very useful when you’re planning your itinerary.

Take a look at our article on budgets

Budget Tour Du Monde

You can’t travel without a pretty penny!

Transport

The type of transport you take will also greatly influence your itinerary. You may choose a more classic round-the-world trip (getting on a plane for long distances and hopping on a bus / train for short distances), or you may opt for a round-the-world trip in a camper van, on bike, or even on a sailing boat. You need to bear in mind that these choices will alter the planning of your journey.

Plane

According to our study, 99% of globetrotters took a plane at least once during their trip. On average, they took 12 flights (flights with a layover are only counted as one flight). 67% of globetrotters took a round-the-world ticket and 33% bought their tickets one by one.

  • If you buy a round-the-world ticket, you need to at least decide on your arrival and departure cities for each continent that you visit. Whilst the dates on these tickets can usually be changed free of charge, the destinations cannot. Therefore, pick large hubs, make the most of expanses of land, and avoid zigzags. In your round-the-world ticket, you should also avoid short flights within a continent as this limits your freedom whilst travelling. Take a look at our article on round-the-world tickets
  • If you buy tickets as you go along, it’s less vital to plan your whole itinerary. However, buying last minute tickets can be very expensive. Therefore, you’ll have to plan your destinations sufficiently in advance. Take a look at our article on buying cheap plane tickets
  • If you don’t take a flight (or perhaps just a few), you don’t need to plan your itinerary in advance.

Some countries increase the price of round-the-world tickets. According to our study, the following destinations are avoided by globetrotters because of the price increase in plane tickets:

  • Cook Islands
  • Cuba
  • Fiji Islands
  • French Polynesia
  • Hawaii
  • Japan
  • Mongolia
  • Madagascar
  • Namibia
  • New Caledonia
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Reunion Island
  • South Africa
  • Sri Lanka
  • Tanzania
  • Vanuatu

Other modes of transport

Globetrotters mainly travel on public transport (bus, train…) within continents.

However, around 20% of our surveys’ respondents mostly travelled with their own vehicle (car, van, camper van, motorbike, bike…). We can split them into three categories:

  • Those who buy their vehicle in their home country and ship it across the ocean.
  • Those who buy a vehicle when they arrive in a continent and sell it at the end of their trip.
  • Those who rent a vehicle.

Main mode of transport (excluding plane)

Infographie Transports Tdm Solo
Infographie Transports Tdm Couple
Infographie Transports Famille

Less than 1% of respondents mentioned a boat as their key mode of transport. Perhaps this figure is under-estimated because, at the moment, we don’t really deal with this mode of transport on our website.

Planning you trip according to your mode of transport

The mode of transport you choose is going to change the way you plan your trip:

  • If you mainly take public transport, you don’t need to plan your itinerary in each continent.
  • If you hire vehicles in some countries (like in Australia, Europe, New Zealand or the United States), you need to get it a few months in advance so that you avoid high season prices.
  • If you buy a vehicle when you arrive in the continent (such as South America), you only need to plan which country you’re going to arrive in (preferably a country where it’s easy to buy a vehicle that you’ll be allowed to drive in other countries on that continent).
  • If you leave your country with your vehicle, you must plan an itinerary with as many neighboring countries as possible. This helps you limit the amount of shipping, which can become quite costly. But, remember that you can’t travel with your vehicle on the ship – you need to take a plane and pick up the vehicle at the arrival port. In some countries, such as China, it’s very expensive to enter with your vehicle. So this will equally have an impact on your itinerary.

Take a look at our articles on biking, vehicle shipping, boat hitch-hiking and transsiberian railway.

How can I get from Europe to Asia without taking a flight?

There are three main land routes to go from Europe to Asia:

  • The northern route: via Russia, generally by taking the Trans-Siberian Railway. This is the most common.
  • The central route: via Turkey, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and China. This is a little less common.
  • The southern route: via Turkey, Iran, Dubai, India and Myanmar, with a small hop on a plane or boat between Dubai and India. The border between India and Myanmar has only been open since 2018.

Duration

Do I need to plan a return date?

You don’t have to have a fixed return date. If you’re heading off after a resignation, the end of your studies, a mutually agreed termination of contract, a firing, or if you work for yourself, nothing is forcing you to plan a return date; except your amount of savings. But we even advise you not to plan a return date. Doing this can lead to an incredible opportunity as it creates space for improvisation on your trip.

However, globetrotters who take sabbatical leave, unpaid leave, extended leave, parental leave or simply time off must have a fixed return date.

Generally speaking, a round-the-world ticket expires one year from the original date of purchase. By opting for this type of ticket, you’ll set a maximum duration on your trip, unless you’re willing to lose your last ticket.

Date de Retour

Leaving without a fixed return date means absolute freedom.

Our study

According to our study, the average duration of a round-the-world trip is 11 months. Three-quarters of round-the-world trips last between 6 and 12 months.

If you’re travelling for less than nine months, we don’t recommend going around the world. It’s better to limit yourself to one, or perhaps two, continents. In this way, you’ll have more time to enjoy your trip and you’ll avoid pointlessly polluting the planet by taking an unnecessary amount of flights.

Number of respondants in our study classed by type of trip and duration

Infographie de la durée des voyages multi pays et des tour du monde

Pace

Both the duration and pace of your trip are going to determine the number of countries that you’ll be able to include in your itinerary.

Plan a slower pace than your usual holiday

When you start to think about your round-the-world trip, it’ll be difficult to stray away from your usual holiday planning habits. When we go on holiday for two or three weeks, most of us prefer to have a structured and specific idea for each step of the way. We often do this so that we don’t miss out on anything.

However, a long trip is very different. After a few months of travelling, you’ll get tired of constantly doing one sight-seeing tour after another. At the end of the day, don’t be too greedy. It’s better to visit less countries, but take more time to really explore the ones you do, by staying longer in each place.

Explore more than the “must-see” sights

The main attraction of a round-the-world trip is having the time to get off the beaten track. Don’t visit all the “must-see” sights and attractions recommended by guide books. They’re often expensive tourist hotspots. Instead, travel through more original and authentic places. They often have nice surprises in store, and you can meet more interesting people there. Never regret not being able to see everything, because in the end, the best moments are the simplest and most unexpected.

Our best example of this is from Indonesia. Travellers who go to this country generally follow more or less the same route through Java, Bali and Lombok. Mass tourism can be rife in these areas and it’s sometimes disappointing. François and I, on several solo trips, have spent a total of nine months in Indonesia. We visited these three islands, as well as all the other main islands which are much less touristy: Sumatra, Borneo, Sulawesi, Maluku, Papua New Guinea, Komodo, Flores and Timor. It’s one of our favourite countries and our greatest memories almost all took place outside of Java, Bali and Lombok!

Îles Togian

Francois in paradise lost in the Togian Islands, far far away from the Bali crowd!

Create space for the unexpected

The other huge advantage of a long trip, over a single holiday, is that you have time to create space for the unexpected. Therefore, we advise against planning an in-depth itinerary for each country. For some people, it’s very difficult to resist the temptation to do this. But, believe us, your trip will be so much more interesting if you don’t plan every little detail.

You can write a list of countries you’d like to visit, and the order in which you’d like to do it. But, be aware of the fact that most travellers veer away from their original itinerary. Being on the road is full of unexpected opportunities, so be prepared to grab hold of them. These might include places where you want to stay a little longer, or perhaps where there are people you want to hang out with for a bit. Whatever it is, don’t hesitate to change your plans as it’s often a great experience.

Do the things that you wouldn’t be able to do on holiday

Your trip around the world might be the only point in your life when you’ll have time to devote several weeks, or even months, to an activity abroad. For example, you can take the opportunity to work, volunteer, do some wwoofing, complete a diving certification, do a long trek or take some language classes.

During our round-the-world trip, we did the Annapurna trek by foot in three weeks, whilst also taking the time to do some side treks. I also stayed in Gili Trawangan, Indonesia, for two months so that I could do my Divemaster. Finally, I stayed in Buenos Aires for a month (and François in Mendoza) to learn Spanish before starting the Latin American part of our trip. These three experiences are some of the best memories of our whole trip.

Sylvain Plongée

Sylvain doing his Divemaster. Diving for two months non-stop!

Allow yourself some downtime

Being on the road for several months and moving around all the time will wear you out. If you spend your time doing one tourist attraction after another, and change location every three days for a year, that could be the end of you. Some globetrotters even end up having a kind of travel burnout.

It might sound strange, but it’s a good idea to plan some downtime during your trip. If you tell your close friends and family, they might laugh at you: “What, you need a holiday to rest from your holiday?”. However, we really recommend that you allow yourself some time to rest during your trip.

How much time should I spend in each country?

According to our study, globetrotters visited an average of 13 countries, and stayed in each one for an average of 25 days. However, in hindsight, many of them feel that their pace was too fast. A lot of them told us that if they were to do it again, they would travel through fewer countries and spend more time in each destination.

That was also the case for us. During our trip around the world, we realised that we’d been too greedy. We wanted to visit too many countries. We lingered in some places where we felt good (such as Nepal and Indonesia), we decided to spend a month learning Spanish in Argentina, and we added Colombia along the way, as many other travellers recommended this country. However, as we had a fixed return date, we had to make up for lost time. This meant travelling through some countries without stopping (New Zealand, Panama and Costa Rica) and others very quickly (Chile, Ecuador and Nicaragua). This also meant that we didn’t have time to go to Patagonia.

You should therefore allow at least one month per country on average, or even a little more if you go through big countries and / or travel with your vehicle. A round-the-world trip isn’t a race to get as many stamps in your passport as possible. Before you go, make the effort to “sacrifice” some countries, however frustrating it may be.

To help you estimate how much time to spend in each country on your itinerary, we’ve calculated the average time spent in each country by travellers who responded to our survey.

As long as your visa allows it, we suggest that you factor in at least 20% more time than stated in the table below. This will help you take into account the amount of respondents who would’ve liked to travel more slowly.

Average time spent in each country by our globetrotters

Country Average Duration of Stay
Albania 10 days
Antarctica 12 days
Argentina 30 days
Armenia 6 days
Australia 30 days
Austria 3 days
Azerbaijan 8 days
Belgium 5 days
Belize 8 days
Bolivia 21 days
Bosnia-Herzegovina 4 days
Botswana 13 days
Brazil 19 days
Brunei 4 days
Bulgaria 5 days
Cambodia 21 days
Canada 30 days
Chile 30 days
China 30 days
Colombia 30 days
Cook Islands 11 days
Costa Rica 15 days
Croatia 10 days
Cuba 18 days
Czech Republic 3 days
Denmark 5 days
Dominican Republic 18 days
Easter Island 5 days
Egypt 15 days
Ecuador 20 days
Estonia 8 days
Ethiopia 40 days
Fiji 13 days
Finland 7 days
France 22 days
French Polynesia 19 days
Gabon 25 days
Galapagos Islands 9 days
Georgia 14 days
Germany 5 days
Country Average Duration of Stay
Greece 17 days
Guadeloupe 31 days
Guatemala 15 days
Honduras 10 days
Hong Kong 4 days
Hungary 4 days
Iceland 15 days
India 30 days
Indonesia 30 days
Iran 29 days
Ireland 7 days
Israel 10 days
Italy 11 days
Ivory Coast 17 days
Jamaica 17 days
Japan 21 days
Jordan 9 days
Kazakhstan 14 days
Kenya 18 days
Kyrgyzstan 30 days
Laos 21 days
Latvia 6 days
Lithuania 5 days
Madagascar 30 days
Malaysia 16 days
Maldives 7 days
Mauritius 7 days
Mexico 30 days
Mongolia 25 days
Montenegro 6 days
Morocco 18 days
North Macedonia 5 days
Myanmar 23 days
Namibia 21 days
Nepal 30 days
Nicaragua 21 days
Netherlands 6 days
New Caledonia 21 days
New Zealand 35 days
Norway 15 days
Country Average Duration of Stay
Oman 7 days
Uzbekistan 20 days
Pakistan 30 days
Panama 15 days
Paraguay 8 days
Peru 28 days
Philippines 29 days
Poland 7 days
Portugal 13 days
Reunion Island 17 days
Romania 8 days
Russia 23 days
Salvador 12 days
Scotland 13 days
Serbia 7 days
Singapore 4 days
Slovakia 2 days
Slovenia 5 days
South Africa 28 days
South Korea 15 days
Spain 10 days
Sri Lanka 28 days
Sweden 10 days
Switzerland 4 days
Tajikistan 21 days
Taiwan 21 days
Tanzania 21 days
Thailand 30 days
Turkmenistan 5 days
Turkey 20 days
Ukraine 14 days
United Arab States 5 days
United Kingdom 7 days
United States 30 days
Uruguay 7 days
Vanuatu 20 days
Vietnam 25 days
Zambia 8 days
Zimbabwe 4 days

Climate

Staging your itinerary will be largely influenced by the climate. The best seasons differ for each country. Even within the same country, the climate can strongly vary from one region to another. There are many websites (such as Travelpicker, Where & When to Travel, and Climates to Travel) which specify the best and worst months for each destination. Or you can search “climate + name of city” on Google, to instantly find out about the temperature and the number of sunny days for each month of the year in a specific place.

However, organising the stages of your trip by the weather may leave you tearing your hair out. At the time of our round-the-world trip, we had to make an Excel spreadsheet with the destinations in rows, and the months in columns. We then coloured the boxes in green or red to highlight whether the climate was good or not. Finally, we moved the lines around until we found a coherent itinerary with as many pleasant climates as possible.

Since then, Nicolas has developed a great online tool, A-contresens travel planner, which does just that. It allows you to build your itinerary whilst showing you the climate in every country at the precise time you plan to travel through it. While this is entirely in French, there’s really nothing else like it at the moment. So, we wholly recommend using it, and clicking ‘translate the page into English’. It should work just fine!

A Contresens

We advise you to input only one city per country (or two or three maximum if the climate varies a lot). You can then change the order of your route to avoid visiting countries when it’s cold or rainy. Don’t expect to travel in the best season every step of the way.

Peak Season

If you always travel when the climate is at its best, you may end up rubbing shoulders with a lot of tourists. So, don’t underestimate the difference between travelling in high season and in low season. Can you imagine the difference between the French Riviera in spring and August? Well, on the roads of Nepal, or at the temples of Angkor, it’s exactly the same thing, except that the peak seasons vary for each destination.

A good way to combine a pleasant climate and a bearable tourist population is to travel during shoulder seasons. To help you find the right time to travel, The Culture Trip maps each country’s high and low seasons for each month of the year.

Safety and security

Before committing to a country in your itinerary, we advise you to look at the FCDO Travel Advice. Here you can find regularly updated travel advice and information by country, for British citizens. The FCDO advise whether it’s safe, or not, to visit a country. The advice for each country will be stated as: ‘Against all travel’, ‘All but essential travel’, or ‘No travel restrictions’. For higher risk countries, you’ll also find a colour coded map that highlights whether it’s safe, or not, to travel.

Travel Advisory Map

Source : US State Department Travel Advisories

You’ll then need to decide how far you’re prepared to go based on the potential risks:

  • ‘No travel restrictions’ (Green) – these areas are safe and there is no problem visiting them.
  • ‘All but essential travel’ (Orange) – these areas should be avoided unless you have an urgent commitment you need to attend to.
  • ‘Against all travel’ (Red) – these areas must be avoided as the risk of danger is unacceptably high.

Reading the Foreign travel advice can be quite worrying. Indeed, even for countries that seem safe, the website often highlights threatening risks. However, you should bear in mind that its aim is to identify, as comprehensively as possible, all the possible dangers linked to each country. Therefore, you must take it with a pinch of salt.

Similar services are available for other English-speaking countries:

Take a look at our article on travel safety

Visas

In Latin America and Europe, British citizens can freely travel without a visa. However, in Asia, Oceania, North America and Africa, many countries require you to have a visa or another type of permit.

If you want to go to countries that require a visa, you’ll need to at least plan your entry so that you have time to sort out your applications in advance.

Most visas can be obtained in the country’s consulate anywhere in the world, but sometimes the process is long and / or complicated. For example, travellers who take the Trans-Siberian Railway often start their journey in Russia to avoid having to do their visas (Russian, Mongolian and Chinese) along the way.

Nowadays, more and more countries offer e-visas or an electronic travel authorisation (eTA). You can apply for these documents online, without having to go to a consulate. This certainly makes life easier, and saves time, when you’re on the road. However, whilst they may work well for entering by air, they don’t always allow you to cross land borders.

Whether a visa is necessary or not, the length of your stay in a country as a tourist will always be limited, and it’s often between 30 and 90 days.

Visas

British citizens can visit 136 countries without a visa.

To help you understand how this affects your itinerary, we’ve written an article on visas. In it you can find out what type of permit you need, as well as the maximum amount of time you can stay in each country.

Take a look at our article on visas

Borders

Make sure that the land borders you plan to cross on your route are open. We say this because some borders are shut for safety reasons, or because the two countries involved have bad relations. Other borders may be open, but they are often located in dangerous areas and are limited to travellers with a certain type of visa.

Lots of globetrotters look for information about the following borders:

In Asia

  • Vietnam – Cambodia: the border is open but you can’t enter Vietnam at every border checkpoint with an e-visa.
  • Vietnam – Laos: the border is open, but you can’t enter Vietnam at every border checkpoint with an e-visa.
  • Cambodia – Laos: the border is open, but the customs officers are notoriously corrupt (however, a small bribe will work)
  • Thailand – Laos: the border is open, no specific problem known.
  • Thailand – Malaysia: the border is open, but the FCDO advise against all but essential travel to southern Thailand due to terrorist threats. Some travellers still take the risk to cross the land border. But if you want to avoid it, you can take a boat from Krabi or Koh Lanta towards Koh Lipe in Thailand, then cross the maritime border in order to reach the Langkawi Islands in Malaysia.
  • Myanmar (Burma) – Laos: the border is closed to tourists.
  • Myanmar (Burma) – Thailand: the border is open. There are four land-crossings but only three of them are accessible with a tourist visa. The checkpoint border at Mae Sai / Tachileik is the safest and most popular.
  • Myanmar (Burma) – China: the border is closed to tourists.
  • Myanmar (Burma) – India: the border opened in 2018.
  • Myanmar (Burma) – Bangladesh: the border is closed to tourists.
  • India – Bangladesh: the border is open, but the FCDO advise against all but essential travel to this country.
  • India – Nepal: the border is open, but you can’t enter India by land with an e-visa. If you’re going from Nepal to India, you need to request a classic visa. However, in the opposite direction (going from India to Nepal), an e-visa will suffice.
  • India – China: the border is closed to tourists.
  • Nepal – China: the border is open, but you need to be accompanied by a guide and have a special permit, as well as a Chinese visa to get into Tibet. All of this is rather costly.

If you want to look at all the border crossings in Central Asia, take a look at the following link: Border crossings on the Silk Road

In America

  • Canada – United States: the border is open and you don’t need an ESTA if you’re entering the States by land.
  • Colombia – Panama: the border is open, but there isn’t a road between the two countries. There are three ways to cross this border: 1. Take a plane 2. Take a boat via the San Blas Islands 3. Go to Turbo by bus, via Montería, take a taxi boat from Turbo to Capurganá, then take another boat from Capurganá to Puerto Obaldía, then take a short flight from Puerto Obaldía to Panama City (you can also do this the other way round).
  • Colombia – Ecuador: the border is open, but the FCDO advise against all but essential travel to this area, except from the border crossing on the Pan-American highway, at Ipiales. In our Facebook group, many travellers stated that they used this border checkpoint.
  • Colombia – Peru: the border is open, but being located in the Amazonian rainforest it’s difficult to access. What’s more, this area is considered highly dangerous due to armed drug trafficking organisations.
  • Ecuador – Peru: the border is open, no specific problem known.

In Europe

  • Ukraine : The country must be avoided due to the Russian invasion.
  • Belarus – Russia: The border is usually closed to tourists.

Carbon footprint

During a long trip, flying is by far the biggest contributor to global warming. It makes up around three quarters of globetrotters’ CO2 emissions.

If you want to reduce your carbon footprint whilst travelling, you should really aim to take less flights. You may be a zero-waste traveller, but if you take several flights your eco-friendly attempts will unfortunately be of little use.

The best way to minimise your environmental impact is by finding alternatives to air travel.

In order to achieve this, you need to nurture this state of mind right from the planning stages of your trip. The goal is to try to shape your itinerary so that you move by land (ideally by public transport, biking, or hitch-hicking) or sea (preferably by sailing boat) as much as possible.

Take a look at our article on How to Reduce Your Environmental Impact While Traveling

Empreinte Carbone Voyage

Having an itinerary with a limited number of flights helps you minimise your carbon footprint.

Tools

Our budgeting tool

We’ve created a highly detailed downloadable spreadsheet so that you can evaluate your estimated budget, and even follow your spending habits during your trip. In particular, it lets you estimate your total budget depending on the amount of time you plan on spending in each country.

Download our budgeting tool

A-contresens travel planner

Yes, unfortunately it’s in French, but a simple right click will translate the entire website for you. Trust us on this one, it’s worth it, as this is the only planning tool that has been specifically designed for long-term travellers. It lets you build your itinerary online and shows you whether the climate is pleasant in a specific destination at a specific time. Then you can see this data on a map. This tool will ask you to choose one city per destination, which subsequently makes you don’t overplan your trip. As we said earlier, we don’t encourage you to plan every step in detail for each country.

Take a look at A-contresens travel planner

Excel or Google Sheets

If you’re a whizz with spreadsheets, you might enjoy making your own budget and climate spreadsheets, instead of using our tool or A-contresens.

Take a look at Google Sheets

Google Maps

If you don’t want to use A-contresens, you could simply use Google Maps in order to visualise your itinerary.

Take a look at Google Maps

Polarsteps

Polarsteps is an app which automatically tracks and records your itinerary during your trip. It does this by using your mobile phone’s GPS.

You can share your journey with your close ones as they follow you on a digital map, and it has a timeline on the side which lets you add thoughts, messages and photos.

You can choose to activate GPS tracking through the mobile phone app. It can be set to a low-power mode to help your mobile phone battery last longer. And, if you leave your GPS tracking enabled, Polarsteps suggests locations based on places you’ve previously visited. It also automatically geotags your photos.

You can add locations and continue to be GPS tracked whilst offline. Then, when you have a network connection, your data will be automatically synced.

If you fancy, you can print out a Travel Book at the end of your trip. The Travel Book is automatically generated and it compiles your map itinerary, photos and messages.

Take a look at Polarsteps

Polarsteps

Record your trip on a map thanks to your mobile phone’s GPS.

Advice

To summarise this article, here are our main bits of advice to help you create your itinerary. It all comes from our experience, as well as our study and analysis of 525 globetrotters’ response to this following question: “What advice would you give to someone who’s in the process of planning the itinerary for their trip?”.

  • Don’t stay fixated on the idea that you have to do a round-the-world trip. You can also opt for a trip to two continents, especially if you have less than six months.
  • Don’t be too greedy. It’s better to visit less countries and really take the time to explore them by staying longer in each location. After a few months on the road, you’ll get tired of going to attraction after attraction. Plan for at least one month on average in each country, or more if you’re going to large countries and / or you’re travelling with your vehicle. A round-the-world trip isn’t a race to see how many stamps you can get in your passport.
  • Only take the plane between continents or for long distances. Travel by land or sea as much as possible. It’s more environmentally friendly, it’s cheaper, and it really gives you a sense of the distance you’ve travelled. You also get to see more landscapes and you notice how the people and culture gradually change.
  • Stay flexible by buying plane tickets as you go, or by choosing a round-the-world ticket with dates that can be changed.
  • If you buy a round-the-world ticket, only take intercontinental flights so that you can benefit from flexible dates. Avoid adding short-haul flights. You can always buy these at the last minute.
  • Choose as many countries which have land borders between them. First, decide on your main countries and then add connecting countries into your itinerary.
  • Choose the simplest route. Avoid going back and forth and zigzagging about the place.
  • Organise your trip depending on the climate in each destination. Avoid seasons which are too cold, too hot and / or too rainy.
  • Avoid peak season in the most touristy countries. So many people have been put off by amazing places because of the swarms of people and the subsequent increased prices.
  • Only plan the big sections of your itinerary: only countries, or even just continents. If you plan a trip that’s too detailed with lots of specific dates, you run the risk of being frustrated when something unexpected happens. The beauty of travelling is being able to make room for adventure, spontaneity and exploration.
  • Don’t necessarily go to all the tourist guide hot-spots. They’re often expensive and have lots of tourists. Get off the beaten track. Go to the more original and authentic places. They often have a nice surprise in store, and it’s in these places that you meet more interesting people. Don’t regret not seeing everything because, in the end, the best moments are usually the simplest and most unexpected.
  • Create space for the unexpected. This might include places where you want to stay a little longer, or perhaps there are people who you want to hang out with. Don’t hesitate to change your plans as it often leads to an exciting adventure.
  • Talk with fellow travellers that you meet on the road. This is a great way to get the best tips.
  • Listen to your wants and needs: slow down if you feel like it, take countries off your itinerary, or add some on the way if you really want to.
  • Plan in some downtime, at least once every three months. That might seem strange, but many months on the road will wear you out.
  • Don’t force yourself to strictly follow your itinerary word for word. There might be last minute changes due to the climate, an illness, another event, or just because you want to. This is all part of the trip, and the fun!
  • Make the most of your long trip by doing things that you wouldn’t necessarily do on a normal holiday. For example, couchsurfing, wwoofing, volunteering, undertaking a diving certificate or going on a long trek.
  • Think twice before asking family or friends to meet up with you en route. Of course, it’d be great to see them, but it forces you to be in a specific place at a specific time; and this goes against your freedom and your travel itinerary.
  • Don’t reserve train / bus tickets or accommodation in advance, except in very high season.
  • Only plan reservations which could cost a lot if you were to book them at the last minute (domestic flights in Polynesia, a van rental in New Zealand…)
  • Inform yourself about land border crossings. In some countries, borders can be closed or difficult to cross.
  • Check the safety measures for the areas that you plan on visiting.
  • Plan places where you can apply for visas whilst on the road.
  • Find out about event dates which might take place during your travels.

RTW itineraries from the UK

Here are some samples of round-the-world itineraries. We’re not telling you to pick one and stick to it step by step. Instead, we want you to use them as sources of inspiration. There are as many itineraries as there are globetrotters, and almost all of them change along the way. For each itinerary, we show the duration, main modes of transport, number of flights, amount of CO2 emitted by these flights and budget. We’ve deliberately only put one or two cities per country; as we said before, we advise against planning a whole in-depth itinerary for each country.

South-East Asia, Oceania, South America – The classic route

  • Duration: 12 months
  • Main modes of transport: Plane, bus and campervan
  • Number of flights: 7
  • CO2 emissions: 9.2 tons / person
  • Total budget: about £14,000 / person
UK Itinerary 1
Thailand 4 weeks
Laos 4 weeks
Vietnam 4 weeks
Cambodia 4 weeks
Australia 7 weeks
New-Zealand 6 weeks
Tahiti 2 weeks
Easter Island 1 week
Chile 4 weeks
Argentina 7 weeks
Bolivia 4 weeks
Peru 5 weeks

North America, South America, Australia and South-East Asia

  • Duration : 12 months
  • Main modes of transport : Plane, bus and campervan
  • Number of flights: 5
  • CO2 emissions: 8.6 tons / person
  • Total budget: about £14,000 / person
Uk Itinerary 2
Canada 5 weeks
United States 6 weeks
Mexico 5 weeks
Peru 5 weeks
Bolivia 4 weeks
Argentina 5 weeks
Chile 4 weeks
Australia 6 weeks
Vietnam 4 weeks
Cambodia 4 weeks
Thailand 4 weeks

Europe, Asia, Australia and North America

  • Duration: 12 months
  • Main modes of transport: Plane, bus and campervan
  • Number of flights: 7
  • CO2 emissions: 7 tons / person
  • Total budget: about £13,000 / person
Uk Itineraries 3
Denmark 1 week
Russia 4 week
Mongolia 4 week
China 4 week
Japan 4 week
Vietnam 4 week
Cambodia 4 week
Thailand 4 week
Myanmar 4 week
Malaisia 3 week
Australia 5 week
Hawaii 2 week
United States 4 week
Cuba 4 week
Ireland 1 week

South-East Asia, Central America and South America

  • Duration: 12 months
  • Main modes of transport: Plane and bus
  • Number of flights: 5
  • CO2 emissions: 10 tons / person
  • Total budget: about £12,000 / person
Uk Itinerary 4
Myanmar 4 weeks
Thailand 4 weeks
Laos 4 weeks
Cambodia 4 weeks
Vietnam 4 weeks
Indonesia 6 weeks
Cuba 4 weeks
Mexico 5 weeks
Peru 4 weeks
Bolivia 4 weeks
Chile 4 weeks
Argentina 5 weeks

Africa, South-East Asia, New Zealand and South America

  • Duration: 12 months
  • Main modes of transport: Plane, 4×4, bus and campervan
  • Number of flights: 5
  • CO2 emissions: 10.1 tons / person
  • Total budget: about £14,000 / person
Uk Itinerary 5
South Africa 5 weeks
Namibia 4 weeks
Botswana 2 weeks
Zimbabwe 2 weeks
Mozambique 4 weeks
Tanzania 4 weeks
Thailand 4 weeks
Cambodia 4 weeks
Vietnam 4 weeks
New Zealand 6 weeks
Chile 4 weeks
Bolivia 4 weeks
Peru 5 weeks

Europe, Asia, New Zealand and South America

  • Duration: 12 months
  • Main modes of transport: Plane, bus, train and campervan
  • Number of flights: 3
  • CO2 emissions: 6.5 tons / person
  • Total budget: about £12,000 / person
Germany 1 week
Poland 1 week
Lithuania 1 week
Latvia 1 week
Russia 4 weeks
Mongolia 4 weeks
China 4 weeks
Vietnam 4 weeks
Cambodia 4 weeks
Thailand 4 weeks
New Zealand 5 weeks
Chile 4 weeks
Argentina 6 weeks
Bolivia 4 weeks
Peru 5 weeks

Asia and South America

  • Duration: 12 months
  • Main modes of transport: Plane, bus and train
  • Number of flights: 5
  • CO2 emissions: 8.1 tons / person
  • Total budget: about £13,000 / person
Philippines 4 weeks
Thailand 4 weeks
Laos 4 weeks
Cambodia 4 weeks
Vietnam 4 weeks
China 4 weeks
South Korea 3 weeks
Hawaii 1 week
Peru 5 weeks
Bolivia 4 weeks
Chile 4 weeks
Argentina 5 weeks
Brazil 6 weeks

Asia, Mexico et South America

  • Duration: 21 months
  • Main modes of transport: Plane and bus
  • Number of flights: 5
  • CO2 emissions: 8.5 tons / person
  • Total budget: about £17,000 / person
Uk Itinerary 8
India 14 weeks
Thailand 8 weeks
Philippines 4 weeks
Mexico 4 weeks
Ecuador 12 weeks
Peru 32 weeks
Argentina 2 weeks
Uruguay 2 weeks
Brazil 6 weeks

Asia and Central America

  • Duration: 12 months
  • Main modes of transport: Avion et bus
  • Number of flights: 5
  • CO2 emissions: 7.8 tons / person
  • Total budget: about £9,000 / person
Uk Itinerary 9
India 6 weeks
Nepal 4 weeks
Myanmar 4 weeks
Thailand 4 weeks
Laos 4 weeks
Vietnam 4 weeks
Cambodia 4 weeks
Indonesia 7 weeks
Philippines 5 weeks
Guatemala 3 weeks
El Salvador 2 weeks
Honduras 2 weeks
Nicaragua 3 weeks

Europe, Asia and Central America

  • Duration: 12 months
  • Main modes of transport: Plane, train and bus
  • Number of flights: 3
  • CO2 emissions: 5.7 tons / person
  • Total budget: about £9,000 / person
Italy 1 week
Slovenia 1 week
Croatia 2 weeks
Serbia 1 week
Bulgaria 1 week
Turkey 4 weeks
Iran 4 weeks
United Arab Emirates 1 week
Oman 1 week
India 5 weeks
Nepal 4 weeks
Myanmar 4 weeks
Thailand 4 weeks
Cambodia 4 weeks
Vietnam 4 weeks
Philippines 4 weeks
Guatemala 3 weeks
Honduras 2 weeks
Nicaragua 2 weeks

By bike

  • Duration: 30 months
  • Main modes of transport: Bike and plane
  • Number of flights: 5
  • CO2 emissions: 6.5 tons / person
  • Total budget: about £13,000 / person
Uk Itinerary 11
Spain 3 weeks
Ecuador 5 weeks
Peru 10 weeks
Bolivia 5 weeks
Argentina 9 weeks
Chile 8 weeks
United States 8 weeks
Canada 8 weeks
Alaska 5 weeks
South Korea 3 weeks
Japan 4 weeks
Vietnam 2 weeks
Cambodia 3 weeks
Thailand 4 weeks
Myanmar 2 weeks
Laos 3 weeks
China 8 weeks
Kyrgyzstan 6 weeks
Tajikistan 3 weeks
Uzbekistan 2 weeks
Kazakhstan 1 week
Azerbaijan 1 week
Georgia 1 week
Turkey 8 weeks
Greece 1 week
North Macedonia 1 week
Serbia 1 week
Montenegro 1 week
Croatia 1 week
Slovenia 1 week
Austria 1 week
Germany 1 week

By sailboat

  • Duration: 24 months
  • Main modes of transport: Sailboat
  • Number of flights: None
  • CO2 emissions: None
  • Total budget: Depends on wether you boat-hitchhike or buy your own boat
Uk Itinerary 12

By Motorhome

  • Duration: 12 months
  • Main modes of transport: Motorhome, plane (for passengers), shipping (for the motorhome)
  • Number of flights: 7
  • CO2 emissions: 7.8 tons / person
  • Total budget: £64,000 for 2 adults and 3 kids
Uk Itinerary 13
Italy 2 weeks
Greece 2 weeks
Turkey 3 weeks
Iran 4 weeks
Dubai 1 week
India 3 weeks
Cambodia 3 weeks
Vietnam 3 weeks
Thailand 4 weeks
Malaisia 2 weeks
New Zealand 4 weeks
Polynesia 1 week
Easter Island 1 week
Chile 4 weeks
Argentina 3 weeks
Bolivia 3 weeks
Peru 4 weeks
Ecuador 2 weeks
Colombia 3 weeks

RTW itineraries from the US

Europe, Asia and South America

  • Duration: 11 months
  • Main modes of transport: Plane, train and bus
  • Number of flights: 6
  • CO2 emissions: 7.8 tons / person
  • Total budget: about $14,000 / person
Us Itinerary 1
France 2 weeks
Italy 2 weeks
Greece 2 weeks
Thailand 4 weeks
Laos 4 weeks
Vietnam 4 weeks
Cambodia 4 weeks
French Polynesia 2 weeks
Easter Island 1 week
Chile 4 weeks
Argentina 6 weeks
Bolivia 4 weeks
Peru 5 weeks

North America, South America and Asia

  • Duration: 12 months
  • Main modes of transport: Plane and bus
  • Number of flights: 3
  • CO2 emissions: 6.9 tons / person
  • Total budget: about $12,000 / person
Us Itinerary 2
United States 4 weeks
Mexico 5 weeks
Guatemala 2 weeks
Honduras 2 weeks
Nicaragua 2 weeks
Costa Rica 2 weeks
Panama 2 weeks
Colombia 5 weeks
Ecuador 3 weeks
Peru 4 weeks
Indonesia 5 weeks
Vietnam 4 weeks
Cambodia 4 weeks
Laos 4 weeks
Thailand 4 weeks

Europe, Africa and Asia

  • Duration: 12 months
  • Main modes of transport: Plane, train and bus
  • Number of flights: 5
  • CO2 emissions: 7,3 tons / person
  • Total budget: about $17,000 / person
Spain 3 weeks
France 3 weeks
Italy 3 weeks
Kenya 3 weeks
Tanzania 4 weeks
Mozambique 4 weeks
South Africa 5 weeks
India 6 weeks
Nepal 5 weeks
Thailand 5 weeks
Laos 4 weeks
Vietnam 5 weeks

Europe, Asia and North America

  • Duration: 12 months
  • Main modes of transport: Plane, train and bus
  • Number of flights: 2
  • CO2 emissions: 5,8 tons / person
  • Total budget: about $17,000 / person
Us Itinerary 4
United Kingdom 1 week
France 1 week
Italy 1 week
Slovenia 1 week
Croatia 2 weeks
Serbia 1 week
Bulgaria 1 week
Turkey 4 weeks
Georgia 1 week
Azerbaijan 1 week
Turkmenistan 1 week
Uzbekistan 3 weeks
Kyrgyzstan 4 week
China 6 weeks
South Korea 3 weeks
Japan 4 weeks
Guatemala 3 weeks
Mexico 5 weeks
United States 5 weeks

Our round the world trip

  • Duration : 12 months
  • Main modes of transport : plane, bus
  • Number of flights : 13
  • CO2 emissions: 9.1 / person
  • Total budget : around €14,000 per person

We did our round-the-world trip between 2008 and 2009. We’ll be the first ones to tell you that it’s not a very good example.

Like lots of globetrotters, we realised en route that we’d been too greedy.

We wanted to visit too many countries. We stayed longer in some countries where we felt good (like Nepal and Indonesia), we decided to spend a month learning Spanish in Argentina, and we added Colombia to the itinerary during the trip, as many other travellers recommended visiting this country.

So, to make up for lost time, we had to go through some countries without stopping (New Zealand, Panama and Costa Rica) and through others very quickly (Chile, Ecuador and Nicaragua). This also meant that we didn’t have time to go to Patagonia.

We also took too many flights, because, in those days, we weren’t as aware of the environmental impact that flights have on global warming.

It’s interesting to show you our itinerary so that you can avoid making the same mistakes!

Planned Itinerary

India 4 weeks
Nepal 3 semaines
Thailand 4 weeks
Singapore 1 weeks
Indonesia 4 weeks
Timor Leste Not planned
Australia 4 weeks
New Zealand 4 weeks
Chile 2 weeks
Argentina 4 weeks
Bolivia 3 weeks
Peru 4 weeks
Ecuador 2 weeks
Colombia Not planned
Panama 1 week
Costa Rica 2 weeks
Nicaragua 2 weeks
Honduras 2 weeks
Guatemala 2 weeks
Mexico 4 weeks

Completed Itinerary

Inde 3 weeks
Népal 6 weeks
Thaïlande 4 weeks
Singapour 1 week
Indonésie 7 weeks
Timor Oriental 1 week
Australie 4 weeks
New Zealand
Skipped
Chile 1 week
Argentina 6 weeks
Bolivia 2 weeks
Peru 3 weeks
Ecuador 1 week
Colombia 4 weeks
Panama
Skipped
Costa Rica
Skipped
Nicaragua 1 week
Honduras 3 weeks
Guatemala 2 weeks
Mexico 3 weeks

Travel Itinerary Finder

On A-constresens travel planner, you can look amongst the itineraries of thousands of travellers and find all sorts of inspiration. The filters in the column on the left help you to refine your search.

But watch out – you must be aware that most of them are preliminary itineraries. In general, travellers change their trip along the way. Their pace is usually slower than what they’d expected, but they don’t always update this on A-contresens travel planner.