Planning a round the world trip can be daunting at the best of times, and it gets even harder when you’re trying to do the whole thing on a budget. There’s no point in setting off at all if you’re going to need to skimp so hard that you can’t actually enjoy any of the amazing places you’re visiting. But it is possible to plan a round the world trip that doesn’t break the bank or leave you feeling like you’ve not got the most out of it.
1. Don’t prepare for every eventuality
Before we set off on our RTW trip we got a bit carried away with packing for emergencies. Portable washing line? Check. 6 months of malaria tablets? Check. Full first aid box? Sewing kit? Enough batteries to power a small city? Check, check, check. It’s amazing what they sell in other countries. In fact, unless you’re going seriously off the beaten path then you can usually get anything you need wherever you are, and often at a much cheaper price.
2. Travel carry on only
Once you’ve got rid of all that stuff you don’t need, it’s actually quite easy to travel carry-on only. You’re not going on a two week holiday where you plan an outfit for each day and something different for the evenings, so pack light. Most airlines allow you to take a carry on bag weighing up to 10kg plus a personal item as well like a handbag or small rucksack for free. We find this is plenty of room and saves us lots of money when we’re booking flights.
3. Forget the RTW ticket
Round the world tickets definitely have their place, but generally, you can get yourself from place to place for far cheaper if you plan it yourself. OK, it takes a bit of donkey work to compare flights and to see what the cheapest route is, but you can save yourself a heap of cash and be far more flexible. Travelling overland is far cheaper than flying in most places as well, so we only fly when it’s absolutely necessary and instead use the coach and rail networks available to us.
4. Travel slowly
For various reasons, it works out much cheaper to move around at a slow pace. Often the most expensive part of traveling is the actual cost of the journeys between destinations, so the less of these you plan to do, the more you’ll save. You can also get cheaper room rates for staying longer in many places. We find that particularly on Airbnb, where hosts often offer full week discounts, but also in some hotels and hostels, we are able to get a better price for longer stays. You also get to know the cheapest places to eat, shop and go out in if you’re in one place for longer.
5. Don’t book too many things in advance
It’s easy to get sucked into the trap of booking a whole heap of bucket list activities before you set off. But unless it’s an activity like the Inca Trail where there are limited places available that get booked up far in advance, then avoid doing this. Trips are always run by local operators, meaning that if you book directly through them when you arrive you’ll save the additional costs that brokers tag on. It still pays to research the best companies, but book locally to avoid paying inflated costs.
6. Pick a route to suit your budget
If you’re operating on a budget at the tighter end of the scale then you should plan to spend more time in cheaper countries to help you maximize your funds. That doesn’t mean avoiding visiting anywhere that’s expensive, but more planning shrewdly so the majority of your trip is budget friendly. Start thinking in average cost per day - save money where you can live cheaply and use it to visit the places that are going to cost more.
7. Get good insurance
Good insurance isn’t cheap, so think of it as an investment. Medical costs in many places throughout the world are extortionate and can easily run into the tens, if not hundreds of thousands. Then when you think about the cover it provides for baggage and belongings, travel delays, lost passports to name a few, it’s clearly not worth the risk of travelling without insurance. It probably won’t happen and we’ve certainly never had to use our insurance, but we sleep easier knowing it’s there.
Your round the word trip will be one of the best experiences of your life, so get planning and go explore! Remember to come and visit us at The Whole World or Nothing for more tips and tricks on specific locations.