How do you define your “trip of a lifetime”? We got a bit carried away when batting around ideas for our next trip. Thank big. How about 6 months in South America? No, on 2nd thought, we really should go for it. How about a year or so to travel around the world? We caught our breaths and got busy. Pulled out the guidebooks. Googled destinations. Studied maps. We discussed where we wanted to go. We’re pretty far along on plotting it all out. Here are steps we’ve learned that might help you with your own planning:
1) Be clear about your travel style and interests. This will help define the trip. We prefer slow travel – visiting fewer towns for multiple days. Hopping from town to town to see more sights and cover more territory is not our style. We like hiking, reading, snorkeling, photography, architecture. We’ll pursue those interests.
2) Start with a few destinations that are high on your bucket list. We discussed countries and places and agreed on most. That was easy. Also, each of us is willing to add a few from the other’s list. Always remember: you can’t see everything and go everywhere.
3) Figure out your budget. Crunch the numbers before you get too deep into planning. Be realistic! This is important. After all was carefully calculated, we threw in a nice amount for a “slush fund.” Now we can dream about special activities we’d love to do without ruining our daily budget.
4) Set your per day budget for each country. All countries are not created equal for how far your money will stretch – so, the next step may surprise you. Several travel bloggers were generous and shared their average daily cost for the countries they visited. $50/day for Vietnam. $130/day for Australia. Adjusting their numbers to suit our travel style and multiplied by the days we plan to visit each country was an eye-opener. We increased the number of days in Southeast Asia with a corresponding decrease in our time in Japan.
5) Remember to check the weather. We started to put together an itinerary – but that step was premature. It hadn’t occurred to us that with so many countries in the mix, weather was going to be a guiding factor. We really didn’t want to be in Southeast Asia during monsoon season or hiking in New Zealand during their winter.
We’re not quite finished with our master plan – so it’s not too late for you to add to our list. We welcome your suggestions.