Sunday, March 08, 2009

Round the World Trip: Planning RTW

As I'm still making friends and plugging in to Changwon, I've spent quite a bit of time alone. Consequently, two things are weighing heavily on my mind in my free time: another attempt on the Colorado Trail, and an eventual ultimate, year to Two year-long 'round the world' trip.

So I've been compiling a list of resources to begin planning and developing a round the world trip. Such an epic journey has been a dream of mine for some years now but I've never quite had the courage or means to put it together. No more. After I save enough money here in Korea, I plan on making this journey.

So here are some travel resources I'm compiling for myself to begin the development of a RTW plan. I'll keep all my readers up to date on this.

RTW Travel Agencies & Planners:

1. Bootsnall Travel. A 1 stop shop for planning a RTW trip? Out of all the ones I reviewed, I liked this site the best. It was the most flexible and seemed to set the standard for number of destinations as well. Could be quite useful, especially for developing budget estimates.

I put in a fairly detailed itinerary that included 30+ destinations into their RTW trip planner and found airfare to be 14-18 thousand USD. Not bad considering I was going from Soul, through Russia, Mongolia and China, to India, then Africa, Europe and Iceland and a heap of places in between. I entered "overland" for some of the shorter segments in India, China, Europe and Africa that I thought might be feasible to journey on the ground and it cut my estimate down to 6-9 thousand USD.

The website hinted at more accurate quotes with details like dates, discount status & other info. May be good. But I'm skeptical they could book a trip that sprawls so far for such reasonable sums I'm also not certain I want an all-encompassing comprehensive itinerary. In Italy I found it a bit stifling. Perhaps I can link some of the farther travel segments, leaving long periods of time between and reserve overland segments for spontaneity.

2. STA Travel STA Travels' RTW Trip Planner seems similar, although it only uses flights from Quantas & British Airways? We'll see. They have separate planners for students & youth. They seem to be based in Australia & have another UK site, and after quickly utilizing their planning engine, I don't like it. The interface is a lot slicker, but I don't think their travel options are as broad as Bootsnall. They also limit me to starting in Australia & seem to push me toward London. They seem to have fewer flight options. Its pretty, but not easy to use. Not impressed.

3. One World. This website from the One World Airline Alliance does the task but cumbersomely so. The quotes would probably be super accurate. It also limits me to 16 destinations. With the plans I'm imagining, this proves restrictive to say the least. I anticipate at least 20 different flight connections to cities with several overland sections between.

4. TravelNation. TravelNation seems to be marketing themselves to RTW travelers as well. But like other British and Australian travel agencies I found, they restrict your starting point to the UK. Fine if you're British I suppose, but it doesn't help me.

These guys sell specific packages of ticket options for set prices. Buy a ticket package & select from options in that package. They have basic RTW packages to specific regions, such as Europe, the Pacific or South America. Pretty daunting. I'd have to develop a plan first before trying to book through them or see if what they have would work for a plan.

There are other RTW itinerary sites marketed toward global travelers. I may add these as time goes on. I'll be playing around with all of these sites for awhile.
If I want to extend my trip and save money I'll have to scrimp and save any way I can. I've got an enviable network of friends all over the globe so perhaps I can hit them up for a place to stay. Besides all the folks I know on Facebook, there are also these sites: Already on my link list. I need to review my account status here. Haven't logged in in almost a year now. Staying for free by crashing on someone's couch? This could save a fortune. I've used them before and found it great. This is almost like another SNS site.
Hospitality Club: Already on my link list. I've had some requests from people when I lived in Japan, but nothing since. I need to update this. I signed up for this after and found I never used it so much.

Other Useful Sites
Rough Guide Travel Book Makers.
Lonely Planet More Guide Book Makers. Online reviews, links, and guides to resorts, hotels, restaurants and whatnot.

Air Couriers? Anyone?
I'll certainly be traveling light enough for carry-on luggage, so I should probably look into air courier service, or basically selling my checked luggage capacity to some courier service. Could save a lot if I'm traveling to 20 places. We'll see. I've heard reports that they aren't always so flexible and can be inconvenient. Something to look into later. You have to sign up though and pay a yearly subscription. Cursory search and examinations show this to be one of the places to go if you want in on this kind of thing. However, an announcement at the bottom of another site:, says they're suspending subscriptions because they "FEEL THAT IT IS NOT PROVIDING SIGNIFICANT VALUE OR AIRFARE DISCOUNTS TO TRAVELERS. COURIER TRAVEL OPPORTUNITIES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN SCARCE, BUT HAVE BECOME EVEN MORE LIMITED WITH DECREASED TRADE RESTRICTIONS, INCREASED SECURITY MEASURES, AND INCREASED COMPETITION IN THE INTERNATIONAL FREIGHT INDUSTRY." Too bad I guess. This MSNBC article seems to confirm as much.
Things To Do :)
Badawiya Expedition Travel has 17 day excursions into the remotest corners of Egypt's Western Desert, a landscape I'd like to return to one day.
Alpine Ascents offers mountaineering courses in Patagonia whenever I make it that far South.
Skyline Adventure School does the same thing in the Peruvian Andes. Too many choices, too little time and money! Do a 6 day alpine class in the Andes and then Climb Huascaran? That could be good.
Burning Man
This festiaval has been on my list of things to do and see for awhile now, despite being in the land of my birth it will be on my ticklist at some point for sure.

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