Round the World in 40 Days: Taj Mahal to Machu Picchu – Planning and Booking

This was my third Round the World trip and an opportunity for myself and my wife to cross off some of the top places on our bucket lists. We were accompanied by STE’s Photo Editor, John Esser, and his wife.

Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu

Previously I’ve been Round the World in 50 Days, which included Japan, Australia, New Zealand and my first visit to South America. This was followed by Round the World in 30 Days, featuring Hong Kong, Fiji, New Zealand, Vancouver and Iceland. Both were great experiences.

Now I’m ready to fill in a few gaps in my travel destinations, including the Taj Mahal, the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) in Korea, the Great Barrier Reef and Machu Picchu. And again I’ll include New Zealand, not only for its superb scenery and its key position for trans-Pacific flights, but also to revisit the vineyards of Marlborough and taste a few samples of its excellent Sauvignon Blanc!

It makes sense to start planning and booking for a Round the World trip about six months or more in advance, otherwise options on some flight sectors may be reduced and choice of accommodation more limited.

Flight itinerary: Manchester, Dubai, Delhi, Singapore, Taipei, Seoul, Hong Kong, Brisbane, Sydney, Christchurch (by road to) Auckland, Santiago, Lima, Cusco, Lima, Miami, London, Manchester

Route and flight tickets

Flight tickets are best handled by an agency as there are special deals for round the world journeys. I use STA Travel, which is better known for organising travel for students, but that means that they have vast experience of planning gap years often involving round the world journeys. Many of its staff can advise based on personal experience.

Central Brisbane
Central Brisbane

Take guidance with regard to exact route (a small change can alter the fare considerably) and dates, for example, avoiding various peak periods around the world.

It also makes sense to check the weather along your route – are you happy with torrential rain, bitterly freezing temperatures or scorching heat? I’ve experienced all of those on my previous Round the World trips plus a small earthquake.


Once you are satisfied with your route then think about visas. Many countries will not require a visa for short visits or will issue it on arrival. The only countries requiring visas before entry on this trip were India, Australia and the USA. I was careful to avoid non-official shyster sites, that try and charge you over the odds for visa applications. I sought out the official government websites ignoring others often listed above them on Google searches.

The Indian e-Tourist Visa was obtained from the official Indian Government website at a cost of $60 US. It took about 24 hours to be confirmed. The Australian eVisitor visa was obtained free of charge from the official Australian Government website with immediate confirmation. The US ESTA visa was obtained from the official US Government website at a cost of US $14. My wife’s ESTA application was granted almost immediately, whereas mine took about 12 hours!

Marlborough vineyards
Vineyards in Marlborough, New Zealand

Travel insurance and health

Comprehensive travel insurance is essential. See my Travel Insurance guide for useful tips.

Even though you may have excellent travel insurance, you still need to check whether you require anti-malarials for the places you will be visiting (not for the places in this itinerary) and any injections, including for flu.

The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office site provides travel advice, including health advice, on a country by country basis, but advises checking with your GP. See also my Safety Tips for Senior Travellers.

Car hire

If you wish to tour around in the countries you are visiting then car hire may be the answer. For car hire with an additional driver, I found Holiday Autos best for car hire in Australia, Apex Rentals best for New Zealand (including the inter-island ferry in the hire charge) and Zest Car Rental (formerly Economy Car Hire) for the USA. You can include a fully refundable excess with each hire, but I found it was much cheaper to take out annual Car Hire Excess Insurance.

Barrio Bellavista in Santiago
Barrio Bellavista in Santiago, Chile


Senior discounts for hotel stays are more generally available abroad than in the UK and most big hotel chains will offer them. See my Hotel Deals for Seniors for how to tap into such discounts. Sometimes as a senior you will be able to get a flexible rate for the same price as an advance purchase rate – very useful if you need to change your travel plans for whatever reason.

For this Round the World trip, I found that the Intercontinental Hotel Group (Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Staybridge Suites etc.) offered some of the best rates and in some cases I was able to book rooms free-of-charge by using IHG Reward Club points.

Motels are my accommodation of choice when driving around Australia and New Zealand. They are generally clean, smart and inexpensive, and most have basic cooking facilities and access to a laundry.

Miami South Beach: Art Deco coloury
Miami South Beach: Art Deco colour

Travel money

How much will it cost? Obviously that depends on your route and standard of accommodation, but as a rough rule of thumb for 40 days or so, think in terms of about £6,000 per person for everything including flights (about £2500 economy class), accommodation (based on two sharing), meals and car hire. But then of course you will probably save a £1,000 or more in living expenses back home.

See Travel Money for my tips on obtaining and handling cash when travelling.

For the individual stages, links will be activated as the articles are posted:

Stage 1 – Golden Triangle of Agra, Jaipur and Delhi
Stage 2 – Singapore and the Gardens by the Bay
Stage 3 – Taipei and NE Taiwan
Stage 4 – Seoul and the DMZ
Stage 5 – Hong Kong Revisited
Stage 6 – Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef
Stage 7 – Earthquakes and Vineyards in New Zealand
Stage 8 – A Tour of Santiago, Chile
Stage 9 – Cusco and Machu Picchu
Stage 10 – Lima and Miraflores, Peru
Stage 11 – Miami and the Everglades