It makes sense to start planning and booking for a Round the World trip about six months or more in advance, although in my case for various reasons I was not able to start planning until just a couple of months before setting off. Leaving it that late limited the options on some flight sectors.
Route and flight tickets
Flight tickets are best handled by an agency as there are special deals for round the world journeys. I used STA Travel, which is better known for young travellers, but that means that they have vast experience of planning student gap years often involving round the world journeys and many of its staff can advise based on personal experience.
There are many other specialist world travel agencies, so it’s worth getting more than one quote. Take guidance with regard to exact route (a small change can alter the fare considerably) and dates, for example, avoiding the Christmas period. It can also make sense to check the weather along your route – are you happy with torrential rain or scorching heat? We got both on our trip, but that was in part due to very unusual weather patterns at the time.
Once you are satisfied with your route then think about visas. Fortunately if you are a British citizen often you will not need a visa for short visits. The only country requiring one on my journey was Australia and a three month eVisitor visa for that country is easily obtained. Tip: A Google search for ‘Australia visitor visa’ will bring up lots of official looking sites that make a charge for getting a visa for you. That’s fine if you want some assistance, but the official Australian government visa site is relatively easy to use and free of charge.
Comprehensive travel insurance is vital. See my Travel Insurance guide for information about Which? Best Buy insurance companies for Senior Travellers and special discounted rates. It includes travel insurance tips.
Even though you may have excellent travel insurance, you still need to check whether you require any injections or require anti-malarials for the places you will be visiting. The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office site is useful in this regard, but advises checking with your GP. Nothing was required for my trip, but such health precautions can depend on the specific regions in a country visited and on the time of year.
If you wish to tour around in the countries you are visiting then car hire may be the answer, particularly in Australia and New Zealand. As mentioned in previous posts, I have always found that Auto Europe provide excellent service throughout the world. 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.
So where to stay on your journey and should you book in advance? Well this is where being a Senior Traveller has definite advantages. 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 how to tap into such discounts. Often as a Senior you will be able to get a flexible rates for the same price as advance purchase rates, useful to give you flexibility in your travels.
I stayed at a range of hotels, with at least the first night booked in advance for each new place visited, and found the Intercontinental Hotel Group (Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza etc) offered some of the best rates and sometimes even free-of-charge care of Priority Club points (which will be discussed in a future post). Of particular note were the Crowne Plazas in Canberra and Newcastle (New South Wales) and the Holiday Inn at Santiago airport in Chile.
Motels served us well when driving around Australia and New Zealand, often just booked a day or two in advance using the Internet – most have free WiFi. They were generally clean, smart and inexpensive, and most had basic cooking facilities. Probably the top motel room on this journey was one in Wanganui in New Zealand that even had its own two person Jacuzzi!
How much will it cost? Obviously that depends on your route and standard of accommodation, but as a rough rule of thumb for 50 days or so, think in terms of about £5,000 per person for everything including flights (about £1500 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 my Travel Money guide for handling your cash when travelling.
So having planned and booked and sorted out who will look after your house and car (don’t let the car tax run out while you are away as I did), then off you go and have a great, memorable time!