Usually everybody has atleast 1 country, he/she always dreamed of visiting. You can take that as the starting point and build your trip around it. A good way to create a plan is to take out a sheet and write down the all countries you want to see. Then you divide them into countries you must see and countries you can see. You focus on the countries you declared a must see. Gather as much information as possible about them. Find out what you want to see or experience there. That’s also the most fun part in my opinion since you will feel anticipation building up the more you know.
Afterwards, you inform yourself about the countries you declared a can see. Those are not so important, since you want to focus on your must sees. Now the plan is to get them into an order where you can spend most of your time, under reasonable conditions, in your must see countries. The can sees are a kind of space filler. Or, in case you realize you don’t like your must see that much, you can leave and go into one of them.
The advantage of this strategy is that you don’t need to spend a lot of time to inform yourself again during your trip. For example: You realize you don’t like Thailand because it’s very touristic. No problem, you wanted to see the Petronas Towers and the Cameron Highlands in less touristic Malaysia anyway, now you have time for that. After that you can continue with your regular route to Indonesia. Basically it saves you from beeing frustrated in a country you don’t like, with no idea where else to go. That situation can lead to a spontaenous decision, which becomes the best part of your journey, but it might aswell lead to the sad end of your travels.
Probably the most important point to consider, when getting your countries into order, is the weather. It’s not possible to always travel at the best time, but you should try to avoid the worst times.
- Seasons: Seasons are turned around on the southern and nothern hemisphere. So, if you leave Europe in summer to travel New Zealand, be aware that you get into their winter. Winter months in countries with the typical 4 seasons usually mean less daylight and bad weather. If you get close to the equator you might want to avoid midsummer, since it gets unenjoyable hot.
- Rain/Dry Season: Close to the equator there are no 4 seasons, but dry and rain season. The best time to travel those regions is probably at the end of raining season. It’s not raining that much anymore, everything is still green and the temperatures are bearable. Dry season is really hot. If you are not used to great heat you might feel exhausted all day long. The rain in rainy season can’t be compared with a raining day in a country with 4 seasons. The rain is way more intense, starts and stops within seconds, but also lasts shorter. Usually you can sit it out in a cafe and then move on in sunshine. Some backpackers consider the rainy season as the best time to travel, since it’s less crowded and prices are lower. Who want’s rain all day in their holidays? The downside is that you will face way more mosquitoes.
- Monsoon: The monsoon is an air circulation caused by different warming of ocean and land. It’s especially distinct in the area of the Indian Ocean. The summer monsoon picks up a lot of water which comes down again when facing natural obstacles (mountains etc.). This is what causes the heavy rainfalls. If you are unlucky it makes you stuck, since some roads can become impassable.
The first route usually never works, or atleast it doesn’t work well. Before you start booking transportation you should make sure to have atleast a rough, doable route. Here is a list with a few questions you should be able to answer.
- Do I have enough time in every country to see what I want?
- Will the conditions in terms of weather be acceptable in every country I want to see?
- Where do I get my visas? Do I need to apply in advance?
- Can I meet the entry requirements?
- How do I get from country A to country B?
- Is that possible if I choose a RTW ticket?
- Does my budget fit the countries I chose?
As already said, you will usually find some weaknesses in your first route now. Sometimes your route can work if you just swap region A and B, or wait 1 to 2 months before you start. Maybe you just need to spend 1-2 more months in region A, to get a perfect travel time for the rest of your route. Thats a whole lot of research, but definitely worth it. If there is no way your route can work, it’s time to decide which countries you won’t travel. A few solution approaches to get a different view:
- Can I do country X on a shorter holiday without greater expenses?
- Is it worth to sacrifice country X just to see sight Y?
- Is it worth to live on a smaller budget my whole trip just to see country X?
- What do I actually want in country X? Can’t i do the same in country Y?
- What else would suffer if I visit country X?
As always you are very welcome to leave additions/suggestions/opinions in the comments!
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