Whether you're taking a gap year, wanting to enjoy some spare time between jobs, or getting to see some of the sights you've always wondered at in books, a round-the-world trip is usually a journey of a lifetime. It does not come around every day. So, a little planning is essential to make sure you get what you want out of your time.
Of course, planning can bring big benefits. You can make sure you get to see what you want to see. It can limit the chance of you getting into problems on strange shores. It can save you cash too.
Here are some of the things you could be thinking about ahead of your trip.
1. Earning the money to travel
How much do you need for a round-the-world trip? It really depends on how long you're going for, where you're going, and how lavish you want to be. To give you somewhere to start, tot up some of the fixed costs: flights, visas, immunisations, accommodation (look online for basic figures). Give yourself a daily budget for food, entertainment and attractions. And remember, home life does not stop when you travel – make sure you include any mortgage, rent or bill payments in your budget.
2. List your top destinations
Where do you really want to go? Get your destinations in order of preference, and arrange them roughly in geographical order before you speak to a travel agent. If you need to find out more about wherever destinations are safe, check the Foreign Office.
3. Book as early as possible
Although, flight prices change on an hour-to-hour basis, being organized and booking your trip early usually gets you a better deal.
4. Working out what you take
You will not need the kitchen sink, and you will be able to pick cheap clothing up abroad if you need to. Some useful things that are often forgotten are spare passport photos, an international travel adapter, condoms, insect repellent, a sun hat and sun cream.
5. Check your passport
Make sure it's valid for the full duration of your trip, and that it looks in a good enough condition.
6. Shop around for insurance
Baggage insurance is important, but medical and legal insurance is vital. Ensure the company you're thinking of signing up with has a 24-hour helpline in case anything goes wrong. Make sure too that your insurance covers the whole time you're traveling.
7. Ordering cash or travelers checks
Although it's often worth arriving at a destination with a little bit of local cash (it cuts down on the stress), travelers checks are still the safest currency. If you lose them, you can get them replaced – you will need to confirm every cheque number and its value to get them replaced, so bear this in mind. Another tip is to take a small amount of US dollars for emergencies, as they are accepted almost anywhere.
8. Take emergency numbers
It's always worth having these written in a safe place. As well as the details of family or friends (with international dialing codes), take along debit and credit card cancellation numbers, and those of your insurance company helpline. It may also be worth leaving photocopies of your travel tickets and itinerary with someone at home.
Planning some things in advance is certainly worthwhile – especially some of the more boring things. But, leaving a bit of flexibility in your itinerary and space to explore is often what round-the-world travel is about. So, do not stress if planning to the 'nth degree' is not your thing.