After the initial decision to take some time work off and actually go and do this, the plan changed quite a few times before the first flight out.
The only thing we knew for certain at this point was that a) we wanted the trip to be of a good duration – around 12 months in total and maybe a bit more, b) the main focus would be to travel to areas that we haven’t visited too before, and c) try and get some nice weather! 4 years in Manchester has taken its toll!
The initial idea was that we (me and Rach – www.thegooderslife.com) were going to purchase a round the world (RTW) ticket with some extra flexibility built in. We booked an appointment with STA Travel in Manchester and spoke to a great (and amazingly knowledgeable) guy named James.
For those who haven’t heard of this, a round the world ticket basically allows you to map out a set of destinations for your trip. You have to specify the dates you wish to make the flights on, but you have some flexibility to change your dates.
The idea is that if you land in a place which you love, you can call up the airport and extend your flight to stay in that place a bit longer, and vice-versa….if you end up in a place you don’t like as much as you imagined, you can ring up the airport and get the hell out of there.
This is a really appealing idea…..make the big travel payment up front (while we are still employed) and then we don’t have to worry about it for the rest of the year. Another benefit is that buying the package up front normally gets you a fair discount compared to the individual flights.
But in the end…..we didn’t go for it. And here are the reasons why:
- The overarching plan for our destinations was to ‘follow the sun’. After living in Manchester for 4 years, we were ready to treat ourselves to 12 months of fairly nice weather. If we could hit summers (or merging springs or autumns, but never winters) in each stop on our trip then we would. The benefit of doing this would be compounded by the fact that summer clothes are lighter then winter ones….and if we’re carrying all that we need on our backs then it’s also going to be a more comfortable trip.
- We have some family friends who had given us an open invitation to go and visit them in New Zealand for years. It’s something that we have always wanted to do but never planned out. And at the start of this trip be both agreed it would be a really perfect place to start:
- We knew it would be a really ‘soft’ landing. Neither of us had done much backpacking before and having a welcoming home and friendly helpful people around to arrive to would be the best way to begin. It would also buy us a bit of time if there was something we realised we’d missed during the packing and planning in Manchester.
- The issue about wanting New Zealand to be the first stop is that a RTW ticket has certain restrictions. One of which being that you can only go in a single direction……..this means that by going from Manchester to NZ we would essentially be cutting out half of the world from the rest of the ticket.
- And finally, I have a few friends who I asked advice on who had done a lot of traveling in the past (2 of which have never returned since :-) ) and they all advised against it. The main thing which a friend, Kev, told me, “I’ve travelled with people who were on a RTW ticket and all of them regretted it at some stage. They told me that they start to think of their trip as being dictated by when the next time is that they will need to get in touch with the airport to sort out their next flight”
This was really the clincher for me……all in all, I knew I was going to be happy to pay a bit over the odds for the flights in order that I can be flexible along the journey……for all I know there may be whole cities and even countries which I’m recommended to go to which I haven’t even thought of yet, and I like the idea of being able to change my plans with minimal hassle.
So, sorry James, you were brilliant, but the RTW just wasn’t for me this time around.
So the plan reverted to ‘follow the sun’….start out in New Zealand and then move up the equator for the first half of the year…..and then back down the equator for the 2nd. No more winters!
Rough county list for this is:
New Zealand -> Australia -> Thailand -> Cambodia -> Vietnam -> Laos -> China -> Japan -> Peru -> Chile -> Argentina -> Brazil
However, this may all change depending on how time, money, willpower and recommendations that we receive along the way come into play. I guess we’ll see how it pans out!