How to plan an around the world itinerary?

Planning an around the world itinerary is not an easy task. This guide will show you how to plan your route in simple steps.

In the world, there are about 195 independent countries. So how do you even begin your search on your around the world itinerary and what countries you would like to visit? It seems a hard task. There are so many beautiful places out there and you want to see them all, right? Unfortunately you have to make choices and keep many things in mind like the weather, high season versus low season, minimizing flight costs, and so on…  We literally changed our route 20 times due to beginner mistakes. In this blog post, we want to share our experiences, so you don’t make the same mistakes like we did and you

  1. make an around the world itinerary you will love and actually can achieve;
  2. know how to choose the right season;
  3. save a lot of precious time!

Step 1: How to start planning your around the world itinerary ?

Set priorities! The first step was to write down all the countries we would like to see. So in this initial phase, you should not be thinking about weather conditions or how expensive the country will be. That’s the difficult task in step 4.

A good way to start, is looking at other travel blogs. First look for the highlights each country has to offer. If you like what you see, start looking up more information. Another major source of inspiration for us was ‘Departures’, a series that we recommend to all that are keen on travelling. The choice for Sri Lanka, Zambia and The Cook Islands was mainly based on Justin and Scott their adventures! During our preparations, our knowledge of geography was surely boosted. Whenever we read or heard about a country we looked it up on the world map canvas hanging in our kitchen to see if it was on our route.

If you got inspired, then head to the next step.

Step 2: Know what you like and what kind of traveler you are

Ask yourself these simple questions:

Do I like…

  • Big cities or nature?
  • Hiking?
  • Diving and snorkeling?
  • Sea or mountains?
  • Food?
  • History and culture?

This will greatly help narrowing down your list, help to choose the right countries and eventually planning your world trip route. Check if the countries offer you the variety you are looking for. Don’t write off countries too quickly. Did you for instance know that China offers all the above items? Keep also in mind that you will travel for a longer period. This means that you will have to slow down your normal travel pace and take some rest in between activities.

jinsha river tiger leaping gorge
At the Jinsha river at the bottom of the tiger leaping gorge

Step 3: Putting together your ultimate world travel itinerary

Okay, so by now you hopefully have a rough list of countries you really would like to visit. But how will you put all your ideas together into one ultimate travel route?

On a Sunday morning, we decided to individually write down our top ten. Luckily, there was some overlap! We also mapped our route on worldmaps to give us an idea what countries are nearby eachother and what countries where logical stopovers. They let you think out of the box. That’s how China and Thailand were added to our route. Check if your itinerary makes sense. 

Step 4: Easy, cost effective and convenient travel routes

Step 4 was our least favorite one, but we admit it was an important one for your bank account. This step is all about making decisions and check if your travel itinerary actually makes sense.

Check every country on your list for the following aspects:

  • How do I get from country A to B?
  • Can I travel overland? (which is in most cases the cheapest option)
  • How expensive is flying from country A to B?
  • How expensive are the daily expenses (e.g. accommodation, food, entrance fees, etc…)

This will greatly help you understand logical travel routes and save money and time on the road.

tuktuk transport in sri lanka
We loved hitting the roads with our own tuktuk

Step 5: Picking the right period and season for your trip

This step is also about making decisions. But to be honest, it is not as crucial as step 4. Simply because every season has its advantages and disadvantages. Traveling during high season will likely have better weather conditions. On the other hand, you will face more crowds and prices for hotels tend to rise. Ideally, you want to plan your route around shoulder season. This gives you the most comfort and bang for the buck!

Conclusion and last itinerary tip

Don’t stress about your route too much. As an old saying goes: it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. Try to see your world trip as a journey and the planning as a process. So as our last advice: be flexible, change your route if you feel like it and enjoy the ride!

Any other advice for planning a world trip? Share some comments or thoughts at the bottom of the page.

Thanks for reading!