A 9-step plan to go around the world | Way of life
The decision to quit your job to travel the world isn’t easy: you need money, a plan, and the overall determination to achieve a goal that seems larger than life.
I had none of that when I landed my first job out of college, working for a small local newspaper in Miami. It took a few months for the idea to develop, and another two years before I saved up enough money to make it happen.
My first job was anything but glamorous. I couldn’t afford to live in Miami on my freshman journalist salary, so I moved in with a family friend an hour away. During this hour-long daily commute, I was thinking about all the travels that have eluded me: why didn’t I study abroad at university? Why didn’t I take this post-graduate trip to Europe?
I felt suffocated by the 10 day vacation policy and the pressure to never take time off. The few vacation days I had were spent visiting my mother and father – each living in a different state from mine – and the rest of my family in Brazil. Dream trips to Italy and Thailand would be almost impossible.
I felt an intense desire to escape the traditional routine: Over the next two years, my boyfriend and I budgeted, planned, and purged our belongings for what would become a 10-month trip through Europe. , South America and Southeast Asia.
This trip around the world changed my life. And if you’re curious, that’s exactly how you can do it too.
Set a travel budget
The basic budget for a trip around the world usually starts at $50 per day. This takes into account all expenses including transportation, accommodation, food and activities averaged over the entire trip.
You can go above or below, depending on your travel style.
My boyfriend and I each spent just over $18,500 in 10 months, an average of $62 a day. We used this helpful spreadsheet created by fellow world traveler Shannon O’Donnell to track our spending in each country.
We’ve stayed in budget hotels or shared Airbnbs, taken dozens of night bus rides to save on hotel stays and avoid expensive tourist traps. Living on $62 a day meant lowering our standards: we encountered a moldy showerhead in Prague, a mattress with no sheets in Dubrovnik, Croatia; an ant infestation in Mancora, Peru; giant cockroaches in Bali; And the list continues.
Amanda Monique Brown had a bigger budget to play after selling her condo in the summer of 2020. The 28-year-old consultant actuary says she earned an average of around $155 a day during the year-long trip. She was able to splurge on a safari in Kenya, a catamaran trip to the Galapagos, and an ayahuasca retreat in Peru.
“I feel like it’s mostly about being willing to concede certain things,” Monique Brown said. “If I have to eat peanut butter and jelly in my room for a week to pay for a snorkeling trip, I’ll happily do it.”
Create a savings plan
Take a look at your fixed expenses and see what you can reduce.
I had to make a lot of changes to reach my original goal of $15,000. I got a better paying job, moved in with my boyfriend to split the rent, curtailed my social life, and hosted weekend events. The highest paying gigs were brand ambassador jobs. That’s when a marketing company hires you to work on events like the Miami Open tennis tournament. I took time off from my full-time job to play this tournament two years in a row.
We actually returned to the US during our trip to work on the event again – which funded the Southeast Asia portion of our trip.
It took two years to reach my goal, as well as setting aside money for a return fund. This cushion helped me stay afloat when I got home and started applying for jobs.
Make a to-do list
The easiest and most exciting part of the planning process is creating a to-do list.
Write down every country, city or landmark you’ve always wanted to visit. You can also approach this through experiences – the road trip to the Uyuni salt desert in Bolivia and scuba diving in Thailand top my list. Browse Pinterest and Instagram. Read travel blogs. Flip through magazines. Talk to international friends or those who have lived abroad.
Let your imagination run wild; you can shorten this list later.
Create your itinerary
Place each destination on a map, then organize them by region to make your trip as cost effective as possible.
For example, my trip focused on three regions: Western Europe, South America and Southeast Asia. While I also wanted to visit places like South Africa and New Zealand, they were too far from the others on my list and would require additional long haul flights.
As a general rule, it is better to follow an overall direction. Research shows that traveling west is easier on the body. You don’t have to follow this rule, but it helps to avoid returns and additional shipping charges.
Then there is the weather. Many travelers around the world favor hot destinations and plan their itinerary during the summer months in each country. Try slipping a down jacket into a 40 liter backpack and you’ll understand why!
Once you have a solid list of locations, check the covid-19 restrictions for each. Some countries like Japan are not yet fully open to regular visitors.
Determine how long you will be abroad
If you don’t have a set duration in mind, try this:
Add each city to a spreadsheet.
Write down the number of days you want to spend in each, making sure to factor in travel time.
Add the number of days.
There are two ways to approach long-duration travel: slow and fast.
Slow travelers spend weeks or even months in a single country. “You form a community and participate in events and activities that promote the longevity and well-being of the place,” says Brittany Sneller, a 29-year-old travel blogger who has been traveling full-time for seven years.
“I like being able to feel more connected to a place and its people rather than sneaking around,” she says.
“Fast” trips, on the other hand, are about seeing as much as possible in a given amount of time. When I started my journey, it was only supposed to last six months. And I was traveling fast: I went through 20 cities in Europe in the first two months.
There is no right or wrong option. The experience is yours and you should choose what best suits your travel style.
Start packing light
Are you Team Carry-On or Team Backpack? I knew my bag would be thrown in and out of rickety boats and tuk-tuks, so I chose the latter.
Whichever you choose, plan to pack about a week’s worth of clothes. You’ll soon realize that you don’t need more than that. One of the greatest lessons learned from traveling the world is the art of minimalism.
The essentials I recommend are packing cubes, comfortable walking shoes, a quick-drying travel towel, a universal adapter, and a Scrubba laundry bag for portable laundry.
Tell your employer
Wait until you reach your savings goal before quitting your job.
When you put in your two weeks notice, be transparent about your plans. Your colleagues may not understand or even support you, but it’s better to hear it directly from you than to see it on social media.
Some companies have flexible sabbatical policies and may even welcome you back after you return. My boyfriend had a close relationship with his team and shared his travel plans months before we left. In return, the company said they would be happy to hire him after the trip.
Make a final checklist
Make arrangements for your pets, cars and personal belongings. We moved most of our stuff into a storage unit and sold the rest.
Research the visa requirements for each destination.
Go to a travel clinic to receive the necessary vaccines and medications for the countries you are visiting.
Obtain a long-term supply of subscription medication and/or contact lenses.
Get travel insurance. There are a few expat plans that provide coverage in the US and overseas, ideal for those who lose coverage when they leave their job.
Book your one-way ticket
Getting a one-way ticket is the start of your new flexible adventure. When you finally buy it, there is no turning back.