You know you’ve got some questions about how we pulled this off. Here are a few of the common ones:
What are you doing? How are you doing this?
We have been planning this round the world (RTW) adventure for some time now. We were last abroad for an extended period of time in 2003-04 when we lived down under in Australia and New Zealand. We returned from that trip with the idea of saving for a RTW trip in the future. Needless to say, weddings, grad school, and life happened and it took nearly six years for our dream to become a reality.
As for how we are doing this, frankly, we saved a lot of money with this goal in mind. We’ve been actively saving for this trip since late 2007 which coincides with when we both settled into full-time jobs in Colorado.
Do your families think you are nuts?
We think they might have at some point. As we mentioned above, we’ve been planning this trip in our heads for a long time. Deep down they might have been hoping that we’d change our minds or not ever actually do it. However, as it became more realistic and once they realized that we were going to make it happen – they have been incredibly supportive. In fact Sarah’s mom is probably this blog’s biggest promoter!
Where are you going?
Check our our itinerary page for the route and approximate dates. At this point, it is still accurate as far as we know.
Where are you staying along the way?
For the most part we are staying in hostels. Not surprisingly, the quality, cost, and set-up of hostels varies from place to place and country to country. Overall we’ve been pleasantly surprised with the quality, comfort, privacy and affordability. As a point of reference, a room with a double bed and a private bathroom cost us $26 in Quito, Ecuador and the same without a private bath in Sucre, Bolivia cost us $11. But keep in mind, some places provide towels, soap, wifi, and cable TV and some places don’t even have toilets with toilet seats or provide toilet paper!
In addition to hostels, we have friends and family along the way that have already hosted us (thank you to Courtney and Jed & and thank you to the Smedes!) and others that have offered to do so and we have accepted!
Also, when we go on group tours, our accommodation is arranged for us. This includes our Mountain Lodges of Peru hike and our trip to Muyana Lodge, for example.
We have also had several home-stay experiences both in Pucara, Ecuador and Taquile, Peru. I anticipate we’ll have more of these along the way.
And lastly, though we haven’t yet, we hope to take advantage of Couchsurfing. Ted and I have hosted Couchsurfers in Boulder, but we haven’t been Couchsurfers ourselves.
How far ahead do you plan your next stop?
It depends. We have very few strict date parameters outside of our existing international flights which allows us to be very flexible with our time. However, in Peru we had several specific trip dates that were coordinated by Adventures Within Reach so we had to be much more conscientious with our schedule.
In general, we try and identify the cities and areas we want to be sure to visit in a particular country and then spend our time determining how to get there and how much time to allow in each area once we have arrived. So we have a general idea 2-3 weeks ahead of time, but actual hostels and activities aren’t generally booked until a night or two ahead.
As we look ahead to being in South Africa over the holidays, we’ll need to plan weeks to months in advance to ensure that we will have a place to stay and can do the activities we want to do.
Did you buy an around the world airline ticket?
We get asked this question a lot. We did not technically buy a RTW airline ticket, rather, we bought a ticket that will get us around the world. The benefit of a traditional RTW airline ticket is that is allows for a lot of flexibility with both destinations and dates of travel. However, many RTW tickets have restrictions about the direction you must fly or the number of miles you can use. You are also restricted to the ports that certain airline alliances fly to, etc. The flexibility also means that these tickets can be quite expensive.
The benefit to the ticket we purchased is that we are able to fly where we want to go and when we want to go there. The drawback is that we have limited flexibility if we want to change our dates and almost no flexibility in regards to our destinations (without canceling our current ticket and completely rebooking it). However, our ticket was surprisingly inexpensive because you pay for flexibility and that is what we decided to forfeit.
Who did you book your ticket with?
We booked our ticket with an airline ticket consolidator out of San Francisco called AirTreks. After price comparing across several companies both in the States and internationally, AirTreks had the best prices by far.
How much did your ticket cost?
We can’t answer that accurately yet as we have currently only purchased our tickets through Delhi, India. This is because you can only purchase airline tickets up to 330 days in advance so when we purchased our tickets in May 2010, it was too early for us to purchase anything beyond our flight to Delhi in March 2011.
Our ticket below cost around $2700 each, including all the fees and taxes:
Denver, Colorado > Quito, Ecuador > Lima, Peru > overland to Buenos Aires, Argentina > Buenas Aires, Argentina > Capetown, South Africa > overland to Johannesburg, South Africa > Johannesburg, South Africa > Dar es Salaam, Tanzania > overland to Nairobi, Kenya > Nairobi, Kenya > Delhi, India
AirTreks estimated that the remainder of our ticket will cost ~$1500 and will include:
Overland from Delhi, India to Kathmandu, Nepal > Kathmandu, Nepal > Singapore > Denver, Colorado
So, in total, our ticket should be around $4200 and we think that is a pretty darn good deal.
How much did you budget for this trip?
This is the question that most people want to know. Originally we planned on our trip being 9 months long and in our heads, we unscientifically budgeted $100 a day (total for the two of us).
Nine months (or 270 days) x $100 = $27,000
Our trip will now be closer to 10-11 months but we are averaging closer to $80/day which allows us to keep that same goal number of ~$27,000. We recognize that South America will be less expensive than Africa and that India and Nepal will be downright cheap compared to the other two continents, but we’re confident that this budget is a pretty darn good estimate. For some nitty-gritty and impressive detail, we must refer you to another travel blog that we follow regularly: www.ishouldlogoff.com . This blog has been a HUGE resource of information to us during our planning and if you want to do a trip like this, definitely check them out.
We should note that the above figure of $27,000 does not include our airline tickets, our costs while we are away (the storage unit for our stuff, car insurance, etc.), or the additional costs in planning a RTW trip (travel insurance, health insurance, immunizations, backpacks and clothes, etc.).
How do you pack for a year?
Wow, this is hard one. We put in a lot of thought and many hours at REI to determine the right mix of things to squeeze into a medium sized pack that will cover us from scorching hot jungle to high altitude mountain temps. Our focus was on bringing the items that would be difficult/expensive to obtain in other countries – mainly technical clothes/gear. You can always buy a pair of jeans and t-shirts in any city in the world.
Here’s a rough list of what we brought:
3 casual short-sleeve shirts (button up)
2 hiking/wicking t-shirts
2 long-sleeve shirts
1 light long-sleeve sweater
3 pants – 1 jeans, 1 zip off pants, 1 casual pants
1 light-weight down coat
1 baseball hat
1 warm hat and gloves
1 flip flops
1 chaco sandals
1 casual but sturdy-soled pair of shoes
underwear and socks
Steripen water purifier
guidebook and fun book
iPod and travel speakers
A few other small items, but that’s about it. Miraculously, it fits quite nicely into our medium-sized packs (60-70 liters)
Are you traveling with a phone? A computer?
We are not traveling with a phone. We considered it but instead have been using Skype for the majority of our calls – both to call home or to call ahead and book our next hostel.
We are traveling with a netbook computer. We love having a computer because it makes blogging a heck of a lot easier and wonderfully, many of the hostels where we are staying have wi-fi. We’ve noticed that many other travelers also have computers with them so we are definitely not the exception.
Of course, traveling with a computer proves to be an extra challenge because it is a valuable item that you have to worry about being stolen. However, now that we’ve already had one computer stolen, we’re hoping we’ll be good for the rest of our trip! If we are unfortunate enough to have it stolen again or something else terrible should happen to it, we will be done with computers at that point.
Can I do a trip like this?
Do you have a mortgage? Do you have a child? Do you have a pet? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you’ll have a lot harder time (but it’s still possible!). If you don’t have any of these responsibilities, then making a similar trip your reality is only a matter of prioritizing. Quit buying stuff, and make an effort to save money every month. Experiences are more important than things!
More questions? Let us know