Itinerary—where to first on a RTW trip?

| September 8, 2009 | 20 Comments
itinerary Itinerary—where to first on a RTW trip?

Faced with the prospect of leaving North America in July, where would you go?

Okay. Here’s a theoretical question. Thanks in advance for indulging us! Faced with the prospect of leaving North America in July on a long-term trip, where would you go? Keeping in mind that we prefer to travel away from crowds and prefer shoulder season to low season—and like to avoid high season wherever possible. Cost is a consideration, as are crowds. Our budget would be considered mid-range—occasional nights spent in hostels and dorms supplemented by private rooms here and there. You may select up to two options.

Asking our readers

Faced with the prospect of leaving North America in July on a RTW trip, where would you go?

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With so many options and ‘must-visit’ sights on the world map, we’re in need of some ideas of where to go and how to plan our experience. What would you suggest? We’re also trying to account for, in addition to the points above, what would be the best region to start from that would allow for onward travel while incurring the least expense. For example, we’re leaning away from Europe owing to the fact that it’s high season and extremely busy. That being said, we’re leaning toward Central and South America, as it’s shoulder/low season at that time. However, the cost of travelling onward from South America is much greater than Europe (and one’s options are reduced relative to Europe). For my wife and I, the most important question that we face is not: “Where are we going to go?”, but rather “Where do we begin?”. The only thing that we’re committed to thus far is a departure date—the first week of July 2011—and the duration, 12 months—the length of our sabbaticals. The date is the only thing we’ve set in stone.

We will avoid the temptation of overplanning. However, in the interim before our departure, we would like to start by reading guidebooks and novels set in the destination of our choosing. Our plan is to be away for 12 months, and we’re not attached to any destination in particular.

So, given that your must leave in July, where might you go? Which of the following ‘circuits’ might you start with? In the poll, we’ve not included an exhaustive list, just some regions that have interested us.

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About the Author ()

For nearly ten years now, Daniel of Two Go Round-The-World has explored how travel captures our imagination and engages our deepest emotions. One half of the duo that maintains the widely read Two Go Round-The-World blog, Daniel treats his subjects not only as works of art but also as symbols of the cultural and political forces that inspire them. His latest book, The Physics of Flocking, gathers his favourite writing featured over the past two years on Two Go Round-The-World in columns like 'Looking Back' and 'The Whole Picture'—along with new reflections.

Comments (20)

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  1. I would suggest heading to Cental and South American — Ecuador, the Galapagos, Peru, and Bolivia perhaps. July in Ecuador is dry, warm and the weather is perfect for trekking. There is still enough water in the rivers for a gentle raft journey on an indigenous-style raft. The tropical vegetation is still lush and green.

    On the Galapogos, there’s less rain and the islands are drier, though cooler. The water temperature drops considerably, though this is the ideal time of year to see more aquatic life, as the animals prefer the colder currents. Whales & dolphins are more likely to be observed around these times.

    Like Equador, Peru has a favourable climate throughout the year. However, the best time to visit is during the dry season from May to September. In the highlands—for example if you wanted to visit Macchu Piccu—the dry season is between June and October, but even the mountains’ wet season isn’t always really wet and the dry season sees its share of downpours. Temperatures during the day in the dry season can get hot making shorts rather inviting. At night, temperatures can drop quickly and a warm sweater makes walking around the plazas comfortable.

    Likewise, Bolivia offers favourable weather that timeof year. Although the peak tourist season is from June to September, due to the climate and the festival season. In my opinion, the best time of the year is the cool, dry period from May to October.

    • Daniel says:

      Thanks Steven—a lot of information to consider here. Much appreciated! We’re certainly interested in heading to the Galapagos, and Macchu Piccu as well. From the reading that we’ve been doing, we’ve learned that this might not be a bad time to be trekking (although it might be a little busy at times!). Thanks!

  2. I would avoid Europe in July/August and September. Maybe even into October. Because fall and spring bring cooler temperatures in Mediterranean Europe, “shoulder season” in much of Italy, southern France, and Spain can actually come with peak-season crowds and prices.

    Flights to Urope usually begin discounting in October. Hotel rates drop and a greater selection of rooms—so you can be choosy and negotiate! In southern European cities, the weather can still be really nice until mid-November or early December.

    The summer cruise ship crowds have mostly left the Greek Islands and Turkey around this time, but the early fall weather is still really nice. Also, the party kids have gone home (a good thing, unless that’s why you’re going aborad) and hostels are open to bargaining.

    • Daniel says:

      Thanks Anthony—I had the same thoughts about Europe, especially in the west around that time. I think we’re beginning to lean toward heading to Central/South America and then on to Europe—closer to November/December—when things are a little quieter!

  3. Jason says:

    From NY City we headed to Central America, Guatemala first. We began our trip in September and the weather has been perfect. We have been pleasantly surprised by how much there is to do in Guatemala. It is an excellent country to get your feet wet.

    • Daniel says:

      Sweet—Guatemala. A fellow Canadian travel blogger who comments on here (David Hawke) is a big Guatemala booster. Sounds like a good place to start. I know for certain that we want to hit Ecuador, the Galapagos, Peru, and Bolivia. Hadn’t considered Guatemala. Will check it out! Thanks, Jason!

  4. Stephanie says:

    I will be interested to see what you end up doing. It’s hard when you have to work around a certain date. I’ve set my departure for September 2010 so I’ve been spending a lot of time figuring out where to go first that will be in the correct season and make onward travel easy. I’m thinking New Zealand/Australia. I’m not planning on going to Central or South America though, so for you guys that may be the best choice.

    • Daniel says:

      Cool, Stephanie. I wish we were leaving next year. However, in order to make sure we’ve achieved financial goals, etc. we’re pretty certain that we have to try to make things happen in July 2011 or thereafter—as the timeframe would accomodate our proposed sabbaticals.

  5. Gourmantic says:

    If you don’t mind the cold weather, you could start off with New Zealand, touring both islands then move on to Australia, where the climate is warmer and differs depending on where you visit. I’d avoid Europe during the height of summer. You just never get the feel of a country when you’ve got tourists everywhere.

    • Daniel says:

      This idea might actually line up better with an around-the-world ticket if that’s the tack we decide to take. We’re Canadian, so we don’t mind the colder weather at all! Well, at least I don’t. Kathryn is another story altogether!

  6. corina says:

    we´ve been traveling for almost 2 months in europe and it has been quite expensive. more than we anticipated. our feeling was that we wanted to come to europe and it was either the first place we came or the last on our rtw trip. either would have been mid-high season july/august/september this year or may/june/july next year. in reality we possibly should have left europe out of our rtw trip and come here on another europe only trip as our budget has suffered a great deal!

    europe in general will hit your budget hard but by traveling during the shoulder and high season your options for inexpensive accommodations are limited. we´ve had a difficult time booking hostels in some cities as the only options left are in 12-18 bed dorms. yeouch!

    good luck with your planning. i´m sure you will suffer from wanting-to-do-too-muchitis like we did!

    • Daniel says:

      Hi Corina, appreciate your taking some time off to share your experiences whilst on the road. Our line of thinking was similar to yours, as well as the timing. We definitely would like to get to Europe but would prefer to do it in low season, but would also avoid backtracking if at all possible. Thanks for some more to chew on!

  7. Ryan says:

    My girlfriend and I will be heading out on our RTW trip in June 2010. We’re starting in Cairo, Egypt! I know, I know… it’s going to be very hot. BUT… we really don’t mind the heat and we don’t plan on being outside seeing the sights everyday anyways. We would like to explore places like Alexandria and coastal cities that we can just relax in. Another reason why we are starting our RTW trip in Cairo is because we got one way tickets from BOS-CAI for $600/pp! Amazing deal, if you ask me. Historically, flights go for $800-$1800 USD. We don’t really know where we’ll head after Egypt as of yet, but now that we’ve purchased our first ticket, the trip seems so REAL now. We’re really looking forward to this life changing adventure!

    • Daniel says:

      Right on Ryan; that’s a great deal. I think that your approach is great. it’s tough to avoid the temptation of overplanning, especially if the trip is a long way off (as is ours). So I think the way you are going about it works wonders. Looking forward to following along with your preparations!

  8. Shelz says:

    Your website and your rtw plan is really inspiring. Do not hesitate to contact me when you are leaving to Malaysia, I’m more than happy to share the travel tips and information of my country with you.

    • Daniel says:

      Wow Shelz—that’s very generous! We will be sure to do just that. It’s almost certain that we’ll be returning to Malaysia. We loved it!

  9. kirsten says:

    Hi guys, just wanted to chime in on S. America, I was there in .arch/April and did Buenos Aires, Patagonia, Mendoza and the Atacama desert in Northern Chile which was amazing, I’d recommend checking out San Pedro de Atacama if at all possible, a little awkward to get to bc you have to fly to Calama Chile but it is worth it! I lived in Ireland for 3 yrs too so let me know if you need any info. All the best with planning, I am enjoying reading!

  10. Hey guys! Love the site! My hubby and I just left on our RTW a month ago! It seems like longer, but we’re having a blast! I would just take one day at a time, just plan the first few places, whatever makes sense geographically, then talk to people on the road, research while you are traveling and it will all just make sense! Also, check out our blog and others for advice :)
    Good luck and we’ll be keeping up with your planning and will be sending some tips along your way!

  11. My hubby and I just left about a month ago for our year long RTW trip! SE Asia is easy on the budget, especially in the beginning when you’re trying to get used to the lifestyle and are unsure about the shortcuts, discounts, easy ways out that you discover along the way. Definitely check out our blog and you’ll get a preview :) Let us know if you have any questions and we’ll be happy to share some insight! We’ll be following along on your planning – your big trip will be here before you know it! Enjoy your time in a comfy bed!!

  12. If you possibly can, I would add more time as you will be amazed at how fast a year will zip by. Slow travel is also MUCH cheaper & greener..we live/travel large on 25K a year for a family of 3!

    Do as much over land as possible, remembering that one gets more of a feel for a country & it’s people in rural areas.

    There ARE great places in Europe that are not crowded even in August! See our website for ideas as it is a shame to miss Europe.

    Don’t miss Morroco …especially fez & Sahara and also Turkey, Galicia, Croatia,Spain, Cinque Terra,Provence,Norway fjords,Portugal,romantic road, Alsace,Burgundy, St Emilion,Sweden,Montenegro, pompeii, ephesus, Santorini etc!

    Follow the weather and hit hot places when they are cool and cold/rainy places when they are nice!

    Hth Enjoy it all!

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