A RTW trip in three months or less?

| June 19, 2011 | 10 Comments
rtwglobe A RTW trip in three months or less?

As long as you don’t try to cram too many destinations into your itinerary, you’ll be fine.

Is it possible to do a round-the-world (RTW) trip in three months or less? In 1873, Jules Verne wrote about Phileas Fogg, his valet Passepartout, and their trip Around the World in Eighty Days. Today, since the actual time it takes to circumnavigate the planet on commercial airliners is about 40 hours, a three month RTW trip is technically feasible. In fact, earlier this year, Dan Poynter roughly followed the same route that Verne wrote about and circumnavigated the globe in just two days aboard regularly-scheduled commercial airliners. Of course, we don’t recommend it — Poynter, of course, was doing this in promotion of his Air Travel Handbook.

But, as long as you don’t try to cram too many destinations into your itinerary, you’ll be fine. The prevailing wisdom, of course, is that you’ll likely have a far more enriching experience than someone who travels for eight months and tries to see three or four times as many places.

Check out Jenny Mciver’s blog Round the World in 30 Days. She writes:

You may be thinking that you could not possibly find enough time in your busy schedule to take a trip around the world.  To this I say, you are probably wrong.  While most people who take RTW trips do quit their jobs, sell their possessions and hit the road for a year or more, I’m living proof that there are other options.

Jenny goes on to state that the only qualification for a true RTW trip is that you circumnavigate the globe. And of course —only you can decide how long that will take you. She writes: “After all, not everyone needs a week to see the Pyramids, I did it in an afternoon and it was magnificent”.

While there’s no ‘correct’ length of time, most RTW trips last six months to a year; however, the length of the adventure is up to the traveler (and their budget). In our opinion, a year is the perfect amount of time to challenge yourself; it’s a period short enough to envision an end goal but long enough to be significantly challenging to keep up with over the long-term. This, of course, is just our opinion.

That being said, we were certainly dismissive of the notion a couple of years ago in a piece we wrote entitled: “Round the world in 29 days? No thanks!” That thinking came out of our desire not to hurry a trip — which we find to be a kind of poisonous twentieth-century attitude. Like Robert Pirsig writes: “When you want to hurry something, that means you no longer care about it and want to get on to other things”.

What we’ve come to realize in the intervening two years, however, is that this has less to do with length of time spent on the road — and more to do with style of travel. Rolf Potts — although he advocates long-term travel — sums it up thusly: “You must keep in mind that the whole point of long-term travel is having the time to move deliberately through the world.”

According to Doug Lansky in his First Time Around The World, travelling too fast and trying to see too much is the number-one traveller’s mistake. He writes: “Spend at least two days longer than you think. Maybe even two weeks. The faster you go and the more ground you cover, tempting though it may be, the less you’ll see.”

As we’ve said before, growth and insight are attainable for anyone who opens their eyes, whether their itinerary is 30 days long or 365 days long. That ‘authentic’ travel experience does not require you to rush out to your travel agent and book a year-long open jaw ticket. What it does require, however, is for you to slow down leave your preconceptions behind, whether you do that on a thirty-day trip or low and slow over two years is up to you!

So, readers of Two Go Round-The-World, what’s your take? Is it possible to do a RTW trip in three months or less? Is it advisable? In your opinion, what’s the the perfect length of time for a RTW trip?

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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 (10)

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  1. I’m doing one in four months this fall. That wouldn’t be my preference, but I’m going as an employee of UVA/Semester at Sea, so alas, that was my only option!

    • Daniel says:

      Sounds like a great adventure! If it were left to us—we’d prefer 366 days to 365—the proverbial ‘year and a day’. Why? Well, in medieval Europe, a runaway serf became free after a year and a day. All long-term travelers are, in a sense, runaway serfs, escaping from the conventions of a regular existence, preferring the liberty of the road to the right to live conventionally but with fewer freedoms. That being said — we’ll take what we can get!

  2. I think long-term (at least 9 months) is definitely preferable if people have that option. I think it’s silly to rush through a trip just to make a point (as in, hey, I just did a RTW in a week to prove I can travel fast) — BUT if the person only has a limited amount of time, then kudos to them for using what they have!

  3. Kieron says:

    To get the most out of a RTW, it needs to be 6+ months I think. We’re starting our RTW in 5 weeks and couldn’t imagine doing it all in any less!

  4. Andrea says:

    It depends on what you hope to accomplish. If you want to see only a few main places, you’ll probably be fine. Be sure to price the airfare both with a RTW fare and also separately, just in case the latter option is cheaper. I don’t subscribe to the notion that there are “rules” when it comes to travel. If all you have is three months, then that’s all you have. But I wouldn’t try to squeeze more than four places in during that time.

  5. Kirk says:

    Of course traveling the world in 3 months is not the question but rather is it enjoyable for that particular person. It can be done and you can certainly view a lot however it may not be the experience everyone is looking for. Some people may want to spend more time in particular places.

  6. JoAnna says:

    You absolutely can travel around the world in three months, and I applaud people that do. For some reason, it seems like people think that to be a “real” traveler, you have to spend a lot of time in any given place, but if you know what sites you want to hit and you’re efficient about it, I don’t see any reason why you can’t go around the world in three months.

  7. Sometimes when I travel slow I actually see less. You develop the mindset that you have plenty of time to see everything, so maybe you’re tired or hungover or have some excuse why you should just wait and go see that temple or ruin tomorrow, then before you know it you have to move on and you never actually made it. Sometimes when you’re rushed you cram your days extra full because you’re in that hurried mindset and don’t get as lazy. Nothing wrong with a 3 month RTW trip, but obviously more is better!

  8. Kay says:

    I agree heartily with JoAnna’s sentiment regarding RTW in 3 months. I think it all depends on your goals for your personal adventure!
    I’ve read heaps about slow travel and spending months “immersing” in just a few places, and I’m sure that is a great choice for those who make it. By the same token, fast travel is a great choice for many – I don’t think it’s wrong to pick up the pace, visit what’s on your big list of things to do, and move to the beat of your own drummer. The fact that you spent less time in any one location doesn’t negate the experience you had!
    While it may be more expensive to visit a large number of places, if that’s what you’ve budgeted for, and you have the motivation to make it so, then, I believe that, you should, by all means, go every place you desire, do every thing you aspire and be every bit you can inspire.
    As my friend Kyle says, “You’re gonna be dead a long time, so squeeze in all the livin’ that you can!”

  9. Kelsey says:

    Possible? Yes. Enjoyable? Probably not.

    I think it depends on what your goals are for travel. Do you want to check off boxes on a list, or to really immerse yourself? I don’t believe on going anywhere for less than a month at a time.

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