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How to Plan Your
Round the World Trip

So, you’ve decided to pack your bag and head off around the world! Excellent decision, possibly the best decision you’ll make in fact. So don’t worry, yes you will make lots of friends, yes you’ll have an amazing time and yes you probably will get the squits…

Where to go on your trip? Most people have at least one or two must visit destinations that they want to stop in, with many backpackers going to Australia to work and top up their funds for a bit (with a working holiday visa) or New Zealand (visa info here).

Here are some of the most popular other stops on the West to East RTW route. Daily budgets are as a minimum for those staying in hostels, eating cheap food and drinking/partying to a minimum. Travelling from place to place will also up your daily budget as will visiting popular hotspots or doing activities (Taj Mahal, Safari, diving etc). However these are what travelling is all about so factor in the odd splurge to ensure you make the most of your trip.

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EUROPE

Our selection of top destinations in Europe

Spain

One of the cheapest countries to visit in Western Europe, Spain is actually several autonomous regions governed from Madrid. The first stop for most visitors will often be Madrid or Barcelona, justifiably, but there is so much more to see in this culturally rich country. And of course, expect to eat a lot of tapas! Catalonia is one of the most popular regions, based around Barcelona, with stunning beaches and rolling hills. The Balaeric Islands are home to party central (and expensive) Ibiza. For a taste of real Spain head to Bilbao or San Sebastian in Basque Country, Vigo and Santiago de Compostela in Galicia and Sevilla and Granada in Andalusia.

  • Advised duration: 7-14 days at least
  • Hotspots: Barcelona, Seville, The Alhambra at Granada
  • Daily budget: US$35-40

Photo: Patrick Baum. Castle de Beliver, Palma

Greece

The cradle of Western Civilization, Greece these days is home to package tours and sun seeking Europeans. But there’s more to see than half naked Germans… Stunning Mediterranean Islands, incredible food and ancient buildings are the draw here. Santorini is one of the most famous for a reason, it’s stunning and picture postcard perfect – but pick any Greek Island and you’re sure to be happy. Some great packages are available too especially outside of the main summer holiday season (June to September).

  • Advised duration: 7-14 days at least
  • Hotspots: Santorini, Lesbos, The Acropolis at Athens
  • Daily budget: US$40

Photo: Michael Palmer. Santorini

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ASIA & MIDDLE EAST

Unmissable spots throughout in Asia and Middle East

India

The first stop for many travellers on their RTW itinerary, India is a vast and diverse country so a stop off should be for a month at the very least. The north of the country is home to the plains of the Ganges and the Himalayan mountains whereas the south has the stunning beaches of Goa and Kerala and the tea paddys of the Nilgiri Hills.

  • Advised duration: 30 days at least.Goa and Kerala can be done in 10-14 days
  • Hotspots: Varanasi, Manali and the Himalayas, Taj Mahal at Agra, Rajasthan, Goa and Kerala
  • Daily budget: US$10-25

Photo: C Rayban. Amber Palace, Jaipur

Thailand

One of the world’s most popular backpacker destinations, but don’t let that put you off. It’s popular for a reason! Excellent infrastructure, friendly locals, stunning food and some of the worlds most beautiful scenery. Thailand’s central location also makes it excellent for exploring the rest of the region.

  • Advised duration: 14 day minimum. You’ll want to stay longer!
  • Hotspots: Chiang Mai, the islands-Koh Phi Phi and Koh Phangan, Krabi
  • Daily budget: US$20 and up

Photo: Denys Nevozhai. Krabi

Vietnam

Not so much up and coming any more, Vietnam is now firmly on most backpacker trails with a rich culture, awesome scenery and some of the best food on the backpacker trail. It’s also well set up for travellers and as cheap as anywhere else in the region.

  • Advised duration: 14 day minimum
  • Hotspots: Halong bay, Hoi An, Sapa
  • Daily budget: US$15-20 and up

Photo: Paul Morris

China & Hong Kong

Often overlooked but getting much more popular on the tourist trail, the Chinese mainland can be a challenge to even hardened travellers but ultimately offers spectacular rewards. Those willing to give it a go will find themselves rewarded with spectacular food (forget about your local Chinese restaurant options!) super helpful and curious locals and history and culture like nowhere else on earth!

Travellers may find that their airline takes them through China with the glut of cheap airfares running through cities such as Guangzhou and Beijing so even a 24 hour tour of one of these cities is a must if you can.

  • Advised duration: The more the better! One region in 14 days. A month to do a road trip. A 48hr whistlestop tour of Beijing or Hong Kong would be the minimum
  • Hotspots: The Great Wall of China (Beijing), Pandas in Sichuan province, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Yangtze River
  • Daily budget: US$30 and upwards

Photo: Steven Wej. Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong

Malaysia & Singapore

Anyone visiting Asia will likely at some point find themselves passing through Malaysia, such is the power of Air Asia’s cheap flights. KL is a sprawling and cosmopolitan metropolis with food to rival anywhere on earth but Penang is it’s more chilled out a better looking sister up north and springboard to Lankawi and the Perehentian Islands. Kuching is the main city on Borneo and base for visiting the jungles to spot Orangutans.

  • Advised duration: 10 days
  • Hotspots: Langkawi, Kuching and the Orangutans, Penang streetfood
  • Daily budget: US$15-20 and upwards

Photo: Paul-Vincent Roll. Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

Jordan

One of the Middle East regions most stable and welcoming countries, Jordan is a great stop off and can be done relatively easily. The old city of Petra is the picture postcard image of Jordan (as seen in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) and the resorts lining the Dead Sea are a great way to unwind and enjoy a bit of bliss. Couple this with welcoming locals and great food and you’re on to a winner.

  • Advised duration: 10 days
  • Hotspots: Petra, The Dead Sea, Amman
  • Daily budget: US$25-30 and up

Photo: Martino Pietropoli. Petra, Jordan

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AFRICA

Our selection of top spots in Africa

South Africa

Perhaps Africa’s most accessible country, South Africa is a stunningly diverse nation in terms of both scenery, wildlife and it’s people. Having had some bad press over the years, it’s still a great place for backpackers with cheap digs, great food and possibly one of the world’s best looking cities in Cape Town. It may not be the cheapest place to safari but there’s a lot of choice, with Kruger the best known and biggest.

  • Advised duration: 20 days minimum
  • Hotspots: Kruger National Park, The Garden Route, Stellenbosch wine country, Cape Town
  • Daily budget: US$30

Photo: Joseph Argus. Sani Pass, Mkhomazi Wilderness area, SA

Kenya & Tanzania

Stunning beaches, safari and massive diverse landscapes and cultures, both Tanzania and Kenya offer all the best of Africa and more. Zanzibar in Tanzania is a stunningly beautiful island of white buildings, Islamic culture and picture postcard beaches. The two countries have some of the best and most famous safari destinations on the planet including Serengeti, Masai Mara, Tsavo and Ngorogoro national parks – any one of them would be a fantastic choice.. Add to this fantastic diving off the coast, the enticing streets of Mombasa and Zanzibar.

  • Advised duration: 14 days would be ideal, 7 days for a safari stop and tour of Mombasa or Zanzibar
  • Hotspots: Masai Mara or Serengeti national parks, Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar, Mombasa
  • Daily budget: US$25 for simple living but a safari will add upwards of US$80 to that

Photo: Martino Pietropoli. Petra, Jordan