Planning a year of travel is a lot of work. You have to plan out where you want to go, what’s the feasible way to get from point A to B to C, and you have to figure out how much it will cost and if you can afford it. Luckily, I have a secret weapon in this department, his name is Tom! If I was left to my own devices I would just go wherever looked prettiest until my bank account ran out. But since that’s not helpful information, Tom is taking over the blog today to discuss how we planned our one-year trip itinerary. Next week he’ll be back to talk about how we planned our yearly budget and in case you missed it check out his previous post about how to save up to be able to afford a year of travel.
To keep motivated with your saving plans, it helps to get a little travel inspiration. What better way than to start building your dream travel itinerary. Gorge over the countless pictures online, binge watch the three seasons of Departures, follow the best travel Instagrammers, and start listing off the places you’d like to experience for yourself. Your itinerary is also a necessary first step to creating a detailed budget, so here are some steps we followed to choose where our year trip would take us.
Be Aware of the General Cost of Living
Where you are traveling probably has the single biggest impact on your wallet. Your dollar will go significantly further in places like Southeast Asia and South America than more expensive areas like Europe and Australia. We made sure to include a mix of both to allow us to experience places that were high on our bucket list and still be able to afford a full year of travel. For example, our two expensive weeks in Japan are offset by our two months of cheap travel through Southeast Asia.
Start Putting Pins on a Map
Keeping this consideration in mind, we made a list of the top places we wanted to travel to. This is the fun part but it can be pretty challenging to narrow down the list to an acceptable amount of places to see within a year timeframe. A year is not very long at all when you start putting pins on a map.
It’s important to remember that the less places you visit, the less you will spend on transportation. This slower travel also gives you more time to truly experience an area rather than rushing from one place to the next.
Connect the Dots
To determine the order of which countries to visit, I researched temperature and precipitation in different areas so we could plan to visit specific countries when the climate suited us best (i.e. Chasing the sun and avoiding winter!). The weatherspark website is your friend for quickly getting monthly averages for almost any destination.
It’s also a good idea to be aware of any special holidays or annual festivals you may want to visit to ensure you are in the right place at the right time. Some examples to consider are:
- Carnival in Brazil in February
- Cherry blossom season in Japan in early April
- New Years water fight in Thailand in mid-April
- Yacht week in Croatia in July/August
- Oktoberfest in Germany in late September
Determine the Duration
Make sure you include in your itinerary how long you initially plan to stay in each country. Keep some room to be flexible so you can adjust the duration if you want. By knowing approximately how long you will be in each area, you can ensure you are moving on to the next destination in time for whatever season/holiday/festival you may be hoping to include.
Figure out the Details Later
No need to start booking flights and hotels just yet. By just knowing roughly where you plan to be, when you plan to be there and for how long – you’ll have the most critical information you’ll need to start building a budget.
Once we had settled on these broader decisions, we had our rough itinerary built. During our year trip of travel, we plan to remain flexible so we can adjust destinations and durations slightly if we’d like – which we are expecting could vary based on our mood, likes/dislikes, airline seat sales or other unforeseen opportunities.
In the third part of this series, we’ll share the final step for planning a year trip by providing some tips on creating the overall budget.