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Preparing a world trip: challenge or not?
The idea of doing a world trip came to us pretty naturally. We knew that we wanted to leave Norway and at the same time going back to France wasn’t in our plans.
We were sure of two things: our need to stay abroad and our thirst for knowledge.
We could probably have tried to work abroad, in our field of expertise, but a world trip was the best way to combine all of our wishes: we would be able to visit several countries (and who knows, find our little corner of paradise??), and we would get the opportunity to work in different fields as well as gather a lot of knowledge on a short period.
However, preparing a world trip is about turning your dreams into reality, a concrete project. This is far from being an easy task…. In fact it can be a real challenge.
One of the first challenges for us was to decided our itinerary. Where should we go? How many countries should we visit? How long should we stay? Which means of transportation should we use? Etc.
If you were to look at the first draft of our project, you would quickly notice that we decided to actually visit about 20% of the countries that were on our list. Read more about the itinerary we have chosen here.
So what happened?
We let our project mature.
First by asking ourselves what we wanted to do and see in each country. For example we first planned on going to New-Zealand. But after some researches, we learnt that in order to do Wwoof, HelpX or Workaway missions we would need a working holiday visa. Unfortunately it’s impossible to get the golden ticket once you are over 30 years old, which is the case for Arthur. We would have had to travel there as tourists only. That wouldn’t be coherent with our project: have a mission in each country that we will visit and get some new competencies and knowledge along the way. When preparing a world trip you need to make choices: we won’t go to New-Zealand.
Other place that isn’t on our list anymore? New-Caledonia.
A world trip can be the opportunity to visit those places that we would only dream to go to for your honey moon. The temptation can be strong and it is easy to tell yourself ‘Ohh we will be so close to there, why not go?!’. And it is what happened to us (well mostly to me :P). We will travel to Australia and Sydney is ‘only’ 2000 km from Noumea. So we put New Caledonia on our list but for two reasons it didn’t stay there for long.
First the budget. We will get back to it later in the article, but we can say that the price of the plane tickets to go to the archipelago from Australia seemed a bit too expensive for us. Second reason why we won’t go to New Caledonia (sniff): not many missions available. Yep, New Caledonia isn’t that big and of course opportunities to have Wwoof, Workaway or HelpX missions are limited. The risk for us? Booking ticket planes and not being able to find a mission. But as they say better safe than sorry: New Caledonia, see you next time 😉
Anyway, time would probably have been short….
Tic tac, tic tac, tic tac….
The clock is running, and it’s running fast! Our decision to do our world trip was taken in April. Before that we would talk about it, without being real sure about the feasibility of our project. And then we made our decision. My mission in Norway would come to end in August and after that, no more reason to stay in the country, so why not just go ahead and start immediately after? Arthur agreed: we would start our world trip mid-September.
This is how we ended up having to organize a world trip in less than 6 months. At first I thought that we would have enough time to do everything. I was wrong. Looking back on it, at some point we were in a rush to do some stuff (vaccines, insurance, visas, etc…). Plus we need to think about the moving of our stuff from Norway. Looking back at it, I think that preparing a world trip 1 year in advance would be the best way to avoid any stress or ‘rush periods’.
But the time isn’t just a notion that you need to think about during the preparation, you also need to take it into consideration during the project.
We are going to travel a bit less than one year, and contrary to what some may think, it is short. We can’t do everything. For example at some point we had planned to visit 16 countries. It’s way too much! To reduce our list, we simply looked at the missions we could do in each country and selected that way.
Another way to select places is by looking at your budget.
When preparing a world trip one of the first thing you have to think about is your budget. Some can travel with less than 10 000 euros, whereas others will spend 4 or 5 times this amount, or more. It depends on your itinerary and way of travelling. Will you stay in hotels or hostels? Eat in restaurants every night or prepare your own meals? Take the plane or the bus? In short the questions are numerous, just like the answers.
By opting for experiences such as Wwooffing, we hope to do some savings on the budget “location/food”. The principle of these kind of missions is that in exchange of the work that we will do, our hosts will offer board and lodging. And what will happen when we won’t be able to find any missions? We will try do do Couchsurfing or go to hostels.
On top of that we are going to travel as much as possible by using the bus (often less expensive than the plane), and when it’s not possible, we will take the cheapest flights. Those usually mean very long stopovers, but we will take the time. Doing savings on the means of transportation are synonym for us of more money for activities. It’s definitely not a trivial subject for us.
When it comes to our equipment, we have not yet decided what were are going to take with us. But one thing is sure: if we decide to buy something we will keep in mind the price/quality ratio.
Our budget made us realize that some destinations were just not going to be on our list for this time. For example Arthur wanted to go to the Galapagos. Why not? But the expensive tickets planes and the detour we would have had to make to go to Ecuador were two things that stopped us from adding the Galapagos on our list.
Finally, when preparing a world trip you need to consider “round the world flights”.
Round the world flights
Yes, we didn’t escape from this question. When you decide like us to connect some destinations by planes there are 3 possibilities.
An alliance is a pool of several airlines that offers round the world flights. Their prices are set depending on the number of miles covered or the number of segments (countries visited).
By using the websites such as One World or Star Alliance to name but a few, we quickly saw that it wouldn’t be easy to get a quote for our itinerary. With one of them we were way beyond the number of miles authorized (alliances don’t always have direct flights for the countries you want to visit, yet all the stopovers add miles), and with the other we were over the the number of segments (same issue as with the miles).
We were able to obtain quotes by modifying significantly our itinerary or dates of travel. But in the end it was too expensive, and we didn’t want to make too many concessions on our trip.
We have contacted two agences: Travel Nation (British agency) et ZipWorld (French agency). In both cases we have completed an online form to inform about our itinerary, dates and budget.
We didn’t get any feedback from Travel Nation, and carried on with Zip World.
Looking at their website we caught something: only one of their “prefabricated” itinerary included Africa, the most expensive one. Yet, we plan on going to South Africa and Tanzania during our world trip. We knew that the cost estimate wasn’t going to satisfy us… and we were right. The quote for our itinerary was 1,5 to 2 times higher than if we had taken our tickets by ourselves. And it’s not surprising. For a Paris-Moscow to told us that we would each have to pay 300 euros! Clearly the alliance they are working with doesn’t have any direct flights between those two destinations.
3. Buy tickets as you go along
You will understand that after our talks with Zip World, we have made the choice of buying our tickets as we go along. By travelling only on major flights paths we hope to do some savings while keeping the itinerary of our dreams.
We will travel by bus or train when possible. To visit Russia, Mongolia and China we will take the transmongolian. We will buy our tickets when we will get there, this method being often cheaper than if we had to through an agency in France.
And one of the advantage of the ‘buy tickets as you go along’ is the freedom. You can choose your itinerary, decide to stay longer or not in a country. In short you have the choice, and when it comes to a world trip, it’s really important!
So preparing a world trip: challenge or not?
Preparing a world trip can quickly turn into a headache. Our preparations are far from being complete, but in the end we feel like the challenge can be overcome if you ask yourself the right questions, know your priorities and the subjects your are ready to do concessions on. For us, a world trip is only about organization, one you have got it, everything will seem simple.
You have questions? You want to share with us your experiences? Leave us a comment 🙂