Our Tentative RTW Itinerary

World Map

Map on our apartment wall with pins indicating where our friends live and other places we’re interested in visiting.

When we created this itinerary, we planned our stops around weather and festivals. We hope to never hit super cold temps unless we’re visiting glaciers, mainly because we don’t want to pack thick, heavy clothes. Though we realize it’ll start to get chilly when we plan to be in South America. The good news is that we have a friend in Buenos Aires who can store a box of winter gear for us until we arrive.

I (Tara) look at our itinerary and know that there’s probably no way our trip will unfold like this. We planned it out with the mindset of “If this were to be our last trip, where do we really want to visit and where do we have to travel to knock off some bucket list items?” Naturally, a lot was excluded due to timeline and budget constraints (see “outtakes” — for our next rtw 😉 — at the end of this post).

While I’m obviously looking forward to the whole trip, experiencing Tomatina and Oktoberfest has been on my bucket list for quite some time. Recently, I’ve become obsessed (yes, obsessed is the right word here) with doing an overland trip in southern Africa. Also, I can’t get Iceland, Turkey, India and a large portion of SE Asia out of my head. Eeee! I’m so excited!

Back to your regular scheduled programming…

Mike’s thoughts: I’m most excited to cage dive with great whites in South Africa, live in an apartment on Paris’ left bank and be in India for Diwali while staying with a friend’s family. While Tara took the approach of squeezing in a number of festivals on our trip, I looked at it as keeping us on an endless summer. That required skipping some festivals or locations, but on the whole, ensuring we visit more places overall during comfortable weather conditions (fingers crossed). Initially, we wanted to root ourselves in various cities for long periods of time, but that seems more like an idea for our second rtw—after we see more of the world and find locations we love and would want to live in.

The fact of the matter is that festivals have the potential of inflating the cost of everything from food to lodging, while diluting the experience from that of a traveler to that of a tourist. Yes, festivals introduce you to an aspect of a culture, but oftentimes visitors outnumber locals. We’re already going to pay higher prices to travel in high season, so limiting in other areas where possible will help spread our budget further.

Leave a comment letting us know your thoughts on what we’ve come up with. Way too ambitious? Recommend a festival, an experience, an African overland tour company? Most importantly: Where should we spend New Year’s Eve?! All advice and opinions welcome!

Month/Year Country/Area Festival/Activity
June 2012 Iceland Independence Day (June 17)
late June through late September West/Central/Eastern Europe Running of the Bulls (July 6-14), La Tomatina (Aug. 29) and Oktoberfest (Sept. 22 – Oct. 7)
late September through late October southern Africa overland
late October through early November South Africa
early November through early December India and Sri Lanka Diwali (Nov. 13-17) and Pushkar Camel Fair (Nov.)
mid-December through end of February 2013 SE Asia, China, Japan Full Moon Parties (monthly, Thailand) and Chinese New Year (Feb. 10)
March Australia campervan coast to coast
April until we run out of money South America and Central America


Outtakes that’ll hopefully make it on our next rtw itinerary
: Holland when the tulips are in full bloom, the Holi Festivals of Colours in India, anywhere where we can see the Northern Lights, Monkey Buffet Festival in Thailand, pyramids in Egypt and Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, to name a few.

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16 responses to “Our Tentative RTW Itinerary

  1. Wow, this is an awesome itinerary! Looks like you’re going to be covering a lot of ground. I love that you’re starting with Iceland- we were there earlier this year and were blown away by the experience. You’re probably already considering this, but I’d definitely recommend renting a car and driving the entire Ring Road. We were only able to do a portion because it was still cold and iced over when we went, but loved every minute of it. We’re also considering Diwali in 2012 so maybe we’ll run into ya. 🙂

    • I’m soooo excited for Iceland. I had heard about the Ring Road, but we haven’t started looking into the “attractions” of individual countries just yet, so thanks for putting that in my head!

      When we mentioned to our Indian friend that we were going to be in India for Diwali, he kept stressing that we must keep it on the itinerary–that it’s a really cool experience. Keep that in mind, and maybe we’ll see you two there!

  2. Awesome itinerary guys! You’ve definitely made the right decision to avoid super cold temps – we’re just buying our winter gear now and have no idea where we’re going to put it (apart from possibly layering up on the plane!)…

    Love that you’ve included Africa in here. Which countries are you planning on visiting in SE Asia?

    And being an Aussie, which stops are you planning on making there? Are you going along the East Coast or from the East to West?

    As for NYE, my vote is Bangkok – apparently it goes right off there! Good luck with it all, the only thing you need to worry about is keeping everything within budget. 🙂

    • It’s really tough to travel with winter gear, unless you know you’re only hitting cold weather. But to have clothes for both winter and summer makes it more difficult to pack. Do you think you’ll need winter clothes later on in your trip or just now?

      We’re still deciding exactly which SE Asian countries we’re going to hit, but the definites are Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Taiwan (or is that East Asia? Whatever haha), Singapore and Laos.

      We’ve heard that Bangkok is good for NYE. We’ll have to put that at the top of our list to look into now that you’ve also recommended it. Thanks for the tip!

      In Oz, we were thinking of going either Darwin to Melbourne or Perth to Sydney. Which route do you recommend? We went in 2009 and visited Sydney, Cairns, Adelaide and Kangaroo Island. We really really loved it there. Can’t wait to go back 🙂

      • It does become more difficult to pack – I think we’re going to send home a box of things from NYC to free up some room in our backpacks. We’ll probably spend a while in Europe before hitting up Asia where we can just buy cheap clothes for the warmer weather.

        That’s a good selection of countries – if time and budget allows it, I would also suggest the Philippines. But see how you go. 🙂

        Since you missed out on Melbourne last time around, you can’t skip it again! I think it would be a much more enjoyable drive too as Perth – Sydney would involve a lot of driving through the desert where there’s not all that much.

        Obviously leaving from Darwin means you can see Uluru (but it’s also the wettest month up there!) and other stops you might want to consider are Katherine, Cooper Pedy, Adelaide (if you want to go back there) and somewhere along the Great Ocean Road. Torquay would be our recommendation. If you have any questions, let us know! 🙂

        • Thanks for the tips. We def didn’t look into the whole “wet season” issue just yet. Oops! Do you think a Cairns to Melbourne type of drive would be better? We’ve heard such great stuff about Melbourne. We definitely want to make that part of the trip this time.

          When are you getting to Europe? I backpacked Europe in winter a few years ago and ended up having to send a box back home too. It was worth it vs being miserable with way too much in my bag. You could always try to sell some clothes to a secondhand store.

          • Cairns to Melbourne is the standard backpacker path and definitely a great way to go! There’s a lot more to see and do (Whitsundays, Townsville, Surfers Paradise, Byron Bay, Coffs Harbour, Sydney and more!) and probably a lot more companies offering campervans for hire on that route as well.

            We’re getting to Europe next week (October 18) – Iceland for 9 nights, then London and beyond. Going to look for a box tomorrow I think for some of our more valuable things (and souvenirs) while our older clothes will likely get tossed or given to goodwill.

            • Cool, that sounds like the way to go then! Maybe we can take surfing lessons there 🙂

              Can’t wait to hear about your Iceland experience since that will be our first stop. What are your final stops in the States?

              • Plenty of great places to take surfing lessons along the East Coast of Oz!

                Will definitely be writing a lot about our time in Iceland – hopefully can give you some great tips and advice. We’re in NYC which is our final stop here – 10 nights down, 7 to go.

      • I highly recommend Indonesia. It’s a bit of a trek from mainland SE Asian, but definitely worth it. What I like most is that it has such a huge variety of things to see/do. You can relax on a beach, go snorkling, visit some of the best historical sites in the world, eat amazing food etc – all at very affordable prices.

  3. Wow that’s really ambitious! Epic trip.

    We started in Iceland and loved it. Great place to get your blood pumping for long-term travel. Second the Ring Road. If not the whole thing, at least do the Golden Circle and drive down to the Vik area and see the waterfalls along the way. If you’re not going to do the whole Ring Road, I’d suggest 5 days in Iceland. We stayed in Reykjavik all 5 nights and just drove from there. Recommend Alfholl guesthouse in Reyk — small and relatively inexpensive with a fantastic breakfast.

    I went to San Fermin in 04. Absolute balls-out insanity. If you want a bed to sleep in, I’d start looking now (not kidding) — and saving. Otherwise just check your bags at the church and sleep on the grass like everyone else. It’s cheap and you’ll be drunk/exhausted! Look into finding the right place to line up beforehand if you want to run with the bulls. I got pushed off the course with hundreds of others by the authorities just before it started so they could make room.

    Everybody has lots of opinions about Europe, but here are a few: Loved Spain and Portugal. Barcelona is a must. Porto and Lisbon are really cool. As for Eastern Europe, we flew into Prague and basically worked our way south to Greece and Turkey over about 2.5 months. Highlights: the Tatra Mountains (Zakopane and Zdiar), Budapest, Brac in Croatia (we spent a lot of time in Croatia — Brac was the best), Kotor (Montenegro) and the super-cool and strange Tirana (Albania). Northern Greece (Meteora, wine country and Mt. Olympus) is great and not as heavily touristed as the south. You’re lumping Turkey in with Eastern Europe it looks like? Great decision — highly recommended. We did a gulet cruise on the Turquoise Coast that was one of the best things we’ve done and well worth the expense; Cappadocia is surreal and amazing; Istanbul is one of the best cities in the world.

    We are in India now and should still be here for Diwali. Excited for that, but I’m not sure it’s quite the public spectacle that Holi is — it seems more family-oriented. Could be wrong about that.

    Envious of your time in Africa and Australia.

    A few things that stick out to me: A month in India is not much if you want to get Sri Lanka in. We have exactly a month and are going Mumbai-Rajasthan-Punjab-Hamachal Pradesh-Delhi/Agra. We cut out South India entirely. You could go faster and take bigger jumps, but you better be really tough. I would add in at least a few days for rest (mental health days or in case you get sick). It’s a really big, crazy country.

    Also 2.5 months for all of SE Asia, China and Japan seems tight. But again it all depends.

    Good luck!

    • Thanks SO much for all the helpful tips! I do feel like our itinerary is way too ambitious. We could spend a whole year slow traveling through just one continent. I get this feeling that we should cut out the Americas and spend more time in Asia. It’s a bit of an ongoing discussion.

      I think you’re right about Diwali. Our Indian friend was really excited for us to be there for it, but maybe only because he wanted us to stay with his family. If you remember to, please let us know your thoughts on being there for Diwali if you end up staying for it.

      I’d really love to go to Holi. Maybe if we extend our stay in the area we’ll make it. Ideally our money will last us longer than we think and we can stay out longer. But that’s in a perfect world, and we live in an imperfect world 😉

      Anyway, thanks again for the advice. You’ve given us a lot to consider.

  4. Just because it is at the end and you may run out of money, make Patagonia a top priority in S. America. Pto Natales is a small town in a good spot to do some of the exploring but not the only one. Further north, the Atacama desert in Chile and the salt lakes in Chile and Bolivia are a must-see!

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