Putting the Pieces Together

Deciding where to go when has been one of the biggest challenges of my RTW planning process because it means getting past my perfectionism and setting priorities.

Priority One: Housing

I have never had any question that I will need to leave in July. Much as I love my apartment, I don’t want to try and sublet it. I’ve had to give up great apartments in the past because it was too hard to find somebody to sign the lease with me. I’m not going through that again. So this is the biggest constraint on the timing of my trip.

Priority Two: Four months, three continents

I pretty quickly determined I want to have three legs to my trip, with four months in Europe, four months in Asia, and four months in South America. At least once per leg, I will slow down and spend 3-4 weeks in a single destination.

Priority Three: Machu Picchu

My bucket list is at least 10 miles long, but far and away the most important thing on it is hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. I absolutely want to make sure I do that at the best time of year possible, which many agree is April or May – South America’s fall. This means that South America will definitely be the third leg of my trip, from March through June.

Matthias Church Spire

I’ve been to Europe before, so it makes sense to ease myself into long-term travel by starting there.

Here’s where things get tricky though. If South America is third, that means Europe and Asia have to be first and second and however I order those two continents, there will be a trade-off.

If I go to Europe first, from July through October, I’ll have excellent weather and a super cheap first flight. Then Asia will be second from November through February, also a time for great weather. But both those stretches of time are peak season for each destination, so for pretty much the entire year, I’ll be traveling with higher general prices and larger tourist crowds. I’ll also be in more expensive destinations early on, and will have no leeway for going over-budget, which is a distinct possibility while adjusting to long-term travel.

If I go to Asia first, however, I’ll be there during monsoon season, and putting Europe second means dealing with winter temperatures and packing more cold weather clothing. I’ll have fewer crowds to fight, lower prices, and a little more wiggle room in my budget while I get used to being on the road. But I’ll also be in higher stress countries early in my trip.

Ultimately, I’ll pay the price for sunny days and an easier start to my trip. I’ve traveled to Europe several times before, so starting there will be a really nice way to ease into long-term travel, and if I’m diligent with my budget, I don’t think peak season prices will make or break me.

I already know I’ll travel overland about half the time, and fly the other half. I also have 12 major attractions nailed down. All that’s left is to fill in a few gaps.

RTW Flights

My Final RTW Itinerary


Fly from BWI to Reykjavik
Spend a few days to a week in Iceland, perhaps tour the Golden Circle
Fly to Barcelona
Rent a short-term apartment for three to four weeks


Fly to Naples
Spend about two weeks in southern Italy
Take a bus to Venice and stay the night
Take a train to Ljubljana, Slovenia and stay a night or two
Take a bus to Split and later to Dubrovnik
Spend about two weeks in Croatia


Take a bus to Mostar
Spend a few days to a week in Bosnia & Herzegovina
Take a bus to Kotor
Spend a few days to a week in Montenegro
Take a bus to Athens
Spend about two weeks in Greece, taking the ferry to Santorini for at least a few days


Fly to Istanbul
Rent a short-term apartment for the month


Fly to Delhi
Spend a week or two in northern India
Fly to Kathmandu
Take a guided trek in the Annapurnas


Fly to Bangkok
Spend two to three weeks in Thailand, ultimately making my way to Chiang Mai
Take a three-day boat trip to Luang Prabang
Spend about a week in Laos


Fly to Hanoi
Spend about three weeks in Vietnam, traveling by train through Hoi An and Nha Trang, ultimately making my way to Ho Chi Minh City
Take a bus to Phnom Penh
Spend a few days in Phnom Penh
Take a bus to Siem Reap
Spend a few days in Siem Reap to visit Angkor Wat
Take a bus and train back to Bangkok

Fly to Bali
Rent a short-term apartment for the month

Fly to Tokyo
Spend about two weeks in Japan, perhaps taking the train to Kyoto for part of the visit
Fly to Rio de Janeiro
Spend about two weeks in Brazil, ending in Sao Paulo

Fly to Montevideo
Spend about a week in Uruguay
Take a bus to Buenos Aires
Rent a short-term apartment for three to four weeks

Take a bus to Mendoza
Spend about two more weeks in Argentina
Fly to Lima and then Cusco
Spend about two weeks in Peru, including an Inca Trail trek to Machu Picchu

Fly to Lima and then San Jose
Spend about two weeks in Costa Rica
Fly to Mexico City
Spend about two weeks in Mexico



One thought on “Putting the Pieces Together

  1. Pingback: Finalizing My RTW Budget | WorldSmith

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