How to Make the Most of Your RTW Trip

August 3, 2011 Allison Tucker

Category Travel Tips

This is a guest post by Nico Crisafulli. Nico authors the AirTreks Travel Blog and mans the social stream for He’s a consummate travel lover and a 10-year veteran of the industry. He lives in San Francisco with his wife and forthcoming child.

The fabled round-the-world trip (RTW) is no secret. There’s been a growing interest in this particular style of travel over the last decade with more and more people thinking beyond the simple there-and-back- again style vacation. AirTreks is in the business of helping people make that leap in consciousness. And the first step is to know how to do it best.

Costa Rica

I’ve put together 4 ways to help you get more from your long-term round-the-world trip, both before and after you leave.

Plan smarter

Once people have decided to travel, put their money down and spent time figuring out what they want to do, most already want to cram their laptop into the nearest meat grinder. Even thinking about more hours hammering away at the Internet is enough to send them over the edge. The trick is not to plan more, but to plan smarter, to make the most of the time you spend researching online.

  • Tip 1: Define where you’re going and stick to it. Changing your destinations over and over will not only lead to indigestion but also lay down a pattern of indecision for many smaller details to come. Be a trip-planning CEO: Be quick, be confident and be done with it.
  • Tip 2: Block out your time researching each place. Give yourself a time limit for each city, and stick to it.
  • Tip 3: Keep your eyes on the prize. Turn off the distractions (Facebook, Twitter, screaming kids, dinner) so when you’re researching, you’re only researching. This will hone your focus and give you better results.

Also, it may help you in your most over-stimulated moments to know that you don’t actually need to plan everything. As a matter of fact, you’ll be better off leaving some of that calendar to the unknown, because it’s during those magical moments of free time that the coolest things happen.

Don’t try and do too much

A lot of our customers when in the planning stages throw every place they’ve ever wanted to go in a sack, shake it up, and dump them out on the map of their itinerary. This is a great way to wreck a perfectly good trip. It may be tempting to try to get to all your bucket list stops “before you die” but there are several reasons why it isn’t a good idea to do it in one trip:

  • It will cost more – plane tickets are expensive, so the fewer you have to buy this time around the better.
  • No matter what your brain tells you, the number of cities you visit is a bell curve to the trip’s overall quality. (See chart below.)
  • You will forget most of what you saw – At a breakneck pace, places start to blend together. Fiji will start looking like Indonesia will start looking like Brazil, and after fifteen countries Korea will be Japan will be Taiwan. Spend a little more time and your memory of Istanbul won’t be limited to that photo of you at the Hagia Sophia.
AirTreks Chart

The idea is, the more time you leave to discover a place the better your experience will be. It’s a tested method long term travelers swear by. So simmer down, set a pace that affords you spontaneity and let the world do the rest. Which brings us to…

Don’t try and go too quickly

The act of traveling in foreign countries is an inherently exhausting activity and one of the worst mistakes you can make engineering and executing an around-the-world trip is scheduling too much each day. To be at the end of your trip and in need of a lengthy vacation is an exquisite sort of suffering you don’t want to know about. You’ll find yourself able to take more advantage of the days you do have when you make a point of not rushing.

The general rule of thumb is, leave a day of rest for every 4 or 5 days of activity, one where you do explicitly nothing. Replenish and restore, and your body (and your budget) will thank you.

Don’t fall back on established habits

Even though you’re out of your element, in a new country and breathing undiscovered air, that same face still looks back at you from the mirror, leaving you with decision-making skills based on your same old set of habits and routines. It’s only natural, there’s nothing to worry about. But if you use your time on the road to work on changing your habits you’ll find yourself having new and exciting experiences.

Instead of shying away from a spontaneous offer to ride in a goat-filled pickup truck to a local festival, be the ball and go for it. Instead of being morose and solo in the corner of the hostel, ask the group of good-looking backpackers if you can join them for dinner. Make the most of the moment and break your habits. This is the time to do it, and if not you, who?

Mumbai Train

What to take away

After reading this you might be of the impression that we’re awfully bossy for a blog post, some kind of busybody that’s all up in your grill with our “suggestions”. And while you certainly have the right to flag your hand and turn your nose, remember that we’re here to help. AirTreks has been helping travelers get savvy in the business of long-term travel for a quite a while. We can help you too.

If you have a trip you’ve been kicking around, not knowing whether to pull the trigger, plug your destinations into our fantastic TripPlanner application and see how much it costs. It’s the first step to getting off the ground and taking that big trip you’ve always wanted.

Tags: Travel Tips