My girlfriend and I are looking to go travelling next year and would appreciate some help. We want to travel for between 4 and 6 months but don't really know where to start when it comes to planning or booking our travels. Ideally we would like to travel through parts of Asia (Vietnam, Thailand etc.) and to Australia and maybe through some parts of the USA or Southern America. I would like to know what route you would take through this very large area, the rough cost and if we would have to apply for a visa in any of the countries I have specified. Like I said I do not have a clue where to start when it comes to booking or planning this stuff, I don't want you to go book the whole thing I just want a shove in the right direction so I can start to arrange everything. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Also, which countries would you recommend to visit along the way?
If you need a visa or not depends on the passport you will travel with. Some countries you may enter and get a Visa Exemption stamp in your passport right at the airport or you may need an actual visa ahead of time. Each country has their own rules. How long you are in some countries may determine the type of visa you need too.
So you have to let your fingers do the walking and Google up the appropriate websites for each of the countries you want to visit. (State Department, Foreign Office, Consulate, etc.) There will be some sort of category for visa requirements. If you live in a city close enough to some of the embassies for these countries you can pull up those websites too or visit in person.
For some countries you may need proof of onward travel. This may mean a plane ticket out of that particular country in a specified amount of time. You also have a requirement to have sufficient money to support yourself in each country. Many countries do not want foreigners taking jobs away from the local citizens. If you intend to work in some of these countries a "work permit" may be required if you can even get the job.
From Bangkok, Thailand you can visit Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia overland or by cheap flights. Fly from Bangkok to Australia if you want. Not all countries in Asia have the same cost of living for tourists. Singapore and Hong Kong are not as cheap as Laos, Thailand and Cambodia. (Japan, Taiwan and Korea also not cheap.)
Visit a library and check out some travel guides on the countries you want to visit. Usually they have some information on what to see and do plus background history for different cities you may visit. Some travel guides have help for hotels, visa information, cost of living and information on how to get around. If you planned to augment your income by working in some countries that could be a problem. Know how to have money available for each country you visit. (Cash, travelers checks, debit cards, credit cards for emergencies, etc.) Don't rely on a single source of money to live on. Lonely Travel TG could be helpful if you are on a tight budget.
You have to look at you available cash and decide how much per day you can afford to live on in each country. If you find that you will be living in crappy hotels or hostels maybe do not stay for so long away from home. Maybe visit fewer countries all at one time. If you are rich and have plenty of money you can do anything you want. Lots of countries means paying for lots of flights. If one way flights they may cost almost around the same price as round trip.
Different countries means different weather patterns. Maybe plan your holiday with weather in mind. But on the flip side countries that have the best weather (like Thailand for December and January) may also charge more for hotels and even flights may cost more too. Hotels may have fewer vacancies when it is "high season."
Where will you be starting from? Six months on the road just the 2 of you in each other's face almost every hour of the day may solidify your relationship or bring it to an end! You will need passports that last 6 months after you intend to return home. No experience in international travel maybe break your trip down to the "Asian group," the "America's group" and Australian and New Zealand together. It may work out better to return home between various groupings. (Make Google your friend!)
Karazyal has excellent suggestions. Since your maps indicate that you are starting your trips from (Manchester, UK), I suspect you're holding British passports. If so, the Foreign-Commonwealth Office has an excellent Web site that lists the entry requirements of the countries you plan to visit. The U.S. State Department and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade have similar Web sites. I always check the State Department’s site in planning my trips. Entry requirements can change. For example, Chile earlier this year removed the $160 "reciprocity fee" that it charged Americans to enter the country at the airport in Santiago. One reason? Chileans now qualify for the U.S. visa waiver program.
I like your itinerary that takes you to the Americas, then to Australia and New Zealand, then to Asia, before heading home. If you’re flying to Australia from South America, the major gateway is Chile. There are direct flights from there; but not from Peru. Generally, fares from Europe to the U.S. are cheaper than the other way around. Americans often pay more for the same flights. From Australia, it’s easy to get to Asia at reasonable cost. The same goes for Asia to Europe.
Travel in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand is more expensive than travel in Central and South America, which is more expensive than traveling in Southeast Asia. The U.S. dollar recently has surged in relation to other currencies, which now makes Brazil, Chile and Argentina especially attractive.
There are several Web sites that can help in planning your trip. They can provide useful information on flight reliability, health, climate, etc.
Some people like to plan their trips to the "nth" degree. Others don't like to plan anything at all. They just go. I find that a little planning helps. For example, it's best to know the general direction you're headed. But be flexible. That will pay off in experiences you didn't expect; and will never forget. That's one reason I'm still traveling.
Thanks for the great advice. I will definitely check all the places you have suggested. The maps I made were places we wish we could visit. Like Karazyal said we will probably split it up into different regions. I think we would be able to travel together and get along just fine. This isn't our first adventure on foreign soil but it will be the first time we will try to travel from country to country. I shall carry on researching now and hopefully we will be able to put something together for next year. Thank you for the help again, really appreciate it!
Another useful resource is Wikivoyage, which I use as my first port of call when researching a place. Their country level articles list visa requirements along with practicalities like which city to fly into. They also do a decent precis of the big sights in the country.