I plan to do the increasingly popular gap yr thing of travelling RTW, i am however struggling to interpret the many different offers and trip plans from the different companies!! Id be really grateful if anyone out there could recommend a particular company to me? I plan to go october of this year for about 9months, from my own searches it has come down to two companies - Travelbag and STA. Travelbag seems to be by far the best in terms of the number of destinations available for my money, but i have heard i will be commiting myself to the dates of travel between destinations. Also i have heard there is much greater scope for making friends you will end up travelling your route with by going with STA?! The other thing playing on my mind is how easy it is to get to know other people in the same travelling 'boat' as me, as i will be going at it alone.
Sorry to ramble on but any advice / reassurance would be great! Cheers.
Advice on RTW travel, I've done it twice, the great benefit of starting out on your own is that you have to talk to new people and ask questions, you will be pleasantly surprised at the friends you make, some short term others might still be friends years later.
My advice is to think that a stranger is just a new friend you haven't met yet, so go ahead and speak to them. Local people everywhere are always willing to try to help and English is a common language in so many places.
I used Travelbag twice and each time they assigned a member of staff who had been to the places I was planning to go to, they organised dates and places to stay to meet what I wanted and didn't seem bothered that I wanted to fix some dates after I arrived and knew when I wanted to move on, they did explain the rules in different places for doing this, so ask again, they will tell you how things are right now.
About STA, I haven't used them, I got their quote and settled forTravelbag's approach to meeting my needs. I would suggest you talk to both again telling them what you want and then decide who to go with.
Any more help. get back to me direct.
Both Travelbag and STA have some good people. They wil offe pretty much the same tickets so make your decison on quality of service rather than whats on offer. One problem with STA is that they are ALWAYS busy with clueless students. Trailfiinders are also good. Bridge the World do alot of RTWs. Travel Nation http://www.travel-nation.co.uk/ specialise totally in RTW fares.
Don't worry about not meeting people. I run a free email group
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/RTWers/ with over 550 members if you want to get in touch with others planning or doing/have done RTW trips.
Hi, I used Travelbag to book the flight tickets but everything else eg tours, accommodation was pretty much up to me. I enjoyed the flexibility of having nothing booked apart flights and the the first couple of nights accommodation . . it enabled to change my mind as I was travelling, allowed me to join others en route, could compare services, facilities and prices as I went etc etc.
So my advice would be only use the companies to actually book the flights.
With regard to making friends, I do not think who you book with will alter the friendships, since I found that you make friends whoever you travel with, and wherever you stay. You do have to make more of an effort in bigger hostels, which can be daunting for some, but everyone is in the same boat! Day tours are a good way to get to know people, and also 2-4day overnight tours.
Have a read of the Rough Guide First Time RTW gude book, and all the other forums on this site . .loads of useful tips available from both.