I am planning my 1st rtw trip, leaving in September for China, HK, Thailand, New Zealand, Fiji and have been looking on the internet at various forums and blogs. My increasing concern is that a lot of people have their iteniery down to the last millisecond and I am concerned as I haven't planned that much!! I thought I would fly to my 1st destination and go with the flow. Is it necessary to have everything planned and are the dates apart from the 1st departure, set in stone as I was under the impression you booked the next available flight when you were ready to leave and move onto the next. Things like rail tickets, air tickets, hostels (except for the night we 1st arrive) I was expecting to book along the way. I don't want to tie myself into a strict schedule and then miss an oppurtunity along the way but as this is my 1st rtw trip I am slightly concerned.
Please help me, I book next week and am really worried!!
I'm still very new to this forum, but as far as I know, it's entirely up to you how much of your itinerary you want to have planned. It's all about feeling comfortable with your choices. I, for instance, would prefer to have things more or less planned. But if you'd rather have a choice of spending longer at a place you liked you're certainly better off not having the itinerary all set.
Hope that helps.
Youll be grand, you dont need to plan things down to a tee. When I did a RTW for the first month I had exact plans, even booked hostels in advance. I quickly realised that this is not just unneccessary, but it limits you too. For the rest of the trip, I just rocked up to a place and figured it out then and there - the only time I ever got trouble doing that was when I accidentally arrived in a place at the same time as a major event.
play it by ear is best, though bear in mind the more changes you make to your plans the more expensive it can be.
When i went on my first big trip (i.e. longer than 6months) - starting in 2005 - i more or less just went and made it up when i went along.
I had some vague ideas and dates that might be good to meet (the first was 5mths after i left), but nothing set in stone. I had no place i had to be, no fixed dsestination, or even list of countries i was going to visit. I just went with the flow, so as to speak, depending upon what was going on/where I was/who I met/what opportunities occured, and it was great.
Admittedly I didn't have to have any kind of plane ticket or flights pre booked [i don't fly] which helped not plan stuff, but it's perfectly possible, and in my view, much more desirable to have as open a schedule as possible.
On a RTW ticket well you kind of need to have some sort of plan as to places, dates for departures etc. In some areas overland you can leave it open a bit like say land in Bangkok and travel around South East Asia overland for 3 months and then later depart from Bangkok to Sydney. Or in South America you may say land in Rio De Janeiro and then have a date 3 months away dpearting Santiago. This would allow you 3 months of travel in South America, not limit you too much, but would mean you have got confirmed flights so you aren't going to find yourself waiting for months until a vacancy appears in your price bracket.
If you don't want to have any plans, you just go overland everywhere except where it isn't possible like when it includes Australia/New Zealand, across the pacific ocean. Alternatively you could just buy seperate tickets and also go overland, but leaving buying tickets until the last moment will mean you pay a lot more for your tickets. Otherwise getting a RTW ticket and doing things like I said would be the way to maximise your freedom as much as possible. It will also mean you most likely won't have any problems getting visas which can be the case if you have no proof of onward travel (especially in places like Vietnam, China, Russia and other countries which you need to get a visa prior to arrival).
On my ticket I had a section where I landed in Kiev/Ukraine and departed from Helsinki/Finland a couple of months later. This allowed me to go overland from Ukraine-Russia-Latvia-Estonia-Finland and not really have any set dates, but know that I had to be in Helsinki by that day of departure so I could time my trip accordingly. If I found a place I liked a bit more, then I could spend a day or two more and then I'd just have to take a day or two off another section along the way.
For accommodation on my first RTW trip I didn't ever prebook and only lucked out in Venice and on that day I really lucked out! On my 2nd RTW trip, I would normally pre-book 1 night in a place usually only the day before I was due to head to the place (depending on the availability I might pre book a little more). Then when I got there, I could see if it was in a good location, what it was like etc and then if it was good I'd extend my stay longer. The only acception to this was in Russia when I went in June/July when it is totally neccessary to pre book for budget places a long way in advance that time of year(I booked 4 months in advance and got the last bed in the hostel). This method gave me a lot more peace of mind knowing that I am not going to have to sleep on the streets, have to search around for an hour to find a place with a vacancy or have to fork out for a 4 star hotel for a night or two. If you use the 2nd option, getting a gold membership on hostelworld for $10US is a good purchase as it saves all those $2.00US booking fees as long as you put the gold member number in everytime you book.
If you get a RTW ticket, the dates can be changed as you go (as long as your ticket doesn't extend past 12 months). Depending on your flights it can be difficult to change the dates as the RTW economy class is different to the normal economy class, so even if a flight has normal economy class spare places it doesn't always mean you'll be able to get on. In cases where flights are really irregular or rare such as a flight that involves Easter Island, you might be stuck waiting a real long time for a vacancy in RTW class as almost all the flights are always overbooked to Easter Island as are many of the longer distance flights.
Be sure not to expect everything smooth sailing, because you are bound to be dissapointed in some places if you head off with that in mind.
Have a great trip.
hi katy, aharrold has offered some excellent advice above. i would say that it can be necessary to pre-book hoestels but it depends on time of year and the destination. i made a few reservations in china, usually a day or 2 in advance of my arrival. you may need to buy train tickets in advance in china also so that you don't have the "experience" of sitting on a hard seat in an overcrowded carriage for 10 hrs! the chinese transport pretty much all you can imagine on passenger trains and buses, as do a lot of other asian countries. this is particularly true in laos, i hope you won't be upset sitting next to a couple of chickens for a few hrs on a bus! contrary to what aharrold has written, you don't need to have onward tickets for china or vietnam. you can sometimes buy your visa on the border of some countrys also. when you're travelling for a while it is nice to chill out in a particularly nice location for a few days and just soak up the atmosphere. if you plan too far ahead this will not be possible! i had only the first month of my trip planned in terms of route. since thenit's been go with the flow and pick up advice from locals and other travellers (and travellerspoint of course!) about where to go and what to see. if laos isn't already in your plans, i'd recommend a visit there. i travelled from the very north (border entry borten from kunming, china) to the very south where i entered cambodia and i loved the people, food, scenery, relaxed way of life and the other travellers i met. be careful on your travels. hope this helps, pm me if i can help any further. pete