I am in the very beginning stages of my trip around the world with my boyfriend. We've decided to visit these countries/cities in 6 months...San Francisco->Sydney->Toyko->Manila->Singapore->Beijing->Bangkok->Cairo->Athens->Rome->Geneva->Paris->Madrid->NY->RDJ in Brazil->Guadelejara, Mexico->back to SF. (1) Is this too ambituous in 6 months? (2) Which cities do you recommend we stay the longest (more than 2 weeks)? (3) Which cities are safe to camp? (4) How many months in advance should we book all our tickets? (5) What's the safest way to travel with your $$?? Thanks for the advice.
It would be doable, because I did an even bigger trip in 7 months and I didn't feel it was too rushed. I haven't been to all of those cities although I have been to most of them and you'll need to be a bit more specific as to things like what you are hoping to get out of your trip, what sorts of things you are interested in etc. For example if you are keen on beaches, well you may want to spend more time on the Sydney stop and then head up to Queensland to spend time in the whitsundays which are just heaven if you want a bit of relaxation (but you will pay a fair bit for them if you don't just do daytrips from Shute Harbour). I definitely think you should spend some time in Tokyo at least 2 weeks at that stop and then see places like Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, Hiroshima. This would be especially great if you were there in late March-Early April 2008 when the Cherry Blossoms will be on again. If you like history you should spend at least a couple of weeks in Italy (probably about 2 1/2-3 weeks) and see Rome, Florence, Venice and a number of other places but Rome would be especially important. When in Cairo about 3 weeks would be good to be able to see a lot of the country, go on a long felucca ride from Aswan- near Luxor (that was the best thing I did in Egypt). 5 days in Paris and a bit longer to see a little more of France would be good. So all of this would depend a lot on what you are interested in, but you must have at least a slight interest in history if you have got Cairo on your list. So if this is the case Italy, Egypt, Madrid/Barcelona (Barcelona would be better in my view) they are must stays for a while not just a couple of days. New York you could spend a week and also race down for a couple of days in Washington DC in that time.
How long you book your tickets in advance would depend on what was on. Like if the Cherry Blossoms were on in Japan book a minimum of 3-4 months in advance if you want to be certain to get a flight on RTW economy class. If you are in Rio when the Gay and Lesbian festivals are on then many months in advance is neccesary. I booked 7 months in advance and still had to change my dates due to their being no seats on my preferred flights in Tokyo and Rio De Janiero.
Hope this helps you a little bit, if you are a bit more specific I may be able to tell you more.
Have a great trip.
This is great advice! Thanks!
Our trip is one year from now, May 1, 2008. We are very "outdoorsy" and like long hikes, nature, and (of course) seeing the history of the country. It sounds like there's a lot of options we can take. I would definitely want to know more about camping in these particular countries...which countries are the best to camp, which ones are not.
Another concern is safety. If anybody has any tips about keeping your valuables safe, how to travel with your money, that would be great!
I'm not an overly paranoid person with regards to my valuables etc, but I certainly wouldn't be trying to camp in Brazil and Mexico for you own safety because crimes involving guns are very frequent in Mexico. When you catch a bus in Mexico City, you are at risk of having someone come on the bus and busjack it and everyone on the bus have all their luggage stolen as the criminals drive off with the bus without you in it. I was on a bus going from Mexico City to Palenque in mexico and I was sitting next to this creepy looking guy and I looked down at what he was reading and it was an instruction manual for an AK47 Assault Rifle! As you can imagine a lot of things were then running through my head at that time, but lucky for me he got off the bus much earlier than me so I was able to close my eyes without worrying about being murdered. Singapore would be a bit tricky to camp in being so small, if you live in America I don't suppose you want to camp there. In Australia you could find places to camp, even in some of the outskirts in cities you may find campgrounds, but if you went to Western Australia there you would have unlimited opportunities to camp in the Kimberley and Pilbara although if you only had 2-3 weeks it'd be a a lot too much to do.
As for the others, I'm not too sure but Geneva looked like on the outskirts it may have had places, but seeing I wasn't trying to camp I may have missed places that you could but it was freezing cold (and this was in the start of summer) and I was wearing a jacket designed for arctic weather.
If you like camping, one thing in Egypt you should definitely do is get a felucca from Aswan-Edfu then get the van to Luxor. That was very relaxing and meant sleeping out on the cushioned deck of the boat, but you should definitely have a mosquito net. It's not quite the same as camping in a tent, but is similar to a camping experience. You should probably look at doing an organised trip in Egypt, because their is just so much to do, things are so difficult to organise yourself and you have so little time to see and do stuff.
For safety regarding your money and stuff that isn't really bulky, well having a money belt which is worn in your pants is good. It came in handy when I was kidnapped and robbed of about $80US when I had well over $1000US in my possession (in my money belt). Be extremely careful when in Meixco and Rio De Janeiro, because they are both full of crime. The other places you just have to take normal precautions and with any luck you will get by without a problem. One thing you don't want to do is get like a safety net on your backpack or this huge padlock. If you do that, to potential thiefs that says "that person is hiding something of value so that pack will be worth stealing". If you stick with a smallish padlock (thick enough so it isn't going to be snapped off but not very thick, that will say you are taking some normal precautions but aren't paranoid so are probably not hiding much of value.
When in Beijing, you should definitely do the Jinshaling-Simatai day hike along the Great Wall of China. That part of the wall is much better than the other touristy part Badaling. Badaling is better preserved, but the other section is much nicer, but be sure to bring plenty of water and enough food for a day, because it is very tiring and requires a reasonable level of fitness. For history you should definitely try and spend longer in Rome/Italy, Madrid/Spain (to also go to Barcelona as a bare minimum), Cairo (to see a lot of Egypt) and if you spend more time in Bangkok then most places, you could try and see some other regions of South East Asia like Cambodia where you could see the Temples in Siem Reap which are very nice. You could get a very cheap flight on Air Asia from Bangkok-Phnom Penh if you booked well in advance, but the fare is non refunable so you need to be sure about your dates. In Bangkok it has so much nice architecture if you explore the city well and go along the rivers etc.
Really in this trip you will be rushed and will need to always push yourself that extra bit to be up early, get night buses or very early morning buses that arrive by 9.00am, get night flights that arrive early in the morning or very early morning flights that still arrive early. Even when you feel tired if you are dedicated to seeing a place as well as possible, you will push yourself to stay up all day even after the long flights with little or no sleep. That is just all the part of having a big trip with limited time. On the RTW trip I did which was similar to yours in time and number of countries, most days I was up by 7.00am and didn't stop sight seeing until it was almost dark. In Rome I walked for 14 hours, 14 hours and 12 hours in my 3 days there and I still didn't see everything worth seeing, so allowing 2 weeks for Italy would be a minimum if you want to see other places like Florence and Venice.
Other people who did do a lot of camping may be able to suggest more about your camping thoughts, but I think in places like Brazil and Mexico where it is quite dangerous it is best to avoid it unless it is 100% necessary.
Have a great trip.