Help with Planning first RTW trip.
Thanks to everyone who has posted information based on their extensive travel knowledge. My girlfriend and I (late 20's-early 30's) want to take a year off in 2013 to travel. We are thinking of leaving around May 2013. Originally, we were going to head straight to Asia and spend a year there (India, China, SE Asia). We have traveled to Thailand and Vietnam for two weeks each and loved it. However, we are now thinking that we may want to visit South America also. We have never been before.
We live in New York and would leave from there. We are budgeting roughly $40/per person per day, not including international flights, visas, insurance. We usually stay in hostels or small local guesthouses and eat from markets, street vendors, etc.. I really enjoy scenic places, moderate hiking (mountains, beaches, etc..) and I love to drink local beer. However, the best part of traveling for me is the food.
We know (or think we know) where we want to go in Asia: India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, China, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia.
We want to stick to the more budget friendly countries in South America. From what I've read, Columbia, Ecuador, and Bolivia sound nice.
Here are some questions for those more experienced:
1. If we leave in May and travel to South America, can we visit the above countries and any other places without a harsh winter climate?
2. What other countries would you visit in these regions?
3 Would you buy a RTW type ticket or individual flights? We each will have 100K British Airways miles, so it may be possible to use some of those.
4. Is $40/day/person realistic for these places?
5. What is a practical route to get from South America to Asia?
6. Finally, do you have a rough itinerary suggestion? The longest I have traveled for has been one month and I usually plan my itinerary before I leave, but I am looking forward to being much more flexible on this trip.
Thanks again to all who respond.
Firstly flight-wise there are few good ways to get from Asia to South America or vice versa, and you will probably find yourself flying back via North America. So if you're already based there it might be worth looking into the possibility of two round-trip tickets especially if you have all those miles you can use for the long haul (I don't know what the threshold is for BA's rtw tickets purchased on miles but you might want to look into it). Mind I also think that one shouldn't buy any tickets too far in advance as you have no idea what you might want to be doing, but then I've never been lucky enough to have so many miles to spend either.
If the USD holds I don't think $40/day is extravagant in Asia as it will balance out with time spent in countries like India and Nepal. I will note though that China can get more expensive depending on what you want to do/see just because the distances can be so huge, and as a rule long distances in a quick amount of time add up as transport is expensive... also if you're thinking of going from Nepal to mainland China overland via Tibet that would not be in the $40/day because you need to have a guide/permit/ other things like that unfortunately.
Regarding South America I don't know those countries well (I've only been to Argentina which I do recommend if you like scenery and hiking, but it's a touch more expensive) but it sounds like your budget isn't unreasonable from what I've heard. The only "biggie" is I don't think I could go to Ecuador and not go to the Galapagos Islands if they're so close but that would certainly be out of budget!
Finally when it comes to planning your route, I'd say just do a general idea of an itinerary and fill in the details as you go- one of the luxuries of a year off is not having to conform to any schedule! On a practical note the one thing you really need to watch for is weather and make sure you don't arrive anywhere in the middle of a monsoon- so no India in the summertime, try and get to Nepal in either March/April or October/November, things like that.
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