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Need some help with my initial RTW plan

Vagabonder.at.heart

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  • Added on: March 25th, 2011
I would like to get some advice from all you experienced RTW travelers. I'm embarking on my first RTW trip this year so want to run it by the experts. Unfortunately I don't have friends with experience in this sort of thing and to be honest, not too many understand why I don't just take a 2 week trip but that's an entirely separate topic. ;) So here is the list:

Must Sees:

South America - Argentina (Buenos Aires, Iguazu Falls), Peru (Machu Picchu), Brazil (Rio, Sao Paulo, Jericocoara)

New Zealand - North and South Island

Australia - Sydney, Melbourne, Eastern Coast

Asia - Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, India, Nepal, Indonesia

USA - New York

Would like to see but this is optional:

Africa - South Africa, Morocco

Central America - Costa Rica, Belize, Guatemala

Europe - Turkey, Portugal (Lisbon), Greece (Corfu, Mykonos), Denmark (Copenhagen)

Ticketing & Timing:

1. My first question is knowing what you know now and based on my prelim itinerary, would you recommend a RTW Ticket with Airtreks or similar company or point to point tickets?

2. Based on a departure date between June and July of this year if you were to arrange my must see list in order of most ideal time to visit, what would the itinerary look like and how much time would you spend at each? It terms of travel style, I'd like to hit the main attractions but also allow some leeway for side trips, relaxing, and misadventures.

Equipment Questions:

1. I bought a North Face Doubletrack 21 (http://www.backcountry.com/the-north-fa ... in-tnf1999) because I wanted to be able to carry it on a plane. I also like the option of being able to wheel it or strap it to my back. I believe it is 45L. I'm doubting myself now though and wondering if I should have gotten something with more space? Any critiques/criticisms of this bag?

2. Do you think a smartphone is needed? I was thinking about just bringing my laptop, ipod touch, camera and buying a cheap GSM quadband phone while abroad. Off contract smartphones run $500 so it's a spendy purchase and I'm not sure if it's worth it. I'm not sure what network coverage is like and if it's even worth the cost. Thoughts?

I appreciate any advice you could give!

Pieje

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  • Added on: March 25th, 2011
I might not be one of those well experienced traveller u were referring to since i am just two weeks underway(done ny, dc, san fran and now in vegas)

1. but i am travelling with a north face borealis(yes, thats a 27liter pack)
And well i have everything i need so far. Ok i only cary one pair of trousers/shorts/shoes/flipflops/shorts/sweater but i dont rlly feel i need more.
And i feel a small pack so far only has plusses.
So if i manage with 27, 45 should be more than enough. U should just think about what u are certainly gonna need, and not what u might need at some point.

2. Well i have my blackberry with me since i had it at home and is easy to check my mail in case of emergency. but i guess i could do without since i have my little laptop also and do all of my internet business on that one.

*I'll leave the ticket n timing to the real experienced ppl
travelblog --> www.mytb.org/pieje

vagabondette74

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  • Added on: March 25th, 2011
assuming you do South America first, you're heading there in the middle of Winter so you might want to look at weather trends for where you're planning on going.

Buy a phone on the ground.

Wheeled backpacks suck. They're heavy, awkward and space wasters. 99% of the time you'll probably want to carry it on your back so just get a real backpack. Heck, at 11 lbs, just standing empty that thing will take up more than 1/4 of your weight allowance for a carry-on. In comparison, my 60L backpack weighs 1/3 of that and will actually be comfortable to carry.
Traveling through Mexico and Central America starting in January '09. Hit me up if you want to meet!

Vagabonder.at.heart

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  • Added on: March 25th, 2011
Pieje wrote:I might not be one of those well experienced traveller u were referring to since i am just two weeks underway(done ny, dc, san fran and now in vegas)


Congrats on your journey Pieje. Since I started planning, I realized how much goes into it and so just wanted to wish you happy travels, it must be great to be on the road already!


Pieje wrote:1. but i am travelling with a north face borealis(yes, thats a 27liter pack)


Wow, a 27L pack, that is impressive. That must also be really nice to be able to move around more freely. I think I won't go over 45L now that I know people are doing it with even less.

Pieje wrote:2. Well i have my blackberry with me since i had it at home and is easy to check my mail in case of emergency. but i guess i could do without since i have my little laptop also and do all of my internet business on that one.


Yes, I thought it'd be nice to have a phone to use whenever I wasn't near my laptop. Thanks for your reply!

Vagabonder.at.heart

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  • Added on: March 25th, 2011
vagabondette74 wrote:assuming you do South America first, you're heading there in the middle of Winter so you might want to look at weather trends for where you're planning on going.


Yes, it seems like June - August is not the greatest time to visit many of the places on my list. I need to get out of here before I go crazy though :shock: so is there somewhere you'd suggest heading to first during that time period?


vagabondette74 wrote:Buy a phone on the ground.


I'm leaning towards that right now since smartphones cost so much. I heard you can get a regular phone for $15 or so with minutes included on the ground.

vagabondette74 wrote:Wheeled backpacks suck. They're heavy, awkward and space wasters. 99% of the time you'll probably want to carry it on your back so just get a real backpack. Heck, at 11 lbs, just standing empty that thing will take up more than 1/4 of your weight allowance for a carry-on. In comparison, my 60L backpack weighs 1/3 of that and will actually be comfortable to carry.


Yes, I'm beginning to realize my bag might be a little too heavy and impractical. I think my return period is over but I will probably try and sell it. Is there a backpack that you would suggest? Thanks for your reply!

vagabondette74

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  • Added on: March 26th, 2011
Where are you starting from? That will have a big impact on your first destination. Also, how tight is your budget/schedule? You're picking some of the most expensive places in each region so I hope your budget is planned accordingly.

If starting from the US, I'd spend some time in Central America first and then make your way south as the season changes. Maybe visit some places in the north part of South America like Colombia or Ecuador before heading to Peru, Brazil then Argentina. However, I'd skip Belize (I have yet to meet a backpacker who said it was worth it for the expense - and I've met dozens who have been there) and hit Honduras instead. Personally I'd skip CR as it's expensive and pretty touristy now but that's your call.

Also, I didn't comment on flights earlier, but I personally only buy 1-way tickets. I don't want to be tied to a date/departure city/overall schedule.
Traveling through Mexico and Central America starting in January '09. Hit me up if you want to meet!

busman7

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  • Added on: March 26th, 2011
First off I really fail to see why so many people, when people ask information on RTW's they do NOT give their home country, as so much advise, visa, ticket costs etc depend on this. :?

Assuming, from your profile that you are from the UK, I would suggest going to the US first then the Central American countries on would like list followed by the South American ones, moving in a southerly direction. From SA fly to NZ then over to OZ.

Start your trip as late as possible to to minimize your exposure to winter in the southern hemisphere, this will also put you in SE Asia at the end of the rainy season plus the side benefit of traveling through the expensive countries first.

From OZ work your way up through SE Asia from Indonesia, Thailand etc with India/Nepal at the end, however I suggest you consider adding Myanmar to the list as it's a unique & inexpensive country to visit.

I am not familiar with Africa or Eastern Europe so will leave that to others, also packs, phones & laptops are a personal choice so shall leave that alone.

Think the itinerary suggested would work well with a One World RTW which (a couple yrs ago) had the best prices out of London. Not an expert but finished an 11 month RTW last July.

Have a great trip, you won't regret it!
http://blogs.bootsnall.com/busman7 | http://wwwlasbrisasplayasandiego.blogspot.com
"I started out alone to seek adventures. You don't really have to seek them - that is nothing but a phrase - they come to you." Mark Twain

Kate and Dan

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  • Added on: March 26th, 2011
busman7 wrote:Start your trip as late as possible to to minimize your exposure to winter in the southern hemisphere, this will also put you in SE Asia at the end of the rainy season plus the side benefit of traveling through the expensive countries first. Have a great trip, you won't regret it!


Is it truly an advantage to do the expensive areas first—last time though Asia (an eight-month stint that was less RTW and more RA)—we travelled first through Japan, Korea and Mainland China before heading through SEA and India. I spent more up front and had to sacrifice a few things down the road. Had I done it backwards, I may have spent less overall — or at least done more in countries that were less expensive. If that makes any sense at all.
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vagabondette74

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  • Added on: March 26th, 2011
if you're someone who will go explore whether rain or shine, hot or cold it may not matter as much. I know myself though and if it's rainy and cold I won't go do anything. My last time in Prague was in February and I spent 3 of my 5 days sitting around because the thought of wandering the city in the cold rain was not enticing at all. :)
Traveling through Mexico and Central America starting in January '09. Hit me up if you want to meet!

Vagabonder.at.heart

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  • Added on: March 26th, 2011
vagabondette74 wrote:Where are you starting from? That will have a big impact on your first destination. Also, how tight is your budget/schedule? You're picking some of the most expensive places in each region so I hope your budget is planned accordingly.

If starting from the US, I'd spend some time in Central America first and then make your way south as the season changes. Maybe visit some places in the north part of South America like Colombia or Ecuador before heading to Peru, Brazil then Argentina. However, I'd skip Belize (I have yet to meet a backpacker who said it was worth it for the expense - and I've met dozens who have been there) and hit Honduras instead. Personally I'd skip CR as it's expensive and pretty touristy now but that's your call.


I'll be starting from Los Angeles so your suggestions will work really well. Fortunately my schedule is pretty flexible. I like your idea of heading to Central America first and heading south from there since I'll be able to head out sooner rather than later. :D What are your thoughts on El Salvador, Nicaragua and Panama?

Thanks for the heads up about the higher costs in Belize and CR. I'll keep that in mind and I've definitely heard good things about Honduras. So now I'm thinking fly from LA to either Mexico City or Guatemala and then travel overland throughout the region, ending up in Panama and then flying out to South America from there.


vagabondette74 wrote:Also, I didn't comment on flights earlier, but I personally only buy 1-way tickets. I don't want to be tied to a date/departure city/overall schedule.


I definitely like the flexibility of being able to buy tickets on the fly. My only concern is the costs...but if it ends up only being a few hundred more total than a RTW ticket, than it may be worth it.

Vagabonder.at.heart

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  • Added on: March 26th, 2011
busman7 wrote:First off I really fail to see why so many people, when people ask information on RTW's they do NOT give their home country, as so much advise, visa, ticket costs etc depend on this. :?


Whoops, newbie mistake on my part! My home country is the US and my journey will start in LA. I haven't thoroughly researched visas yet but from my very quick glance for Central America, it appears that I should be fine with no visa or VOA's? I haven't looked for South America yet, that's next up on my research list.

busman7 wrote:Assuming, from your profile that you are from the UK, I would suggest going to the US first then the Central American countries on would like list followed by the South American ones, moving in a southerly direction. From SA fly to NZ then over to OZ.


Both you and Vagabondette74 are on the same page with this suggestion and I really like this idea.

When I fly from SA to NZ, which city would you suggest to fly out of in terms of finding the cheapest flight? I ask because I'm told this flight may be my most expensive so I want to minimize the impact on the budget if possible.


busman7 wrote:From OZ work your way up through SE Asia from Indonesia, Thailand etc with India/Nepal at the end, however I suggest you consider adding Myanmar to the list as it's a unique & inexpensive country to visit.


I'll definitely add Myanmar to the list and I can't believe I forgot to add Indonesia.

busman7 wrote:Think the itinerary suggested would work well with a One World RTW which (a couple yrs ago) had the best prices out of London. Not an expert but finished an 11 month RTW last July.

Have a great trip, you won't regret it!


I'll check on the One World RTW but I may be leaning towards one way tickets right now for flexibility. My concern about one ways though is onward ticket requirements...but that doesn't seem to be an issue for the South American countries besides Brazil I think? Thanks for the great input!

Vagabonder.at.heart

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  • Added on: March 26th, 2011
vagabondette74 wrote:if you're someone who will go explore whether rain or shine, hot or cold it may not matter as much. I know myself though and if it's rainy and cold I won't go do anything.


It's tough for me to get motivated when it's raining and cold as well so I'd like to avoid that type of weather if possible. I'm going to have to look at the timing of the rainy season down there more closely.

vagabondette74 wrote:My last time in Prague was in February and I spent 3 of my 5 days sitting around because the thought of wandering the city in the cold
rain was not enticing at all. :)


The same thing happened to me in Krakow when it was dreary there...just didn't feel like getting out and exploring as much. It's part of the reason I moved from Seattle down to Southern California. ;)

Vagabonder.at.heart

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  • Added on: March 26th, 2011
Kate and Dan wrote:
busman7 wrote:Start your trip as late as possible to to minimize your exposure to winter in the southern hemisphere, this will also put you in SE Asia at the end of the rainy season plus the side benefit of traveling through the expensive countries first. Have a great trip, you won't regret it!


Is it truly an advantage to do the expensive areas first—last time though Asia (an eight-month stint that was less RTW and more RA)—we travelled first through Japan, Korea and Mainland China before heading through SEA and India. I spent more up front and had to sacrifice a few things down the road. Had I done it backwards, I may have spent less overall — or at least done more in countries that were less expensive. If that makes any sense at all.


Based on my itinerary right now, it looks like I'll be going through a mix...starting off with less expensive regions, going to the more expensive and then back. I'm hoping my budgeting skills will hope up. I like your website btw!

vagabondette74

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  • Added on: March 26th, 2011
If I were you I'd fly into DF and bus down through southern Mexico. I like it better than Guate - though I'm biased since I live in Chiapas half the year and last time I was in Guate it was landslide (I mean rainy) season which sucked. :)

I've not been south of there so I can't comment on personal experience though I had a friend who lived for 2 years in Nica and loved it. Panama I hear is expensive since it's based on the dollar and I don't hear much about El Salvador.

Re the rainy weather blahs, it does kind of suck but there are worse things than spending an afternoon in a coffee shop (or, in the case of Prague, a bar) talking to some locals. I feel you though about moving. I lived in Portland for 18 months and it rained for 12 of them. :)

To help with money, if you're not already, I'd strongly suggest getting involved with Couchsurfing. It can be a great way to meet locals and other travelers and stretch your dime. I'd do it now so you can start meeting people at home and building a reputation and references which will make surfing later easier. Once I get back to San Cristobal I look forward on getting back into the hosting game as it's a lot of fun!

Regarding Visas, I think in the Americas you only need to get one in advance for Brazil but I could be wrong. I know you don't have to for central american countries.

Also, I just saw that NYC is on your list. Personally I'd save it as a last stop if you have money because living in the US it's fairly easy to get there and relatively cheap so I'd spend that money in harder to reach places and do NYC for a long holiday weekend some time.
Traveling through Mexico and Central America starting in January '09. Hit me up if you want to meet!

busman7

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  • Added on: March 26th, 2011
Leaving from LA I agree with vagabondette74, leave NYC for last & head straight to Mexico. Belize wasn't my favorite country but Caye Caulker was worth the effort it takes to get there & it's only a days trip to Tikal a must visit imho as is Antigua.

Kind of partial to El Salvador as I am an X-pat near La Libertad, Nicaragua is also nice, haven't been to Honduras other than on the bus from San Salvador to Managua, hated CR but Panama is cool just have an onward ticket when you get to the CR/Panama border by bus. Viasa on arrival in CA are no problem.

You will likely be fine with point to point tickets & likely Santiago de Chile to Auckland on LAN will be your cheapest bet.
http://blogs.bootsnall.com/busman7 | http://wwwlasbrisasplayasandiego.blogspot.com
"I started out alone to seek adventures. You don't really have to seek them - that is nothing but a phrase - they come to you." Mark Twain


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