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First time traveler traveling for 18 months- overwhelmed - HELP

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Hi guys, my wife and I will be traveling from December starting from CA for 18 months. We are in our 30s, no kids yet, and want to make this trip a truly memorable experience but don't know where to start!
How should we plan so we maximize our time and memories?

We will have around 60k/ year budget.

Here's some things we'd like to mix up:

immerse in key cities: Paris, Munich, Switzerland, Hawaii, Thailand, etc
participate in key events: Oktoberfest, mardi gras, new years eve at Sydney opera house, etc
once in a lifetime activities: african safari, amazon rainforest hiking, etc

I'd like to know if this is a good general plan to work with or if anybody have better ideas how to spend the 18 months that we have?

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    NYE in Sydney. Book Early and you'll have to stay a minimum number of nights. Usually 3 or more. Be prepared for the huge price hike.

    I can understand why you don't know how to start. It sounds like a huge trip!

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    I highly recommend Edward Hasbrouck's "Practical Nomad", loads of info on long term travel. There are also a lot of blogs around written by full time and long time travelers - do a search on blog and RTW and nomad. Rick Steves' "Europe Through the Back Door" also has some useful info on packing light and planning itineraries.

    Make a list of your "must sees", then look at a map and plot them. Check weather at weatherunderground.com, and then decide on a rough route. I did a ten month rail trip back in 2004 - see wilhelmswords.com/rtw2004

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    One thing you need to factor in for sure -- you will only be allowed to stay in Schengen for 90 days out of any 180 day period. W/ such a long trip I'd imagine you're thinking more than 90 days in what is basically most of Europe.

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    Travel can be as complicated or as simple as you choose to make it.

    Most people are used to living life by a schedule. When they decide to do some extended travel they do the same thing most people planning a 2 week holiday do, they start planning where they will go and for how long etc. Now ask yourself this question. WHY?

    One of if not THE most enjoyable reasons to travel is to escape everyday life and all the attendent stresses and responsibilities. Why then would anyone in their right mind immediately SELF-IMPOSE a plan?

    The reality is that no matter how carefully anyone plans they will never see and do everything there is to see and do when you travel. Yet most people again will say they 'want to see as much as possible'. What does that actually mean?

    The word 'much' is not synonymous with the word 'many'. Yet that is how most define it. They come up with lists of places and then start dividing their time between them, voila a schedule.

    The way to see as 'much' as possible is to spend time IN places seeing and doing things, not spend time in BETWEEN places ticking off a list.

    While you may have a genuine interest in being somewhere at a specific time such as Rio for Carnival or Edinburgh for New Year's Eve, every time you impose one of those requirments, you lose freedom. The freedom to get up in the morning and say, 'so what do we feel like doing today'.

    So you can plan a tour or you can go on an adventure is how I see travel. A tour by definition is planned and someone on a tour is a tourist. N'est pas?

    An adventure by definition requires two things. Risk and the unknown and so by definition, cannot be planned. Almost without exception, all the most memorable times I have experienced when travelling have been things that simply could not have been anticipated or planned for.

    So to answer your question, "How should we plan so we maximize our time and memories?", my answer is you cannot achieve either through planning.

    So here is how I suggest anyone contemplating a long term journey go about it. Spend as much time as you want researching all the possible places and events in the world that you might be interested in seeing/doing. The research is all part of the enjoyment. Make lists of all this if you want and save them as e-mails to yourself or something.

    Next, buy a one way ticket to wherever you decide you want to start with. If you did end up writing up a plan, when you get on that first plane, throw the plan out the window (figuratively of course).

    When you get to A spend as much time and as much money as you need to spend without wasting your time or money to see and do everything you want to see and do there. When you are ready and not before, decide where you want to go next.

    Repeat this process until either time available or funds available run out. Go home. Neither time nor money is fixed. Both may have a maximum available but neither has a minimum available.

    This is really about a change of mindset. Be a tourist on a tour or a traveller on an adventure. It's your choice. One is complicated to plan and the other requires no planning beyond buying a ticket to A.

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    I should have added the other question that always amazes me about people planning to travel.

    People sit down and try to figure out,how many days in A, how many will I need in B, in C, ..........

    Now think about it. How would you know the answer? I might find after 2 days in A that I've seen and done everything there that interests me and so I am ready to move on. In my personal case that probably applies to most cities, I'm not a city lover.

    But someone else might find that even after a week they were reluctant to move on. So why move on if they aren't ready to do so yet?

    It is ridiculous to expect to know beforehand how long you will need in a given place to do and see what you find of interest there. As Spock (Startrek) would say, 'That is illogical.'

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    Sure nothing wrong with your plan. You just need to prioritize what you want to do, then check it against your budget ('african safari' will cost more than going to Paris, for example) and timeframe.

    I'd work with a world map and an Excel spreadsheeet (to list where you want to go, what events you want to be present for, how you're going to get there, and all costs associated) to get started.

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    Intershift, if ever there was a classic example of what I mean in my response above, the comments by suze are the example.

    You are contemplating a 18 month plus escape from the world of work and responsibilities. Suze suggests you use an Excel spreadsheet to do that. The irony is incredible.

    No offense intended suze, if you prefer to plan a tour, that is your business. Your response certainly does provide a very clear difference in approach to mine though doesn't it. I'm at no plan and you are at an Excel spreadsheet.

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    <Why then would anyone in their right mind immediately SELF-IMPOSE a plan?>

    Improviser, You aren't listending to what these people want to do. You are imposing your own values and travel style with your posts.

    It's a stretch to think you can simply wander the world without a plan and just happen to accidentally end up at: Oktoberfest, mardi gras, new years eve at Sydney opera house, on an african safari, and amazon rainforest hiking, etc.

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    How about some moderation here? An Excel spreadsheet for 18 months may be overdoing it, but taking off with no plan at all is just stupid, unless you have unlimited time, which is not the OP's case. And probably unlimited money too, since plane and train tickets cost more the later you buy them.

    Sure, flexibility is great, every traveler should be able to come with Plan B, or C, or D, at need. But even with 18 months some planning is required, especially if there are countries and events that are "musts". If you want to go to Oktoberfest, it makes no sense to hang out in Nice, however much you like Nice, if you're going to miss it, and without planning how would you even now when it was? Then there are countries which don't just require visas, but visas for particular dates, and/or visas that can only be acquired in your home country.

    Improviser has now won a place on my "don't bother to read this [***]" list. Currently he's the only denizen.

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    I'm surprised the aversion to using a spreadsheet for some basic planning for someone saying they are "overwhelmed".

    "60k" is a lot of money to work with, seems it might be nice to see how that might play out once you set a basic itinereary so you can subtract the major expenses like airfare and lodging in the places you want to visit.

    I am the least planning trip planner ever for myself, so it's ironic and amusing that Improviser has chosen to make me an example of uptight overplanning.

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    Clearly, not everyone agrees on the best way to travel. Clearly, I have written to the OP about what I consider the best way. Clearly, I am entitled to that opinion and clearly others are entitled to disagree.

    Allowing both views without making it personal is what I would call moderation thursdaysd.

    The statement, "taking off with no plan at all is just stupid, unless you have unlimited time,", clearly indicates you have failed to grasp the difference in mindset thursdaysd.

    Time only has a maximum and unless you self-impose 'musts' time presents no problem. When time or money runs out you go home. What's is stupid about that?

    Money again is not fixed and only has a maximum. While buying a cheaper ticket is sensible, it is sensible ONLY if it suits you. RTW tickets are often suggested for this reason. But they confine you with a schedule even if you can make changes.

    Itineraries and budgets always impose constraints on you and put blinders on you to opportunities. You give the example of someone in Nice who wants to go to Oktoberbest. OK, lets try another example.

    Suppose you are in Nice and plan to go to Oktoberfest. However, one evening you meet someone who says, 'I have a boat in the harbour and am looking for someone to crew and help me sail it to Greece and Turkey over the next 2 months. Are you interested?'

    So what do you do, say, 'ummm, I'd like to but I have a reservation for Oktoberfest and a flight booked after that to X, I can't go.'

    Oktoberfest and wherever it is you had booked to fly to next will still be there next year. Who will make you an offer to spend 2 months on their boat next year?

    One is easily done next time, the other is highly unlikely. I have actually seen situations like the example and actually heard someone say, 'I CAN'T go. Where did the 'can't' come from? From the mindset of the traveller.

    I'm not trying to convert anyone here who wants to plan a tour. It's your time and your money. But the OP as I say has a choice. I'm just trying to let the OP know there is a choice.

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    <I have written to the OP about what I consider the best way.>

    Obviously. And there is the rub. Nothing more than what you consider "the best way".

    I also have strong feelings about how I plan (or don't) and how I travel, but I would never expect how I think to necessarily work for someone else, or try to impose my way on them.

    I try to answer the questions that are asked on this forum. Not use it as a soap box for my own thoughts and personal feelings.

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    Obviously one is not going to willy-nilly criss-crossing oceans on one way tickets and make 60k last for 18 months.

    List your must-do special events and see if you can put them in a logical order. It may be that some of them just don't fit.

    Research weather, some places have definite no-go months. I wouldn't be heading for Patagonia in July, for example. Or Europe in February.

    Get familiar with geography, Europe is tiny; South America and Australia are huge. It's always stunning how many people think they can visit 5 countries in South America in a month.

    Consider skipping places that you are likely to visit in the future. Assuming you live in California, I would probably not include those places that are easy to visit from here, such as Mexico, Costa Rica, Hawaii.

    Read some blogs & trip reports. It's faster and more focused than buying a bunch of guide books.

    Lay out a tentative plan and come back on the individual forums with questions!

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    First, I am not trying to 'impose' anything on anyone. You on the other hand suze, now seem to want to impose on me your idea of what a travel forum is about.

    The OP wrote, "I'd like to know if this is a good general plan to work with or if anybody have better ideas how to spend the 18 months that we have? and used the word 'overwhelmed' in the title.

    As far as I can see, I answered the question of what I consider a 'better idea' and also how to avoid being overwhelmed. No where in my comments have I wrote that the OP must do as I do. It's an alternative for the OP to consider. An alternative that many don't even realize exists.

    So yes suze, I have answered the question asked, just not the way you think it should be answered. Yes, I would agree that to some extent I am using this as a soapbox but where is it written that I can't do so? That you don't doesn't mean I shouldn't. Or should I let you impose your interpretation of what a travel forum is for or not for on me?

    Whenever plan vs. wing it is brought up on any travel forum the same nonsense is written. 'You have to have a plan' or as immediately above this reponse, "Obviously one is not going to willy-nilly criss-crossing oceans on one way tickets and make 60k last for 18 months."

    All that is obvious about that statement is that it is false. NO one said to go anywhere "willy-nilly criss-crossing oceans" I certainly didn't say it.

    I expect the traveller to go from A to B to C as they wish and as common sense would suggest they should do. I don't go to Nice (returning to the earlier example) and then decide to got to Melbourne and then go to Rome. Following a logical line of travel does not mean it has to be planned. Again, using the same example as above, if I ended up on a boat out of Nice going to Greece and Turkey over 2 months, I would then go on from Turkey to somewhere it made sense to go to next. Perhaps Egypt or Morocco.

    After 4 plus decades of actual travel, I simply see things differently from many others. Suppose you have been to a 1000 places. There are still a 1000 you haven't been to. Suppose you go to that second 1000 places, there are still another 1000 you haven't been to. As I see it, which thousand you see first and in which order really becomes irrelevant after a while. At some point you realize that you are never going to get to everywhere and which you do get do isn't what really matters.

    What matters is how much do you get out of each day of your travels. Where you get whatever you get out of travel is irrelevant really. You can only get X amount out of any given day in terms of experience, knowledge, wonder, enjoyment, or whatever else it is you get out of a day travelling. If you are getting that every day, you are getting all there is to get.

    The idea that a day at Oktoberfest is somehow going to let you gain more than a day at Carnival or a day spent doing something else, somewhere else is ridiculous. Go where the wind and whim blow you. The experience really is in the going, not in the destination. Something that many don't seem to understand.

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    Figure out your "must do" things such as NYE in Sydney, especially the things that are tied to specific dates. Once you have those figured out build from there. Keep weather in mind as well.

    If you're starting in December in California then start out by heading for New Zealand or Australia (depending on when in December you're leaving). Do NYE in Sydney and then move through Australia. Depending on what you have for interests in Australia and New Zealand and what you have for "must dos", move on when you run out of interests or visa limits. Doing NYE in Sydney could be interesting since that's summer and it's a wee bit warm. ;)

    Move from there towards Africa... how's the weather, where are your interests, are there any visa restrictions, etc. Maybe start on the north side of Africa and move south as the weather gets warmer in the north. Once it hits June/July/August/September ish head to Russia and China and bounce around there for awhile. Depending on timing and weather go from there to southeast Asia or over to the Schengen zone. You can only be in the Schengen countries for 90 days (there might be options for longer but I know absolutely nothing about that) so plan to have that 90 days fall over Oktoberfest. Once your 90 days are up, either go to southeast Asia or head off to South America for awhile. You can also spend some time in Central and North America. Don't be afraid to see the rest of the US. :)

    The goal in planning might be not so much as saying "I want __ days here and __ days here" but more "I want to be here on this date and I'll adjust where I am as I go to get there". I recently talked to a very nice couple who spent about 10 weeks in southeast Asia. They would go somewhere for 2-3 days and if that was enough they'd book a couple nights somewhere in the next city they wanted to visit in the area. If 2-3 days wasn't enough then they'd stay longer. Book your next lodging for a couple days and decide how long you want to stay once you get there. Book the places/dates for your must haves and do the rest as you go.

    This is just one rough idea out of a bajillion possibilities. :) I'm a very visual person and I love to plan so the best way for me to organize something like this is basically to draw a time line and fill in any of the set times/places. Use a world map to fill in continents around those set times/places so that you're not back tracking all over the place. I like using spreadsheets to organize data... I think of it as a tab (sheet) for each country. What info do I need for specific visits, what vaccinations or visas do I need, where can I pick up anti-malarials on the go, where are some places that I want to visit, etc? I use that very similar to a spiral notebook or 3 ring binder with tabs in it.

    $60k is a lot of money but it really isn't a lot when you're trying to travel on it for as long as you are so you might do better if you spend a bit longer in cheaper places like southeast Asia. Try a hotel for a couple days and if you like a city then get a short term apartment for a week or two. That gives you access to cook food instead of eating out all the time. It also generally gives you more space and possibly laundry facilities.


    Visas can be a headache for China and for Russia off top of my head (there are others that can be annoying and may take advance planning, look into current requirements for getting visas well ahead of time or for getting them while you're on the go for the places you wish to go).

    Make sure you have someone who can pick up all of your mail from a PO box or home address, or just change your address to send everything directly to them. They can deal with anything that comes up and can send you anything that needs to get to you.

    Definitely pay to get extra pages in your passports before you go! Lots of countries use visa stickers that take up the entire page which goes through your pages quick and it's always better to have more pages than you need.

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    I really wish I had time to wade in on this in detail but for the moment, I would say that many here have made extremely valid points, but it is only YOU who knows what you are comfortable with. I hav entries travelling most ways and have now been at it on and off for 5 years. We started with a period of voluntary work in Sierra Leone followed by a year long RTW trip and then various trips of several month including 6 months living in Adalucia Spain before leaving for South America where we are now. A word of warning: once you start it is difficult to stop.

    Here is a link to our RTW blog

    http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blog/candcthai/1/tpod.html

    Will post more once I get to a place with wifi but sound like and exciting trip!!

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    <The experience really is in the going, not in the destination. Something that many don't seem to understand.>

    Your opinion only. Maybe these folks really WANT to go to Carnival in Rio & will do whatever it takes to get there for the experience. Maybe they don't want to go where the "whim and wind" blows them.

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    Ok - jumping into the fray :)

    If I were going to do this (and I have thought seriously about it, but have not taken the plunge) this is the approach I would take:

    I would go with a combo of some advanced planning and some totally unplanned time. Since the OP has some specific things on the to-do list, I think that putting together a rough outline is important. If you KNOW you want to be in Sydney for NYE, for example, then that adds some framework for the winter portion of the trip.

    The items on the to-do list provide waymarks for the trip - visualize them as points on a globe connected by long pieces of string. The string represents the path you take from one marker to the other, but the string is long and loose - a path with a lot of flexibility to be defined later.

    If you are going to be in Munich in September and Sydney in December, then it makes sense to spend late summer and into fall in Europe and then head down to Australia, NZ, and SE Asia for the winter. Then if the next waymark is New Orleans in March for Mardi Gras, it might make sense to make your way up the Pacific Rim and onto North America.

    I would make some specific plans for Oktoberfest, NYE, and Mardi Gras - hotel reservations at the very least since those will be in short supply, and perhaps arrange transportation with a lot of lead time. But for the time between Oktoberfest, NYE, and Mardi Gras, I probably wouldn't plan anything specific - just make plans (or not) as I went along. I do think I would book some of the intercontinental flights once the framework was set - that way I could find good deals so as to minimize the costs since intercontinental flights can eat up the budget quickly.

    Regarding budget, we all know that some parts of the world are more expensive than others, so I would get some ideas about the costs in the areas of the world that I am interested in. Then I would figure out about how long I should stay in expensive areas versus inexpensive ones to make sure my budget lasts the 18 months. And YES, I would use a spreadsheet for this ;) I would also keep my budget in a spreadsheet as I went along so that I could do my bookkeeping and know how I was doing - and make decisions as I went along to make sure the budget lasted.

    Also, by using the waymark-and-string technique for laying out the framework of the trip, it makes it easier to keep travel costs lower because it helps to arrange the trip so that you aren't pinging around the globe with long flights. A flight from Sydney to Jakarta, for example, costs a lot less than a flight from Mexico City to Jakarta.

    Of course there are also maximum allowed stays to contend with in some countries/areas, as has been mentioned. Schengen is 90 days in any 180 day period and immigration officials in Schengen countries do like to see an onward ticket upon arrival. So this requires some planning to make sure you can do what you want to do and not overstay.

    In order to go to Oktoberfest, you wouldn't want to arrive in the Schengen Zone in May and then use up your 90 days before Oktoberfest rolled around, unless you left the Schengen zone during that time and then came back. Maybe you go to Morocco for a month. These restrictions will also add to the framework of your trip.

    I think that this approach would provide a nice balance between keeping to a budget, attending some specific events, and allowing for free-range travel within an overall framework.

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    hi nov-moon, For I probably wouldn't keep the spreadsheet again once the trip began. I'd use it only in advance to subtract approximate airfares and lodging from my $60k, to see what kind of a average daily budget I had to work with. I'd have it divided (at least in my mind) so I knew 5k for Europe, 3k for Asia, like that. Just generally so I knew I had enough to complete the trip I hope to do. Knowing you can always go on the cheap for a few days with meal. Or save money in certain locations because rents are very low.

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    Another issue to include in your trip planning is the costs and lead time needed for various visa/reciprocity fees. Note which countries require visas to be obtained in advance of arrival.

    For US citizens, reciprocity fees can take a big chunk out of your budget. Eg, you can rack up nearly $1500 in reciprocity fees for South America alone (Argentina, Boliva, Brazil, Chile, and Paraguay).

    With a bit of planning, if you avoid flying into Santiago, you won't need to pay the Chilean fee.

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    It always amazes me how people resist the idea of freedom and cling to their comfort zone.

    Why does the 60k have to last exactly 18 months? What if you only end up spending 50k, have you messed up? What if it runs out after 16 months have you messed up if you didn't throw any away but instead spent using common sense,doing what you wanted to do? We aren't talking about a 2 week vacation here.

    Perhaps an example of how travel can fall out might help some of you see there is a POSSIBILITY that planning isn't the only way. Trip reports seem to get people excited here anyway.

    Many years ago, 2 young guys, both 20, left home for the 'adventure of their lifetime'. Yes, they used that well worn and totally dumb phrase. Many years later, looking back, it was only 1 of many adventures in life they had to look back at and no one can tell if an even greater adventure is just around the next New Year.

    So off they went with a boy scout haversack each carrying all their 'stuff'. A pair of jeans, a change of socks and underwear, a couple of t-shirts and that's about it.

    First stop the UK on a one way ticket. Everything else would work out from the $600 (approx. value $3400 today) they each had in their pocket in cash and as for timing, no limit, go till the money is gone.

    After hitch hiking north to visit some relatives, they hitched back and took a ferry to Calais. Hitched to Paris where they slept on park benches until they met a young woman who invited them home to stay with her and her parents for a week or so.

    From the young lady they got an introduction to another young lady whose family owned some grape vines in the south of France. So off they hitched to there and picked grapes for a few weeks. Pay was $2 a day and a bottle of wine, with a shack to stay in thrown in.

    While there they met another picker who was from Munich and he invited them to visit him in Munich and sleep on the floor of his apartment during Oktoberfest. Once they found out Oktoberfest was about drinking beer what do you expect to 20 year old guys said to that? So off they hitched again.

    Having drank Munich dry they cast around for somewhere to go next and Rome seemed like a good idea. After all, didn't someone famous say, 'see Rome and die' and they certainly felt like they were near the dying part.

    In Rome having not died they did the usual things. Stayed in a hostel, had a camera stolen, etc. One evening having yet again succumbed to the folly of drink, they found themselves agreeing to share fuel costs with a guy from the island of Jersey who had a VW campervan and planned to freight it across the Med to Libya, then drive it across the Atlas mountains and see what the Sahara desert looked like. So off they went again but looking on the bright side they didn't have to hitch this time.

    After a sea crossing on a freighter clearly well past its appointment at the breakers yard they arrived in Tripoli. Gearing up for their expedition mainly consisted of bargaining for some rice and beans along with a used, burned and dented pot to cook them in. They bargained the market thief who sold them the pot downn to 50 cents. They also wisely invested in some cheap homemade 'sand ladders' and a shovel.

    Now if any of you have crossed the Sahara then you will know that the practice is to check in with the police, from oasis town to oasis town as you go along. On arrival in one 'town' they did they and were promptly arrested on suspicion of murder.

    Apparently another group consisting of 3 guys and a girl had left the last town around the same time. When 3 guys showed up with no girl, the assumption had to be they had either killed her or left her which amounted to the same thing. But all worked out in the end when the other group turned up 2 days later. Our two (now three) intrepid adventurers decided to view it as a couple of days of free bed and board, even if neither the beds nor the food were up to much. So off they went yet again.

    Eventually, after many exciting adventures like discovering why carrying sand ladders had been a good idea albiet not exactly as loved after using them for the 100th time, they had crossed the Sahara from north to south.

    Interestingly, they had leap-frogged all along the way with another group of 4 English guys who had planned their expedition meticulously down to the last Mars bar and were equipped with 2 brand new Land Rovers and all the latest gear imaginable. When last seen in Djamena, Chad, they were trying to sell their one remaining Land Rover and fly home. The other one had broke down in the desert and had to be abandoned. No point in trying to go back for it since it would have been stripped down to the chassis by the end of the following day. ;-) Gotta love those bedouins.

    Long live the VW camper said our intrepid 3 and carried on. Heading south through the Central African Republic they continue a routine of visiting local mission schools. If it were a catholic mission they were catholics and if it were a protestant mission why of course they were protestants. Invariably in return for talking to the school children about their home countries, they could expect a free meal and sometimes even a beer.

    Reaching the border to the Congo they ran into their first visa issue. After several days spent in fruitless attempts to get permission to drive across the country they had to call it a day and decide to go elsewhere. No problem our intrepid 3 said, we've always wanted to visit Cameroon and Nigeria anyway. Or as the saying goes, 'go west young man, go west. So off they went.

    In Cameroon (or was it in Central African Republic, the memory wanders sometimes) they came across an anthropologist on yet another of their visits to missions to scrounge a free meal. This anthropologist invited them to accompany him (in a moment of excessive bonhomie brought on by excess drinking) to a pygmy village where he was researching their culture. Not every day someone gives you an invitation like that and it doesn't appear very often on tour company lists of highlights either.

    Wanting to buy a bow and arrow as a souvenir, one of our 3 offered cash. What good is cash in an equatorial African pygmy village? Barter my boy, barter, is the name of the game. A deal was finally struck, his t-shirt with the picture of Queen Elizabeth on the front (bought in London as a patriotic expression) in return for a bow and 2 arrows. Not a full adult bow but a decent teenagers practice bow. The only question then was how to carry this all the way home but that little hiccup didn't have to be dealt with today did it.

    Wandering on they finally arrived in that wonderful country, that pearl of Africa, Benin (then Dahomey) and the capital, Porto-Novo. The idea was to hop another freighter with the VW and head down the coast bypassing the DROC by landing in Angola. Once again, visa issues stalled things.

    But every cloud has a silver lining as they say, one afternoon when coming back from yet another fruitless attempt to get the necessary paper work, they met a woman from America who lived in Porto-Novo (married to some Embassy muckety muck). She was fascinated by their tales of their adventures in deepest darkest Africa and invited them to come for lunch the next day at the local 'Expats Club.' Very exclusive don't you know.

    So not being slow to grab a free meal they turned up of course. Lunch was served by the pool and the champagne was just the right temperature. After regaling the woman and af few of her friends with some of their stories, they were told they could have the run of the club while they were stuck there. My, my, isn't that nice.

    So every morning they would make an attempt to get the paperwork dealt with and every afternoon they would lounge by the pool, have lunch, a cooling swim and generally take life easy.

    They even got invited to a party being given for the newly arrived American Ambassador. Tie and tails were the dress code but our intrepid 3 showed up in their cleanest t-shirts and jeans. Being introduced in the reception line to the Ambassador as 'three intreped travellers who have come across the Sahara'.

    Finally, having practically mugged an official when he got off a plane at the airport, as the only way to see him, they got their papers all stamped and booked passage on a freighter. This one made the one in the Med look postively luxurious. But never mind.

    Landing in Angolo the adventure was back on track. Surely there was a track right? Driving along without a care in the world heading east (go east young man, go east) they were stopped at a road block by some ragged young guys waving kalishnakovs. Hmm, what have we here.

    It turned out that Angola like many places in Africa in those days was having a spot of unrest. They were driven off the road, down a dirt track into the bush to see 'the officer'. Along the way one of our intrepid 3 suggested jumping and making a run for it but cooler heads prevailed. After the officer questioned them as to whether they were foreign mercenaries or not, they were finally allowed to go on their way.

    As all those who travel for an extended period of time will tell you, there comes a point when you need to take a break. Lay on a beach for a week or something to get away from the whirl of sightseeing and visiting yet another museum. Our three were no exception. So they decided a good thing to do would be to head for Victoria Falls a local tourist trap. So off they went.

    Arriving at the falls they made their headquarters in the parking lot of an impressive local hotel. With a little pretending to be guests they had use of the hotels facilities during their stay. A restful few days other than the arrest on suspicion of stealing. Never a dull moment with these guys.

    One of the three had been trying to sell a watch to get a few extra bucks to splurge while there. They still had some money but weren't buying much more than a stalk of bananas or some rice to cook. He figured a watch wasn't really needed. When the sun was up it was day and when the sun was down it was night. What more did they need to know about time?

    So there he was buttonholing tourists around the falls asking, 'wanna buy a watch, cheap?' Unfortunately one of the people he asked was a plain clothes police officer. Oops. So he was dragged off to the station to explain himself. Fortunately our boys were getting pretty good at talking their way out of things by this time and all ended well. When asked if he wanted to buy the watch now, the police officer told them not to push their luck.

    Deciding that perhaps it was time to move on from their rest stop at Victori Falls they came up with the brilliant idea to go and climb Mt. Kilamanjaro. All that lazy life was making them soft. They needed a physical challenge to work off the fat. Off the went again.

    From Zimbabwe they made their way to Tanzania and the mountain. Arriving at the foot of Kilamanjaro one of our 3 didn't feel well. Possibly a cold or flu coming on he thought. Sure, the others thought, too soft to climb the mountain. So off the 2 went leaving the third behind in the VW. He had malaria.

    Imagine yourself stuck in a VW camper, too sick and weak to move hardly at all with nothing but a stalk of bananas hanging from the ceiling and 5 plus days to wait until the others returned. Hardly the definition of a good time. But needs must.

    On their return the three headed off for the major city of Dar Es Salaam on the coast hoping to find a doctor. Arriving there one went to a pharmacy to make inquiries and while in the pharmacy a woman overheard him asking the pharmacist about a doctor for his friend. She immediately took charge.

    Driving him back to where the VW was parked she ordered themm to follow her home. When they got to her home she had the softie immediately confinend to a sick bed and sent the other two off to be fed by her cook. Her doctor was summoned and began treatment. Bed rest for at least a week was prescribed among other things. They were guest in that house for 2 weeks.

    One day sicko came downstairs to find the woman darning (some readers might need to look that word up) a pair of his socks. She was covering the hole with coloured threads that ended up being a giraffe. He still has those socks.

    Eventually of course all good things come to an end and no matter how much the other 2 entreated him to remain sick he got better and off they went again.

    By this time Jersey boy was getting home sick and decided he wanted to drive his VW into Uganda where he heard he would be able to sell it on the black market for a good price. He would then fly home from Kampala on the proceeds and our original two intrepid travellers would be on their own once again.

    Crossing the border into Uganda they came across people dancing in the streets with excitement. When they asked what was the occasion, they were informed there had been an overthrow of the government and their saviour Idi Amin Dada had taken over. Things would be wonderful under his rule. Little did they know. Again, some readers may need to look up some history to find out why he came to be called ‘the butcher of Uganda’. It isn’t referring to his job before becoming President. He was also the King of Scotland according to him but that’s another story. In Kampala all went as expected and our three went their two separate ways.

    So our intrepid two decided to head south once again and hit the road with their thumbs out. Hitching their way through Tanzania and Mozambique they made their way towards South Africa. One incident along the way involved a land owner who invited them on a cheetah hunt. Apparently a cheetah was taking some of his cattle. They passed on that invitation but it was in that man’s car that the bow and arrows finally was lost. Left behind when they got out of the car and never to be seen again.

    Often when they were hitching they would try for hours to get a ride. Several times when it got to mid-afternoon and they were having no luck, they would try to hitch in either direction. Spending a night out in the wild did not appeal to them given the nature of some of the residents. Both four legged and two legged. So on some days they covered as many miles in one direction as the other it seemed. But eventually they arrived in South Africa.

    Making their way to Johannesburg they tried looking for work. Funds were running low and how to get home eventually was becoming a bit of a question. They had no luck finding a job but did end up on a national radio talk show being interviewed about their trip across Africa from north to south. During the interview they were asked do you intend to go from the Med to the Ocean to complete the crossing of the whole continent? That thought hadn’t occurred to them but once the seed was planted well you know what happened next. ‘Cape Town or Bust’, they cried and out came their trusty thumbs.

    Of course they made it to Cape Town without incident, what did you expect? Once again they were interviewed on national radio. Asked about their future plans they said they hoped to find some work to earn some money to make their way home.

    The following morning they were called down to the reception desk. A man in a suit and tie said he was there to take them to a company where the President had heard them on the radio and wished to offer them a job. Outside, a Rolls Royce (I kid you not) was waiting with a chauffeur. They drove to the outskirts of Cape Town and into a large industrial complex. They met with the company President who said ‘he admired their pluck’. They were then taken off to be interviewed by 3 different department managers. After the 3 interviews they were asked, ‘well which department do you pick to work in?’

    Two months earned them enough to buy tickets home via Iceland and New York, to Toronto. On arrival they had been gone 1 year less one week. Between them they had one dime (ten cents) which was just enough for a call to one of their homes to have someone drive to the airport and pick them up. Debating who to call they decided to walk instead. After all, it was only 4 or 5 miles.

    Tour or adventure, the choice is always yours to make. But remember, by definition you cannot plan an adventure.

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    I know that isn't a report of your trip but it does plead >>LOOK AT ME, LOOK AT ME, LOOK AT ME!!!!!<<

    Helpful hint - It seems a couple of your posts on other threads have been nuked. Not sure which sins(s) you committed, but there are posting rules on Fodors. Maybe reading the guidelines will be useful.

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    Of course it's a trip report. Whether they planned or not, it's still a trip.

    There are many variations of planned vs unplanned, a continuum. Not an absolute one or the other, as november moon indicated. In fact I don't see a single post suggesting that every day and every minute needs to be locked in concrete prior to departure.

    I rarely book more than the first few nights hotel, and the round trip tickets. But I do know that I don't wish to sit on a beach nursing a beer and hoping to get travel tips from an aging hippie with a long ponytail.

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    Janisj, I'd say it says, LOOK AT WHAT OTHERS WHO DID NOT PLAN DID!!! There is no ME involved.

    I have no idea what you mean about posts being nuked. Point to a thread and what was 'nuked'and I'll have a look.

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    Amazing trip report, improviser! When I was that age, four of us went camping all over Europe for three mostly unplanned months. We had a great time, but not all the adventures you wrote about!

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    <<Point to a thread and what was 'nuked'and I'll have a look.>>

    If a thread or individual post has been removed for being inappropriate (nuked) that means it is no longer on the forum for you to go "have a look".

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    Then how do YOU know it was nuked? I am not aware of any missing threads or threads on which I commented where my comment has been removed.

    Are you suggesting that YOU are aware of such a thread suze? You are making no sense girl. Leave it to janisj to explain her own comment.

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    I agree Miss Green but I think you are being way too polite! One particular forum member seems to have a persecution complex. I was going to add some thoughts on the OPs original question but they do not appear to have returned presumably unimpressed by the attitude of some so I won't bother.

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    What a great story and adventure, Improviser!

    intershift, I met a couple doing a RTW when I was at Easter Island. They did a lot of riding buses and camping in some spots to save money and spent money when they had to, like flying the high priced flight to Easter Island. :) Good luck! And I would do a trip scenario in Excel like Suze mentioned.

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    I totally agree with your way of traveling, Improviser! Your travel adventure was thoroughly amazing and I enjoy your intriguing writing style! There are certainly many ways to experience travel and, having traveled quite extensively, have learned that engaging in less itineraries and plans, brings the most happiness & satisfaction to me!

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    Ignoring the jibberish........

    -first and foremost--- budget: $60,000 sounds like a lot of money, however for 18 months on the road that is only a bit over $3000 per month. Divided by 4 weeks in each month and its only a tad over $800 per week. If you could find a hotel during some of the events you mention for $100 per night it would be a miracle. Even at that you would only have about $100 per week left over for every other expense. My first bit of advice......your wish list and budget don't match.

    - a "round the world" airline ticket is your best (most economical) mode of travel. Do you know how to use one? There are web sites and/or agents that can assist with planning if you are unfamiliar. Each airline has specific rules and routings.

    - pick 18 locations -- one for each month. Pick them because they fit into the RTW travel ticket plan and for their central location as jumping off points to other near locales. Personally, I don't think you have the budget for 18 months around the world. Consider cutting back the time.

    - once you have a general outline, start filling in your timing for the specific events that you want to see. That will automatically dictate your timing and most likely your routing. It will immediately show you if it's even possible to be in all the places you want, at the times you need to be there. I imagine you will be eliminating a few things at this point. As an example; Mardis Gras is in February. What are you planning to do between December and February in the U.S. to kill time until MG in New Orleans?

    Event timing is the most difficult and expensive to get to anyplace and stay there. Travel will cost more and housing will be hard to find and expensive. While it sounds like fun, it can really eat into a budget (a budget you don't have) or just be impossible to accomplish. Unless this is a backpacking/hostel kind of trip, I think it's too ambitious.

    It's a grand plan, but it will require a lot of planning to accomplish and not feel as though you have been unwise with your resources.

    I wish you luck and safe travels.

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    "-first and foremost--- budget: $60,000 sounds like a lot of money, however for 18 months on the road that is only a bit over $3000 per month. Divided by 4 weeks in each month and its only a tad over $800 per week. Even at that you would only have about $100 per week left over for every other expense. My first bit of advice......your wish list and budget don't match."

    I love it TC. Now explain to me how someone else manages to travel for a year on $15k or even less. It's done all the time. The one clue you give to how you arrive at your conclusion is the word 'hotel'. It implies a certain way of travelling.

    I have no aversion whatsover to nice hotels and often stay in them. But I also have no aversion to a hostel for $20 a night if that is all that is available or as much as I wish to spend.

    People travel Europe (a generally agreed expensive area to travel in) for 50 Euros a day. That's a hostel bed, supermarket food and the odd museum entry or beer. It doesn't include transportation. So get yourself there (1 plane fare), stick out your thumb and away you go. That's $2k a month TC for Europe. A similar number is reasonable for N. America, Australia and some other countries.

    A LOWER number is reasonable for a lot of other countries. In SEA for example a generally accepted number is from $40 per day.

    So depending on where you spend your time and for how long it is in fact quite possible to travel the world for $12k (plus airfare) per year. I don't see anywhere that the OP said anything about how they see spending their money.

    Re the, "If you could find a hotel during some of the events you mention for $100 per night it would be a miracle." You can find a hostel bed for $20. Or as happened to me, someone could offer to let you sleep on their living room floor for free.

    Don't assume everyone spends the same amount of money as you do. I understand if you wouldn't want to sleep on someone's floor. But with 60K for 18 months, there is NO problem in making it last that long or longer. You just have to be willing to adjust your spending pattern accordingly. If 'events' mean higher prices then perhaps in those locations you opt for a hostel and hotels everywhere else for example.

    Re RTW tickets. They are NOT always the cheapest way to go. That is a common belief but not always true. These days, there are all kinds of low cost carriers (LCCs) and it is entirely possible to string together a series of one way tickets to take you anywhere you want to go.

    Nor is price alone the only factor to consider. Let's assume a RTW is in fact cheaper. It locks you in. Yes you can make some changes but you can't for example decide to double back on your route for some reason or simply decide to not use the balance of the ticket if something comes up that makes you want to do so. It does not allow for spontaneity or serendipity.

    As you say, it's a grand plan but will require a lot of planning. That's true if the OP chooses to fit in all the events (thus tying them in to a time frame)listed. Or the OP could do little planning at all and be very wise with their resources.

    I once went to an island expecting to stay a week. I stayed for 7 years. What would I have done with a RTW ticket?

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    Oh Improvisor...you do like to ramble. However, showing your age and a lack of recent travel experience with these "tips". Savvy travelers, who care about their own safety and that of their companions, don't flit into town, hit the local pub and mooche a place to sleep on someone's sofa.

    As for budget, the RTW tickets alone will run about $5000 each, that's $10,000 out of the OPs budget before leaving the ground. So now they are down to $50,000 for 18 months -- about $700 per week for lodging, food, entertainment, additional travel and all those pub drinks they have to buy to cozy up to someone who will let them flop on their living room floor. ;)

    http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2010/10/08/round-the-world-plane-ticket/

    As I said in one of your other ranting posts, its a very good way to end up dead or missing -- but you already know that. I think this whole contrary posting you're having fun with since discovering us in June is just a summer game for a bored armchair traveler. Maybe a new hobby is in order before someone thinks you're serious.

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    TC, YOUR definition of a 'savvy traveller' is not everyone's definition. Nor are you stating facts when you write, "who care about their own safety". Do you actually think there is anyone who doesn't care about their safety? Illogical. What there are are people who do not appear to YOU to care about their safety. But I can assure you they definitely do. Survival is instinctive TC.

    There are lots of young women who travel alone, do not have fixed plans or pre-booked rooms everywhere and yes even ask bartender's where to find a room. Amazing as it may seem the vast majority of them do so without ending up "dead or missing". Those who do so successfully, consider themselves 'savvy travellers' and in fact are. They have developed the skills/intuition to tell them when to back off and when to go ahead. But I am not suggesting that everyone do that am I. That YOU are not comfortable doing that is your business. So let's not get sidetracked down that road.

    I'd guess (and acknowledge it is a guess) that you travel once or twice a year for a couple of weeks at a time. I have probably spent almost as much time travelling in my life as not travelling.

    As for being an armchair traveller, you'll notice a lack of responses for me beginning at the end of next month. My wife and I will be off on an indefinite road trip in the US southwest. We are big desert lovers and hikers. It will be perhaps my 25th or 35th trip to the area, I've lost count. I could say the same of many other areas in the world. The reason you see me posting here in the last month is because I am BETWEEN travels.

    I have been fortunate enough to find earning money a relatively easy thing to do since I was a teenager and I have always loved to travel. I've never thought anything of working for a while and then quitting to hit the road for an extended period of time. In my early-30s I decided I didn't want to keep doing that forever and so put nose to the grindstone for 7 years and then retired, financially independent.

    Since then you might as well say I have 'travelled' ever since. I have based myself in some places for longer periods of time than others but I have yet to say, this is where I stop. When I was staying in one particular place (where a lot of expats were to be found) I would meet people who would ask, 'what made you decide to stay here?' To which I would honestly answer that I never decided to stay, I just hadn't decided to leave yet. I may decide to 'leave' where I am staying now, tomorrow. My life is not constrained by a need to earn a living or any other factor.

    I get it that most regulars who post here travel in pretty conventional and conservative ways. So what? Not everyone does and this forum is not limited to just those who do is it?

    The OP in this case has given no indication whatsover as to what they are prepared to do or not do. Why would you assume they travel like you do?

    So let's go back to their 60K and what it could buy them in terms of travel and let's NOT assume they travel as you do. What I am stating as a FACT is that some people could travel on that amount of money for several years AT LEAST.

    If the OP posted this same question on the Lonely Planet Forum for example, most responses would say their funds are more than enough for 18 months. They'd even get people saying they could leave home and not return for years starting out with 60K and supplementing their funds along the way with casual work etc. They would find people in that Forum who left home with far less and still haven't returned home after 2,5,10 years. If you don't believe me, go have a look in that Forum for yourself. YOU might not want to travel in the same way but YOU are not the one making the trip and the OP has not told us how THEY plan to travel.

    One more small observation. If you read the OP again, I just noticed it myself, they do not say 60k for 18 months. They actually say 60k/year!

    I have a suggestion for you TC. Go to the Lonely Planet Thorntree Forum. Register and then post on the Gap Year & RTW branch. Post this question or your version of it. 'How long has anyone travelled for and with what amount of money did they start out?' Try an experiment just to see what responses you get back. It will cost you nothing and might be an eye opener.

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