It’s as easy as 1-2-3!
You may be thinking that you could not possibly find enough time in your busy schedule to take a trip around the world. To this I say, you are probably wrong. While most people who take RTW trips do quit their jobs, sell their possessions and hit the road for a year or more, I’m living proof that there are other options. In fact, the only qualification for a true RTW trip is that you circumnavigate the globe. Only you can decide how long that will take you. After all, not everyone needs a week to see the Pyramids, I did it in an afternoon and it was magnificent.
My advice? First decide how much time you can take, anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months will do, then start planning!
Need a little inspiration? If this doesn’t do it, nothing will:
Step 1 – The Flights
All of the major airline alliances offer RTW options, using either dollars or miles. If you’re paying for a ticket, you are usually going to be better off using a service like Airtreks versus one of the major alliances. This is especially true if time is short as they can get you more direct routings through the use of many more airlines.
However, if you do have the frequent flyer miles to burn, there is no better redemption option than the RTW ticket. Case in point, at Delta’s Skyteam (my alliance of choice), a round-trip business class ticket to Europe will run you 175,000 miles under the “High” redemption option (realistically, the one most likely to be available). However, a business class RTW ticket can be had for 280,000 miles. Seems like a lot? Consider that spending the additional 105,000 miles will buy you at least 5 more destinations! Even if you only had time to make 3 more stops at two to three days each, the value of the ticket is obvious.
Here are a few tips for you “Up in the Air” business travelers out there with miles & points to burn:
Step 2 – The Hotels
After years of learning the ins and outs of the various hotel loyalty programs, I have become a huge fan of Starwood Hotels and Resorts (Westin, Sheraton, Le Meridien, St. Regis, W and others). Though Hilton and Marriott have equally wonderful properties all over the world, Starwood’s Preferred Guest (SPG) program far exceeds those offered by other chains. This is especially true once you reach an elite level. For example, as a Platinum Preferred guest, I receive 500 points as an amenity for every stay, in addition to points earned for dollars spent. This is a great perk and really adds up during the year. But the best benefit of SPG is the Cash & Points redemption option. This allows you to use a combination of cash and points to stretch your reward nights much further than traditional programs. For my most recent trip, I used my accumulated points and an average of $50/night to book 18 room nights. By comparison, with a year’s worth of Hilton and Marriott points, I was only able to redeem one free night each.
If you’re not a fan of hotels or if you’re going to be in one spot for more than 4 or 5 days, I highly recommend an apartment rental. This is easier in major cities (I’ve done it in Paris, Rome, Auckland and Greece) but options abound worldwide. An apartment rental can be considerably cheaper than even the most economical hotel and having a kitchen can be a tremendous cost-saver as well. Not to mention staying in an apartment allows you to live more like a local and really immerse yourself in the local culture.
Step 3 – Everything Else
Who should you travel with? Well, I’m a firm believer that a solo trip around the world is perhaps the best gift you can ever give yourself, especially for women. Here’s why:
Planning a trip of this sort is immeasurably easier thanks to the wonders of the Internet. Access to information about any destination is only a mouse-click away. I make use of online currency converters, web travel journals, countless hotel and airline booking sites and any number of other websites. Visa applications for many countries can also now be arranged online.
Keeping a web journal while you travel is a great way to make friends and family at home feel like a part of your trip. The “My Trip Journal” site is an excellent tool and couldn’t be easier to use during your travels but you can also set up your very own blog – it’s easier than you think! A universal power adapter & converter is a must. I bought one at Brookstone years ago that has never let me down. Check with your doctor for any immunizations you may need depending on your destinations. I got the works before my first trip and haven’t worried about it since.
Check and double-check entry requirements for each country you plan to visit. Make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months after your planned date of return because all countries have different requirements on this. Leave a photocopy of your passport and a detailed copy of your itinerary at home with someone who can be easily reached in case of emergency.
Suspend your mail and newspaper, pay your bills online (if you don’t already) and hit the road! The world awaits.