Planning A Crazy Trip Around The World
Three years ago I got really into travel. I've always loved going on vacation, but I started to read travel blogs, watch videos about traveling to different cities, basically I got a bad case of wanderlust. With three years left until graduation, I started planning what would be one of the biggest trips of my life. In June of this year, I'll be traveling around the world for eight weeks with three of my good friends.
In this post, I'll be sharing the details of the trip, along with some helpful tips when planning and booking a multi-country vacation. First things first, we're going (almost) everywhere. Ok, maybe not everywhere, but we certainly are getting around on this trip. We'll be traveling to 20 cities in 14 countries across five continents. Here's a list of where we'll be traveling, in no particular order: Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, China, France, Egypt, Morocco, Cambodia, U.S., U.k., Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, and The Netherlands. We'll be starting this trip in Hawaii, (what better place to start?), then continuing on to Australia ➞ Asia ➞ Europe ➞ Africa.
When planning any vacation, there's a lot that goes into it. You have to find flights, book hotels, plan meals, arrange transportation and vehicle rentals, get travel insurance, etc. It can be quite overwhelming. In this part of the post, I'm going to walk you through how we planned this trip, what worked well and what did not.
Planning a trip this big
Years ago this trip started off as a trip to southeast Asia. I love the beach, so I wanted to go see some of the world's best beaches. Simple enough. Then as I did more research, other parts of Asia stood out to me. I've always wanted to go to Hong Kong so I figured we could add that to our trip. Soon this trip to Bali was a trip that was going to take us just about everywhere else and that's ok. A good tip when planning a vacation is to try not to limit yourself. Let me explain what I mean by that. Many people think that a vacation should be spent in one place. However, if you're interested in 2 places (and they're not too far from each other), why not see both? Instead of spending your ten-day vacation in Sydney, after 5 days take a quick flight over to Auckland and check out New Zealand too.
To figure out where we truly wanted to go, (and could afford to go), we created a map with every place in the world we were interested in seeing on this trip. As you can see below, it was quite a bit of destinations we had on our list.
We started removing places we were less interested in than other until we had a map that consisted of 20 countries. From then on, we started planning our route.
Planning a world trip routing can be very difficult
This part felt like one really big math problem. We started by assuming we would travel between these destinations in a logical order as we move around the map. However, we quickly realized it's much cheaper to fly to certain cities from one place than it was from another. Soon we agreed that we would stay within one continent at a time, in the most cost-effective manner.
This took longer than anything else on the entire trip. Imagine you're going to four cities, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, and Siem Reap. They're all relatively close to one another. To fly from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur may cost $50 while flying in the reverse order costs $125. It may cost $85 to fly from Siem Reap to Singapore but half that in the reverse order. We were trying to find the cheapest way to fly between 20 cities and in the end we saved a lot of money. The best tip I can give anyone when trying to figure out the most cost-effective routing is to use Skyscanner. www.skyscanner.com is a great website that shows you the cheapest destinations to fly to on any date from your city.
Booking, Booking, Booking
We booked our hotels and flights in just about every way possible. In my previous post, I wrote about my favorite hotel loyalty program, hotels.com. We tried to mainly stick with them but also ended up using Airline and hotel websites, Expedia, TripAdvisor, Airbnb, and Trivago. My favorite way to keep all of the booking and conformations numbers in one place is to create a google map. You can choose what cities to add to your map and then in the description put your hotel/airfare information. It adds convince if you plan on booking from more than one place.
Hotels were one of the most important parts of the trip. We'll be spending most of our trip, (50+ nights), in hotels vs AirBnbs. We wanted to stay at some of the most incredible hotels out there, so we started looking for deals. After months of purchasing points from hotel programs during the latest promotion and looking for deals everywhere, we had gotten a great deal at virtually every hotel we decided to stay at. A couple of the hotels and resorts we've booked include the famous Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, The Ritz Carlton in Hong Kong, The InterContiental in Singapore, The Ritz Carlton Resort in Bali, and The Surawongse in Bangkok.
Saving for a big trip
I'm not going to lie, this trip is expensive. No doubt about it, but we managed to save a lot of money on flights and hotels by using basic strategy. For example, buying hotel points. The InterContiental in Amsterdam is one of the best luxury hotels in the city. It can also easily be $560+ a night in the summer. InterContiental is part of the IHG brand and IHG is known for having promotions very often. Recently, IHG offered a 100% bonus on purchased points. You could buy 200,000 for $1,000. It costs 60,000 points a night to stay at the InterContiental in Amsterdam, so rather than pay around $1,600 for three nights, we purchased the points for $1,000, booked three nights and had 20,000 points left over.
Another easy way to save money is by splitting up the cost. I'm traveling with three,(amazing), friends. If a hotel costs $400 a night and you can divide the cost between four people, you could stay for 50 nights in very nice hotels for $5,000 instead of $20,000. These are two good and easy ways to save money on any trip you want to go on.
My third and final tip, if you want to go on a longer trip to multiple place, is to pick an area with good transportation options. For example, a trip to Paris could become so much more. Although the initial cost might be $1,000 for a roundtrip ticket to get to Paris, once you're there it can be very cheap to go between countries. You could end up visiting 5-10 countries in Europe by train and cheap flights for around the cost it took just to get to Paris. The same is true in Southeast Asia. It might cost you $1,500 to get there, but once you're there it's so cheap to fly between countries that it's very easy to hop around.
This crazy trip around the world starts in June of this year and I'll be posting more about the trip when it gets closer. I hope this post inspired you to consider a longer multi-destination trip! (and if it did you'll be able to book it cheaper knowing these tricks)!