Planning RTW Travel

Toronto skyline at dawnI am often asked how I plan my travels.  Well it is a lot easier today than it would have been before the internet.  It makes me admire all those who embarked on world travel before me, who didn’t have the luxury of the web.  It helped me in the initial planning stages, but even before that when I would visit travel or adventure websites and dream about one day visiting those far off lands myself.  Once I got the guts to do it, I started researching places to go, when festivals were being held, visa requirements, immunizations, travel insurance, airfares (better to book one RTW ticket or booking each leg as I go? – I ended up doing some of each).  Just like everything else on the internet I was faced with so much information that I made some mistakes and got sucked in by things that were too good to be true (Lesson #1- always trust your gut!)

I booked the first 6 months of my trip through Airtreks, really a great resource with their RTW trip planner (I had a lot of fun with that!).  The staff were very helpful, even hooking me up with an amazing tour guide in Cairo (I had to book on my own), and giving me 6 months of travel insurance for free. The insurance was very basic though and I ended up signing with another insurance company for a full year and more comprehensive plan. The flight route I booked would take me to regions where I would then book supplementary travel.

I have to say that one of the very best travel sites on the web, that gave me links to just about everything I would need is johnnyjet.com. I met him just as the idea of my trip was solidifying in my mind. Not only did he encourage me, put many fears to rest and inspire me to blog about my travels, but I discovered his website which made planning my trip so much easier.

On the road I use the internet for everything; staying connected with family and friends through email, Facebook, Skype but also to plan out each leg of my journey; air travel, accommodation (from hotels to hostels to couchsurfing), as well as researching highlights of each destination and booking tours.  My biggest resource for all of that has definitely been Trip Advisor. If you haven’t used it before, it’s invaluable with reviews for everything on the site (just about every hotel in the world) but remember to take that information with a grain of salt. Check to see where the comment is from, if it is the same city you can bet it’s from someone who works for the company (if it’s really positive) or from a competitor (if it’s really bad).  After a while you can see through much of it and get the information you need.  You can see photos, check the amenities (internet – especially free wi-fi is very important to me – as is my own private bathroom), and then check availability and prices through a few different sites that TripAdvisor links to.  You will probably get the best price but it’s still a good idea to link to the hotel/hostel site yourself in case there are any special promotions you can take advantage of (eg. Two for one nights on a weekend if you book directly through the hotel website).

While I use travel sites for air and ground travel as well that is usually to check times, routes, availability and prices and then I will try to book on the airline’s specific website. One of my favourite travel sites for air travel is Expedia but just be warned they don’t give you prices for all the airlines so you may not be getting the best deal (and I also discovered that you can sometimes get better deals on different Expedia sites…. eg. I actually found a cheaper flight on expedia.ca than on expedia.com).  Most of the discounted airlines aren’t represented on the big travel booking sites so you have to shop around and again the internet and google make it so easy.  Really the best option again is TripAdvisor, they actually search all the major booking websites for the best deals.

One other resource you can’t discount are all the other travellers you are going to meet along the way. Believe me, they will be only too happy to share their tips about places to avoid or great accommodation or restaurants. If you are really going the bargain route, sign up to couchsurfing.org and couch surf your way around the world.  And if you are still too scared to take the plunge… why not use these same tools to plan your fantasy trip… who knows when you see how easy it can be you might just get the urge to take the plunge.
Bon Voyage….

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