How I Planned My RTW Itinerary

So here it is months later, and I still don’t have any firm plans for my trip around the world yet, but still shooting for my target of this fall.  There are a lot of things that have to happen before I will be ready to pack up and take off  on my RTW adventure.  So in the meantime I keep fine tuning my itinerary.  A lot depends on when I do end up leaving because I want to avoid really bad weather (like Monsoon season in SE Asia) and there are some must see events and festivals that have been my inspiration for taking this trip.  I have decided to book as much of it as I can right now through AirTreks. (In fact if you click on the link and book something – especially int’l travel or multi destination travel – I now get a commission- so please consider booking through AirTreks linked from THIS SITE!)
I plan to leave Toronto around the middle of September and fly to Edmonton to visit with family and friends for a couple of weeks before flying to LA to visit more family and friends, then to Honolulu to see my cousin and then the Big Island to visit my best friend who is in the process of building her dream home. I also plan to take a bike ride to erupting Mt. Kilauea volcano and maybe take a night helicopter flight over it, providing it is really active when i’m there.  After that it becomes a little more complicated.
My next stop is probably going to be Vietnam, very high on my list of must see places.  I plan to cruise through the Mekong Delta, Cycle from Saigon (Ho Chi Minh) to Hanoi and then a few days in Halong Bay , kayaking by day and cruising on a Junk at night.  I also want to fit in Cambodia and visits to Angkor Wat and Battambang and if time to the beaches of Sihanoukville. Laos is also on the list. There’s something where you take a 7.5 km sail through a huge cave in Tham Kong Lo.
From there I want to make sure I’m in Koala Lampur by January 20th to experience the Thaipusam Hindu Festival – a 15 km pilgrimmage  from central KL to the Batu Caves. About a million devotees attend and men carry cages attached to their body and faces with spikes. (It also occurs in Singapore but the biggest is in KL).  I’d also like to visit Ubud Bali where there is a cool artists colony, which I could do before Thaipusam. A beach in Bali would be a nice relaxing break too especially before India.
I’d like to get to India early in the New Year before it gets too hot.  I want to see all the highlights, the Taj Mahal in Agra, Mumbai, Vernasi, the palaces of Jaipur, Kolkata, and from Delhi – the Ajanta cave temples of Northern Mahrashra.  I’d also like to take the Palace On Wheels luxury train trip from New Delhi to Jaipur and Agra fo 8 days.  The price is around $500… not bad for a week.
But I also want to be in Goa for Carnival (around March 5) and I want to be sure to be in Mathura or Barsana to attend Holi  celebrations March 19-20. It’s the festival signified by people throwing coloured powder on each other.   I would also like to check out neighbouring Sri Lanka and visit the Kandy Elephant orphanage and visit a friend of mine who lives in Colombo.  Dhaka, Bangledesh, Bhutan, and Nepal would also be high on the list – depending how long I stay.  
From India I want to head back to Singapore for April 16 to meet my sister who is arriving for an Asian cruise. It would be a bit of a detour but certainly worth it to see her again.
Next I’d like a stop in Egypt and the Middle East.  It sounds tourist kitschy but I’d love to take a camel ride to the Pyramids as well as visit the huge markets in Egypt.  I’m also looking forward to visiting Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, The Dead sea, Bethlehem in Israel and if time Syria and Jordan. 
Then I plan to travel to Turkey, Greece, Croatia, and Italy before landing in Spain for as long as I can.  I just found out about the Schengen Agreement that basically means you can only stay in countries covered by the agreement (most of the EU) for a total of 90 days in a 6 month period.  I wanted to stay 3 months in Spain but now i’m going to have to spread it around.
In Spain I want to revel in Barcelona’s unique architecture. Visit the beach towns like Sitges, visit Valencia for La Tomatina (last Wed. in August), spend some time in Madrid (take a spanish language course somewhere along the way) .Also visit Cadiz and make the journey to Morocco.  A friend of mine has family and friends living all over Morocco, so I will be able to stay with them and really experience Morocco.  And of course I want to explore Portugal as well, but again the Schengen Agreement is going to mean something is going to have to be missed… this time.
I plan to head back to southeast Asia and spend some time in Thailand.  I want to visit Bangkok (hopefully the political violence and the issues at the centre of the dispute will have been resolved by then, but if not, i won’t stay long.  I want to be in Phuket in early October to attend the Vegetarian Festival (not as benign as it sounds).  Men are pierced with metal rods and swords and walk over hot coals as well as perform other Buddist rituals.  I also want to spend time in Kraba and Phangra Bay, Koh Phi Phi, Chiang Mai to take an elephant safari and maybe try to visit the hilltop tribes. I’d also like to visit Nong Khai for the Fireball festival in late October. 
Around the middle of December I want to be in Australia.  I want to visit all the major cities, taking the train for much of the trip (did you know there was a railway that went across Australia?). I also want to spend some time volunteering at the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Sanctuary . If I’m there at the right time,  mid Feb. to early March I’d like to take in the Gay Mardi Gras in Sydney .   
I want to make a short trip to New Zealand for some adventure.  They are renowned for their Bungee Jumps near Queenstown
Then it’s north to Hong Kong.  I was there in 1984, at the same time the British had signed the agreement to return Hong Kong to China in 1999… so I am really looking forward to see the changes.  I want to visit many of the same places I visited originally. 
Shanghai is high on my list of places to spend time in China.  Theres a town near Shanghai called Zhouzhuang  that is referred to as the Venice of the Orient.  It has a series of canals winding through the community that  I’d love to visit. 
I am also hoping to visit the Wolong Panda Sanctuary , where you can volunteer to help care for the pandas.  I’m not sure about it’s status though after it was closed following the massive earthquake in May 2008 that was centred near Chengdu in Sichuan Province.  From there it is on to Beijing and if possible I’d like to be there for the Great Wall Marathon May 15, although they don’t allow people to join from China, you have to arrive as part of a tour group. 
I also want to spend some time in Korea, visiting Seoul, Inchon, and Busan before heading to Japan.  Again I want to hit all the highlights but I also want to make sure I take time to climb Mt. Fuji in July or August.
At that point it will be close to two years of travelling and time to reassess.  I still have lots of Europe to see and then of course there’s South America, Central America and even North America. 
While this sounds fairly structured, it isn’t .  If I decide to spend more time in one place I can, but like I said there are some festivals I want to make sure I attend so I will just have to shift things around to still ensure I can do everything I want.

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2 Responses to “How I Planned My RTW Itinerary”

  1. Anh Nguyen
    June 8 at 12:45 pm #

    Hey Darren, great post! One of my life goals is to do a RTW trip so I’m getting a lot of good advice from your prep posts. Hope the trip is going well.

    • Darren
      June 8 at 1:50 pm #

      Thanks Anh. It is a life changing experience, and if you are thinking about it… do it sooner rather than later… it’s a decision you won’t regret. If you have any questions or need any one-on-one advice don’t hesitate to contact me by email too. Good Luck.

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