According to the UN, there are 206 countries listed in the world. 16 of these states are disputed by someone or other, so that leaves 190 ‘official’ countries. So how do you choose which places to visit when planning a round the world trip? Well, for us, it was relatively easy and this is how the logic went …
First step: how long have we got? Nigel is self-employed, so the big consideration was that while he’s abroad, he’s not earning. But after crunching the numbers, we figured we could get away for 2 months.
Second step: what’s the right number of countries to ‘do’ in 2 months. Everyone we spoke to about it came up with the same advice – less is more, don’t try to cram too much in. Hmmm … seems sensible. But it’s so tempting to drift into getting excited about places in the vicinity of definite must-sees. So a bit of self-discipline was required.
Third step: what’s the shortlist? We wrote ours down separately. Nigel had Japan, New Zealand, just about anywhere in South America and the Rocky Mountaineer in Canada. Jane had New Zealand, the Rockies and Tonga. Ok. So some good overlap.
We then pulled out the atlas. It soon became clear that South America would need to be another trip for another day. And although Australia was clearly in the vicinity of New Zealand, it too would prove too much to take in in the time we had. And then we started to add a few further places that both of us had been intrigued by. San Francisco. Beijing. Hong Kong to visit Nigel’s brother. Vietnam (oddly inspired by Top Gear’s epic trip through the country on 2 wheels).
Fourth step: which way round? ‘Which way round do most people go’, asked Jane. ‘East’, replied Nigel. ‘Right, we’re going West.’. Sorted.
Fifth step: let it mull for a while. We had a rough plan in our head for a couple of months or so. In that time, we spoke to people who had been to some of the places we were considering. One repeated suggestion was that if Vietnam was on the list, then the opportunity to visit Angkor Wat in Cambodia should not be passed up.
Sixth step: sketch out an itinerary. This is where we really had to consider how best to use the time. How long were we going to devote to each leg? It became clear that our longer stays were going to be New Zealand, Japan and Vietnam/Cambodia.
Seventh step: match the plan to the flights. We used Nick Chesterton at STA, who gave us a really great, well-informed service, making some adaptations to the original plan where practicalities dictated – spending less than 72 hours in Beijing, for instance, avoided the need for an expensive visa.
Eighth step: book it, Danno! And so 13 flights, totalling 32,750 miles over 57 days were booked. No going back now!
So where are we going? Well, we’ll tell you about our itinerary in more detail over the next few weeks, but in outline, it’s:
- San Francisco
- New Zealand
- Hong Kong
Where would you have chosen? Any must-sees in our destinations? What do you think about our approach to coming up with the itinerary?