- Identify your pillars.
- Be aware of FOMO.
- Realistically work the puzzle.
Step 1: Dream.
Round the world or RTW can mean different things to different people. So where do you start when planning for a trip around the world? We found some good information from other bloggers. Commonly we were advised to first brainstorm and dream. We looked at pictures, checked out tons of library books and just envisioned what we wanted this trip to become.
Step 2: Identify Your Pillars.
We spent time thinking about what to us would become the pillars of our trip. We allowed each family member to choose one place that was on their “must do” list. For Walden, who loves everything animal, he dreamed of an African safari. Ella has always fancied Italy and Paris. I wanted to see Southeast Asia and Nepal, while Alison looked to New Zealand and India.
One activity we did that helped us work together as a family, involved making a list of countries we were willing to visit and then having each of the four of us rank them from 1-5, 1 being no way do I want to go, 5 being I can’t imagine missing it. Amazingly, this quickly brought our pillars into focus.
Step 3: Be aware of FOMO.
Of course there are many more places we had to leave out. We plan to see famous monuments such as Angkor Wat, the Taj Mahal and the Eiffel Tower. But we will miss Egypt’s pyramids, Machu Picchu and the Great Wall of China. One of the hardest parts is deciding how and when to spend your time. All of this is complicated by FOMO. Fear of missing out. FOMO is a common affliction when traveling in which you fail to be present in your current experience due to the feeling that there is something better happening in a different place that you didn’t do. Interacting with fellow travelers may exacerbate FOMO. FOMO drives activity such as getting up to see the sunrise at Angkor Wat, but can also make you feel you should run from highlight to highlight to see and do as much as possible. This is a struggle. We deal with it by telling ourselves that we can come back if it is really that amazing. We must stay vigilant to stay present. If you think about it, it happens anywhere you are not just when traveling and it is never a good thing.
Step 4: Realistically work the puzzle.
It is so difficult to cut out things when you are so close to them and have travelled so far. We really wanted to see Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay, but Vietnam recently raised visas on US citizens such that visiting would cost our family almost $600 just to enter! We changed our plans after learning this. Same with China. Even after narrowing down the regions of the world, we still will miss amazing things, and that is ok. We have tried to focus on experiences that our family enjoys together, and at this point that is not long cerebral visits to museums or architectural masterpieces. We will see some temples and cathedrals, but that is not our main goal. Exploring natural beauty is our thing, and we should see plenty. Just because everyone goes to an art museum in Paris doesn’t mean you have to do that too.
One activity we did together that was fun and helped us to reaffirm this understanding involved gathering on the couch and looking through digital scrapbooks together. Everyone shared their memories (which will always surprise you!) and soon what each of us enjoyed and loathed became evident.
There are a multitude of factors that we used to create our plan after we determined the pillars: time of year, season, expected weather patterns, crowds, safety/security and of course money. We used a massive file in the cloud for us all to work on at different times. We used a giant desk calendar to get the bird’s eye view. We researched, researched and then did more research. There are so many moving parts, but we are so excited about what we have planned. I will make another post showing how to get the best deals on airfare and lodging and other details in the near future.
Step 5: Explore.
Now we are ready to go. I’ve told myself we will never have everything ready and at some point we will push away from the safe harbor and set sail. We have our dream, our pillars and our plans. We are as ready as I think we can be.