What are the things to know about traveling around the world? How do I get ready to for a world tour? What do I need to bring for my travels? And what about money, safety, food, hospitality, transportation?
The idea of leaving everything behind and traveling is flourishing in your head, but you still have many questions and some fear about the unknown that’s expecting you. Don’t worry, in this article we’ll tackle what you need to know and reassure you about one thing: the unknown is what makes a world tour exciting!
To better answer all the questions running in your head, I’ve decided to divide this article in 2 parts:
- Motivation. Because you need to be 100% psychologically ready to travel.
- Preparation. Because you need to all the right tools to travel
Even though you might already consider traveling, you probably still have a few doubts. And needless to say that friends and family are probably not helping: their love for you is such that they don’t want to see you leave for no reason or for the wrong reason.
You need to be 100% at peace with yourself about your traveling decision before you can convince others that this is what you must do.
How old should I be to consider a World Tour?
This is the FIRST thing that comes in mind of everyone who wants to travel, and the FIRST thing that comes in mind of everyone who don’t want to see you travel:
Right now is not the right moment.
So let met tell you this: Everyday is the perfect day to quit everything and just go travel, for the simple reason that there’s no perfect moment to do it.
It’s very easy: you’re either too young, or without money, or with the need to study, or you need to find your first job, or pay back your loans, or think about your career, or plan for investments, or take care of your children, or plan your retirement, or think your too old and broken to travel, or dead.
Yourself or others will ALWAYS find a reason or an excuse not to travel. So without trying to sound too much like Nike: JUST DO IT!
You’re 18? Good, go travel so you can understand life.
You’re 23? Good, go travel before getting sucked in the corporate life
You’re 30? Good, you have built yourself a resume, you’ll find a new job when you come back
You’re 40? Good, tell your children they’re gonna get home-schooled in an old beaten van for the next year
You’re 50? Good, tell your now adult children they’re on their own and go travel
You’re 60? Good, you’ve worked enough, go travel!
You’re 70, 80, 90? Prove the world you can travel like teenager!
Why should I travel around the world?
It’s important to give a sense to your travels the same way it is to give a sense to your life. It is not the “What'” that’s important, it is the “Why”.
We all have different views on that however, so ultimately it is up to you to find that out.
Overall the goal of course is to see the world from your own eyes, but it’s important to go deeper than that.
Some people want to discover new cultures in a general way, some travel to specifically find out about new food. Some want to see a specific part of the world to understand their own history, some just want to prove themselves they can do it.
I traveled to see how organic agriculture evolved from one country to another, but also to complete solo mini-adventures in each countries, like trekking in the middle of Mongolia, or cycling New-Zealand, or kayaking Canada’s West coast, or reaching Bolivian summits, or hiking through Iceland for 450km.
Whatever you do will be fine. Just do not end up like these people going from one hostel to another just to get wasted. That’s not traveling, that’s not discovering new things, that’s wasting time.
What to expect
Expect a lot of unknown.
You will meet people, cultures, and situations that you’ve never met before. That’s the whole point of travels and that’s the part that will increase your maturity (regardless of your age). Embrace it.
The unknown -as well as beauty- of traveling also comes from the freedom of time you get.
When you travel on a long term basis things can change quite fast and you should give yourself the extra-time needed for that. You might fall in love with a region and want to stay longer, as much as you can hate an area and feel like leaving straight away.
So if you’re a person that likes everything to be planned in advance, don’t panic and take a deep breath.
Take you time, don’t rush.
Do expect a lot of communication frustration.
Not all the countries you might visit are fluent in english, and not all of them use the latin alphabet. You might be left trying to communicate with nothing but sign languages and/or a calculator (calculators are great when talking numbers).
This can lead to blank results and drive you crazy. Keep your cool and understand that yelling doesn’t make others suddenly fluent in english.
Enjoy the opportunity to look like a fool trying to mime a restaurant or drawing a beach on a piece of paper.
Just don’t forget the one rule about travels that I like to repeat all the time:
When you travel, you are an ambassador to your country. So for all your fellow citizens, be nice: don’t behave like an asshole.
Don’t get mad, don’t complain of cultural difference, don’t complain at all, and don’t mock locals. Are you a traveler? An adventurer? Then adapt!
You’re ready in your mind. You’re doing it. No one is going to stop you.
It’s now time to get things real and actually start booking that flight.
What to pack
What you take with you depends on what kind of journey you’re embarking on.
Of course, if you plan on camping in the wild, you’ll have to grab a 70L backpack with a tent and a sleeping bag. If that’s the kind of travel you like, I’m sure you’ll enjoy all the tips on you can find on this website.
As a general way, I recommend grabbing a backpack as it is a much more versatile tool than a rolling luggage. If you decide to go for a hike somewhere, you can use that very same backpack and not have to carry an extra one. You also can’t really take a rolling luggage on a moped/motorcycle, which are used as an extensive transportation method in many countries.
But most importantly, a backpack makes you look like a traveler whereas a rolling luggage makes you look like a tourist.
Should you travel to a place defined as a “developing country”, you’re much less likely to attract attention or get scammed if you look like a traveler rather than a tourist.
Again, the nature of your journey defines what you should take.
Also, are you going to cold places or warm places? That can have a heavy impact on what you take.
If you plan on going trekking or hiking for most of your trip, I wrote a dedicated article for that: What to pack when going on adventures.
As a general rule, you want to keep it light. Forget about your entire closet, it’s not all going to fit. Pack as if you were leaving just for a weekend. Believe me, you can survive just on that.
Also remember: if you pack light and grab a small backpack, you don’t have to check-in your bag in airplanes and thus you’ll save tons of money.
As a basic idea, here’s what you can take:
- One or two pair of shoes + one pair of flip-flops (you’re gonna need them in hostels)
- 2 shirts and/or t-shirts
- 2 pair of pants + 1 pair of short
- 3 pair of underwear + 3 pairs of socks
- 1 sweater + 1 jacket
- Sunglasses, + hat
- Sunscreen, toothbrush, toothpaste, shower gel
- A small camera (forget about a DSLR with 7 different lenses)
- An unlocked phone, and a universal power adaptor
- A small first aid kit
Things to deal with prior
Passport + Visa
Check that you have a passport in order (expiring at least 6 month from after your last day of travels) and that you have all the visas you need.
Depending on your nationality and the places you go, you might need to get visas prior to entering a country. Your time in the country can also be limited.
Each country has its own rules.
Don’t bring me into a debate about vaccines or not. Just get your shots before traveling. You don’t want to die from yellow fever in the middle of the jungle. Some countries even make some vaccines shots mandatory prior to landing on their soil.
Also, get yourself checked before leaving. Make sure you’re in good health.
Go see your General Practitioner, your dentist, your dermatologist, your OB-GYN, your proctologist, … whoever you want. Just make sure you know your health state before leaving.
When it comes to health insurance, each nationality differs, but most often than not, you’re not really covered when outside of your country for a long period of time.
There are a lot of options out-there (Unless you’re a US citizen. Your options are limited my friend. I hope you can be on your parents health insurance or on COBRA).
You can check private companies such as WorldNomads or MSH International.
Sort things out with your bank prior to leaving. You’ll be more than likely able to communicate via email, but you won’t be physically present to sign anything for the next year to come.
Check out what credit cards are best for you when you travel and if your bank as agreement with banks from other countries. Check out what insurance coverage you get from your credit card. Warn them about your travels so they don’t block your account or credit card in the middle of your journey.
Money is of big importance when you travel. The less you spend, the more you can travel: I wrote a double part article on How to Budget for your world tour and How to spend less when traveling.
Where to go and for how long
That is up to you my friend. We are all different in what and WHY (see chapter above) we travel.
A lot of people like to aim for “developing countries” because it is usually cheaper to travel inside these countries and you can thus travel longer.
If you know how to budget a trip however, you can spend as much time in a “developed country”. See the article I wrote about Budgeting your travels.
You also want to check seasons. If you only packed warm clothes, don’t go to Mongolia during winter. Check the monsoon season in South-East Asia before going there. Remember that the seasons change depending if you’re on the North or South Hemisphere (winter in the North = November to March – winter in the South = May to August).
The time spent traveling depends on your desires. I wouldn’t recommend doing it for less than 6 months as the experience might not be impactful enough.
Most people spend between 6 and 12 months on the road. But I’ve met people who had been traveling for 3 years already when they initially started just for 3 months.
Of course it also depends on your budget and how much of a spender you are. Part 2 of my article about Budgeting your travels is on How to spend less when traveling.
Adventurers and Backpackers guides to countries:
You want to learn more about some countries without having to deal with the dictatorship of tourist guides? All you want to know is the basic information such as food and transportation for some countries? Then have a look at the mini-guides I wrote for a few countries aimed to adventurers like yourself:
Country guide: Tasmania
Country guide: Iceland
Country Guide: New-Zealand