11 Reasons We’re Going on A RTW Trip

When we were crafting our RTW itinerary, (which we quickly gave up on and decided not to have one), we were focusing mostly on the logistic side of things and to a slighter extent, our own lists of favorite countries/regions to visit. It was a very frustrating time because there are just way too many variables to consider.

-- by Stewf, Flickr

But we’ve learned from past travels that sometimes it’s the unexpected and the unplanned that formed the most lasting memory.

So after awhile, even though it took some getting used to considering that we (although it’s mostly, me — Jill ) are over planners by nature, we’re ok with the idea of not having a concrete plan. That’s basically ‘the’ plan.

Our upcoming RTW trip is only 3 months away, and we haven’t even created an official list of must-see things. It is mostly due to laziness than a tribute to any travel philosophy, really. But it’s also partly because sight seeing isn’t our only goal on this trip.

We’re hoping that on top of sight seeing, we would also be able to focus on experiencing and learning useful skills. Sight seeing is great. We all secretly have a list of things that we need to check off, but we’re hoping that coming back home we’ll have more to show than a bunch of photographs and a completed list of must-see things and do for each country we visit.

It’s also a way to convince our parents that this is not going to be a complete waste of money πŸ™‚

So here are some things we hope we get to experience during our upcoming trip, aka

Our bucket list:

  1. Rock climbing — our other passion. We’re going to try to visit climbing destinations in each region we find ourselves in. Rock climbing has taken us to beautiful places that are off the main tourist trail and led us to meet interesting people. We’re hoping to have a similar experience abroad.
  2. Discovering the best fair trade coffee from around the globeCoffee is another one of our passions. As a matter of fact, Jack is working on a coffee-related blog. So keep an eye out on that. We have this crazy idea of opening a coffee tasting-slash-coffee shop after we get back from our RTW trip and we’re really looking forward to learning more about coffee on this trip.
  3. Teaching English and volunteering — and maybe both at the same time. Crazy! We haven’t done much research on this yet, but we will once we’re on the road. We’re particularly interested in volunteering at animal conservation parks and/or teaching computer/english.
  4. Going on a camel ride and camping in a desert, Lawrence of Arabia style — totally NOT influence by the movie. Honestly.
  5. Going on a multi-day trekking — we’re not going to do the Inca trail, but we’re hoping we might be able to do some trekking around Patagonia assuming we get there in the right season.
  6. -- Jack and Jill Collection

  7. Experiencing a nomadic lifestyle in Mongolia — We’ve heard that you can rent or buy a horse in Mongolia for pretty cheap and just take off into the great Mongolian plain, camping wherever you feel like it. But first, it’s probably a good idea for us to learn how to ride a horse. If not, ger-to-ger travel sounds like an appealing alternative.
  8. Learn to ride a horse — preferably before we get to Mongolia.
  9. Learn to scuba dive somewhere tropical — I’ve wanted to learn to scuba for a very, very long time. Which is strange considering I have a big fear of the ocean. Not to mention that — I’m so embarrassed to admit — I can’t swim (Jack, however, should probably be born a fish. He’s like one in the water).

    But I’m hoping that somehow, maybe after seeing sea lions gallivanting in the waters of Galapagos, maybe? I’d pluck up the courage needed to learn how to swim and get that certificate once and for all.

  10. Learn Russian in one of the -stan’s — I have a secret crush on Central Asia and I’d really like to explore the region and its people. I think learning a little Russian beforehand won’t hurt. This place in Kyrgyzstan offers Russian course for as cheap as $4/hr.
  11. Overland travel across Sahara in Africa — this could turn out to be prohibitively expensive. So depending on financial situation, we might not be able to do it. But Africa fascinates me and if not on this trip, sometime in my lifetime I really, really would like to do the eastern route of this supposedly amazing journey.
  12. Survive living off a backpack for a year and being 24/7 with Jack — the ultimate goal

So like I’ve said, we’re hoping to gain some useful life skills on this trip. Even though I might exaggerate the ‘useful’ part a bit πŸ™‚ If you have any tips/suggestions on how we can make this list happen, let us know in the comment section below.

What does YOUR bucket list look like?

Valuable Resources

  • Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders, for those who love anything weird and offbeat.
  • Resource Toolbox: How I find cheap flights, accommodations, and other travel hacks.

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50 Replies to “11 Reasons We’re Going on A RTW Trip”

  1. Awesome. Just plain, straight up awesome. I could never convince my boyfriend to do this but it is like your living my dreams. Good luck, have fun, and post as often as you can!!

  2. Great bucket list! You have some incredible things on it. We really wanted to go the ger to ger trip in Mongolia but due to some visa issues with Russia our timing was off and it wasn't possible. πŸ™ It's definitely still on our list though, the programs sound amazing.

    We absolutely loved Africa, and overlanding it in a small Landy was an awesome way to see small villages. We camped a ton throughout afterica, but camping in the Sahara is one of my favorite memories. Trust me, do not miss it!!

    Excited to see you start crossing these things off!

  3. These are some cool goals, especially learning Russian! And I love the last one I'm sure you'll be able to just about get by…. just make sure he carries your bags πŸ˜‰

  4. Our favourite place for SCUBA dive and snorkeling is still in Bunaken (that's in Indonesia, people!). We definitely prefer Bunaken over the Great Barrier Reefs in Australia (ssshhh, don't tell Aussies). Worst snorkeling experience was in Fiji somewhere where the water at one point was full with tiny invisible stingers (I don;t know what it was, the guide call it sea lice). The itch bumps didn't go away until a month later.

  5. Wow, you really know a lot of interesting things. I LOVE your way of traveling and your attitude, as Rob previously said. I'd really love travelling with you, adventure style, like Indiana Jones, hehe. Congratulations on being such a cool person and blogger. Have a great day, Maria.

  6. You guys sound like our kindred spirits! We had so many of the same goals before our first round the world and are finally going to be able to visit Mongolia this year! It was a dream of ours to ride a horse across Mongolia. Did you know you can buy a horse on one end and sell it on the other. We still may do that after the Mongol Rally. Looking forward to your adventures.

    1. So it's true! You can buy/sell horses easily over there… This is awesome! Would definitely love to hear stories if you get to do that during your visit to Mongolia this year.

  7. Sounds great. If you're serious about the camel journey across the Sahara, look into a multi-day trip from Morocco or Mauritania. There are also some good places to go in Sinai in Egypt. Also, don't be disheartened by the fact that most people find riding a camel to be incredibly painful πŸ˜‰

  8. Ooh you're leaving a month after we are?! Totally exciting!

    More power to you and your lack of planning. I am trying to ignore the fact we are not planning as to not have small panic attacks to the time we leave. I wish I was more like you guys!

    1. Lol, we're just too swamped with work to actually plan anything right now. After we quit our jobs, it might finally sink that we don't know what we're doing and we'll go into a panic mode then.

  9. What a great way to plan an RTW! Start with intentions and go from there. Love it! I've planned trips this way and they've worked out so much better as far as experiences go than a strict itinerary.

    I've heard Honduras/Belize is beautiful for scuba diving in tropical places. If you do make it across the Sahara overland, then end in Dahab – the SCUBA there is phenomenal (from another conversation we've had, sounds like you're thinking of going there): )

    I recommend checking out idealist.org for volunteering ideas. If you're thinking of volunteering in India, check out my article on it – I had two experiences, one in Kolkatta and one in Jaipur, both excellent. http://takeyourbigtrip.com/tags/volunteering/

    1. Thanks Kristin, some other people have mentioned Dahab for Scuba. So once I've gotten over my fear of the deep, I'd definitely love to go there.

  10. I don't think you have over exaggerated useful because all these things are going to teach you life skills which will change you as a person. I look back now when I first left the UK and feel embarrassed at how narrow minded I was. I find now that I am more accepting of people, apart from the ones that are narrow minded!!!

  11. be prepared to be horribly, horribly disappointed about the state of coffee around the world. It is pretty horrible, even in coffee producing countries πŸ™ Great list though. Enjoy!

    1. Has instant coffee taken over the world?! If our experience in Indonesia anything to go by, that's what we can expect it seems like. But we're also curious to learn about fair trade/direct trade, how coffee is prepared in each country, and what actually goes on in coffee plantations on top of drinking our way around the world (drinking coffee that is).

  12. I like your plan of not having a plan! You'll find it sometimes hard but all you'll remembered will be the funny part. When I went to the Great Wall last August, I took the wrong exit and instead of going back to the Beijing side, I ended up in Inner Mongolia! With Chinese summer heat, it was not fun at all, but now this is one of the funniest jokes I can remember from my travels in China πŸ˜‰

    Looking forward to your next adventures!

    1. I remember reading that post. That was crazy!! I know what you mean though — everytime things don't go according to plan I tell myself and Jack that sometime in the future, it will make for a good story πŸ™‚

  13. Like the diversity of your list. If you're going to be in Peru, I'd check out the Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu. It doesn't require a permit, meaning you can book it when you arrive and the price tag is much, much less. Plus, it's a fantastic hike – over a glacier pass, through rain forest and then Machu Picchu is the final destination.

    For language lessons in Kyrgyzstan (Central Asia is also one of my favorite areas), check out Community Based Tourism. Even if they don't have a specific course, they might be able to set up language partners for you if you use their homestay service. It's a really fantastic organization.

    1. Yes, I've heard about Salkantay trek… we might check it out. And thanks also for the info on Kyrgystan Community Based Tourism.

  14. This is a great bucket list! It's nice to see some new items that don't fall on the typical travelers list.

    I think that the level of planning you do depends on the person but it seems like you have a pretty good idea of the major activities you want to do and the rest should fall in to place allowing you to experience more of the culture.

    1. Hi Annie, thanks for coming by and the kind words. We're also hoping that things would just fall in to place… even if we don't, we'll make the most of it πŸ™‚

  15. As for #2 — when (if?) you're in Thailand, definitely go to Chiang Mai & check out Akha Ama Coffee (http://www.akhaama.com/). I'm a huge coffee fanatic, and they have some of the best coffee I've ever had (and I've had a LOT). They also arrange small tours to visit the small Akha village where the coffee is grown & processed. I took a weekend trip there & it was amazing!
    I would also love to ride a horse in Mongolia. I'm hoping to go there next summer after wrapping up in China. Maybe I'll see you there!

    1. That coffee shop sounds amazing. The business model is interesting and I'd be curious to learn more about the fair trade/direct trade thing that they do. We don't know if we're going to make it to Thailand, but if we do, we'd def love to meet up with the infamous Team Chiang Mai and check out the coffee plantation.

  16. My business partner at Briefcase to Backpack, Sherry Ott, went with Ger-to-Ger in Mongolia and loved it. You should check out her posts on her website: http://www.ottsworld.com/blogs/category/destinati

    She's even tackling the Mongol Rally this summer!

    And for volunteering, idealist.org is a great place to start looking for opportunities. It's how I found my volunteer organization in Cusco – Peru's Challenge.

    Can't wait to follow along on your career break! Would love to feature you on our site!


    1. Thanks so much for the info. I'm already a fan of Sherry Ott and I'm purrty sure that's how I learned of the ger-to-ger organization πŸ™‚ Great minds think alike!

  17. I think this is a great way to look at it. We left home with nothing planned beyond our first few days. You'll learn so much from the traveler's you meet on the road that there's no need to plan!

    We had some great volunteering experiences in both Bolivia and Ecuador (that included teaching English!). If you want more deets I'd be happy to share!

  18. We are about to embark on a Worldschool Adventure in Asia with our two young boys. The biggest thing on our bucket list is to simply spend time together. For me, simply being together is more important than ticking off a list of sights. Looking forward to reading about your journey!

    1. Thanks for coming by. I agree with you, having new experiences is fun.. but having somebody to share them with makes each new day and each new experience an even greater treasure.

  19. Wow, first of all, I can't believe you guys are only THREE MONTHS AWAY!!! Second of all, this is a great list. I need to sit down with Brian and create our own list. I got some good ideas from yours, especially that horse-in-Mongolia idea. I'm going to click on that tour link to see what that's all about.

    1. Do check out the ger-to-ger. I really love the concept of it. The site is a tad hard to navigate through though πŸ™‚ The list was really fun to create, hope you and Brian will have fun with it too.

  20. I think this is super smart….our intention is also to make a "to do" list, as opposed to a "to see" list. Our ever-evolving list includes:
    1) Learning to salsa dance in Colombia – my two left feet will have fun with this one
    2) Volunteering – we are considering Haiti, but not sure if they will take us for a short term stint (2-3 weeks)
    3) Overland travel in Africa – maybe the four of us split a rental vehicle?? πŸ™‚
    4) Vineyard tours and wine sampling (lots of it) in Argentina
    5) Run a half marathon or two in cool destinations
    6) Scuba diving – I have been certified, but it was so long ago, I would start from scratch….Shawna is not so much interested in this one….poor girl is afraid of fish
    7)Learn Spanish in Mexico or Central America – we are taking beginner lessons here right now, but want to fine a cool Spanish school to help us increase our knowledge, ideally with some sort of homestay involved.
    8) Walk across Spain, 25-30kms per day

    I am using all material that I had planned to put in my own post :)…better stop…

    I love the Mongolian travel idea too….man, I swear we are going to need way more than 15 months….will we EVER make it back to Saskatchewan!

    1. So I guess I'm getting a sneak preview πŸ™‚ YES to sharing vehicle in Africa. It would so wicked if we could make that happen (wicked? ugh, I swear I wasn't born in the 60's). What kind of volunteering ru interested doing in Haiti? Humanitarian aid?

    2. Nothing wrong with 'wicked'…I love it.

      Yeah, we were thinking humanitarian type volunteering, but not sure if ppl will take us on the short term in Haiti…any ideas?

  21. Wow, I've never heard of #6 before — I didn't know you could rent a horse in Mongolia and just head out onto the plains. I really hope you're able to make that happen cuz I'd love to read about it. πŸ˜›

    1. Us too. But in all honesty, unless we start learning to ride a horse like, right now… it might be a little foolhardy to try to do something like that considering Mongolian horses are known for their stubbornness, being half wild and all that. Then again, we do foolish things every now and then, so it might happen after all. And besides, since we can camp pretty much anywhere, maybe we just let the horsies take us wherever they want to go, eh? πŸ™‚

  22. That's a great way to travel and a great attitude. Things to achieve rather than places to see. Especially when you've seen a lot before and you realise it's not the seeing that's important it's the doing. Travel is probably better as a side quest than as a main objective that most people start out with. Good luck with it all! There is certainly some interesting ideas here.

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