Planning A RTW Trip — A Recap

Note: For a complete list of all posts related to our RTW planning (and traveling — coming soon!), check out Our Travel page.

Year 2010 was a busy year for us: I got a job after being unemployed for a year, we picked up rock climbing as a hobby, and we spent all summer exploring our favorite place on earth: Yosemite National Park.

But it definitely got busier around October when we realised that, ‘OMG, 2011, the year we’d been talking about for the last 4 years is just around the corner!’

So we ramped up our planning and researching effort.

Money, Budgeting, And All That Good Stuff

Fortunately, we’d been living a relatively frugal lifestyle ever since we got married. We’re still pretty much living like we did in college (complete with the futon and the white board), albeit with a better wine collection.

But after researching how much RTW trips have cost others and on top of the completely sucky economy in 2010, we’ve realized that we need to increase our safety margin just a little bit more in order to feel comfortable with the idea of spending a chunk of money traveling (and not having a job to come back to).

So that’s just what we did (read also how to save for a RTW trip). You can see our savings goal and how close (or far) we are for the month of October, November, and December.

Planning An Itinerary

After spending a considerable amount of time with a dozen guidebooks or so, we basically said, ‘This is way too much work!’ Besides, my library fines were getting out of control because I kept forgetting to return the books on time. There are just way too many countries, and even after coming up with ways to decide which countries to include, it was still too much.

Not having a plan. Not knowing where we’re going to be 2 months or even 2 weeks in the future — this is something new for both of us since we like to plan. ‘I’ like to plan. But after struggling with the idea of not planning and making peace with the decision… it was a great relief.

So, what’s ‘THE’ plan then?

We were 99% sure we were heading to China first, but over a New Year’s Eve dinner, we decided to reverse the route and head to South America instead (let’s just say the decision was food related).

That means we’ll have to put away my ‘Rosetta Stone: Chinese’ CD until much, much later. But that’s a good thing since we both completely suck at getting this whole intonation thingy right. Jack keeps screaming the words and I’m like, ‘Why are you yelling?’ — ‘I can’t help it. It just feels like a language that needs to be spoken LOUD.’

And I wasn’t really doing much better. Considering that my grandparents came from China, shouldn’t I have the genes for this?

Anyway, I digress…

(And just so you know, before deciding to head to China, we had been 99% sure that we were going to head down to South America first.)

We have also decided that instead of getting a RTW ticket as we were planning all along, we’re going to buy a one-way ticket to Colombia for April and plan the rest as we go along. So, that’s THE plan.

That's us taking flight -- artolog

What’s Next

We’ve found RTW friendly bank accounts, sent out for a new passport, and researched entry requirements for Colombia (apparently not much since both US and Indonesian citizens do not require visa to enter Colombia – yay!)

We sorted out our last hurdle to leaving as planned in 2011.
AND, we finally bought our one-way tickets to Colombia.

Why Colombia?

1. It doesn’t require visa for both of us. Jack is a US citizen, and I have an Indonesian passport and it’s pretty rare that a visa is not required for BOTH of us. So major score for Colombia.
2. Err, it’s at the top of the continent?
3. Tell us in the comment section, why visit Colombia?

We’re feeling mighty proud of ourselves for deciding on the first country, even though it took us months to decide. At this rate, we’ll be making our way through South America within a decade or so.

But there are still many things on our to-do list that need to be done.

Things like:
– Getting the necessary vaccinations (and finding out what they are)
– Getting rid of our stuff (at a much quicker rate than what we’ve been doing)
– Quitting our jobs
– Figure out what our gadgets we’re going to bring (fun!)

We’ll definitely have plenty on our plates until our departure in April. This is soo exciting!

Anyway, that’s the recap and thanks for reading all the way to the bottom! For those new here, hope this post will catch you up on what we’ve been up to. Don’t forget to subscribe if you haven’t already so you can keep following us on our adventure.

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19 Replies to “Planning A RTW Trip — A Recap”

  1. So exciting that you picked a starting country!!! We did our RTW and didn't get to stop in South America (that trip next year!), but really looking forward to your experiences paving the way!

    1. Oh thanks… it is exciting, kinda scary at the same time because we still don't know what we're going to do when we get to Colombia. But one step at a time…

  2. Wow, great to find someone else taking the plunge into their round the world trip in 2011. We are at about the same point as you in our plans, with a Go date in July. We were planning on flying into Ecuador as our first port o' call, but I'm going to take a good look at Columbia yet. Flights are certainly cheaper.

    1. We got our tickets from Spirit Airline, a budge airline serving South America. $200 one way to Cartagena, Colombia is not a bad price 🙂 then we're planning to make our way overland to Argentina. Keep in touch, we're more than likely either right behind each other or crossing paths and it's always great to meet up with fellow travelers.

  3. Congratulations on choosing a country! I've never been to Columbia, I can't wait to read about what you find there. South America and Central America as a whole are my favorite continents. Make sure not to miss Peru, it's epic. If you stop in Huanchaco stay in the Naylamp. It's one of my favorite hostels of all time. Friendly staff, hammocks, friendly backpackers and really great food! The best bus company for Peru and Argentina, and possibly a few other countries, is Cruz Del Sur. We will have a review up on our site for both places very soon, if you are interested in reading more about them.

    1. Yes definitely! We are planning to head south from Colombia and end in Argentina before taking off to Africa, so I'll definitely check out your post on hostels and bus company on ur blog.

  4. Ahhhh…it's the people of Colombia that make it one of my fave countries! So many great experiences there. I really over Popayan, the Valle de Cocura hike, and even the college town of Manizales surprised me. ENJOY!

  5. How exciting to be just embarking on your RTW trip! I spend a year backpacking around the world and got back in summer of 2009. It was an amazing experience. We hit Colombia as the last stop on our trip and spent about 3 weeks there. I'd recommend the Ciudad Perdida hike– it was an incredible experience. Also, Medellin is beautiful. There are so many great destinations in S America… have fun!

  6. Love that you've chosen your first country, I know it's hard, we keep reworking our plan as well. Of course we have 8 more years to go til the last kid graduates! I definitely want to hear which gadgets you end up with, very important and not sure what will be final on our list. My biggest issue is hair/face products, I'm kind of a princess and hair/face issues, lol, so being able to make sure I don't just look like a red puffball with my naturally curly hair is really a huge issue when traveling out of the states for a long period of time for me. I want to pack light, but it's impossible to find most things elsewhere! Such dilemmas, lol.

    1. Lol, I don't know if we can't help you in the hair/face department. Water and soap is what we use… In terms of gadget — it's like deciding on the itinerary all over again. Too many options and they all sound good. Might just end up winging it like we ended up doing with the itinerary.

  7. What a great idea.! Love Colombia as well. Its becoming such a popular spot. Been there twice in the last 2 years and we still love it. Such an amazing place. Cartagena (fav spot) Cali, Bogota, the zona cafetera, the white city of Popayan…so much to do. And relatively cheap. All this Colombia talk is making me want to go with you guys! One of the best hostels we've ever stayed at was in Cartagena (where else can you find 3 high speed internet computers included in the price?)
    Have a blast and can't wait to read about your adventures!
    Hostel in Cartagena:

    Happy Travels!!

    1. I love salsa (and dancing in general)! Suck really bad at it (8 counts – which stretch to 16 half steps?! Too much counting) But maybe Cali will cure me of my Salsa curse?

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