Do you want to travel around the world? With a vaccine in sight and after months of lockdown, there is finally light at the end of the tunnel. Now that people are getting used to working remotely, many are starting to look for other places to work from once borders beging to open.
There’s never been a better time to start planning for that trip around the world. It took us several years and a lot of researching everything we could about travel to finally bite the bullet at travel full time. The world isn’t quite ready to open up, so why not start planning now so you are ready to hit the road when it does. If you start planning now, you may find yourself on a plane by the end of this year or at least in early 2022.
From deciding on a budget to creating your itinerary we’re here to help you travel the world. We’ve compiled all our resources in one place to give you a step by step guide for world travel.
How to Travel the World
Table of Contents
With these comprehensive travel tips from our 10 years of experience as full-time travelers and 20 years of traveling the world you’ll be armed with the tools and resources to start traveling the world.
Want to Travel the World?
We’ve been right where you are now. We started dreaming of traveling the world in 2000 after a five-week trip to Thailand. It took us another three years of planning before we finally left for an extended journey.
It was 2003 and Toronto was in the grips of SARS. Our careers in the Toronto film industry were under threat but we knew we had to make a change. Little did we know, that travel would eventually become our careers. It was the best year of our lives. So to help you start planning, we have a lot of information to share.
Planning for Travel Around the World – Quick Links
From planning your budget to choosing your destinations and packing the right gear, these will help get you started. Check out these in-depth articles for more detailed tips to travel around the world.
- How to Save Money for Travel: 15 Tips to Get You Started Now
- Ultimate Pre-Travel Checklist
- Travel Packing List – What to Pack for Long Term Travels
- Our Best Travel Tips – From 20 Years of Traveling the World
- 10 Tips to Help You Plan Your Dream Trip
- 7 Common Travel Mistakes First Time Travelers Make
Step by Step Guide – Where to Start
The biggest concern most people have for traveling the world is money. How do you find it and how to you save it. We have some great money saving travel tips to get you started.
Save Money for World Travel
It is easy to find extra money if you really set your mind to it. If travel is something that you really want to do, you’ll find the ways. There are plenty of ways to also find deals and funds for your travels.
Think of things like selling your excess clutter on Kijiji, cutting out excess expenses, canceling all those binge-watching networks, and looking for free activities in place of your expensive hobbies.
Choose Cheap Hobbies
When we first started out, we spent a lot of time exploring our backyard and honing our adventure skills by camping a lot, learning to kayak, and mountain biking, as well as going for hikes on trails near our house. We gained valuable skills to help us when we started traveling, and we saved a lot of money by doing activities that didn’t cost much.
Instead of spending money on expensive vacations, expensive dinners out, and nights at the bar, we put money in our pockets for travel, while still having adventures at home. Once we hit the road, we were prepared for anything.
- We have an in depth post on How to Save Money to Travel the World
Travel the World on a Budget
It is amazing how you can make your money last while traveling and how you can find ways to make your money go farther. You just have to think outside the box.
Below we go through some good travel tips that allowed us to travel cheaper. With a bit of knowledge, you can use travel hacks to book cheaper flights, earn rewards, and travel in luxury on a budget.
- For and in depth guide to stretching your dollar read: How to Travel on a Budget – Our Top Cheap Travel Tips
Travel Credit Cards and Rewards
Even if if you have a tight budget there are ways to be able to travel. A great start is to take advantage of travel rewards cards. The biggest mistake we made when we first starting our travel planning was to not enroll in a travel credit card. You can save a lot of money for travel by using a rewards credit card to make purchases.
- Sign up for travel rewards credit cards and get instant bonuses. Cards like American Express offer 50,000 bonus points just for signing up.
- As you shop and save for your travels, use those cards to build the points. (but be sure to pay them off each month so you don’t travel with debt)
- Check to see what points they cover. American Express lets you move points 1-1 to Star Alliance.
- Our biggest piece of advice, is to be loyal to one program. That way you can build points faster for free flights and accommodation.
- If you are building piecemeal, you may have a lot of points to different programs with nothing that you can really use. So look into each card and reward program and make sure they all complement each other.
Check out this complete credit card comparer tool: Credit Card Comparer
Choose Cheap Destinations
A huge travel hack we have to keep living expenses on the road low is to look for destinations that are affordable. You can live like royalty in cheaper destinations. Cheap accommodations in Southeast Asia can be beautiful, while expensive accommodations in places in Australia and Europe can be horrid.
If you are wondering how to travel the world on a budget, the first thing you need to consider is choosing affordable destinations over the more expensive options.
- Read Our information Cheap Destinations to Travel
Travel Cheap and And Even Travel for Free
Depending on your comfort level, you can find free accommodation by being creative.
From booking sites like Couchsurfing to Housesitting and even working on a farm, there are creative ways to travel the world on a shoestring budget. Finding free accommodation is a great start for those looking for how to travel the world with no money. (we talk about accommodations further down this post you can click here to skip to it directly.)
If you combine using free accommodation ideas and looking for travel jobs, you can virtually travel for free and even make a little cash while you are at it. Dave and I now travel and not only get paid, but we make money and are able to save money for our retirement. It didn’t happen overnight, but it eventually did.
Read these resources for finding free accommodation:
- How to Find Free Accommodation Around the World
- Why You Should Start House Sitting – Plus 5 Top Tips to Get You Started
So, can you travel for free? It is possible…in a way. But you have to work for it. It’s not free travel, it’s earned travel. If you can make enough money to have it all even out, it turns out to be free! If you mix finding free accommodation (as mentioned above) with working on the road, you can travel on a shoestring budget.
So, how do you work while traveling? We have some ideas below.
If you want to travel but find that you don’t have enough money why not look for travel jobs and finding different ways for getting paid? There are so many amazing ways to get paid to travel here are a few ideas. But be sure to check out our full article Ways to Get Paid to Travel for even more ideas.
- Teach English overseas – One way to go abroad and get paid is to teach English. Of you have a degree you can make a lot of money teaching English overseas. But even if you don’t there are jobs for English teachers.
- Teach English Online – But if you want the freedom to travel wherever you want, teaching online is also a great option for getting paid while traveling with more flexibility. See our full guide here.
- Working at resorts – You can apply to work at five-star resorts from working as entertainment and poolside staff to bartending and serving.
- Teaching scuba diving – Get certified and teach scuba diving anywhere that has water!
- Tour leader – become a tour leader for companies like GoAhead Tours or and Intrepid Travel
- Cruise Line – There are plenty of options to working on a cruise ship, from bartending and waiting tables to entertainment staff and housekeeping.
- Casino Dealer (I’ve done this and it’s fun!) – Cruise Lines also need casino dealers. This is an easy way to work abroad without needing a visa.
- Travel Photographer and Blogger – It is still possible to make money as a travel photographer but you need to have your hands in a lot of pies. I combine my photography skills with travel blogging and social media.
- Woofing – You’ll need to read the post below to see what this is.
- Check out more ways of making money while traveling here
Think outside the box
Are you good with kids? Perhaps you could be an Au Pair. If this is something you are interested in, AuPair World is a good place to start looking It can place you in a position abroad. Do you have a medical background? Look into places that offer medical internships abroad. Or look into Doctor’s Without Borders. They need everything from pharmacists, to nurses and sanitation specialists.
Think about your skills and put them to work. It is easier than ever to work remotely. We have hired social media assistants, people with website design experience, and technical help.
Are you thinking, I want to travel the world, but don’t know where to begin? Read About more ways to make money and travel:
- How to Get Paid to Travel
- How to Be a Professional Travel Blogger – 12 Steps to Financial Freedom
- How to Start a Travel Blog in 11 Easy Steps
How Much Does it Cost to Travel the World?
The cost of traveling the world depends on a lot of factors and varies greatly on what your style of trip you plan to have.
- What your budget is?
- Are you a solo traveler?
- Are you traveling with your family?
- Are you a couple?
But, it costs less than you probably imagine. Nomadic Matt explains how to travel the world cheap in his book, Travel the World on $50 a Day. If you want to learn how, check it out.
But it also depends on what type of experiences you want. We could spend very little money hanging out on a beach in Vietnam, but if we want to do epic adventures, it costs more. We spent more than our full monthly budget climbing to Everest Base Camp, but it was worth it. You need to budget for that “wow” experience during your travels.
If you are in the planning stages and want a good reference, the website Budget Your Trip is a good resource for figuring out your budget country by country.
To decided how much you think you will spend when traveling the world, you have to take these factors into consideration:
- What countries you are visiting
- What type of accommodation you want to stay in
- How long you plan to stay at each place.
- Are you taking organized tours or traveling independently?
If you travel in Southeast Asia you could travel on $50 (per person) a day that Nomadic Matt’s book recommends.
If you want to stay in more luxurious accommodations, Southeast Asia is a good choice to stay in luxury on a budget. In Thailand, we stayed in the beautiful Royal Orchid Sheraton for less than $100 per night. It was luxurious and a great location for only $50 per person per night.
But note: Southeast Asia also has beautiful five-star hotels that can break the bank too. You can’t just expect to travel on a budget without doing your research.
In Europe and Australia, you are looking at at least $125 – $150 per day per person for budget travel.
New Zealand has very expensive adventures and activities that can cost anywhere from $100 – $250 NZD per person, but travel can be quite affordable. We first toured New Zealand with the Flying Kiwi. This was a bare-bones tour with camping as accommodations and bbq meals included. It was a great way to get around the country on a budget. The Cost was approximately $115 per person per day.
Eastern Europe is much cheaper than Western Europe. You can travel for $50 to $75 per day per person. We stayed in some great apartment rentals for less than €50 Euro per night.
Africa and South America can be very affordable as well in the $50 to $100 per day range.
Budget Your Trip has in depth information on cost of travel destinations.
Ways to Keep Living Expenses Low
Save on Food
Food has always been a problem for Dave and I. We put a lot of pressure on eating out but we found the best thing to do was simply go for a walk, look for a busy restaurant filled with locals and walk inside. Avoid the restaurants recommended in guide books and travel apps. Instead, go local.
Book accommodation with a kitchen so you can eat the majority of your meals at home. Having breakfast in your room and packing a lunch can save a ton of money.
When you can, pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the scenery of your destination.
Hire Local Guides
One of the best travel tips we can give you is to hire local guides when you get to your destination instead of booking in advance.
Booking tours online is easy and we do love Get Your Guide, but to save money, hire local guides at your destination. Often times you’ll have a more authentic experience at a fraction of the price.
Take advantage of free walking tours
Nearly every city in the world offers free walking tours and they are an excellent way to get acquainted with a city. You learn a lot and save a ton of money. All they ask for in the end is a tip for their service. Usually, $5 – $10 is all you need.
Naturally, you are going to spend more money if you move a lot. The beauty of traveling the world is that you can take your time to get to know a destination.
If you are a solo traveler, it is also nice to stay in one place to get to know people. We have made lifelong friends just by sticking around a destination for longer than a couple of weeks.
Plus, if you stay in one place for a couple of weeks, you can save a lot of money and have a better experience.
Modes of Transportation
When you do book your transportation do your resarch.
Good flight comparison tools like Skyscanner help you save money on flights.
You can save a night’s accommodation on your budget by traveling on an overnight bus or train. And it makes for a great adventure.
Types of Accommodation
And finally, don’t just book hotel rooms online. Get creative and start looking for alternate accommodations. There are so many ways to save money on accommodation if you are willing to think outside the box.
- Book Air BnBs – After the pandemic, AirBnBs are looking more attractive. to the average traveler. Accommodations are cheaper when you book an apartment and you have a more local vibe.
- Apartment Rentals – There are other apartment rental sites like HomeAway, and even Booking and TripAdvisor offer apartment options for accommodations now.
- Hire a campervan – If you want to travel with a lot of freedom, a Campervan is a great option. In places like Australia and New Zealand, there are a lot of rental companies like Jucy, Hippy Campers or Spaceship. Read our experience – Explore New Zealand by Campervan
- Buy a Campervan and leave right from your own driveway to hit the road. But do your research. Many people have the dream of owning a campervan, but it is a lot of work, it can be rugged depending on size and amenities and it can be expensive.
- 10 Things You Need to Know Before Living in a Campervan
- How to Live in an RV on Less Than $2,000 Per Month
- Utilize campgrounds – they have free WiFi, great amenities, and are very reasonable. Camping is also a great way to meet people. We traveled to the South of France and spent €20 a night!
- Book local guesthouses upon arrival
- Housesitting – Many digital nomads swear by housesitting. It is a way to have free accommodations and to have a more authentic experience. When you are in a residential neighborhood, you can meet people that actually live in the destination. See more at How to Become a House Sitter – Tips Start House Sitting
- Couchsurfing – We haven’t Couchsurfed personally, but it’s a great option too that many people swear by it.How to Find Free Accommodation Around the World
- Road Trip – Another cheap way we traveled across Africa, Europe, Asia, and New Zealand was on a road trip. With a car, we had the freedom to camp in cheap campsites, and in places like Mongolia and Kazakhstan, we could camp for free. Great ways to book a road trip is to either rent a campervan or even a car (as we did in Europe) and use a tent for sleeping.
- We also camped our way through Spain and France with a car and a two-man tent. You can and save a lot of money by sleeping in a tent. Most campsites in these countries are located close to the city and often have free shuttles to downtown.
But the best accommodation we’ve found are usually once we arrive at the destination and look for a locally run budget guesthouse or local B&Bs. If you are creative and have the time, you’ll be able to stretch your dollar far for your travels.
Packing and Paperwork
So you’ve saved for a year or so and have your daily budget decided for the way you want to travel, now it is time to start planning.
If you need some help with that, check out our 5 Tips to Get You Started Saving Money Now.
If you want to skip directly to packing check out these articles:
- Packing for Europe – Tips That Will Make Your Travel Life Easier
- Travel Packing List – What to Pack for Long Term Travels
- Ultimate Pre-Travel Checklist
- Essential Tips for Essential Travel
- The Best Anti Theft Travel Bags and Accessories
- The Best Travel Gear – Unique Ideas for Smart Packing
Choosing Luggage for RTW Travel
Surprisingly the first thing you need to keep in mind is the type of luggage to use. luggage. Many people make the mistake of overpacking. Dave and I are guilty of this.
- We traveled through Central America carting all our scuba diving gear with us and we were miserable.
- We’ve carried large suitcases through Europe and suffered while navigating the metro system.
Don’t make the same mistakes we made. Pack light and use a backpack or something that you can easily hoist over your shoulders on places with a lot of stairs or uneven terrain.
We are fans of Backpacks for exended travel. When running to catch trains or buses it’s great to have your gear on your back so you hands are free.
What Type of Traveler are You?
Think about how you want to travel across the world. Are you taking more organized tours or going completely independent. We have met some people who take a year-long cruise to see the world.
Are you going to go the more Luxury route of travel or is Budget accommodation fine?
Will you be staying in one place and house sitting or renting an apartment for months on end? You can probably pack a suitcase since you won’t be moving too much.
Or are you going to be on a lot of buses and trains changing locations often? That is when you will really want to use a backpack. You won’t have to worry about lugging a bag upstairs and you don’t have to worry about curbs and doors.
Plus, you will often be flying in small planes and a lot of smaller airplanes only allow soft and light luggage. This is where a soft and durable backpack is a must.
Documents for Travel
Chances are you are planning an extended trip anywhere from 6 months to a year, so make sure your documents are in order. Know what countries you need visas for, how long your passport needs to be valid for, and what vaccines are required.
COVID vaccines will probably be required for future travels, but there are some paces that require vaccines to enter a country already. For example, some countries in Africa require a Yellow Fever vaccine upon entry. Go to a travel clinic and ask a doctor what specific vaccines you will need.
Passports and Visas
A lot of countries won’t let you in without a passport that will expire within 6 months. Make sure it has at least a 6 month buffer from the end of your trip.
Also, look into countries that you may need Visas for. You can’t just cross borders without the proper paperwork. Check to see if you can get Visas ahead of time for the country you want to visit or if you can get them as you go.
Since you are going for an extended period, you will have time to apply for a Visa at the destination. So you will have to account for spending more time in one destination while you wait for your visa in another.
We have bought Visas both ways. We’ve had all our paperwork lined up before leaving Canada and we have bought visas as we went along. It all depends on how much you plan your schedule.
Buying Visas in advance limits the time you spend at each destination. Visas have specific dates you must enter and exit the country, so you will have to plan your schedule and route ahead of time.
For example, while traveling through Southeast Asia, if we enjoyed a place we have gone to the embassy to apply for a Visa to Vietnam while staying in Bangkok.
For our Visas for our trip down Africa and through Eastern Europe to Mongolia, we bought our visas in advance. This restricted how long we could stay in each country as we had to be at each border by a specific date. However, it was needed because it could be tricky purchasing Visas along the way.
If you need help booking Visas for travel, a good service is The Visa Machine.
Travel Insurance has never been more important. We never leave home without it and can personally attest that we have saved tens of thousands of dollars thanks to insurance. Read: Airlifted from the Amazon, our worst fears realized.
You will need to have good coverage with medical evacuation coverage and COVID-19 coverage. Even if you are the healthiest person on earth, anything can happen.
The best advice we can give is to phone the insurance company and ask them specific questions. Tell them of any underlying conditions that could void your coverage, ask what activities are included in coverage. (for example skydiving and bunjy jumping are not covered)
As about every detail that you can think of. Many people complain that their insurance didn’t cover them when needed and blame the company, but nine times out of ten it is the error of the purchaser not getting the correct coverage.
We have several articles on Travel Insurance
- Do I Really Need Travel Medical Insurance?
- How We Choose Travel Insurance To Best Suit Our Needs
- Busting 5 Common Travel Insurance Myths
- 6 Reasons you Need Medical Evacuation Protection
- Travel Insurance During Covid-19 What You Need to Know
Plus, you will want to check for evacuation insurance so you can be airlifted should the worst-case scenario occurs.
Our smartphones have become our best tool for researching and booking around the world travel. We use KnowRoaming for data and phone calls when traveling for a short one to two-week trip. KnowRoaming can be used for as little as $3.99 a day. We usually use that for short stays, but if we are staying longer, we activate it only for our first day or two until we buy a local SIM for a monthly fee.
If you are traveling for the long term, purchase a local SIM card. These are often very cheap, have better coverage and are easy to install. You can often get them right at the airport when you land.
Before you fly, make sure you have some of the best travel apps loaded on to your phone. We keep our favorite booking websites, flight networks, and organizational apps on our phones.
Our go-to-apps are TripIt Pro, Google Translate, XE Currency Converter, Skyscanner and Hotels.com. But we have others as well. See our complete list:
Booking your flights
When we took our first several month long trip, we booked our flights in advance with an RWT Ticket. I wouldn’t do this again, as flight schedules are set, you must fly in and out of a specific city and there are stipulations like “if you miss one leg of a trip it could void the entire trip”
We prefer to book one leg at a time, that way if we like a place we are in, we can stay longer. If we aren’t jiving with a destination, we can fly on to our next country of choice. Plus, if you are flexible with your dates of travel, you can save hundreds of dollars on flights.
We have an entire post on Travel Hacks for Flying
City and Rail Passes
If you are traveling in Europe, a Eurail Pass is a great way to get around and save money. Having a rail pass offers flexibility and discounts.
CityPasses are also a fantastic way to see a lot on a smaller budget. We love using CityPAss when we are new to a city as it usually has all of the top attractions in one place. Many passes like the ParisPass offer free entrances, skip the line tickets and transportation around the city.
Note: with CityPasses, you want to make sure want to see all the attractions in the city. These passes are only budget friendly if you plan on seeing and doing a lot. If you only want to see one or two things in a city, it might be better to book tours individually.
The great thing about CityPasses is that you don’t have to use them right away. They are usually good for up to a year after purchase. But, once you activate them you have 24 to 72 hours to finish up. (Depending on the package you choose)
Travel Tips for On the Road
Chances are you’ve done your homework and you know what to do once you are traveling the world, but here are a few insider travel tips we learned from our years of travel.
Health and Safety
Just because you are traveling, doesn’t mean you won’t get sick or run into troubles. It’s important to be safe and think about the travel scams, illnesses and emergencies that can happen.
We’ve already talked about the importance of good travel medical insurance. But we have other references to help you have safe and healthy travels.
- Travel Safety Tips – How to Have a Safe and Healthy Vacation
- Top 10 Tips for Healthy Travel
- Travel Scams Around the World and How You Can Avoid Them
- Best Travel Snacks – Tip for Staying Healthy on a Flight
And that should help you get started traveling the world. Be sure to click the links to find out more about each subject and bookmark this post for future reading and travel planning.
So, are you ready to travel around the world? I know we are all going a little stir crazy with lockdowns and closures, but instead of being upset about not being able to travel the world right now, start planning for the future. Most people take at least a year to plan an around the world trip so the timing couldn’t be more perfect.
What are you waiting for? Plan for an exciting future today! By the time you leave to travel the world, you will be ready! Happy travels.
More How to Travel the World Resources
- Check out our City Guides Page to find out what to do and where to stay in Cities Around the World.
- See how to Save Money to Travel the World
- Our Best Travel Tips from 20 Years of Traveling the World
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See more of our travel tips