By Sandra Scott
Around the world in 80 days! It’s a song! It’s a movie! It can be your dream come true. When friends and family ask where you are going on your next trip, imagine the surprised looks when you reply, “We are going around the world!”
Attend a Cantonese opera, have your fortune told by a parrot in Singapore’s Little India, explore the backwaters of Kerala, India on a rice boat, shop in the market in Bahrain, and take a dip in the curative waters of Iceland’s Blue Lagoon. The most common question you will encounter is: “How did you do that?” Planning long-term, independent, international travel requires some special planning.
Often the unspoken question is: “How can they afford it?” A circle ticket or multi-destination ticket is the most economical way to travel to several destinations. The most popular itineraries are “Circle the Pacific” and “Circle the Globe” tickets. A prepackaged “Circle the Globe” ticket can start as low as $900.
A passport is necessary plus many countries require a visa. Usually a visa can be obtained by mailing an application, with a money order (costs vary), photos (2×2) as required, and your passport to the country’s embassy. Plan on at least two weeks processing time per visa. Applications can be downloaded from the country’s embassy web site. Locate a country’s web site at www.embassy.org.
While most visa transactions can be done by mail, a few countries, such as China, will no longer accept mail-in applications. In that case contact an agency such as, American Passport Service, (800) 841-6778, www.americanpassport.com, and for a fee they will obtain the necessary visas. Some countries issue short-term visas upon arrival. Take along extra visa photos. Be cognizant of restrictions and expiration dates on passports and visas.
When it comes to planning, nothing replaces a good guidebook and promotional material from national tourist offices. Rates for hotels and tours are usually less expensive when booked after you arrive.However, arriving in a foreign country without reservations often gets a visit off on the wrong foot. Consider reserving a hotel for the first night or two in each country. That will allow time to become acculturated and make travel arrangements.
Remember the packing adage: “Take out half of the clothes and double the amount of money.” Believe it or not, all you need for a three-month trip can be packed in one carry-on luggage plus one small bag that fits under the airplane seat. Choose clothing all in the same color family and think “layers.” Most hotels provide laundry service and many now have washers and dryers. It is possible to buy almost anything you many need anywhere in the world. Mail home souvenirs and other unneeded items. A credit and/or ATM card means that you will need very little cash.
If you have someone living in your house while you are gone, leave names of suggested repair people. Lights on a timer will make your house look lived in. Stop newspaper and mail deliveries. Depending on your location and/or the season have your lawn mowed or the driveway plowed. Have someone check on your house periodically. Let the local police know you will be away.
Check with your physician to see if any immunizations or special precautions are recommended for the areas you are visiting. It never hurts to carry a prescription medication for intestinal problems – just in case.
Try not to travel too fast and plan “mini-vacations” or rest days every week or 10 days. Savor those special locations by staying longer. Leave a detailed itinerary with relatives, pay your bills online, and keep in touch with family via e-mail. If your e-mail server can not be accessed from afar set up a free account on Yahoo. Make sure all the necessary addresses are in your account’s address book. Also, e-mail yourself your itinerary with flight times, confirmation numbers, and other important data just in case something goes missing while you are traveling. Internet cafes are found every where worldwide.
English is a connecting language so if you speak English communicating is not a major issue. Most places that deal with international tourism have English speaking personnel.
The photo album of your trip can include images of Chinese New Year in Hong Kong, wandering the Plain of Jars in Laos, relaxing on the beach in Bali, gazing in awe at the Taj Mahal, shopping in the market in Bahrain, and walking Italy’s Appian Way. So, pack your bags and see the world. You will be amazed at how friendly everyone is, how easy it is to get around the world, and how time flies. On the last leg back into the United States you will be planning your next multi-destination trip.
If you go:
Multi-destination tickets are available at:
685 Market St., Suite 400
San Francisco, CA 94105
(800) 883 3273