Part lI Around the World in 68 Days -The Planning
Know Your Goals First & Make Them A Reality.
By Hannah Heine, University of Dayton
What’s your B-HAG?! The first time I was asked that question I thought the person had misspoke. “Umm… B-HAG? I’m confused…” I was quickly informed that a B-HAG is a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal and I was suppose to have one. I was stumped. As a freshman in college I truly didn’t have a big dream, or so I thought. “What is all of this work for?” “What are you trying to accomplish this semester?” I thought I was just doing what I was suppose to do, graduate from high school and then go on to college. However, all of these questions helped me realize what I was really doing. I was laying down the foundation to be able to study abroad during my college career. At that particular moment, my B-HAG was to study in Spain and not be limited financially once I am out of the country.
PAUSE RIGHT THERE. “Not be limited financially…Are you some kind of 20-something millionaire?” No, and I am far from it. I didn’t want to be limited financially while I travel economically and on a budget. (Or I guess I could have had one pretty rad night at the Ritz in Paris and then turn around and come home the next day.)
The point here is that once I realized my Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal I was able to put things in place that would allow me to travel in a savvy way utilizing hostels, budget airlines, and carrying only a backpack with me. It is one of my accomplishments that I am most proud of. Planning an itinerary, budgeting, and leaving the country to come back in one piece full of a new appreciation for the world I live in.
Let the planning begin!
Sitting down to my computer for the first time to scour the internet for places to visit on this trip was intimidating. No matter how long or short your trip is, you want to make the most of your time traveling as you never know when you will have the opportunity to return.
Here is a quick list that will hopefully help:
How much time do you have? If you only have a week then more than likely there aren’t going to be that many different cities you will be visiting which will make planning an itinerary easier. We were fortunate and had 68 days for our trip.
We found that choosing budget airlines was the cheapest way to go instead of a Round The World (RTW) ticket. Those RTW tickets have restrictions of the direction you can go once you get started, and as students we didn’t have a huge chunk of time and money. When looking into RTW tickets it seemed more appropriate for a someone planning for 6 months of travel and who had triple our budget to spend. We didn’t want to have any limitations and surprisingly all of our transit (airfare as well as a EuroRail pass) cost around $3,000 per person. Also when considering airline tickets, budget airlines usually fly into airports that are outside of the city.
Would you rather save money and spent more time in transit, or save time and spend more money? Something you could also use to your advantage, a lot of the time cheaper tickets also have a loooooong layover in a city that isn’t your destination. For example, we chose a less expensive flight because there was an 9 hour layover in Berlin. This gave us the opportunity to lock up our luggage in the Berlin airport and go out and explore the city for a few hours in time to catch our second leg to our final destination.
Our itinerary included: London/ Dublin & Galway, Ireland/ Amsterdam /Interlaken, Switzerland / Munich & Bavaria, Germany/ Salzburg, Austria/ Prague / Vienna/ Zagreb & Split, Croatia/ Berlin, Germany / Istanbul/ Dubai/ Bangkok, Koh Samui, Koh Phi Phi, and Phuket, Thailand/ Siem Reap, Cambodia/ Singapore/ Hong Kong/ Hawaii
How quickly are you willing to travel? There are travelers who are willing to jump around to different cities in order to see what the town is most famous for and then move on to the next. Some travelers want to visit a city and know it inside and out, backward and forward creating a depth of understanding and expertise on the city. On the other hand there are travelers who want to only hit the highlights and have a wide breadth of knowledge of countless cities and countries around the world. You have to figure out what kind of traveler you are. How much time do you need in a city to make it worth your while to travel there? This is important because it will dictate how long you stay in one city, which majorly affects your itinerary.
Once we came up with the total amount of days we would be traveling (68) we then prioritized what types of things we wanted to do in each country or city. I don’t think that you can properly allot yourself time in a city or country unless you know what there is to do there and how long it takes to do those things. (For example, I gathered that if you are traveling to see the Taj Mahal it is at least a 2-day ordeal.)
We knew we would be in Bangkok for two weeks because my boyfriend managed to coordinate a mini-rotation at a hospital there as he had just finished his first year of medical school and needed to incorporate some kind of med-school credit during the summer. Once that was in place, we researched how we could get to Angkor Wat in Cambodia and learned it could easily be done in a weekend trip. So then we plugged Angkor Wat into the weekend in the middle of his hospital rotation. [Do you see how this all came together?]
As much as I wish I could tell you there is a specific way to break this down or a magical number of days you should spend in a city, I can’t. It’s all up to personal preference and what your goals of the trip are. The best way to make sure that you make the best decision on time is to do your research and do it early!!
What does your budget look like? Realistically, how much are you willing to spend? There are different features that you can even utilize to help yourself budget. Find out if your bank has an online banking tool where you can set money aside and then deduct from that chunk. [I use PNC and they now have a “Virtual Wallet” feature which does this.] This budget will also dictate how many countries you can visit. Airfare is expensive and limiting flights is a way to make your money go further.
After doing a TON of research we came up with around $60/day for food, lodging, and entertainment for the most part.[Asia was not this expensive so we saved a bunch there, but London was possibly a little more expensive that this.] Somedays we would go over and other days we were under because we slept on a plane or train in transit.
When we got to a country we planned it out in our heads.
- How many days are we going to be here and need local currency?
- How much is it per night at the hostel?
We liked to pay cash for little things because I think there is just something about using local currency, seeing it, feeling it, and living like a local. Using a credit card for everything seems so boring to me. [But, there are international ATM withdrawal fees so you must take that into account.] We tried to only withdraw one chunk of cash for food and entertainment purposes when we arrived in the country. This limited ATM fees and also the need to exchange local currency back at the end of our stay in that country.
An app we found helpful is called “xe currency” [IT’S FREE!] and it has live exchange rates and updates every time you connect to wifi. This was really helpful when we were leaving a country, had extra local currency, and needed to exchange it for the currency of the country we were going to next. Before you go and exchange, log onto this app and find out what the exact exchange would be. Then go up to a teller at one of the exchange kiosks and see what they will give you. These people also take a portion of the money as a service fee, but this way you will know if they are completely ripping you off.
My biggest budgeting tip is asking yourself, “Is this necessary?” It all comes back to your B-HAG. Is going out clubbing 4 nights a week really necessary to you and this trip? Is buying souvenirs really necessary for you? Or are the memories, pictures, and videos of the trip itself enough? This will help you to prioritize your spending habits. [I hope!]
When can you go? If you are a student, like me, then you are limited to summer break and possibly winter break for traveling. We knew that going to the Thai islands during June was not the best time for weather reasons. However, we had no idea when we would be there next and a goal of ours was to visit the islands. Therefore, we spent the majority of our island time on Koh Samui [An island to the right of the mainland]. During monsoon season, these islands off to the right usually have better weather. Dubai was also extremely hot in June, but we were in the area and had to make it work. Our mentality is, “It’s now or never!”
Revisit your Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal. What is this trip’s purpose? Why are you taking it? What are you trying to accomplish? Deciphering your B-HAG for this adventure specifically will help you to narrow down countries, cities, monuments, and activities that are priorities for you during your travels.
Take a look at how this trip came together in the video “Around the World in 68 Days”