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round the world Ever felt like walking out the door and not stopping till you get back to where you began? Here’s how to turn that round-the-world dream into reality – courtesy of serial globetrotter Doug Lansky and the Wanderlust team

→ Getting started: the big questions p82 → How we did it: tales from the road p86 → Hot picks: the 10 best itineraries p88 → Round the world – without flying p91 → Essential packing guide p92 → Planning countdown checklist p93 → Long-haul health p94

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‘Approach your trip as an opportunity to collect experiences, not passport stamps’

The big 5 questions

preparation at the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok. If you like birdwatching, plan your itinerary around a great migration or sites where you’ll see specific species. The more original your approach, the more memorable your experience is likely to be. And by following your interests, you’re likely to not only enjoy what you’re doing, but also to meet locals with similar interests and form a more organic connection with them.

2 How long should I go for?


he actual flight time needed to whip around the world’s 40,000km girth is just 40 hours – you could conceivably pull it off in a weekend. amous attractions are nice – and there’s no However, you’re going to want to make a few need to avert your eyes if you’re nearby – but stops along the way. many travellers make these the focus of their Two months is short but doable; even two trip. The problem is that they can leave you years will feel like too little time once you feeling you haven’t cracked the surface set off. You won’t ever be able to see Top tip: of the culture. Instead of thinking it all, so the most important thing you’re about what you’d like to see, think is the tempo – how much you never too old about what you’d like to do. The attempt to see and do with the Take time off work. experiences with more meat are amount of time you have. Bring your family. often more unique and As a guideline, think of one Or use up some of personalised. ‘thing’ per week: seeing Paris, those pension Approach the trip as an visiting a relative, taking a hike. funds… opportunity to collect experiences, not Some ‘things’ may only take a day, postcards and passport stamps. If you like to but the idea is to give yourself the gift of cook, you might take a pastry course at the flexibility. Ever wonder how people get invited Cordon Bleu school in Paris or try a day of curry to a local wedding? Or find those tiny festivals?

1 Where should I go?


82 Wanderlust October 2010

Or end up taking free palm-tree-climbing lessons at the local cultural centre? There are no guarantees, but you’re much less likely to make serendipitous discoveries when you’re rushing between new places every other day. You might even stop to work or volunteer for a while, take a course, even just chill on a beach. Why? Partly to recharge your wanderlust (all those new smells, churches, museums, bus rides, daily packings get exhausting). Travel doesn’t necessarily mean being in a constant state of motion. In fact, those weeks or months you stay put may be among the most rewarding experiences of the trip.

3 When should I go?


n a long trip you can’t be everywhere at the ideal time. You need to be flexible. If it’s too hot inland, head for the coast. If it’s too hot on the coast, move to higher elevations. If there are monsoon rains in one place, an overnight train or bus can usually take you to the area that’s getting all the sun. In general, you’ll find your timing is fine for 75% of your trip; you’ll take a few hits for the other 25%. What you need to investigate is if there are any dates to absolutely avoid. Paris in January may be chilly but fine for city exploring, especially if you plan to be inside museums and churches, whereas a bike trip around Austria would probably be punishing at that time of year. >

Previous spread: Frans Lemmens/Robert Harding. This spread:


t’s the ultimate nomadic fantasy: start heading east (or west) and just keep on going. For some, a circumnavigation of the globe is a rite of passage; for others, a vital sabbatical from an over-structured life. With well-paved overland routes, packaged global airline tickets and helpful books, sites and apps, putting together a trip on the cheap has never been so convenient – no matter your age or circumstances.

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Top tip:

beware oversaver syndrome Yes, you’ll have to economise sometimes, but don’t let budgeting become your obsession. And don’t fall into the trap of constantly comparing how much you paid for your chai/room/excursion with other travellers. No good can come of this.

Hit or miss list: Though there are some sights you’ll really want to see – Jaipur’s forts, Thailand’s beaches, Western Australia’s Pinnacles Desert, Christ the Redeemer in Rio, and the Eiffel Tower – don’t focus on a ‘best of’ hitlist at the expense of discovering unique experiences

Wanderlust October 2010 83

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Ask the expert “Think about what you want to do on your trip. Rather than choose the countries you want to visit, why not make a list of activities you want to do and let the experts put the best route together? For example, if you want to go hiking, visit rainforests and lie on a tropical beach you may think: Nepal, Brazil, the Caribbean. However, you would experience more if you visited Nepal, Borneo and Langkawi – and this would cost less than half the price.”

Leanne Rudd

Round the World Experts Team Leader, Kensington High St branch

Top tip:

solo women

yachts, make sure you check out the seasonal schedule (summer in the Med, winter in the Caribbean); same for rough overland trips that could get snowed under or rained out.

4 How much will it cost?


etting your trip down to a decent budget is about fighting the urge to splurge and cutting down on daily expenses. You might save a few hundred pounds on a cheaper plane ticket, but if you can save £25 a day, that will add up to over £4,000 in six months. If you forego beer, nice meals, museum fees and take the cheapest local buses, you can save a fortune. The trick is finding a balance. You don’t want to go all the way to Buenos Aires,

How long will your budget last? A round-the-world air ticket will cost about £1,000-3,000. Assuming £2,000 for the ticket and some insurance, another £400 for an air or rail pass in a region where you plan to spend a chunk of time, plus £1,000-2,000 for splurges (a multi-day tour, a bungy jump, a big trek), plus that basic daily budget, here’s roughly what you could expect to spend, travelling in a mix of cheap and expensive countries.

3 months

6 months

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Low budget Medium budget High budget

12 months

Wear a wedding ring then skip a must-see museum travelling in. You’ll be less to deter chat-ups, and because the entry fee is too high. distracted by a friend and more have a story ready (“I’m And you’re unlikely to regret likely to notice the small things meeting my husband that overpriced beer you bought happening around you. in the next town”) in Cape Town as you watched the Also, travelling alone doesn’t sunset from the edge of a cliff. mean you’ll be alone for the bulk of Perhaps the single biggest thing you can your trip. Everywhere you go you’ll run into do to save money, which is also one of the most other solo travellers who’ll be delighted to environmentally friendly and culturally travel with someone and, because there are enriching, is couch surf. There are vast often significant price breaks on rooms for networks of people willing to host travellers on pairs, there’s a good chance you’ll be sharing their sofas and in their guest rooms for accommodation. Even the shyest travellers find absolutely nothing. It’s free to sign up at sites the dialogue easy to start. Those who are still such as and the set-up uncertain could sign up for a group tour along is much like Facebook. Women can do it safely: the way to surround themselves with an entire look for single women hosts or families, and platoon of companions. read the reviews of past visitors. And there are benefits to travelling with The next biggest saving is picking a country a friend. They can minimise culture shock and where travel is cheap. Your budget will last at provide medical security – to help you if you get least twice as long in places such as Laos, sick. They make staying in double rooms and India, Nepal and Indonesia than Western taking taxis cheaper. They offer moral support Europe. With accommodation (but not flights for the never-ending onslaught of new or rail passes), bank on spending from £20 a situations, and mean you don’t have to eat alone. day in cheap countries and from £40 a day in However, just because you’re best friends or pricier ones. You’ll find travellers doing it for partners, there’s no guarantee you’ll travel well less and others for more than twice that. It together. Give yourselves the option of comes down to the level of comfort you require, separating for a while – even just a morning how long you can go without splurging and if apart every few days can be enough breathing your definition of a ‘splurge’ is a decent meal or room to sustain a travel relationship. Even better, three nights in a boutique hotel. build some solo time into the trip – perhaps a week or two apart every other month: sign up for 5 Shall I travel alone or different courses or tackle a city separately. with friends? Discuss this before you set out so you don’t end up deciding to take a break after an argument. here are benefits to travelling alone. You Finally, agree your budget. If one person is on learn about yourself. You’ll find out what a shoestring, they will feel like a scrooge, or as if your likes and dislikes are, and will be able to their budget is always pushed too far; the person act on them. You’ll spend more time writing on the bigger budget will be roughing it more your journal, taking photos, studying the than they’d like, yet feel they’re shamelessly culture – absorbing more of the country you’re indulging in front of their companion. >


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Ian Howells

Trip included: Cape Town, Perth, Sydney, New Zealand, Santiago to Buenos Aires Length: 9.5 months, at age 32 Travelled… solo Highpoint: Staying in mud rondavels on the Wild Coast of South Africa. Lowpoint: Missing the funeral of a good friend who would have appreciated the experiences I was having. Top tip: Don’t try to fit in too much – spend the odd day just sitting in a park, reading a book.

How we did it

It takes all sorts to travel the world. Countless Wanderlust readers have done it – these are the tales of just a few intrepid roundthe-worlders, and their top tips for your own adventure

Sophie Atkinson

Trip included: St Petersburg, Trans-Mongolian Railway, China, Australia, NZ, South Pacific, South America (and Antarctica), Cuba, US road trip Length: 1 year, at age 33-34 Travelled… solo Highpoint: I met a fantastic girl from LA in Antarctica who is now one of my best friends. Lowpoint: Being robbed at gunpoint after a wrestling match in Mexico City. Top tip: Buy the most comprehensive, extravagant and flexible ticket you can afford – your desires will change along the way.

86 Wanderlust October 2010

Sandrine Prevenier

Trip included: South-East Asia, Hong Kong, Bali, Australia, Tahiti, Easter Island, Santiago, Guatemala to Mexico Length: 6 months, at age 30 Travelled… firstly on group tours, then with my partner, then solo Highpoint: Easter Island – one of my dreams. Lowpoint? Being ill in Bali. To make matters worse, my boyfriend had to go back to the UK. It was the hardest part of the trip. Top tip: Slow down! Maybe take a language or cookery course, and get to know the local way of life.

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Jon Pressling

Trip included: Cape Town, Australia, NZ, Fiji, Hawaii, LA Length: 6 months, at age 23 Travelled... mostly solo, apart from a group tour in NZ Highpoint: Surfing in Byron Bay with a pod of dolphins. Lowpoint: Spending a lonely, stormy Christmas Day in a hostel in Hawaii. Top tip: Go with the flow and don’t get stressed by schedules.

Kirsty Page

Alastair Humphreys

Trip included: Across Europe, south through Africa, by yacht to South America, north to Canada, across Asia and westwards home – by bicycle (see Length: 4 years, at age 24 Travelled… alone Highpoint: Getting to Cape Town – the end of my first continent. Lowpoint: Feeling out of my depth at the start. And -40°C in Siberia. Top tip: Put a start date in your diary. You’ll never have enough information, preparation or money: you just have to get going.

Trip included: Wellington (Somerset) to Wellington (NZ), via Europe (InterRailing), Syria, Jordan, India, Nepal, South-East Asia Length: 6 months, at age 23 Travelled… with my brother Highpoint: Getting to the top of Gokyo Ri in the early hours and looking out at Everest and the rest of the Himalaya. Lowpoint: My brother discovering he needed root canal surgery 3,500m up in Nepal. Top tip: Take hardly anything – you’ll appreciate carrying a smaller bag. Buy clothes as you go along

Alex Celini

Trip included: Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Hanoi to Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Sydney, Auckland, Tahiti, LA, New York Length: 8 months, at age 29 Travelled… solo Highpoint: Reaching the Afghan border along the Khyber Pass. Lowpoint: Getting caught up in riots in Lahore and catching chickenpox in India (while miles from civilisation). Top tip: Don’t be afraid to go alone.

Nick Machin

Trip included: London to New York by bus, train and boat, via Europe, Russia, TransSib to Mongolia, China, boat to Alaska, Canada, USA Length: 3 months, at age 41 Travelled… on the Oz Bus (www.oz-bus. com): eight men, eight women, aged 18 to 82 Highpoint: Meeting great people;spending time in a ger community in Mongolia. Lowpoint: Being confined inside the ship on the voyage to Alaska due to ice on deck. Top tip: Embrace other people’s cultures – they’re not wrong, just different. And take plenty of baby wipes on the Trans-Siberian.

Wanderlust October 2010 87

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10 ways round the world

Our selection of globetrotting itineraries – from under £1,000 to blow-the-budget spectacular


The rules of RTW tickets • Although some RTW tickets can be booked online, for the best value and flexibility you should talk to a specialist flight broker. Our ten itineraries were planned by Round the World Experts (www. • Your RTW journey must start and end in the same country. All these itineraries start from London, but regional departures may be possible. • You must follow one global direction (east or west). • The minimum duration of a RTW ticket is ten days; the maximum duration is 12 months. • The cost of your ticket is based on total distance travelled or on number of continents visited. • Each RTW flight can only be booked on one airline alliance – either Star Alliance or oneworld: you can’t combine alliances. However, each alliance comprises several airlines that cover the globe (Star Alliance: 29 airlines, 181 countries; oneworld: 11 airlines, 135 countries) so you can plan your RTW trip with either. • You must book all your RTW flights before departure, but you can change the dates as you go (free if you use flight booker RTW Experts’ Travel Butler service.) • RTW fares are available in First, Business and Economy. • A good flight booker can create tailormade RTW trips using a combination of alliance flights and other scheduled, low-cost and charter flights – ultimately, almost anything is possible.

88 Wanderlust October 2010

The city classic

The intro overlander

London – Bangkok (then overland London – Shanghai (land) Hong to) Singapore – Perth (land) Kong – Brisbane (land) Melbourne Sydney – Los Angeles (land) – Los Angeles (land) New York – San Francisco – London London Cost: from £937 Cost: from £963 A classic round-the-worlder, For under £1,000 you can explore this keeps the costs down but China, Oz and the breadth of the enables you to easily cover a lot US. Shanghai is freshly spruced of ground thanks to the three from the 2010 Expo; pre-book your chunky overlanding sections: first night’s accommodation to ease perhaps utilise some great train into the city (don’t miss the Maglev journeys – the Indian-Pacific hover-train from Pudong airport, across Oz, or an Amtrak railpass zipping along at 430km/h!). On the for the USA. way between Brisbane and Big-hitters en route: Melbourne, veer inland to Top tip: Get a Thai massage climb Mt Kosciuszko, at Go local in Wat Po 2,228m Australia’s Forget McDonald’s. (Bangkok) and highest peak. Get out of your comfort learn to dive on Ko Big-hitters en route: zone – try new foods, Tao, Thailand; Practise t’ai chi at squat toilets, living 4WD across the dawn on Shanghai’s with locals… Outback, waterfallBund and cycle around swim in Kakadu and the karst hills of Guilin, climb the Harbour Bridge in China; take in the view from the Sydney, Australia; drive Route 1 Peak, Hong Kong; learn to surf in along the California coast, hike in Byron Bay and drive the Great Yosemite and sail San Francisco Ocean Road, Australia; hire a car Bay to Alcatraz, USA. for an epic trans-US roadtrip.

The safari & South Pacific combo London – Nairobi (land) Johannesburg – Perth – Sydney – Christchurch (land) Auckland – Fiji – Los Angeles – New York – London Cost: from £1,619 Overlanding independently in Africa is possible but requires planning; consider joining a group tour for some or all of the stretch to Jo’burg: instant companions, easy access to national parks, and often cheaper than arranging everything yourself. Australia, New Zealand and the US are easy to travel solo. And there’s no better way to sample the South Pacific – island stop-offs are easy and economical to work into RTW itineraries. Big-hitters en route: Wildlifewatch in the Masai Mara, Kenya, and Luangwa Valley, Zambia; walk around the Pinnacles and marvel at the Sydney Opera House, Australia; whale-watch off Kaikoura, NZ; swim in the blue lagoons of the Yasawa islands, Fiji; head up the Empire State, NYC.

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Ask the experts “The average person changes their ticket four times – use our free Travel Butler service (which offers you total support throughout your trip) to make those changes and you could save up to £200. Also, register for the frequent-flyer scheme of the airline/s you are flying on – you will collect lots of miles to put toward future trips.”

Paul Jeffels

Round the World Experts Team Leader, Putney

London – Rio de Janeiro (land) Santiago – Auckland – Christchurch – Sydney – Cairns (land) Sydney – Mumbai – London Cost: from £1,595 To make the most of the austral summer, leave the UK in September – entry-point Rio won’t be too humid or busy, and you can hit Patagonia in December. New Zealand will be ideal January/ February; then drive up Australia’s East Coast in March/April (warm in the south, dry in the tropics) and get to India April/May before the monsoon. If it does get too hot here, head higher – Matheran is the closest hill station to Mumbai; further north, the Himalaya are in full rhododendron bloom. Big-hitters en route: Climb up to Christ in Rio and jaguar-spot in the Pantanal, Brazil; star-gaze in the Atacama, Chile; hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, NZ; snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, Australia; join a Mumbai slum tour, India.

The biggie

The Pacific explorer

London – Toronto (land) Washington – Miami – Las Vegas (land) Los Angeles – Cook Islands – Auckland – Melbourne (land) Sydney – Bangkok – Phuket (land) Singapore – Delhi – London Cost: from £2,892 The Star Alliance RTW fare allows a maximum of 15 stopovers – so why not use them all? More stops equals higher cost, but you get a lot of countries for your cash, and a mix of ‘easy’ Western nations and grittier developing countries. First big trip? Consider flying west not east: starting in the US will be a gentle intro; by the time you hit morechallenging India you’ll be a pro. Big-hitters en route: Museum-hop in Washington DC and gator-spot in the Everglades, USA; snorkel idyllic Aitutaki, Cook Islands; trek with hilltribes from Chiang Mai and dive off Phuket, Thailand; order a Singapore sling at Raffles, Singapore; combine the fairytale Rajasthani cities of Udaipur, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer, India.

London – Los Angeles (land) Vancouver – Auckland – Tokyo – London Cost: from £1,069 Stick to the Pacific for a range of experiences. Hugging North America’s west coast you can mix wine and wilderness; you could board the ferry at Bellingham, in Washington State, sail up the Inside Passage to Alaska, then backtrack by RV via the Rockies to Vancouver. From Auckland you could circuit the whole of NZ (allow at least one month, ideally longer). In Japan use Tokyo as a base for a Japanese train adventure, perhaps across Honshu to see Fuji, Kyoto and Hiroshima. Note: you must book a JapanRail pass before you arrive in the country. Big-hitters en route: Wine-taste in the Napa Valley and walk among the giants of Redwoods State Park, USA; kayak with orca off Vancouver Island, Canada; dive off the Poor Knights Islands, NZ; learn to make sushi in Tokyo, Japan. >

“Often you can book internal flights at heavily discounted prices and with greater flexibility when booking them together with your long-haul. It also means you have paid for all your travel upfront, rather than having to budget for more flights as you travel round, and you don’t have to spend precious holiday time searching for and booking flights.”

Martin Saville

Round the World Experts General Manager, Manchester Piccadilly Round the World Experts is a division of Flight Centre, offering tailor-made RTW itineraries, as well as adventure trips, city breaks and accommodation. For more info or an appointment at one of 11 UK stores, visit www. or call 0844 499 9314.

Wanderlust October 2010 89

The southern hemisphere starter

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The world

RTW by rail London – Moscow (land) Beijing – Hong Kong – Singapore (land) Bangkok – Delhi (land) Mumbai – Perth (land) Sydney – San Francisco – Vancouver (land) Calgary – London Cost: from £2,705 Use the convenience of flying to access the romance of the rail. The Trans-Siberian is best booked in advance. Singapore to Bangkok can be done on cheap local trains or the opulent Eastern & Oriental Express. The Indian Maharaja service links Delhi and Mumbai in high style, while basic trains cost peanuts. The Indian-Pacific between west and east Australia offers Outback vistas, while the Rocky Mountaineer glides past the peaks separating Vancouver and Calgary. Big-hitters en route: Dip into Lake Baikal, Russia; dive off the Perhentian Islands, Malaysia; spot tigers in Ranthambhore, India; see the sun set on Uluru, Australia; ogle the lakes and mountains of Jasper National Park, Canada.

The flight between the falls London – Johannesburg – Livingstone – Sydney – Christchurch – Buenos Aires – Puerto Iguaçu – Lima – Caracas – Mexico City – San Francisco – Chicago – Toronto – London Cost: from £3,509 Ultimately your RTW trip is all about you. Mad on birdwatching? Hop between avian hotspots. Love food? Cook in the world’s culinary capitals. With time and money, any combination is possible – work out the sights you really must see then plan the rest around those. As an example, waterfall aficionados could try this ticket; trickier routing via smaller airports bumps up the cost – but it’s worth paying more to get your trip of a lifetime right. Big-hitters en route: See Victoria Falls, Zambia; trek the Milford Track past Sutherland Falls, NZ; spot toucans by Iguaçu Falls, Brazil/ Argentina; paddle to Angel Falls, Venezuela; hike at Yosemite Falls and sail into Niagara’s spray, USA.; Mark R Williamson/Alamy; Paul Morrison; Oasis Overland; John Lander/; Oyster Marine; Alastiair Humphreys

London – Geneva – Nairobi – wonder wander Mumbai – Kathmandu – Seoul – London – Rome – Cairo – Amman – Tokyo – Salt Lake City – Denver – Delhi – Beijing – Cancun – Lima – Atlanta – Santiago – London Rio de Janeiro –London Cost: from £2,712 Cost: from £2,757 Keen hikers could put together The 2007 ‘New Seven Wonders of a peak-bagging route, adding the World’ list makes a great excuse experiences around treks (a safari for a RTW! Stringing together sites in Ngorongoro Crater, near Kili, or such as Petra and Machu Picchu is rafting the Sun Kosi, Nepal). simple using hub cities in the Consider your time hiking relevant countries. Mix visits vs non-hiking: is it to headline acts with Top tip: worth carrying your lesser-known spots: NIGHT TRAINs gear all the way? spending days getting Save money on Boots, yes; but it’s away from the crowds accommodation by easy to buy/hire will help you avoid sleeping on overnight trains. Be sure to equipment in hiking temple fatigue. pack earplugs! towns, or ship bulky Big-hitters en route: items home when Explore the Colosseum, you’re done with them. Italy; camel-ride round the Big-hitters en route: Tick off three Pyramids, Egypt; hike to Petra, nations on the Tour du Mont Blanc; Jordan; watch the sunrise over the summit Kilimanjaro, Tanzania; hike Taj Mahal, India; stay in a to Everest Base Camp, Nepal; make watchtower on the Great Wall, the pilgrimage up Mt Fuji, Japan; China; get up early to beat the lace up in Colorado’s Rocky crowds to Chichén Itzá, Mexico; Mountain National Park, USA; climb hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, 6,962m Aconcagua, Argentina. Peru; pose with Christ in Rio, Brazil.

90 Wanderlust October 2010

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Round the world – without flying

Keep truckin’: Get a flavour of several countries on an overland tour – also a great way for solo travellers to make friends

Go global the greener way – options for a non-flying RTW adventure









few heavy-duty buses leave London bound for the other side of the globe via Europe, into Asia to Australia, or via Russia and China to the USA – the modern version of the iconic 1960s/70s ‘hippie trail’. Trucks tend to carry 15 to 25 people – who you’ll get to know extremely well. Advantages are readymade friends and someone else looking after the red tape. The downsides are a lack of flexibility and a rather rushed journey, though travelling overland will give a flavour of every country you pass through. Where to start: Oz Bus (0800 731 9427, runs London-New York (£6,999) and London-Sydney (from £4,199) trips. Top tip: There’ll be lots of early starts. Stuff your pillow with the next day’s clothes – lumpy, but worth it for the ten-minute lie-in.

f you’ve got time, flexibility and a head for logistics, a circumnavigation by public transport is possible. InterRailing will see you through Europe, and the Trans-Siberian runs across Asia. Bus and trainhopping will get you to Thailand, where you can catch a flight to Australia (the easy option) or push south through Indonesia (the slower, hairier option) and fly from there. There are no Asia-Oz ferries; a few freighters sail from Singapore to Perth and other ports, if you really don’t want to fly. Public transport in Australia and the USA is simple, so get creative: think trams, steam trains and even school buses. Where to start: See, www., and

ourist cruises are laden with plethora of adventurers have restaurants and onboard made it round powered only entertainment; instead, try a by their legs, unfaltering willpower freighter – some take passengers, and a few sponsorship deals. offering good meals and crew You’ll need a fair bit of time – banter with fewer frills. Freighter Rosie Swale-Pope took five years Cruises has a RTW in 70 days trip, to complete her RTW run, Alastair via the Cape of Good Hope Humphreys managed his and the Panama Canal, bike odyssey in four and Top tip: or ask at ports for Karl Bushby, who’s Get out there individual aiming for an Go easy on the passages. unbroken global communication. Hostel Another option walk, is currently lobbies are increasingly full of is to find crew stranded in people Twittering/ work on private Mexico after Facebooking/blogging yachts. Acquire a 12 years on instead of meeting the Competent Crew the road. interesting people beside them. qualification first Where to start: The ( Royal Geographical Where to start: See www. Society has an expedition and planning centre ( for Also, read books by previous cruises; circumnavigators. lists crewing opportunities. Top tip: Pack lightly! > Wanderlust October 2010 91

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Your Essential packing guide It’s tempting to load your pack with as much as it’ll hold, but you’ll only regret it later. Here’s our pared-down list of the 21 essentials to take 1. Travelpack: Osprey

10. Scarf: Craghoppers Nosilife

Travelpacks – rucksacks with zip-away straps, and which open from the side rather than the top, make ideal travel companions. The Farpoint is exceptionally light but still has a capable backsystem, as well as a pretty decent detachable daypack. £120; 01202 572775,

Protect neck from sun, mossies and disapproval in temples. £15; 0845 811 1022,

12. Compact medical kit

2. Headtorch: Petzl e+LITE l D

13. Padlock: Eagle Creek TSA

Farpoint 70L l D

Vital in campsites, dark streets, hotel rooms when the generator blows – headtorches don’t come much smaller than this. There’s even a whistle on the strap. £27.50; 01539 625493,

3. Moneybelt: Travelproof moneybelt l D Hide your passport, cash, cards and docs under your clothes. Cheap and essential. £6; 0845 260 0044,

3-dial lock & cable l D Lock your pack to something immobile – or just lock your pack – with a padlock that US airport security (TSA) can open, to ensure your luggage isn’t damaged. £14; 0208 731 3500,

D 18. Knife: Victorinox Climber l

Quick-drying, with antibacterial treatment. From £5.99; 0118 981 1433,

Just the tools you really need: blade, scissors, can and bottle opener, corkscrew. £24.99; 0116 234 4644,

Separate dirty clobber from clean kit – also handy for protecting camera on rainy days. From £3.50/1L; 0115 932 5050,

8. Lightweight fleece 9. Tough shoes (See p121)

92 Wanderlust October 2010




trek towel

Alpkit Airlok


High-wicking, non-crease, smart. £24.95; 01924 409311,

16. Playing cards

7. Waterproof packing bag:


14. Lightweight, versatile clothes: Tog 24 Riversedge Shirt

15. Travel POWER adaptor

For extra warmth, a cool cover on hot nights, or just a barrier between skin and bedbug-crawling mattresses.


11. Cap or hat

No more slime attacks in your washbag. £4.65/55g; 01202 668545,

6.Sheet sleeping bag

Graham Keutenius/

D floral print l

4. Solid shampoo: Lush Seanik

5. Travel towel: Lifeventure




19. Breathable waterproof Depending on your plans, a lightweight poncho might offer more flexibility, being big enough to cover your backpack and can be used as a groundsheet.

20. Antibacterial handgel and/or wet wipes 21. Waterbottle Don’t add to the world’s mountain of empty disposable water bottles! A hydration system with hoser might be best if you’re trekking.

Get 10% off your RTW kit

Save on top gear, with discounts at Nomad Travel Stores and other suppliers: read more at Brands in this article available from Nomad – eligible for D a 10% discount – are indicated with the symbol l

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→ category country “Carry less stuff! You don’t need to make yourself unmuggable – just make yourself less of a target than the next batch of travellers. One pack of 40-70L should be plenty. Replenish as you go; just because you’re going for a year doesn’t mean you need a year’s supply of toothpaste.” Doug Lansky, author of First-Time Around the World (Rough Guides, £12.99)

RTW planning ticklist

When sketching our your once-in-a-lifetime transglobal adventure, there are important things to consider – as well as a few smaller but useful points to bear in mind. Use our sample countdown checklist to help plan your planning




14 2

18 5 7



visit – you might want to adjust your departure date to arrive in the best season ✓ Look into flights – the cheapest fares often sell out several months in advance (though may be available less than two months before departure – check out the specifics for your route) ✓ Sketch out a rough budget so you know if you need to save, or tailor your itinerary to suit your pocket ✓ Visit your GP or travel health clinic to check what jabs or malaria prophylaxis might be needed – at least two months before departure ✓ Book your annual leave with the boss

1-2 months ✓ Check your passport has



3-6 months+to go… ✓ Decide where to go! ✓ Find out the best times to

6 10

enough validity and blank pages for visas – getting a new passport can take several weeks at busy times ✓ Check what visas will be required – some take a week or more to obtain if they’re not available on arrival ✓ Book your first night’s accommodation if you’ll be arriving late at night ✓ If you’re an EU national, get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC; to cover essential treatment in other EU nations

2 weeks ✓ Charge the batteries in your camera, etc

✓ Check your travel insurance is up to date and covers all the activities you’re intending to try ✓ Order currency online ✓ Join Hostelling International, South American Explorers, etc 1 week ✓ Check the washing basket to ensure all your travelling clothes are clean! ✓ Do a final shop for lastminute gear, plus sunscreen, insect repellent, phrasebook, etc ✓ Tell your bank where you’re going so your credit cards aren’t blocked when you use them overseas; check standing orders and direct debits are set up or cancelled, as necessary ✓ Copy/scan travel documents and email them to yourself, or store in a secure online vault ✓ Book the train, bus or taxi to the airport ✓ Start taking malaria pills, as prescribed ✓ Check your mobile phone’s set for roaming or unlocked for local SIM cards; set up Skype or similar ✓ Call Wanderlust and let us know so we can redirect your magazines or put your subscription on hold

1 day ✓ Tell the neighbours you’re off and leave them catfood to feed the mog ✓ Set your email out-ofoffice autoreply ✓ Set your alarm clock!

Wanderlust October 2010 93

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long-haul Health Dr Jane Wilson-Howarth looks at the ten key health questions to consider before heading off on a big trip


What are my chances of getting sick?

Studies show that travellers are most likely to suffer from diarrhoea during their first week in a resource-poor destination. Also, it is estimated that half of all travellers spending a month in a resource-poor destination will experience a significant illness – sufficient to require a change of schedule. Longer trips can make for lonelier trips, and travellers may feel tempted to indulge in unsafe casual sex.


How do I avoid taking a whole bag-full of medical supplies? Doctors exist all over the world. Should you need medicines or antibiotics it is best to find a clinic; know which medicines have 94 Wanderlust October 2010

historically worked well The names of for you and which medicines vary even Top tip: have upset you (and between Englishface your exactly how they speaking countries fear Imagine your worst health have upset you) to (contraceptive nightmare (snakebite, inform any new pills, for example, piranhas, leeches…) and doctor prescribing look very different then read up on it to for you. in the US and reassure yourself. If you take any Australia), and there regular medication it is may be no direct important you know what it equivalent if you need to is – don’t expect the clinician to acquire a supply locally. Longknow which ‘little red tablets’ you established medicines are often mean. Ensure you know the generic easier to source than the very latest name and dose of any medication. treatments. Find out what will happen if something prevents you taking it or What problems will I need absorbing it. Stopping an to deal with myself? antiepileptic or heart treatment, Travellers’ diarrhoea or a say, could be disastrous whereas a queasy stomach is highly likely month without your statin is on a long trip. Skin problems are unlikely to harm you. Pack plenty also very common. Especially for your trip or check availability at when in resource-poor destinations halfway round. destinations, you may get scraped


by a bit of taxi, fence or market stall; wherever the weather is warm, cuts and grazes fester if you don’t clean and cover them. Prepare to deal with mosquitoes.


If I’m hopping in and out of malarious zones, should I take prophylactics continuously? Malarone can be started 24 hours before entering a malarious region and is continued for only a week after leaving the risk area so this can be a good option if going in and out of malarial zones. However,

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this is an expensive prophylactic and sometimes it is best to take antimalarials continuously as part of your travel routine. Don’t let any travel advisor give you different antimalarials for different parts of your journey. Go for simplicity.


Do medicines go off?

Try to travel with tablets – generally medicines last well if they are in dry, pill form. Most capsules and tablets, and even melt-in-the-mouth preparations, are fine for a year after their expiry date. Liquids, syrups, some injections and sprays have surprisingly short shelf-lives; the GTN angina spray, for example, only lasts a month. Some liquids should not be frozen; manufacturers can advise if their medicines can be placed in the baggage hold of an aircraft. Blister packs are bulky but are easier to keep dry. Consider how waterproof your tablets are in the packaging they’ve come in. Ziplock plastic bags are useful for extra protection. Avoid leaving medicines out in direct sunshine.


What if an immunisation course needs completing or boosting while I’m away? Don’t wait until the standard two months prior to departure before starting your immunisations – get going on them as soon as you can. However, if you do leave pre-trip immunisations too late and don’t have time to complete your schedule of injections before departure, there is – increasingly – an excellent range of travel clinics all over the world. Check;

Top tip:


When your intestines feel dodgy, know that taking an ice-cold or piping hot drink will probably promote a disastrous desire to poo. Take room temperature or luke-warm drinks until your gut feels ‘safe’.

the well-respected International Society of Travel Medicine website ( where you can search by country or city for a clinic offering immunisations and sometimes curative services.


Are any medicines illegal in certain countries?

cheapest. Ensure that your policy covers local medical expenses and medical repatriation, and find out how the foreign hospital is paid. Also make sure the policy is suited to you. Do you need cover for any extreme activities: hiking at altitude, scuba diving, offroading? Have you declared any preexisting conditions? Are you medically stable? Would you be travelling against your doctor’s advice (if you asked them)? Does the policy have a 24-hour doctorsupervised support centre?


What key medical items will see me all the way around the world?

Travel with a health guide. Read up on common illnesses and Yes – plenty. Medicines with plan how you will cope. Know, addictive properties, including for example, how to make sleeping pills and painkillers homemade rehydration containing codeine, are viewed solutions so that you don’t with suspicion in many need to carry sachets. destinations and special care Take a small digital needs to be exercised when thermometer if passing through or entering many travelling in the Middle Eastern states, Thailand tropics. Pack soluble and Latin America. Check the paracetamol; this is excellent US State Department great for all aches country-specific information at and pains, for sore throats, and Travel with a medical for reducing fever. Top tip: summary in case any Good-quality Don’t delay border officials sticking plasters Don’t mess about when think you are aren’t so easy to sick or injured. Get to a a drug dealer. find at certain qualified doctor, ideally in a destinations. major city. Check What about Carry a good for English-speaking doctors around health drying antiseptic the world. insurance? such as iodine Sort out travel insurance (Savlon Dry). Pointed as soon as you’ve booked tweezers are great for your trip – and don’t just pick the extracting glass, coral, thorns etc.

video footage


web extra content


My essentials are Oxo cubes (to make a nice savoury rehydration drink), Eumovate steroid ointment (for itchy bites or stings), blackcurrant throat lozenges (sore throats are common everywhere) and earplugs (I’m grouchy if I can’t sleep).


I want to pack light – what can I leave behind?

Aim to eat (washed) fresh fruit and vegetables every day so you won’t need vitamins or supplements. Regular de-worming is not necessary. Don’t bother with the snakebite kit or intravenous fluids. It’s worth carrying one crepe bandage – they are more adaptable than specific joint supports, and are useful for sprains, after snakebite and for compression to stop severe bleeding. I don’t think the gizmos for exercising on flights are worth their luggage space; you don’t need equipment to flex your calf-muscles. Heavy waterproofs are seldom needed in warm climates and predispose you to heat/sweat rashes; buy a cheap local umbrella if there’s a downpour. ▪


Dr Jane Wilson-Howarth’s book The Essential Guide to Travel Health (Cadogan, 2009) is the toolkit for all RTW travellers and good for shortterm travellers, too. Details of Jane’s other books can be found at


1 Pack your medical supplies in a water-resistant pouch clearly marked ‘medical’ or buy a Nomad specialist ready-made travel medical kit 2 Take a small sterile kit with you for travel to areas with a high risk of hepatitis B and C or HIV

3 Use a Frio Wallet if you suffer from insulin-dependent diabetes 4 Download a FREE copy of the Nomad Travel Clinics Travel Health Booklet from, or pick up a copy at any of our clinics

Wanderlust October 2010 95


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