How to Travel the World?

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You want to know how to travel the world, right? We’ve done it, so can you. It could be a 2-week vacation to an exotic, far-away place that just puts you a little outside your comfort zone, or you could be wanting to travel for a year, maybe more, as a family, as a single or as a couple, even as a digital nomad. Whatever it is you’d like to do, however you’d like to live your dreams, our new section, how to travel the world, will answer your questions and show you how to plan and execute your own travel adventure.

How to Travel the World Tips Guide

So, if you want to travel the world solo, with a baby, with a child, as a family, on a low budget or in luxury and style, the basics are the same, we can help you. You can travel the world by taking the steps below.

You can click links on this page will take you to more in-depth posts on this website. There are more posts to come but the big take away here must be:

How to Travel the World

To travel the world take the following steps:

  • Make the decision to travel the world and stick with it.
  • Decide where in the world you most want to go and plan a rough itinerary
  • Identify your travel style and type.
  • Estimate costs of travel and living in different countries.
  • Start saving, or raising money, consider making an extra income stream, maybe online.
  • Set a date for departure, figure out home much money you will need by then, check this is feasible.
  • Explore how you will travel in each destination.
  • About 3 months from departure, book your flights. One way, or a round-the-world-package.
  • Read the rest of this post for more tips and find our destination guides by country.

If you want to travel the world always see possibilities and opportunities, not problems and obstacles

So far this website has mostly been about us, how we did it and how we continue to do it, with a few travel tips, destination, accommodation and attraction reviews thrown in.

Now I’m going to tell you how to do it, how to travel the world for a year, a month or a week. What steps do you have to take? What do you need to consider? What mustn’t you forget? Let’s start right now. Your Dream?

World Travel, Your Dream

What does travel around the world look like for you? What is your dream? Where do you want to go? Look deep into your soul and figure out what you really want to see, experience and try. Don’t go because all your friends have been or it’s the latest cool destination, where do you really want to go?

Buy a notebook, make it a beautiful one, hardcover is best and on page one write “Where to Go?’

Jot down all of your dreams, countries, particular natural wonders, famous historic sites, anywhere and everywhere you’ve always wanted to go and do it right now.

Keep that notebook handy and add a destination whenever you remember that something special you really wanted to see, be it a festival in India or a pyramid in Guatemala, write it down. Maybe hop over to our travel destinations page for a little travel inspiration.

This works for long or short-term travel, even if you’re just going to one country, there will be places within that country that you absolutely HAVE to see.

You can use our website for researching your travel destinations, or you can use a guide-book. Some of the best are below, we use Lonely Planet and always have, but it’s your choice.

A good guide-book not only gives you maps, directions, hotel and restaurant suggestions and descriptions of destinations, it also should tell you about the culture, history, language and traditions of your destination. For us they are indispensable in learning about the world.

What World Travel Type to Pick?

Are you comfortable with budget backpacking? Should you spend a little more and join the flashpackers? Do you like slow travel or fast travel? Will you be working while you travel, in which case you’ll be more nomadic, maybe a digital nomad, maybe not.

Maybe you want to travel the world in style and luxury?

Some destinations work really well for small group tours, we’ve employed this style in Tibet and Bhutan. Sometimes there’s no choice other than to take a group tour.

There are other options, but try to figure out how to travel the world – your way. What style of travel can you afford and what style of travel makes you most happy.

How Long Can You Travel the World For?

Most of us, if we really want it badly enough, can escape normality for a year. Some of you may not want to, that’s fine, but still, you need to figure out how long you can be away for.

We’ve been away over 6 years now and nothing bad has happened, the opposite in fact, it’s been an incredible ride. How long do you want to be away? What would be your ideal length of time to travel? Will you be able to escape your job, family and housing commitments? If not, it’s time for a rethink on home and employment.

If you are in debt you may need to take drastic measures, saving, selling and re-inventing to shake off your financial shackles.

What will you do with your “stuff”? Some people sell the lot. Some people sell the majority and stash what’s left in storage, with friends and family, we had some of ours in the loft of our house. We were away 6 years and 99% of the stuff survived just fine.

How to Pay For Travel Around The World?

You are probably going to have to save. Not many of us have thousands in spare cash in the bank right now and fewer still have online or remote work that allows us to work as we travel.

Quite honestly, working while you are travelling will spoil your experience unless you have all the time in the world and become a true nomad.

Sure, we make a living from the websites now, but our travel is ultra long-term and part work, part pleasure. Luckily my work, helping you see more of the world, is a pleasure.

Travel the World – Cost

To give you a rough idea, we spent $30,000 in our first year on the road, roughly $100/day for a family of 4. Some will do it slightly cheaper, some will spend way more. However much it costs, make sure it’s worth it to you.

We are all different, I’m not going to tell you how much you should spend.

The above figure is for long-term travel or backpacking, if you need more luxury as you explore, you’re going to be needing a lot more cash. Don’t be put off by the term “budget travel” we never use dorms in hostels and never rough it. Budget hotels and guest houses, hostels too, are remarkably up-market for the price these days.

The figure above does not include departure flights, travel insurance or vaccinations as these are paid for before we leave home. At that price some days you will spend very little, don’t expect to be paying big admission fees every day, expect to sit and wonder, explore on foot and chill out as you see the world.

Saving to Travel The World

It took us a year to save that amount. You can read tips on saving here and thoughts on travel budgets here.

I can’t give you a budget and tell you that you’ll need that amount. I can give you an idea on costs in each country, but I don’t know what or how you spend.

I can give you bare minimum costs, but you may want to spend way higher. Every country is different. I can’t even give you an idea for Asia, the Americas, Europe and Australia, costs totally depend on where you go and how much time you spend in each place.

We tend to spend longer in the cheaper places, less time in the more expensive, that’s how we kept our South East Asia budget to around $50/day first time around.

That figure is still achievable, but these days we spend more, $100/day is easy and comfortable to us in that part of the world. We don’t consider ourselves ” roughing it” in any way and always eat and drink well.

Set a Departure Date for Travel

Figure out how long your saving period will be and set a rough departure date. Tell the world!

No going back now. We planned on leaving 1 year after we made our decision, and did.

Planning a Route or Itinerary For World Travel

planning a big trip. the process of booking flighs and accommodation for a long travel adventure
Our planning process last year, on a semi-structured almost 3 month trip.

Don’t go into this with an exact set day of departure in your head, give yourself some room for manoeuvre.   You’ve told all your friends and family your rough date – now let’s firm that up by finding the cheapest day to leave.

Flight prices fluctuate wildly day by day and you should try to get a bargain. We use Skyscanner to look at daily prices across a whole month.

Don’t just look at direct flights, maybe taking 2 flights with a free stop-over somewhere would be cheaper and better. We plan with pen and paper and online resources, our recent Sri Lanka and Nepal trip took shape in this way.

You have your notebook with your list of must-see places, it’s simply a matter of stringing them together in the most practical way, by plane, cruise ship, bus or train. You can do all of your research online.

There’s just too much to describe here for now, I’ll just say that there is always a way and it’s really not too hard. See our post above about pen and paper logistics.

How to Book Tours, Activities and Tickets in Advance?

We use a company called Get Your Guide. Read more about them and why we use them here. They have a lowest price guarantee. For buses and trains in Asia and increasingly in other parts of the world, we find a company called 12Go Asia very useful.

Essentials to Consider Before Travelling the World

How to Travel the World do you need travel insurance
We would never leave home without travel insurance, in our first few months on the road my husband suddenly needed a surprise hernia repair on Ko Phangan. We wouldn’t be on the road now if we hadn’t had insurance to cover it. This picture, from that crazy airport in the Himalayas, what an adventure!

You will need to take care of the following, some, not all, before you leave home. You will need:

Logistics, Booking Flights, Transport, Tours and Accommodation for Travel Around the World

There are different ways of approaching this, polar opposites. A middle ground plan is often best.

Round the World Flights or Wing It

You have various options for travelling around the world in terms of booking flights, you can:

  • Book all flights in advance, maybe a meticulously planned round-the-world air ticket.
  • Wing it. Book a departure flight and make your trip up as you go along, going where you feel.

Many travellers worry about onward flights and have heard that entrance can be denied if you don’t have these. We have never found this to be an issue we did put a post together for onward flight requirements for Thailand, if you read that you should get the general idea of how this works.

Should You Use Hotels or Other Accommodation – Hostels, Apartments, Resorts

  • It is easy to book all of your accommodation in advance for a shorter, planned trip.
  • For a longer, freestyle trip, you don’t need to pre-book it all. But for peace of mind maybe book a few nights on arrival. Peak time travel may necessitate booking in popular destinations.

Pick your preferred online booking agent, get to know it well and stick with it.

We find Agoda to be best in general, particularly for Asia as they are specialists. Checking every booking engine individually wastes valuable time and leads to stress and frustration.

If you absolutely have to get the best price and perfect place, sure check them all, but a 5-minute job quickly turns into a half a day job – we find it’s best to get this part over with quickly.

You could try Hotels Combined, they compare multiple online booking engines to give you the best price.

Also maybe sign up for Airbnb , they’re sometimes a good option for privately owned apartments, longer rentals, or homestays. Beware cleaning fees on this platform.

How to Travel The World For Free

Your travel is never going to be truly free, some exchange of time of work will be involved but there are multiple options that could save you cash on your whole trip, or just part of it.

We have a full post on How to Travel For Free here. Ideas include volunteering, sites to find work in exchange for bed and board, vehicle returns, crewing on yachts, house sitting, couch surfing and more.

Booking Tours and Transportation at Destination

  • Booking in advance is entirely possible these days with online resource 12GoAsia ( click here to view). You can pre-book buses, trains , even flights in most of South East Asia, Sri Lanka and India. They are constantly adding new routes.
  • Figure it all out as you go along, pre-book nothing.

Pros and Cons of Booking a Round The World Ticket vs Winging It

Your travel style is unique to you. You have to look inside yourself and figure out what style of travel makes you happiest and makes you feel most comfortable or confident. We wing it, 90% of the time, but if you need to book everything before you leave home then that’s absolutely fine too. I just want to make sure everyone knows that it’s not necessary to pre-book hotels, flights, trains, buses etc before you leave home.

Pre-booking can, in some ways, make your trip more enjoyable. We find that we spend a lot of time on the road planning and researching our next move, it eats into our free time and can get quite stressful.

However, I think we save a lot of money by taking the best deals as we find them and we don’t lose any spontaneity. If we hate a place we leave, if we love it, we stay longer.

We have a post on finding the best flight deals with Skyscanner, our preferred search tool and one on the ins and outs of booking accommodation for travellers.

Is Travel Around the World Bad for the Planet, Wildlife and People

Just be kind. Do your best. Travelling the world with a backpack, we think, is kinder to the planet than living a “normal” life, owning a car, heating or cooling a house and buying lots of unnecessary “stuff”. Just try to make it as kind as you possibly can. How?

  • Buy less stuff
  • Limit flights
  • Avoid polluters
  • Put your tourist dollar in the hands of the most deserving
  • Say no to plastics
  • Don’t litter or destroy
  • Stay away from circus-style animal attractions
  • Support conservation
  • Spread the word
  • Turn off the aircon
  • Use public transport
  • Walk or cycle
  • Eat less meat
  • Use your vote to make sure global governments support the planet, not bank balances

We can all just do our best. I’m sure you can think of a million more ways to help our beautiful planet.

Practicalities of Travelling The World

Some of the questions I’m often asked by readers are on the following subjects:

How to Get Laundry Done When Travelling The World

Laundry is super easy to organise in most countries of the world, the only exceptions we’ve found are India and Sri Lanka.

In most countries in Asia you’ll find per kilo prices for laundry. Either hand it over to your hotel to wash or find a back street laundry service, the latter is usually cheaper. Pick it up later, clean, even ironed.

In Europe, Australia and the USA launderettes are unfortunately the norm. Hostels usually have their own laundry room.

Alternatively book an apartment style hotel with a washing machine, these are well worth paying for sometimes. I tend to wash small items by hand in the sink. shampoo is great for this. They dry in the room overnight is you have a fan or aircon and this cuts down the pressing need for laundry runs.

Cruise ships and luxury hotels have expensive per item laundry services, avoid if at all possible.

India and Sri Lanka like to copy this very British model, making laundry in those countries sometimes disproportionately expensive. In India don’t be surprised if your laundry is beaten on a rock, buttons don’t last long.

Do People Get Sick When they Travel the World?

You may get sick in any country in the world, but you are somewhat more likely to get sick when you travel because you may encounter pathogens for which you have no immunity.

We don’t get sick much as we travel but when we have, we’ve found a doctor or dentist easily. It’s really not hard. Even surgery is possible, my husband sampled Thai surgeon’s work and found it excellent after an emergency operation came at us from nowhere.

Without insurance of course, we would have been sunk.

Is a Language Barrier a Problem When Travelling?

Language barriers are rarely a problem when travelling in most countries of the world.

In China, nobody spoke English in 2001 so we bought a Mandarin phrase book and pointed at phrases when we got stuck. Even back then many places had menus in English and Chinese. I remember pointing at the Chinese word for “chicken” in one restaurant without translations, we ended up with a whole steamed chicken for dinner.

In Central and South America Spanish is the common language and there isn’t much English. Spanish is easy to pick up, we managed.

In Southeast Asia, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, English is very widely spoken as it is in Europe.

Remote areas where the population is older, are the places where English is scarce. We live in a village where nobody speaks English except our expat friends. We get by.

Honestly, if you see it as a problem it will be a problem, tell yourself it will be fine and you’ll breeze through. We all have phones with Google Translate these days, it’s a last resort, but it works.

Ways of Making Travelling the World Cheaper or Even Free

There’s couch surfing and there’s working as you travel, both give you a free pass to the see the world your way without hard currency.

House sitting is another popular option. We have a full post on travelling, essentially, for free.

We rarely do any of the above, but we can give you tips on budget travel, in the early days we were masters, now our websites and travel blogging make our global journey more affordable.

What to Pack for World Travel?

What to pack for world travel is personal choice, never slavishly follow somebody else’s packing list.

Whether you’re comfortable in jeans, skirts or shorts, take them. Dress to suit you.

Do consider cultural norms in your destination country. Nobody likes the tourist with too much flesh on display.

What you pack also depends on what you’ll be doing and what climates you’ll be visiting. I’m going to write more detailed posts on what to pack but for now my message is, don’t go out and buy special “travel” clothes, take what you’ve got, discard things as they wear out and replace and upgrade as you go.

For you, for Pinterest

How to Travel the World pin

More on How To Travel The World

This post is just a rough outline, a starting point for you as you begin to plan your adventure. I’m going to be adding to it and filling in the blanks over coming weeks. Now over to you. Tell me please, what do you need to know? Just put it in the comments and I’ll add it to the post.

If you'd like to hire a car during your stay, use this car rental comparison tool to find the best deal!

We also suggest you take a look at this company to get a quote for all kinds of the more tricky adventure or extended travel insurance.

Try Stayz / VRBO for an alternative way to find rentals on homes/apartments/condos in any country!

About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

32 thoughts on “How to Travel the World?”

  1. Hi there, we are family of 6
    2 adults/4 kids from Adelaide with the burning desire to take a gap year.
    We are looking to do a European Christmas vacation via Asia in December this year. Kids ages at this time will be 9, 10,12 and 15. I am
    A British citizen and Australian citizen and the rest of my family are Australian.
    The thought initially was to base ourselves in Italy and live and work remotely in an Italian village, however the intention is to see as many places as possible. We don’t however have the luxury of not having to work to fund this trip so will need to secure casual work along the way. Homeschooling will also need to be arranged as well.
    Right now, I don’t know where to start! Any help and guidance would be a huge help! Or even if you can put me in touch with families that have done this before, that would also be great!

    Thanks in advance

    • Well your first problem is that since Brexit you can’t work in Italy without a visa, even for Brits. The only place you’d be able to work is the UK unless you can get a work visa, which can be very hard for older people. If you base yourself in the UK you can be British homeschoolers, it’s not regulated like it is in Australia. My kids and I are British and preferred a British education, so that was all very easy. But if you’re travelling the Au authorities won’t let you register as homeschoolers anyway, so you’d just withdraw them from school and quietly leave I guess. As I was a Brit going home it was all easy for me. I don’t know anyone who works as they travel, no even one family, everyone has remote work, online, or some sort of digital side hussle like I have with this site. But 4 big kids will cost a lot, it’s just like paying for 6 adults. So I don’t really know where you’d start with that. Then what about the Schengen visas – look into how long you can actually stay in mainland Europe since Brexit, its not long. Asia is easy, well set up, cheap, good, Europe isn’t as good for travellers and is a lot more expensive, unless you go to Eastern Europe. This is why so many families hang out in Bulgaria, its cheap. Best of luck.

  2. Hello! Thank you for sharing. I am curious to know if there is a website were one can post for family couch surfing. Wanting to make connections with other families from other countries so we can really explore the land and culture.
    Hope to hear from you.
    – Leanne

    • You need to join Couchsurfing, go to their website and join. There is a fee now, there didn’t used to be. We were members for years, when it was free, we hosted, that was fun, we’d have kids camping on our land, for weeks sometimes. But we never actually couchsurfed because I would hate that level of forced interaction. On my terms, in my home, it was OK for me. It’s here.

  3. Hello

    Iam planning gap year with my son under 9 years old for 2022, if Covid-19 allows. Did you use the round-the-world ticket in your first year or you buy it for free?

    • The first time we took a round the world trip, this was pre-kids, we bought a round the world ticket. When we started travelling full-time with the kids we just bought a one way ticket to Kuala Lumpur and made it up as we went. A ticket gives you structure and a schedule, winging it gives you freedom. I’m not sure which would be cheaper, but freedom was more important to us.

  4. Solo traveler. Concerned of danger & language barrier. Difficulty in Costa Rica. Plus, I’ve been everywhere I wanted. I’m athletic -jump off ships, zip, white water rafting etc. Need that. I travel or used to before Covid, for one month during winter. I wish I had idea where to go next. I researched & found Singapore rated very dangerous. I research but now have no idea so I take cruises but wont til 2023. I only use my silk backpack. I stay in hostels. Love and miss travel terribly. Help

    • I’ve never heard Singapore described as dangerous by anyone. It’s one of the most modern, wealthy, regulated, and regimented places we’ve ever been. It’s due to open soon too I think. Yes, we miss it too, but once borders open and everything goes back to normal, hopefully, travel will be back with a bang.

  5. Hi
    I’m thinking about travelling around the Asia area with my x2 boys who both have autism and adhd. Are there any helpful tips or suggestions of places or rules you think I need to know.

  6. This is a very nice piece, I really loved reading it up to the end. It is very educative and am sure it will help people plan their safaris with ease!

  7. Hi Alyson,

    Just wanted to say thank you for your site! We live in Ohio, and plan on traveling for June/July every year (teachers). I lived in Ireland in my 20’s, and my husband and I spent several months backpacking in Australia/NZ/SE Asia before we had kids. Our kids are 5, 3, and 3 months, but we would love to start them on exploring the world, beginning next summer. I appreciate all of the insight.

    One question I had, was in regards to hotel/guesthouse accommodations. Once our kids get a bit older, do you think most places would still let us do one room, with kids on the floor, or do two rooms?



    • A lot of places have kids under x age stay free if using existing bedding. It can be 5 years, it can be 12 years or anything in between, sometimes even 16, but it varies from hotel to hotel and country to country. It should be clearly stated for every booking engine. So you search for a room for 2 adults, 2 kids, it will ask you their ages and it will only bring up hotel rooms that allow 4 persons of those ages to stay. We got away with sharing double and triple rooms with our two for many years. Now they’re big and we need 4 beds it gets a bit annoying when these child stays free deals come up and it’s just a double room. We cant wedge us all into a double bed any more! But I’d never put them on the floor!

  8. Hi Alyson, loving your blog! We are a family of 6 (kids currently aged 6,8,8,10) and we’ve had the crazy idea to travel for 9 months from October 2018. Is travel with 4 kids a crazy plan?! My biggest concern is accommodation for 6 onsbudget. If you have any thoughts on this I’d love to hear them. Thanks!

    • 2 rooms is my first thought Laura. Double the cost. Rooms for 6 will be few and far between. What part of the world are you thinking of visiting and what syle? You could probably rent appartments for 6, but it would cost a lt, or find 6 person dors in hostels, again, expensive as you’ll pay adult price x 6. Your situation calls for extra resourcefulness, but no, not crazy at all. 🙂

  9. Hi,
    my name is Maria and me and my family are in the process of planning a around the world trip.
    It’s me , my husband and our 3 year old son.
    It is going to be so much fun!
    Thanks for some of your advice.

  10. Hi Alyson,

    Yes please, we want to travel the world! You post makes it sound easy, and I’m sure it’s easier than some people make it.

    We lived in the UK for 8 years and travel there is so easy, especially for short breaks here and there. Now we’re back in South Africa (our home) and travel suddenly becomes super expensive and not always easy on the spur of the moment. So now I’ve resorted to planning trips a year in advance – but that’s okay, as long as we get to travel.

    One thing I would like to know is, is it possible to travel with dogs? I know it’s a crazy question and probably not even possible. But it would be great if we could take our pooches along – after all they’re adventurous too!


      • Hi Alyson,

        That’s perfect! I’ll join up to Renee’s group (now I have no excuse not to get onto Facebook).


            • Hi Alyson, I just recently found your site and it’s been super helpful to us as my wife and I are about to embark on our own travel adventure with our 3 kids and two dogs, and that was going to be my question as asked above.

              We are starting in Europe in a motorhome so if you have any tips on travelling with pets or could add me to your group that would be amazing.

              Thanks for your time


              • There are 2 people, that I know well, who travelled by motorhome with a dog. 1 in Europe, 1 in Australia. They’re both in the group. If you sign up to follow your invitation to join will be in the thank you letter. Cheers!

                • Thanks very much I’ve joined the group
                  and will ask the question there.

                  Enjoy your travels.

  11. Thank you for this website! We are looking into designing a Gap Year for our young family. Your sharing is very helpful and I feel more at ease now.

  12. Excellent Alyson, and I think you wrote the first bit just for me didn’t you? 🙂

    • I’ll have to go look see what the first bit was again. So no suggestions Melanie, nothing you think should be there at this stage. I always publish posts half formed these days and add to them as I go. Now they don’t go out to followers in email notifications I can play around more.


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