Learn how to create a travel itinerary
Are you about to live the dream and spend the next year on an incredible world tour? If you’re looking for an itinerary to travel the world for a year, you’re in the right place.
We’ve curated an irresistible voyage, reaching far-flung lands and giving you a precious glimpse into the rich patterns of life across the planet. Whether you’re taking a career break, or this is your big gap year travel adventure, a round-the-world trip is one you’ll remember forever.
Once the exclusive reserve of the elite explorer, or the extraordinarily wealthy, world travel is now surprisingly accessible, even if you’re working with a comparatively modest budget. The key ingredients for success are thorough planning and time to actually enjoy the trip.
If you’re taking a gander around the globe, you don’t want to be rushed and equally you don’t want to run out of cash.
Everywhere you’ll visit over the next year of globetrotting is someone’s home. So, don’t forget your own – it’s a destination too. Home is the first and last stop in your grand world tour, and it’s sure to develop a new meaning for you over the next 12 months.
Visit your favorite coffee shop with friends. Go to the movies one more time with your family. Take an afternoon just to soak up the sounds and smells of home. Now, it’s time to go!
Sure, you could jump on a plane and wake up tomorrow in Australia, but that’s going to eat into your budget like a sumo wrestler tackling a bowl of chanko nabe. No hurry, you’ve got a year.
So, before we leave America, is there a State you really feel you should have visited already?
Florida, has Disney World, the Kennedy Space Center and nearby beaches. Alternatively, New Orleans in Louisiana is a magical jazz town, with a European flair to get you excited for your time in the continent of romance in a few months’ time.
The coastline of Texas offers awesome beaches in the protected Gulf of Mexico – be aware of the heavy winter fog on the Texan coastline in February though.
If the West Coast is your best coast, then perhaps a stopover in Los Angeles or San Diego will get your world tour off to a winning start.
With your first stop being in the USA, you’ll build confidence on the road, while still on home ground. If you’ve forgotten something, you’ll soon realise and can sort it in a shop that you’re already familiar with. You know how much $1 is worth and you’ll have full cell signal.
We’ve compiled a list of the most useful travel gadgets for your big trip, which you can check out here.
For the next three weeks, Mexico and Central America will be your home-from-home. Monterrey is a bustling city in north-eastern Mexico, flanked by imposing mountains. There’s a buzzing downtown, as well as its fair share of culture – its Baroque palace is one to check out.
The capital, Mexico City, is also well worth a visit. Conveniently situated in the center of the country, all roads lead here, so add it to your itinerary.
If you’re seeking more party vacation vibes, hit up the beach resort of Cancun, and throw some moves at the Coco Bongo Beach Party.
But pace yourself! We’re only a few weeks in, and there are bigger nights to come.
Bus across the border via Guatemala to El Salvador, the smallest country in Central America. El Salvador was the first country in the world to make Bitcoin legal tender, in September 2021.
Santa Ana Volcano is currently active and, when it’s safe, you can scale the crater are peer into the steaming volcanic well within.
A day or so in El Salavador will give you a taste of this less-explored country, before taking three days in the ever-popular Costa Rica.
Base yourself in San Jose, with its palm tree lined promenades, and hazy mountain vistas. Take a city tour – free walking tours are a traveler’s best friend and you’ll find them in almost every metropolis on Earth. Just search online for “Free walking tours in…” and go from there.
If you’re searching on your phone, you’ll need an international e-SIM or portable satellite internet.
It’s not just about the city though – it never is – so get yourself out to La Paz Waterfall Gardens for a spectacular show of nature.
Continuing across land borders, Panama rounds off your first month on the road.
Explore the dense national parks, awash with a palette of greens and browns, accented with carefree strokes of white as lively waterfalls charge through the fabric of vegetation. For climbers, Volcan Baru National Park offers mesmerizing views of jagged peaks tearing through rolling clouds. Arrange a local guide if you’re not so familiar with climbing.
Continuing South, cross your first continental border and the wonders of South America await you. South America is a continent of music, relaxed food traditions, and colour. It’s a treat for all the senses.
Colombia sometimes gets bad press for its challenges with drugs, but that’s no reason to put off visiting. Good cities to visit are Medellin and the capital city, Bogota. Venture out from there.
Peru and Bolivia provide an exciting route following the South Pacific coastline. Peru’s coastal capital, Lima, is the place to visit. You’ll appreciate South America’s rich native and colonial history.
Bolivia is overflowing with incredible natural landscapes, and will build the anticipation for South America’s crown jewels of nature, yet to come.
If you’re an adrenaline junkie, cycle the trepidatious North Yungus Road – nicknamed “Death Road” – between Paz and Yungus. This thrilling cliff-edge route, snakes round more blind corners than you’d care to imagine. Wear a helmet.
The gorgeous red lake at the Laguna Colorada is a stunning option if you want to marvel at nature, with a greater probability of still being able to marvel at it tomorrow.
Chile, Argentina and Uruguay offer some of the best nature tourism in the world. Santiago is a great city to base yourself in. As the region’s cultural hub, there’s plenty to see and do here, without massive crowds.
If you want a badge of honor, equivalent to climbing Everest, get down to Cape Horn. Cape Horn – which takes some effort to reach – is the last stop before Antarctica. Whilst not cheap, if you’ve got the cash, take a helicopter from Puerto Toro, or catch a ride on a passing ship.
Two months on the move is a big deal, so take a moment to settle and experience life as a local. Brazil is the longest country in the world, so there’s plenty of destinations to choose from.
Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Brasilia are all great options. Be prepared for crowds – unlike the Pacific coast, Brazil is not short of tourists. Petty crime is common in the cities, so be street smart.
Much of Brazil is absorbed by the Amazon Rainforest, so for an off-the-beaten-track experience, descend into the depths of the rainforest and live with the tribes.
Organized tours take small groups along the Amazon River, and are the safest way to explore the rainforest in the company of fellow travelers.
Channel your inner Shakira as you board your flight to Africa. This incredible continent is in the throes of huge development opportunities. So much exciting creative and technological work is going on in this vast continent, that we are surely on the cusp of a new African era.
Land in Morocco, on the Northern tip of the continent. On a clear day it’s possible to see Spain and Gibraltar across the water. You’ll be there in six months. Casablanca and Agadir are two hubs worth checking out. Make sure to spend time immersed in the hubbub of a local souk (market).
Jump on a flight across to Egypt for a journey back in time to a capital of the ancient world. Visit the great pyramids, and stay a couple of nights in Cairo. If massive infrastructure projects interest you, tour New Cairo, a totally new city – the first time Egypt will have a new capital in over 1000 years.
Zipping South along Africa’s East coast, have an incredible week on Safari in Kenya with Africa’s “big cats” and friends.
Landing in South Africa marks the fifth month of your global odyssey and it might have been a while since you’ve checked in with folks at home. Settle into Cape Town and share your best travel pictures so far with friends. Phone home and regale your loved ones with stories of your adventures.
Cape Town is the oldest city in South Africa and home of the national Parliament. There’s so much history here. Tour to Robben Island, the infamous prison that once held Nelson Mandela captive, for an unparalleled glimpse of living history in the region.
Also stay a couple of nights in Johannesburg. South Africa’s “City of Gold” boomed in the 19th Century gold rush, and Nelson Mandela’s former home has been converted into a museum.
Before heading to the airport, treat yourself to a carefree day at Gold Reef City Theme Park – a gold mine themed park with fun rides and shows.
Joburg is the best place to grab your flight to New Zealand as the flights are direct and cheaper than other airports in South Africa.
With two weeks in New Zealand, allocate one week for each of the country’s two main islands – conveniently called the North Island and the South Island.
Fans of The Lord of the Rings will find it impossible to resist the desire to visit Hobbiton – it’s a fun destination with fantastic photo opportunities.
Australia – the country-continent – is huge, and whilst large swathes of the land are deserted (literally and metaphorically) there are many wonderful destinations to visit. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given its grand scale, Australian cities are pretty spread out.
One of the best ways to pack in the highlights is to book a cruise that circumnavigates Australia. An inside cabin is an economical way to travel, and with all food included, this can work out to be a very reasonable way of visiting the main hotspots down under.
As most cruises are a couple of weeks long, you’ll then be able to pick one or two top destinations to spend a bit more time in before zipping off to Asia.
South Asia offers dreamy island-hopping, bobbing in and out of charming fishing villages, and scooting around islands, scattered with rice fields. Indonesia and Malaysia boast stunning temples that should be on your itinerary, and Cambodia’s Angkor Wat is a powerful sight to behold.
Thailand offers the chance to let your hair down in the party capital, Phuket. If you’re sartorially-inclined, get measured up for a bespoke suit. The quality of Thai tailoring is incomparable.
Round off month seven in India. There’s so much to this vast country, so do some advance research, or ask other travelers for tips in hostels and bars. Other globetrotters are the best source of inspiration.
China’s fortunes have transformed over the last century. It has risen, phoenix-like, into an economic mega power and a visit to this impressive country is an inspiring experience.
The main cities of Beijing and Shanghai are top tourist destinations, and a visit to the Great Wall of China is something akin to a pilgrimage. For a taste of something a little different, visit Hong Kong too.
From China, head to Korea. South Korea is the more visitor-friendly of the two Korean countries, but North Korea can still be visited, albeit with strict restrictions. This cloak-and-dagger style makes North Korea especially intriguing and a visit here will give you great stories to share back home.
Importantly, respect local laws and customs, which can sometimes be very different from home.
Conclude your voyage through Asia with Japan and Russia, as you hone in on Europe for the final quarter of your trip.
Japan is a country in love with technology. Vending machines sell anything you can possibly imagine. Hitech pod hotels are commonplace.
Mount Fuji is a natural highlight, whereas modern history buffs find it staggering to stand in Hiroshima and witness first-hand the catastrophic damage caused by America’s dropping of the atomic bomb.
Russia straddles two continents and is your gateway to Europe. It’s easy to spend months exploring a country as expansive as Russia. However, rural areas are relatively inaccessible without a decent command of the language, so stick to the main cities in this majestic and controversial country.
Moscow has been the capital city since the brutal Russian Revolution. Under Tzarist rule, St Petersburg (briefly renamed Leningrad) was the capital. Both are must visit cities, stuffed with fascinating imperial and soviet history.
Heading further into Europe, visit former Soviet Union states, which gained independence as recently as the 1990s. Lithuania offers lots to see and do – take a hot air balloon ride over Vilnius.
Poland offers a glimpse into the horrors of the Nazi Concentration Camps, which is a sombre experience, and will really help you appreciate the freedoms we all take for granted today.
Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary are fun options to consider – check out the ruins bars in Budapest.
For the final three months of your trip, Europe will treat you to a varied feast of cultural delights. The seat of many empires, and still the continent with the strongest links to aristocracy and royalty. Europe is a classy continent.
Treat yourself to three weeks in Greece and Italy, flitting between the islands and mainland. It’s a marvel to wander around the ancient monuments and catch glimpses of life more than two millennia ago. Greece and Italy were both the heart of hugely powerful and influential empires, with a longstanding philosophical reach that continues to be felt to this day.
From there, take a whistle-stop tour of Germany (Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt) and the Netherlands (the Hague, and, of course, Amsterdam), before taking the ferry across to the UK.
The ferry from Amsterdam docks in Newcastle, in the North of England. From there it’s easy to travel North to Edinburgh before taking the train South through England, perhaps visiting Liverpool (home of the Beatles), Manchester (catch a soccer game if you can) and London.
From London the Eurostar is a 35-minute train ride to France, where a long weekend in Paris is a must. Climb the Eiffel Tower and visit the Mona Lisa in the Louvre. France’s beautiful countryside is fairly flat and so liberating to cycle or hike. Lavender season is sensational, and the aroma is heavenly.
Entering into the twelfth month of your world tour, cross the border from France into Spain.
In the heart of Spain, Madrid is a hub of art and history, whilst on the Mediterranean Coast, Barcelona offers a more relaxed, almost bohemian vibe. To the very South, Malaga offers a beach escape with a side of Roman history, whilst Granada gives an insight into the strong Islamic influences of the 13th Century.
Before you bid continental Europe adios, spend some parting days in Portugal. One of the most affordable countries in Western Europe, Portugal is known for its charming, laid-back atmosphere and lovely food… oh, and port! You’re spoilt for beaches in the Algarve region, whereas, further North, Lisbon and Porto are two cultured cities with a bit of everything.
Time’s almost up on your incredible world tour, but there’s still time to squeeze in two more stops. Given that you’ll be departing Europe from Portugal, why not throw in a couple of extra nights on Portuguese soil, courtesy of the Azores.
These Portuguese islands in the middle of the Atlantic are a perfect spot for dolphin and whale watching, and the ideal destination for a final thrilling adventure.
From there, take a flight to Toronto, and treat yourself to a warm Canadian welcome before crossing the land border and returning home to the land of the free, feeling freer than you’ve every truly appreciated before this year of adventure and discovery.
Planning a year-long world trip is no mean feat and it’s useful to take advantage of itinerary planning tools to give you the peace of mind that everything is covered.
If you’ve never planned a road trip before, read our beginner’s guide to help you avoid the common pitfalls and have the best experience from day one.
Continents like Europe cram so much variety into their bustling shores. It can be a little baffling to know where to start. We’ve got you covered with our simple guide to planning a wonderful European trip, making sure you include all the highlights in your big trip to the other side of the pond.
Whatever you plan, keep an open mind and give yourself the freedom to adapt to your changing whims on the road. You might meet new friends and decide to tag along with them for a bit, or you might absolutely fall in love with a country and choose to spend even longer in one place. You’ve got a year, live in the moment, and live every moment to its fullest potential.
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