Around the World Travel Planning Checklist and Timeline

A good way to manage your Around the World Travel planning process is use a good trip planning checklist, one with a solid timeline outlining when to do the most important things before you leave.

Below is AirTreks’ Official Around the World Travel Planning Checklist and Timeline! Use this timeline to organize your duties from a year out all the way up until your day of departure. This could be the best source of information for planning an around the world trip you’re likely to find.

Download a PDF copy of the trip planning checklist

Around the World Travel Planning Checklist and Timeline

1 year – 6 months out:

  • It’s still too early to be purchasing RTW tickets, so use this time to decide on your destinations, outline your itinerary and set budgets – in other words, dream.
  • Make a destination list, ranked by importance, interest and convenience.
  • Use TripPlanner to price out different itineraries and get a feel for what each one costs based on what matters to you most: price, trip length, destinations and/or route.
  • Research, then prioritize your country and city list. Decide which to include or omit.
  • Use seasonality and websites like What’s On When and Goby to estimate when you want to be in different locations.
  • Dig a little farther – not all the best info is reachable through Google. Use the blogrolls from your favorite travel blogs and read. Some of the best info can be found in smaller travel blogs.
  • Start planning your budget. Set a price goal (and add 25% to it, just to be realistic).
  • Arrange for your house sale if you’re going that route.


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6 months – 4 months out:

  • Time to get the ball rolling! Select a route on TripPlanner and follow the prompts to submit it to one of our agents.
  • Wait for the callback or email from one of our consultants (within one business day), or else call us.
  • Take as much time as you need when working with a travel consultant to get the trip you want. Ask questions. Our consultants will give cost differentials for whatever tweaks you have in mind.
  • Get your passport or make sure it will be valid at least 6 months beyond your last travel date. If not, renew. Best to do it early.
  • Research necessary visas. (Visa limitations often dictate travel dates.)
  • Decide on your travel dates.
  • Take the plunge – buy the tickets! (Don’t forget insurance.)

4 months – 3 months:

  • The hard part is done, it’s time to set up the other facets of the trip: where you’re staying, what you’ll be doing, arranging tours, events, activities, etc.
  • Tell your family and friends you’ll be out of town and give them your dates of travel.
  • Begin applying for visas, work permits.
  • Set your daily itinerary – what you’ll be doing on a day to day basis. No need to get too detailed but if you have specific things you want to see, pencil them in between flights.
  • Buy or download guidebooks.
  • Figure out your life at home (what to do with your house/apt, bills, car, mail, pets, etc)
  • Set up frequent flier accounts.
  • Acquire no fee international credit cards. (Or make sure yours can be used internationally.)
  • Get a spare debit card (in case you lose one).
  • Contact friends in faraway places to let them know you’re coming.
  • Begin to organize your life for an extended leave of absence.
  • Get a Yahoo or Gmail account (one that can be accessed from the Web). Notify your contacts if you’re switching.
  • Organize your address book. Fill out any absent contact info (phone numbers, emails you don’t have). Don’t forget to add our customer service email to your list!
  • Read our 101 Things To Do Before Your Trip blog post.

3 months – 1 month:

  • Take advantage of this time period to hone your travel skills. Take local trips, be a tourist in your hometown or simply take a planning break. Maybe watch some travel movies or listen to some world music.
  • Purchase any needed supplies, gear and clothing (backpacks/luggage, electronics, SD-cards, travel-wear, soap, personal ID, long white scarf, etc.) If you buy something technical, like a camera, familiarize yourself with it by taking it for test runs.
  • Request your sabbatical or give your work resignation (gulp!).
  • You can also take this time to set up a travel blog, buy a new camera or read an encouraging book.
  • Get your student card if applicable.
  • Get an international driver’s license if applicable.
  • Acquire extra passport photos.
  • Arrange for subletting, if you’re going that route.
  • Set up online bill-pays.
  • Plan dinner dates with family and friends you won’t see for awhile.

1 month – 2 weeks:

  • Finalize accommodations, especially your first couple nights away.
  • Get your travel vaccinations and immunization records.

2 weeks – 1 week:

  • Carefully read over your itinerary/reservations – look for discrepancies.
  • Visualize yourself traveling in each place from day to day. This will help in acclimating yourself to the experience and also remind you of last minute needs.
  • Copy and/or scan important documents. Upload them to the Cloud so you can access them online without anyone else’s help.

Final week:

  • Pull out the packing checklist.  This will give you adequate advance notice to purchase any items you forgot about earlier.
  • Call your bank to let them know you will be away — banks often freeze accounts when international charges appear out of the blue.
  • Stop your mail.
  • Start gathering the things you’ll be taking for assessment.

3 days:

  • Reconfirm your first flight! (A good thing to do before every flight.)
  • Jot down a reminder list for the night before your departure.
  • Set up an out-of-town message on your email to let people know about response delays.

2 days:

  • Start packing! Get everything you’re taking with you and do an inventory. Keep that list with you throughout your trip so you can do counts along the way. This will keep your baggage within airline limits and also let you know right away if you’ve lost something.
  • Get cash/travelers checks and some of the local cash of your first destination.
  • Do laundry.
  • Don’t for get to breathe! Take a sleep aide if necessary. Anxiety overload can keep you from accurately gauging what’s left to do.

Day before departure:

  • Finish packing. Checklist in hand, load up that luggage. Don’t forget to weigh your bags and check Luggage Limits.
  • Make any last minute phone calls.
  • Hug your family, friends and pets.
  • Charge your phone/camera/laptop/music player.
  • Look wistfully to the future.
  • Celebrate! But don’t forget that hangovers can worsen jet lag.

Day of departure:

  • Eat well and drink lots of water. Make sure to have a nourishing meal before your flight. You’ll need the carbohydrates and hydration. Alcohol dehydrates you and worsens jet lag, which can be debilitating upon arrival in a new country. You’ll need your facilities, so prepare for it!

After departure:

  • Reconfirm your flights two to three days before each flight (see above).
  • Take lots of pictures.
  • Enjoy life! You’ve earned it.

Download a PDF copy of the trip planning checklist

Popular reads:

» 10 must-have items for any around the world trip.

» 12 ways to avoid killing your traveling budget.


how to plan an around the world trip

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