“I did not want to live the rest of my life thinking, ‘Why did I not travel and live out my dream’,” Tom Landenberger, on why he took a year and a half off to travel around the world to countries such as Finland, Russia and Portugal. As more people realize this dream is logistically and financially possible, they are following Tom’s lead and taking sabbaticals to tour the world.
For many years my husband Keith and I dreamed about taking significant time off and traveling around the world. Just over a year ago I discovered the travelogue section of my library and found books about “real life” people who took off extended periods of time to travel around the world. From these books Keith and I realized it was possible to plan and fund our own RTW. We saved money, we planned and in January 2001, we will join the growing group of RTW travelers as we commence our year long journey around the world. As a new member of this community, I decided to learn about this new trend of extended travel, whom the travelers are and what their journeys mean to them.
Everyday people are realizing that taking an extended RTW journey can be reality. Factors contributing to this realization are:
1) RTW travelers are posting their trips online which provide people access to exciting travel stories and tips for planning extended trips, 2) Today there are a multitude of trip planning resources that allow easy planning of extended foreign travel, and
3) The current job market is favorable for the workforce, providing job security even to employees who take long absences.
With the advice offered from veteran RTW travelers, Internet planning resources, and travel books and magazines, people now have the ability to plan long term trips on their own. Currently, more than 100 RTW travelogues are posted on the Internet by travelers, such as www.2goglobal.com and www.wired2theworld.com. These travelogues are inspiring as most are posted by “everyday” people such as teachers and computer programmers who have made their dreams reality and are backpacking around the world.
In addition to generating excitement, these on line travel journals offer planning tips and provide links to planning resources such as the Center for Disease Control, and the State Department. Other Internet planning resources, such as DIA Travel and AirTreks, allow travelers to create their RTW flight itineraries and receive quotes on line. Travel insurance companies, such as MNUI, offer travel health insurance for extended travel outside of the United States. Websites such as www.travel-library.com contain “how to” information specific to planning a RTW journey. Backpacker travel magazines, such as Big World, include articles about how to pack for a year, and how to arrange budget accommodations in various countries.
The current job market adds to the trend of extended travel. Many employees today are confident that they can leave their jobs for an extended period and upon return either be rehired or find another job. This is partly due to the fact many major organizations, such as American Management Systems, Charles Schwab, Du Pont, L.L. Bean, and Nike, provide sabbaticals and extended voluntary leaves to their employees. As a result, the RTW group is increasing.