BootsnAll indie travel guide

The State of RTW Travel in 2012

A lot changes in the course of a decade. At this time 10 years ago, 9/11 happened only a year ago, which obviously had (and still has) a major impact on the travel world. The financial meltdowns over the past years have changed many things as well – both in regular, everyday life and when it comes to travel.

In the process of updating the RTW section of BootsnAll, I have come across articles written back in the late 90′s and early 2000′s. It’s always interesting to see how things have changed, and while there is a lot of great, inspirational information in this article about RTW travel in 2000, some of it is a bit dated.

Consider this a response to the State of RTW Travel in 2000.

Growing Trend

For citizens of countries like Australia, New Zealand, and the UK, taking an extended period of time off, whether it’s a gap year or a mid-career break, is looked at as a fairly normal occurrence. In a country like the United States, however, long term travel isn’t exactly tops on the priority list.

Times they are a changing though. In 2000, the author talked about three factors that contributed to this change in attitude about RTW and long term travel:

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.

Travel Blogs

The first point is still true, but let’s take a look at the changes made since this was written 12 years ago. The author states that “more than 100 RTW travelogues are posted on the Internet by travelers.” Of course now we know that travelogues have become travel blogs, and that number has swelled tremendously and is probably closer to a million than a hundred. It’s extremely easy for anyone with any technological knowledge whatsoever to set up a free travel blog these days, making it simple to share their stories, knowledge, and “expertise.”

Because of the prevalence of travel websites and blogs, more and more people are exposed to the lives of others. Back in the spring of 2007, my wife and I had never even heard or seen the phrase RTW. We had no idea what it even meant. Within a day of first hearing those letters and doing our first google search, we were inundated with information, much of it from personal blogs, telling us not only what a RTW trip is, but also letting us in a little secret – any regular old person can go on their own RTW trip.

It may seem like a ridiculous statement, but blogs really have changed the way people look at life-altering decisions. Think about it. When contemplating a big decision, what’s the first thing we want to do? Here about other people’s stories who are/were in the same situation as we are. Being able to find like-minded individuals who have written and documented their feelings and thoughts when making a similar decision is an extremely powerful tool, and being able to find this information in a matter of seconds makes it even easier. The amount of information that is at our fingertips helps us realize what other options are out there.

Travel Resources

With this information and advance in technology also comes more resources. Not only are we able to read why people decide to go on a trip like this, but also how they make it happen. Planning for a RTW trip is no small feat, but it’s so much easier today than it was even ten years ago.

There have been round the world plane tickets for quite a while now.  But companies are trying to get ahead of the game and build the best tool for long-term travelers.  BootnAll has recently introduced Indie, a multi-stop international trip planner that can spit out RTW plane ticket prices with the click of a button in a matter of seconds.

While we think Indie is one of the best tools out there today, we do know that everyone’s needs are different and there are other options that might suit you best.  Be sure to check out our latest Round the World Ticket Report to see the state of round the world tickets at the moment.  This report is updated a few times a year to reflect the changing times.

You can also read about and book hostels and hotels all over the world with a quick, easy search. Even booking adventure tours and sorting out your travel insurance can all be done with a few mouse clicks.Booking accommodations, making restaurant reservations, and checking flight prices has never been easier, and this only helps in making your RTW dreams become a reality.

The Job Market

The third point made by the author is obviously the biggest difference when it comes to the state of RTW travel in 2012. At the turn of the new millenium, things were good. The internet boom created a whole new job market for millions around the world.  Employment was pretty stable for not only Americans, but most of the western world.

The job market is not so stable anymore, and while certain countries are pulling out of it, there is still plenty to be worried about. This has created concern about luxuries like travel, but it also has people changing their views on life, work, and the life-work balance.

At first glance it may not seem bright to take off on an epic RTW adventure while the economy is in the crapper, but if you take a step back and think about it logically, you may find out that this is the perfect time to take the trip of your dreams.

Jobs are quite difficult to find right now, and unemployment is still extremely high. Living in an expensive country like the United States is difficult to do when you aren’t bringing in money. So what if you could take off and live on half the money you do now, while also seeing the world? This is a legitimate possibility.

Too many people believe different myths about travel without actually researching it for themselves. Chief amongst these myths is that travel is expensive. While vacationing in a resort for 7 days, the only 7 days you get off work for a year, may cost a pretty penny, not all travel has to be like this.

It’s actually not very difficult to travel the world on less than $40/day in many places. By traveling overland, eating street food, and staying in hostels in regions like Latin America, Southeast Asia, India, and the Middle East, you can get by on far less than just living your daily life at home. So if you are in a tough employment situation, have recently been laid off, or are contemplating a career change, then this might be the perfect opportunity to take off and travel the world while contemplating your next life step.

Who Are These RTW Travelers?

Another big myth people have about long term, RTW travel is that the people who do it are either really young or retired, are rich or have trust funds, and are special in some way. While there are RTW travelers who do fall into one of these categories, by and large most people who decide to go on a RTW trip are no different than you and I.

Join the BootsnAll community and fill out a traveler profile yourself.

Normal, everyday Joe’s are just as likely to travel the world as Timmy Trust Fund. That’s the beauty of it. Realizing that it’s possible for a normal person to save up enough money to quit his or her job to galavant around the globe is half the battle. Go ahead and peruse RTW travel blogs around the net. The vast majority of these people are just like you. They had a love of travel and decided to make that love their number one priority in life.

Putting an experience like a RTW trip as your number one priority over something like a house, a nice car, and various other toys is the way to make your travel dreams come true. There is no magic potion. There is no button to push. It’s all a matter of hard work, persistence, and putting your trip above all else. Time and time again you’ll come across message boards and blogs and see RTW travelers saying the same thing. We aren’t special in any way. We simply made the decision to put long term travel #1. It usually isn’t the rich and powerful who take off on a trip like this. It’s typically a person who decided to take control of his or her life and do whatever it took to make their dream a reality.

Why Do They Do It?

To put it simply: It’s because they love to travel and want to change their lives. And make no mistake about it. A RTW trip will change your life in ways you can only imagine. Taking a step back from everyday life to really see the world. To truly experience other cultures. To stand on the top of mountains. To look out into the vastness of the desert. To be in the thick of the jungle. To eat what others eat, drink what others drink, live life how others live their lives. All are part of a RTW trip that you simply can’t experience by visiting somewhere for a week.

If it’s one thing this whole financial, housing, and banking crisis should have taught everyone, it’s that life is short. You can plan and save and be ready for retirement and life after your career, but there are no guarantees. It can all be lost because of a poor decision – and it could be one that was completely out of your control.

Too many people use the word later or say that it’s just not the right time. There is no right time and you simply never know if there’s going to be a later. Take advantage of right now! and live life in the present.

Is It Worth It?

I can personally, unequivocally say that YES, without a doubt, it was worth it. With the exception of asking my wife to marry me, the decision to take off on a RTW trip is the most important one I’ve made in my life. It has forever changed me, and it will without a doubt shape the rest of my years here on Earth. And that’s no over exaggerration.

When it comes to why people take off and go on a RTW trip, most of the time it’s about regret. For those who go, they don’t want to regret not going later on in life. For all the people I have come into contact with over the last 4+ years, since the idea of the trip turned into the decision to go, the planning, the going, and now the being home for nearly two years, I have yet to come across a single person who said they regretted taking a RTW trip. For every one person I’ve met who has gone and not regretted it, there are four more who say, “I wish I would have done something like that.” Which person do you want to be?

The Stories

If you’re still on the fence, trying to decide is RTW travel is right for you, the only other suggestion I can give is start talking to the people who have done it. Start right here at BootsnAll. The RTW forums are a great place to start meeting like-minded people and hearing their stories. Our new traveler profiles provide a great way to get in touch with other round the world travelers.  The personal interviews from both pre and post-trip RTW travelers provide inspiration and stories from countless others who have already taken the plunge. Or for more in depth stories from RTW travelers, check out our Why They Went series. Our RTW Wednesday column is chock full of motivational articles and helpful hints for planning your RTW trip.  Then when you’re ready, head over to Indie and start planning your route!

No matter what your situation, just know that you aren’t alone in this. There is an entire community waiting to help you out and back you up, and if traveling the world is a dream you’ve always had, now is the time to take that plunge!

Next: Personal Stories-Why They Went »

RTW Guide - Table of Contents