I look at all the items I have already marked off my “bucket list.”
Yellowstone. Niagara Falls. Paris. Iceland. The Galápagos.
Still, there are many boxes not crossed off. Guyana. Australia, and New Zealand. Iguaçu Falls, holding the top spot.
I find that every time I strike some city, country, or fabulous attraction from my register, another “special somewhere” comes to mind, and I have to quickly jot that down. Luckily, for me, the roster of potential travels never shortens.
If you’re planning a big trip and are struggling with connecting all the dots and deciding on an itinerary, consider a trip idea centered around a theme, like the seven below.
Use these ideas as inspiration to set your route!
Exotic Landscapes and Famous Attractions RTW
Trip Itinerary: Norway > England > Netherlands > France > Spain > Italy > Transylvania > Turkey > Egypt > Jordan >
India > Mt. Everest > China > Vietnam > Easter Island > Chile> Buenos Aires > Iguazu > Bolivia > Machu Picchu > Galapagos
Really admire ‘exotic landscapes and famous attractions?
- Trek across Europe to see:
- Head for the Middle East to:
- As you wind your way into Asia, check out:
- India’s Taj Mahal
- Mt. Everest in Nepal
- The floating markets of Vietnam and Southeast Asia
- The Great Wall of China
- As you hit South America, see:
- The frigates and blue-footed boobies of the Galápagos
- The Moai statues of Easter Island
- The Incan ruins at Peru’s Machu Picchu
- The alpine lakes and geyser fields of Chile’s Atacama, which is close on the heels of:
- Bolivia’s Salt Flats at El Salar de Uyuni
- Don’t miss out on cosmopolitan Buenos Aires, Argentina’s ‘Paris’ of Latin America
- The fabulous Iguaçu Falls bordering Brazil.
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Oceans, Rivers & Glaciers RTW
Trip Itinerary: Canada > Bahamas > Jamaica > Nicaragua > Panama > Chile > India > Egypt > France > Switzerland > Amsterdam
Perhaps you’re looking for new and exciting ways to traverse the world’s oceans, rivers and ice fields.
- How about crossing the Athabasca Glacier near Jasper, Canada on a specially-contrived glacier bus?
- Try swimming through mangroves at Isla Juan Venado National Park in Nicaragua.
- From your floating hotel, based in the waterways of the Panama Canal, fish for sargentos (peacock bass).
- Dodge ice floes in a motorized panga through the straits of Magellan in Chilean Patagonia.
- Assist the crew in raising the sails of your windjammer ship as you drift towards the Bahamas.
- Relax down the Martha Brae River on a bamboo raft in Jamaica.
- Ride the canals in Amsterdam.
- Admire fairy-tale scenery and exquisite castles from your lounge chair on a river barge along the Rhône.
- Sail at sunset on a felucca in Egypt or speed across the Red Sea on a snorkeling tour.
- Fall asleep to the lapping of the current against your houseboat in the backwaters of India’s Kerala.
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Adrenaline Pumping RTW
Trip Itinerary: Nicaragua > Bolivia > Chile > Switzerland > Crete > Dalmatian Coast > Pakistan-China Border > New Zealand
Now maybe, just maybe, you’re an adrenaline addict, whose idea of a good time is scouring the planet for heart-thumping, endorphin-boosting, adventures. Maybe you’d rather forge the world’s greatest waterways by yourself–through paddle power. Ever thought about world-class white-water rafting? Or volcano surfing?
- Grab your board and hit the ash-covered slopes of Cerro Negro in Nicaragua.
- Mountain bike Bolivia’s death road.
- Psyche yourself up for a wild-and-woolly roller-coaster ride on one of the premier stretches of Class IV & V rapids in the world – Chile’s Futaleufu, along the Argentinean border – where you’ll experience turquoise waters in remote wilderness.
- Cross the Atlantic for a hike in the Alps, circling Mont Blanc, through France, Italy, and Switzerland.
- Hang out an extra day in the Swiss town of Davos for snowboarding on some great free-riding pistes.
- Sea kayak in southern Crete or around the Dalmatian Coast between Montenegro and Croatia.
- Mountain climb the world’s 2nd highest peak, the K2, on the border between Pakistan and Xinjiang, China.
- For less exertion and way more fun, bungee jump from the history-making Kawarau Bridge, in Queensland, New Zealand, the first commercial site of the sport, developed by AJ Hackett, who was later arrested in the late 1980’s for bailing off the Eiffel Tower.
- Hang out with the kiwis for another day, to zorb, and pretend that you’re a human hamster riding a plastic wheel.
Read 14 Extreme Travel Activities to Get Your Heart Pumping
Hiking, Trekking, and Camping RTW
Trip Itinerary: Washington > Montana > Utah > Key West > Appalachian Trail > Scotland > Mont Blanc > Kenya > Goa > Uluru > Washington
Not into paddle power? Maybe ‘hoofin’ it’ is more your style. Traveling the world on your own two feet. Day hikes…treks…camping…sleeping out under the stars. Intrigued?
- Grab your camping gear and set out for the rolling hills and basalt cliffs of Yakima River Canyon, in Washington State.
- Next, head to Montana’s Glacier National Park for stupendous views of the Rocky Mountains.
- Hike the Virgin River as it flows through ‘the Narrows’ of Utah’s Zion Park.
- Pitch your tent on the white-sand beaches of the Dry Tortugas, off Key West, Florida. Snorkel by day, gaze at awesome constellations at night.
- Set a goal to hike all 2200 miles of the Appalachian Trail, through the Smokies, from Georgia all the way to Maine.
- Camp out on the Isle of Arran, in Scotland, for mountain scenics and incredible wildlife—otters, red deer, red squirrels and seals.
- You want to talk about mountain vistas—head for a hiking tour of Mont Blanc, in the Swiss Alps, circling through France, Italy and Switzerland.
- Fall asleep to the hush of ‘Big 5’ game animals in the Masai Mara in Kenya, on a safari.
- Or glamping in a treehouse in Goa, India, surrounded by mango and banana plantations.
- Opt for genuine luxury tent accommodations at Longitude 131, in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Australia. You’ll awaken to the morning’s sunrise as it bathes Uluru Rock in delicate shades of red.
Read more about hiking and trekking around the world
Animal Transport RTW
Trip Itinerary: Alaska > Grand Canyon > North Carolina > Jamaica > Egypt > Mongolia > Thailand
Maybe you’d prefer moving from place to place by animal power. Animal transport can be quite delightful, and usually replete with unexpected surprises.
- Consider mushing a dogsled across the frozen tundra of Alaska.
- Or teetering on a narrow trail on the edge of the Grand Canyon, astride a mule, as you wind your way to the lodge at the bottom.
- Pack a picnic lunch for an afternoon in the backwoods of North Carolina trekking with llamas.
- Swim in the Caribbean Sea on horseback in Jamaica.
- Straddle a camel at the Giza Pyramids in Egypt.
- Saddle up a reindeer and venture into the Northern Mongolian highlands alongside the local Tsaatan nomads, still herding in the same fashion as their ancestors, centuries ago.
- Ride elephants in Thailand, or better yet, pretend to be a mahout for the day, and learn how to properly bathe and scoop up the poop from your personal pachyderm.
Fabulous Markets RTW
Trip Itinerary: Morocco > Italy > Egypt > Turkey > India > Thailand > Singapore > China > South Korea > Japan > Seattle > Mexico > Guatemala
Rather shop your way around the globe than bike it or hike it?
- Zigzag through the souks of Marrakech, for dates, flatbreads and authentic Moroccan handicrafts.
- For a different flavor, shop for fish and staples of Venetian cuisine at the Rialto Bridge Market on the Grand Canal in Italy.
- Return to the open-air bazaars of Egypt, at Khan el Kalili, open continuously since 1382, to browse for lavish shisha pipes and brassware.
- For another selection of hookahs, carpets and pottery, don’t miss the Grand Bazaar, in Istanbul.
- Jump right into the melee—this souq encompasses 60 streets and over 400,000 people visit it daily.
- Another sensory overload lies just a short flight away, in Delhi at Chandni Chowk.
- In Bangkok, explore the Chatuchak Weekend Market, legendary among residents and tourists alike, as a souvenir-hunter’s dreamland.
- In Singapore, at Kreta Ayer Wet Market, you’ll find many interesting animals on the menu – turtles, frogs, eels, and snakes, some still alive. Frequently, this ‘wet’ market is doused with water from hoses to promote good sanitation.
- For other ‘specialty’ snacks, check out Beijing’s Wangfujing Night Market for deep-fried crickets on a stick.
- Not into that? They also have roast duck and noodle soup. Like fish?
- Opt for giant squid tentacles at Noryangjin Fish Market in Seoul, South Korea or spicy octopus soup (may still be kicking).
- At Japan’s Tsukiji Fish Market, seafood buyers don wetsuits to purchase their wares. Nose plugs might be a suggestion, with 3000 tons of fish on display each day.
- If you want a fish tossed your way, don’t miss Pike Place, in Seattle, a national treasure.
- Prefer Mexican textiles, tinware and ceramics? Head to the Guadalajara suburb of Tonalá.
- For blankets handmade out of brightly-colored cloth, look for the local Mayan communities at Guatemala’s Chichicastenango.
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Street Food RTW
Trip Itinerary: Philadelphia > Colombia > Chile > Singapore > Vietnam > Thailand > Israel > Turkey > Greece > Italy > Bosnia > Poland > France > Philadelphia
Decided you’re a man or woman after my own heart, and you’d just like to ‘eat’ your way around the globe in one giant food-fest…nibbling on the tastiest street food from the States to the farthest reaches of eastern Asia?
- Let’s start in Philadelphia, home of the Philly cheesesteak.
- Just around the corner, in Pennsylvania Dutch country, you’ll find the most delectable soft pretzels you’ve ever tasted.
- Head to Colombia for arepas—grilled corn cakes filled with cheese.
- Duck down to Santiago de Chile for sopapillas (deep-fried pumpkin dough) and humitas (corn, onion and lard mixture, steamed in corn husks).
- Onward to Asia (where you could spend your entire street food itinerary) for a bevy of dishes across all of Thailand.
- Then there’s the infamous pho in Vietnam, whose key to perfect preparation lies in the ‘simmering of the bones and tendons’ in the broth.
- Don’t forget Malaysia and Singapore, both of which have a myriad of cuisines to go with their melting pot of cultures
- Head to the Middle East–Egypt or Israel–for falafel, the local delicacy (deep-fried patty made from ground chickpeas or fava beans, sometimes both, served in a pita).
- In Turkey, you’ll find simit, a bagel-shaped, sesame-topped bread.
- In Bosnia-Herzegovina, sample burek, filo pastry full of Balkan minced meats, spinach or cheese, basted with olive oil and baked golden brown.
- Follow it with pierogi from Poland (stuffed dumplings made by hand), or
- Gyro sandwiches from Cyprus, a Greek sandwich made from meat roasted over a spit.
- Head over to Europe for some fresh crépes from France then some refreshing gelato from Italy.
Check out our collection of articles about food and drink around the world.
As you can see, no matter where you roam, no matter what’s your pleasure, ‘the world truly is your oyster’ as the expression goes…so full of hidden gems.
Your idea of the world’s most spectacular round-the-world trip would probably differ entirely from mine because there’s no right or wrong way to set out across the globe. It’s all about the EXPERIENCE.
And with seven continents and umpteen thousands of cities just made for exploring, with a smattering of mountain ranges, deserts, and thundering waterfalls thrown in just for show, you’re sure to find something that will satiate your palate.