Today I priced out a RTW flight. Last week I had made a list of places I want to go. It was actually hard to do. Ever since I have started traveling I have kept a TOP 5 list of places I want to go. I search flights for those destinations frequently and when one shows up in my browser with a good price I book my next trip. Once I explore that destination I add a new location to my list. This has worked very well for me over the past 10 years so changing my methodology and listing every country I want to visit and then planning to visit 80% of them all in one trip seems like gluttony.

I have 20 countries under my belt so far and it never feels like enough. Not because I am infatuated with the number itself, because I believe we should spend 10% of our time doing what we love. With 3 weeks vacation my travel bugs feels under nourished. Plus, at a rate of 2 new countries per year I will not reach my goal: countries visited = my current age. In fact, at a rate of 2 countries per year, my goal would not be met until I am 43. Ideally I would like to hit 35 countries by the age of 35.

Once I made that list, which was 36 countries long, I mapped out a route that would make sense. I laid it against a calendar to get a sense of how long it would take and to ensure I was in each location during optimal travel times for each destination. This is a feat that I am sure many have done. In fact, NomadicMatt’s blog on booking RTW flights was very informative and much appreciated. As many of his blogs are for explorers like us.

This whole process was overwhelming. This is where dreams start to take shape into fiery balls of reality. Or it is where dreams die.

I calculated what it would cost me to travel for 1 year to 17 different countries. My estimates brought me to $35,000+. I am hoping that I am just overly conservative or risk adverse because that number is like a huge slap across the face. Basically, I will need to live in a box for the next year and a half to shovel away money, to then quit my job, leave my home and venture off into the most amazing experience of my life. I should mention here that delayed gratification is not my strong suit. This also does not take into account that I have 2 weddings this year that I have to travel to, and a contingency fund for when I return home (without a job).

There has to be another way.

The reality is that I have never actually wanted to travel for a full year. My goal was 3 months. The longest I have ever lived over seas or traveled was 2 months. I am not sure why I have always imagined traveling for 3 months at a time. Perhaps it was one of my professors in class that said you don’t understand a country or city until you have lived there for 3 months. It just stuck. Or maybe, it is just fear that is not letting me see past those 3 months. Realistically though you do not quit your job to travel for a 3 month period. A sabbatical may be better suited for this duration of travel. And having started a new job only 6 months ago, I think a sabbatical is out of the question for now (but I still plan on dropping hints).

I have also been reading another interesting blog called The Weekend Jetsetter. Anna does an excellent job detailing weekend trips and creating 48 hour guides to cities she has visited over the weekends. Like Anna, I to enjoy my job and a steady pay check. The idea of having to sacrifice my career in order to pursue my passion of travel just seems unfair. I don’t think I want to be a weekend jetsetter, but after a few compelling blog posts I find myself searching flight prices and looking at flight durations. What would the next 2-3 years look like if I took this approach. How much satisfaction would I get by being able to jump on a plane next weekend rather than postponing my adventures for an entire YEAR AND A HALF!?! I will have to give this further thought but after a few flight searches I have already been discouraged. I have have traveled to quite a few locations within 5 hour flight proximity to where I live, the ones the remain in that radius are dive locations and 48 hours just wont cut it! Locations like Chile, Peru, and Switzerland are coming up in my search as 15 hours each way. The idea of traveling for 30 hours to spend 48 hours in the country just does not leave me feeling inspired. This would have been a great method for me a few years ago prior to doing Aruba, Costa Rica, St. Lucia, etc. I can still take real vacation to knock out a few of the further destinations but I just do not have enough closer destinations to fill in the travel void between those bigger trips.

Perhaps I will need to go back to the drawing board.

Below is a summary of my two options thus far. Perhaps something between these two will be worth consideration. But before I crunch the numbers and map out the plan I would love some feedback! What did your RTW trip look like? How much did it cost? Did you regret leaving your job? Are their other options I am not considering?


  • Weekend Jetsetter – probably not
  • Sabbatical – Fingers crossed
  • RTW Trip – OMG, need to get my head around this one.
Option 1 Option 2
Quit Job – 1 year RTW trip 2 larger trips each year + a few smaller weekend trips
27 countries 8 countries
1.5 years of saving, followed by a year of travel 3 years, no delaying gratification!
$41,525 $18,800