Where to go & for how long
Where to go
This is your moment - deciding where you're going to go on your big trip. The world is your oyster, so how do you choose where to go?
First and foremost, you'll obviously want to choose countries that you are interested in seeing. Perhaps you also have friends or relatives that you're keen to catch up with. If you're travelling with younger children, ease of in-country travel may be a consideration.
Some other things you may want to keep in mind:
The cost of living in Asia and Central and South America is relatively cheap, so you can stay for longer;
The opposite is true in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand, so you'll need to consider your budget;
Mongolia and Bhutan are more difficult to explore independently, so even though the cost of living is low there, you may find that your budget needs to be bigger as you may need to arrange tours.
Look at guide books for the countries you plan to visit for guide prices for accommodation, food and transport. This will help you to create an average daily budget.
Also look at costs of transportation. If you buy an around-the-world ticket, or a return that has a range of stop-over possibilities, this may also help you determine where you will visit.
Although we planned a vague route, we didn't put together a detailed plan of where we were going to stay or for how long, preferring mostly to make things up as we went along. This gave us the flexibility to stay as long or as little as we liked in each place. It also meant that we could make the most of recommendations from other travellers and locals about the places we should and shouldn't visit.
Obviously, you can't visit everywhere, so there are decisions that need to be made about where is in and where is out.
Talk to other travellers and locals about where they've been. Find out what they did or didn't like about a particular place. They will more than likely have different tastes to you and your family, but you can use the information they give you to get an idea of whether or not the place will work for you;
Read guidebooks and visit travel websites;
Think about what you might want to do in a given destination and prioritise these things so you make sure you leave enough time;
Try to mix up the types of locations. We tend to alternate between big cities, middle-sized towns and smaller, less-visited places. Each has its own charm, but too much of one can get a bit tiring.
How long to travel
Your budget will largely determine this - unless there are other factors such as a 12-month sabbatical from your workplace. Generally speaking, the more slowly you travel, the cheaper it will be.
Travel advice & safety issues
Try to keep an eye on the news and check government travel advice sites for the latest safety advice on specific countries and regions:
Don't forget that this advice can change dramatically in a short space of time, so it's worth checking back on a regular basis while you're travelling.
Some governments also give you the option of signing up for email travel alerts and warnings.
If you're planning to travel in a country with a questionable safety situation, it may be worth registering with your embassy on arrival.