The idea of arranging a round the world home exchange trip is at once awesome, exciting…and stressful. Not to worry; we’re here to answer your questions and alleviate your anxiety so that you can focus on planning the best vacation ever.
A: As much (or as little) as you want! If you want to have everything planned ahead of time or your round the world trip includes home exchanges, you might need to start six months or even a year in advance. But if you prefer to jump right in and be spontaneous, you probably need only a few weeks.
A: Insurance is one thing you don’t want to economize. The last thing you want on a round the world trip is for something unexpected and costly to happen. In some countries, hospitalization can be very expensive and even a small medical emergency could wipe out your travel funds. You should make sure you’re covered for the length of your trip and every country you visit, and your coverage should include medical assistance, theft, and travel (which includes flight cancellations and lost luggage). Better safe than sorry!
A: Before visiting certain countries, you will need to apply for a visitor visa. Ideally, you should prepare every visa you’ll need before you leave home, but some countries’ visas have an expiration date. That means you might need to request them during your trip. If that’s the case, contact the local embassy. For most visas, you’ll need to have a valid passport, an inbound and outbound itinerary, and proof of accommodations. You may also be asked to provide a photograph and proof of bank funds.
A: It’s a common misconception that you need to purchase individual tickets. In fact, there are three airline alliances from which you can simply buy round-the-world airline tickets and customize your destinations. They are:
Once you’ve purchased a ticket, you should make sure to register for that alliance’s affiliate program so that you can earn points on your trip. That way when you return home, you can keep traveling for free!
A: Less is more! Try packing as if you were going to spend only two weeks at one destination. If you’ll be staying in exchange homes, you’ll more than likely have access to a washing machine. Yes, you might get bored of wearing the same clothes all the time, but the last thing you’ll want to do is pack and unpack three suitcases at each destination.
Try to choose clothes that can be mixed, matched, and layered depending on the weather, along with essentials like a bathing suit and comfortable shoes for walking and hiking. But don’t worry – if you forget anything, you’ll have a great excuse to do a little shopping (plus there’s an excellent chance you’d be able to borrow something like a raincoat from your exchange partner).
A: Yes, you will need vaccinations before traveling to certain countries. Visit your doctor’s office at least a month before your trip to get the necessary immunizations (your doctor will be able to find out what you need based on your destinations). If you’re traveling to a tropical country, be sure to bring a very strong mosquito repellant to reduce the risk of malaria.
If you’re traveling to a country with an undeveloped infrastructure, make sure you boil water before drinking (or stick to bottled water). It’s also an excellent idea to bring a first aid kid. Make sure to include medication you might need, as it might be difficult to find even over the counter medications you’re used to overseas.
A: While there are many logistics to consider, it’s actually pretty easy…and exciting! One of the best parts of any trip is the time you spend looking forward to it. Yes, it can seem daunting, but it will be the trip of a lifetime.
Have any tips to share? Tell us in the comments!
Photo: Flickr / lyzadanger / Creative Commons