Picking where to go and what to see is hard enough when you are a solo traveler. Attempting to narrow down the world into a year is overwhelming. Combining two people’s travel agendas can be near impossible, but if done correctly can leave everyone happy travelers. Realize you can’t see everything and you will be grateful in the end for what you cut out.
Hopefully you have already completed your trip purpose planning session I discussed last week. It’s time to decide where you’re going to go.
Clear both of your schedules for an hour. Leave your phones and other distractions aside. Separate into different rooms. (This is the most important part of this activity so no cheating!)
Even though you are traveling together and it seems backwards to split up, trust me the process works! I don’t want any wandering eyes or discussion going on for the first hour.
In your quiet space, bring a notebook, a world map and a good pen (and maybe a glass of wine and some music). Now start writing. Make a list of each country and city you want to visit. Dream big, no continent or country is off limits.
The rational route planning and negotiating will come later, but this is your time to write down anything and everything. For example I wrote down: “I want to eat Pad Thai on the street in Bangkok,” and “See a wild elephant in Africa.” As simple (or crazy) as it may sound to travel across the world to eat Pad Thai for $0.60 in a different country, I didn’t care, it was on my list! So, what’s on your list?
The rules are:
- Don’t write down a place because “everyone goes there.” This is your own list.
- Add an asterisk to places that are more important, add notes as to why.
- There are no other rules, so start dreaming!
After you and your travel partner have exhausted the list of places you want to go and things you want to see, go to sleep. Don’t discuss the list yet. Give it one good night of sleep to make sure you didn’t leave anything off the list.
Finally, get together with both of your lists, comparing them to find the countries that are similar. These countries are the easy ones because you know you both want to go there. Have fun bantering back and forth as to why you want to go there and all of the exciting experiences that await you. Planning a trip is half the fun for me, which is why I put so much time into the pre-planning stage!
You now have both of your lists side-by-side and have highlighted the places that match. Your trip planning might be finished, considering how long you plan to be on the road. If you have 4 – 6 months, 3 or 4 different countries could quickly fill up your travel schedule.
On the other hand, your lists might not match up as perfectly and one of you might want to explore Asia, while the other’s list is full of African safaris and rainforests in South America. Warning: This could very easily turn into your first travel fight (and that’s ok!). The long months that you are spending 24/7 with your second half will be all about compromise and negotiation. This is the first major decision that you will make together so embrace it positively and keep an open mind.
Take turns going through each place listed and explain to one another why you want to go there. At first, only mention the places you starred (those which are most important to you). This is a great time to employ the awesome selling tactics that you spent 4 years in university studying. Use the energy that fuels your travel to articulate why you want to go where.
Be prepared to win a few and lose a few, this trip is for both of you. Consider why you don’t want to go to a place and maybe you just don’t know enough about a country or need to keep an open mind. After an hour, or maybe a few days you have hopefully narrowed down the two lists to one list that covers places that both you and your travel partner are excited to adventure to.
The last step in this process is to throw the list away. Ok, just kidding…but honestly be prepared for lots of changes. When you are in the early stages of planning a trip around the world it is fun to write down places you want to go and dream about all the different sunsets you’ll see. After more research you read stories and talk to past travelers and you suddenly want to add countries or maybe cross off locations you were excited about. Even after you start traveling, keep an open mind with your itinerary. A month into our RTW trip we had already changed it up and jetted off to Gili Air, an island we had never heard of when we were planning the trip.
How did your RTW destination planning go?