Our selection of globetrotting round-the-world itineraries – from under £1,000 to blow the budget spectacular
London – Bangkok (then overland to) Singapore – Perth (land) Sydney – Los Angeles (land), San Francisco – London
Cost: from £937
A classic round-the-worlder, this keeps the costs down but enables you to easily cover a lot of ground thanks to the three chunky overlanding sections: perhaps utilise some great train journeys – the Indian-Pacific across Oz, or an Amtrak railpass for the USA.
Get a Thai massage in Wat Po (Bangkok) and learn to dive on Ko Tao, Thailand; 4WD across the Outback, waterfall-swim in Kakadu and climb the Harbour Bridge in Sydney, Australia; drive Route 1 along the California coast, hike in Yosemite and sail San Francisco Bay to Alcatraz, USA
London – Shanghai (land) Hong Kong – Brisbane (land) Melbourne – Los Angeles (land) New York – London
Cost: from £963
For under £1,000 you can explore China, Oz and the breadth of the US. Shanghai is freshly spruced from the 2010 Expo; pre-book your first night’s accommodation to ease into the city (don’t miss the Maglev hover-train from Pudong airport, zipping along at 430km/h!).
On the way between Brisbane and Melbourne, veer inland to climb Mt Kosciuszko, at 2,228m Australia’s highest peak.
Practise t’ai chi at dawn on Shanghai’s Bund and cycle around the karst hills of Guilin, China; take in the view from the Peak, Hong Kong; learn to surf in Byron Bay and drive the Great Ocean Road, Australia; hire a car for an epic trans-US roadtrip.
London – Nairobi (land) Johannesburg – Perth – Sydney – Christchurch (land) Auckland – Fiji – Los Angeles – New York – London
Cost: from £1,619
Overlanding independently in Africa is possible but requires planning; consider joining a group tour for some or all of the stretch to Jo’burg: instant companions, easy access to national parks, and often cheaper than arranging everything yourself.
Australia, New Zealand and the US are easy to travel solo. And there’s no better way to sample the South Pacific – island stop-offs are easy and economical to work into RTW itineraries.
Wildlife-watch in the Masai Mara, Kenya, and Luangwa Valley, Zambia; walk around the Pinnacles and marvel at the Sydney Opera House, Australia; whale-watch off Kaikoura, NZ; swim in the blue lagoons of the Yasawa islands, Fiji; head up the Empire State, NYC.
London – Rio de Janeiro (land) Santiago – Auckland – Christchurch – Sydney – Cairns (land) Sydney – Mumbai – London
Cost: from £1,595
To make the most of the austral summer, leave the UK in September – entry-point Rio won’t be too humid or busy, and you can hit Patagonia in December. New Zealand will be ideal January/February; then drive up Australia’s East Coast in March/April (warm in the south, dry in the tropics) and get to India April/May before the monsoon.
If it does get too hot here, head higher – Matheran is the closest hill station to Mumbai; further north, the Himalaya are in full rhododendron bloom.
Climb up to Christ in Rio and jaguar-spot in the Pantanal, Brazil; star-gaze in the Atacama, Chile; hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, NZ; snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, Australia; join a Mumbai slum tour, India.
London – Toronto (land) Washington – Miami – Las Vegas (land) Los Angeles – Cook Islands – Auckland – Melbourne (land) Sydney – Bangkok – Phuket (land) Singapore – Delhi – London
Cost: from £2,892
The Star Alliance RTW fare allows a maximum of 15 stopovers – so why not use them all? More stops equals higher cost, but you get a lot of countries for your cash, and a mix of ‘easy’ Western nations and grittier developing countries.
First big trip? Consider flying west not east: starting in the US will be a gentle intro; by the time you hit more-challenging India you’ll be a pro.
Museum-hop in Washington DC and gator-spot in the Everglades, USA; snorkel idyllic Aitutaki, Cook Islands; trek with hilltribes from Chiang Mai and dive off Phuket, Thailand; order a Singapore sling at Raffles, Singapore; combine the fairytale Rajasthani cities of Udaipur, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer, India.
See the next five ways round the world
London – Los Angeles (land) Vancouver – Auckland – Tokyo – London
Cost: from £1,069
Stick to the Pacific for a range of experiences. Hugging North America’s west coast you can mix wine and wilderness; you could board the ferry at Bellingham, in Washington State, sail up the Inside Passage to Alaska, then backtrack by RV via the Rockies to Vancouver.
From Auckland you could circuit the whole of NZ (allow at least one month, ideally longer). In Japan use Tokyo as a base for a Japanese train adventure, perhaps across Honshu to see Fuji, Kyoto and Hiroshima. Note: you must book a JapanRail pass before you arrive in the country.
Wine-taste in the Napa Valley and walk among the giants of Redwoods State Park, USA; kayak with orca off Vancouver Island, Canada; dive off the Poor Knights Islands, NZ; learn to make sushi in Tokyo, Japan.
London – Geneva – Nairobi – Mumbai – Kathmandu – Seoul – Tokyo – Salt Lake City – Denver – Atlanta – Santiago – London
Cost: from £2,712
Keen hikers could put together a peak-bagging route, adding experiences around treks (a safari in Ngorongoro Crater, near Kili, or rafting the Sun Kosi, Nepal).
Consider your time hiking vs non-hiking: is it worth carrying your gear all the way? Boots, yes; but it’s easy to buy/hire equipment in hiking towns, or ship bulky items home when you’re done with them.
Tick off three nations on the Tour du Mont Blanc; summit Kilimanjaro, Tanzania; hike to Everest Base Camp, Nepal; make the pilgrimage up Mt Fuji, Japan; lace up in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park, USA; climb 6,962m Aconcagua, Argentina.
London – Rome – Cairo – Amman – Delhi – Beijing – Cancun – Lima – Rio de Janeiro –London
Cost: from £2,757
The 2007 ‘New Seven Wonders of the World’ list makes a great excuse for a RTW! Stringing together sites such as Petra and Machu Picchu is simple using hub cities in the relevant countries. Mix visits to headline acts with lesser-known spots: spending days getting away from the crowds will help you avoid temple fatigue.
Explore the Colosseum, Italy; camel-ride round the Pyramids, Egypt; hike to Petra, Jordan; watch the sunrise over the Taj Mahal, India; stay in a watchtower on the Great Wall, China; get up early to beat the crowds to Chichén Itzá, Mexico; hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Peru; pose with Christ in Rio, Brazil.
RTW by rail
London – Moscow (land) Beijing – Hong Kong – Singapore (land) Bangkok – Delhi (land) Mumbai – Perth (land) Sydney – San Francisco – Vancouver (land) Calgary – London
Cost: from £2,705
Use the convenience of flying to access the romance of the rail. The Trans-Siberian is best booked in advance. Singapore to Bangkok can be done on cheap local trains or the opulent Eastern & Oriental Express.
The Indian Maharaja service links Delhi and Mumbai in high style, while basic trains cost peanuts. The Indian-Pacific between west and east Australia offers Outback vistas, while the Rocky Mountaineer glides past the peaks separating Vancouver and Calgary.
Dip into Lake Baikal, Russia; dive off the Perhentian Islands, Malaysia; spot tigers in Ranthambhore, India; see the sun set on Uluru, Australia; ogle the lakes and mountains of Jasper National Park, Canada.
London – Johannesburg – Livingstone – Sydney – Christchurch – Buenos Aires – Puerto Iguaçu – Lima – Caracas – Mexico City – San Francisco – Chicago – Toronto – London
Cost: from £3,509
Ultimately your RTW trip is all about you. Mad on birdwatching? Hop between avian hotspots. Love food? Cook in the world’s culinary capitals. With time and money, any combination is possible – work out the sights you really must see then plan the rest around those.
As an example, waterfall aficionados could try this ticket; trickier routing via smaller airports bumps up the cost – but it’s worth paying more to get your trip of a lifetime right.
See Victoria Falls, Zambia; trek the Milford Track past Sutherland Falls, NZ; spot toucans by Iguaçu Falls, Brazil/Argentina; paddle to Angel Falls, Venezuela; hike at Yosemite Falls and sail into Niagara’s spray, USA.