2. Reality Check: Time
Time requirements are fairly simple to work out. All you have to do is go through your list of countries, and note next to each one how many days you think you’d like to spend there. If possible, do this on a spreadsheet because it’ll be helpful later.
To work out how long you need in each country, first think about how many different places you're likely to want to go to in that country. Lets say for example you're looking at going to Italy and you think you'd probably like to visit Venice, Pisa, Verona, Rome, and maybe a couple other places too that you don't know about yet. If you're not wanting to spend too long then you might allow a day each to explore Venice, Pisa and Verona, four days in Rome, and another day each for the two extra places you haven't decided on yet. That makes 9 days total right? Wrong. Because you need to allow time for travelling from place to place as well.
A good rule of thumb is to allow an extra day for each time you have to pack your bags, travel somewhere, and find a new place to stay. If you're not going too far you'll probably have some time to explore when you arrive, but its good to assume you're usually not going to see much in what remains of the day. Exceptions to this are if you're taking a sleeper car on an overnight train, or if you're only wanting to see the night life of the place you're going to. So if we're going to 6 different places we should allow another 6 days of travel time. So for our imaginary trip to Italy we would want to allow about 15 days.
Once you’ve gone through your list of countries and worked out how long you think you'd like to spend in each one, add them all up and compare it with how long you have available. Chances are you’d like to spend more time travelling than you have available. Unless you’re quitting your job and have unlimited time of course…
Feel free to go back and tweak your time allocations so you can spend more time in the places you care more about, but at this stage don’t reduce them too far, because you’ll usually want longer than you expect in each place. And don’t try to force all the places into the time you have available. It is better to go to less places and experience them better, rather than going to more places and being continually rushed. Plus, as we'll see shortly, you may not have enough money to go to everywhere you'd like to go on this trip.
One way to see a whole lot of places in a very short time is to join a package tour. Tours tend to cost more than travelling independently, and you have a lot less freedom to do what you like, but they can really cut down the time it takes to see a place. Plus they add some variety, give you a break from planning everything for a while, and let you make new friends with people from all over the developed world.
For a taste of some of the tour companies out there, check out some of the below links:
So, lets see what all this might look like for our example...
In our example we're looking okay for time, but you may find you can't fit everything in. Don't worry, we'll deal with that soon enough. Now lets look at 3. Reality Check: Money