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The town of San Pedro La Laguna is located in the southwest of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala

San Pedro is the second most popular destination after Panajachel. Tourists from all over the world come here to climb San Pedro Volcano, ride horses and in non-Covid times, party! 

There are also a lot of language schools here with great rates for learning Spanish!

Best time to visit:

The best time of year to visit San Pedro La Laguna for warm-weather activities is from late January to mid April.

Great for:

San Pedro has a pretty good nightlife – there are several lively bars on the lake where you can eat, drink, have fun and even do some good things. 

Things to do:

  1. Take in your the view from ‘Indian Nose’
  2. Learn Spanish
  3. Kayak on Lake Atitlan
  4. Take a dip in the thermal pools
  5. Visit a local market
  6. Hike San Pedro volcano
  7. Day trip to the surrounding villages

Where to eat:

San Pedro has plenty of restaurants and cafes that serve a variety of cuisines, including international, Israeli, Asian and more. 

When you come out of the Panajachel dock turn right and you’ll see a row of good options including Sababa, La Teraza, Sublime and Shanti Shanti or for some more local options turn left.

Getting here:

From Panajachel, lanchas (boats) run throughout the day and cost Q25 to San Pedro. Once in town you can get a Tuk Tuk for Q5 pretty much anywhere.

Any fan of LoTR knows or has heard of Hobbiton in New Zealand. But did you know Guatemala has its own Hobbiton? About 20 minutes drive out of Antigua, Guatemala, high in the mountainside sits Hobbitenango.

It had the iconic round doors and grass-covered roofs but the real magic is the view and the feeling of being on the clouds at 7,800 feet (2,400m) above sea level. 

It was a Friday afternoon and not at all busy so we were able to have lunch in a private Hobbit-hole. If you’re going, I’d suggest you make a reservation ahead of time.

Here’s how to get there and how much it costs.

We took an Uber from Antigua Q68 / USD$8.80 return.

Entry tickets for Hobbitenango (this includes transport from the parking lot up the hill and access to games and activities there) Q50 / USD$6.50 each.

Lunch and drinks for two Q221 / USD$28.70. 

Note: if you go on the weekend there is a breakfast buffet.

Altamira

Altamira is a seperate attraction to Hobbitenango but it is the same location so we’d definitely checkout seeing both. 

Altamira has not one but two hands that you can walk out and take a photo on with the most spectacular view behind you. It also has minigolf, sculptures and its own restaurant to check out. 

Entrance for Altamira Q25 / $3.30 each. 

All up for the day we spent $53.80 for two.

What is Chichicastenango market?

Chichicastenango (or Chichi for short) is a town in the highlands of Guatemala. Surrounded by valleys and small Pueblos (towns), Chichi comes alive every Thursday and Sunday to host Guatemala’s largest outdoor market.

The market is configured around a 400-year-old church, Santo Tomás which was built atop a Pre-Columbian temple platform. The steps originally led to a temple of the pre-Hispanic Maya civilization and K’iche’.

Maya priests still use the church for their rituals, burning incense and candles.

Fun fact: K’iche’ is one of the largest Mayan linguistic groups. Read more about K’iche’ here.

What can you buy at Chichicastenango Market?

Watch the video here ↓

At the market you’ll find all kinds of handicrafts, food, flowers, pottery, medicinal plants, candles, copal (traditional incense) like that burning in front of the church as well as pigs and chickens all for sale.

Chichi is well known for its handicrafts, mainly textiles such as women’s blouses or huipils (pronounced wee-peels). Here you can buy new and vintage huipils. You even buy huipils that have been recycled into quilts (spoiler alert we couldn’t resist and bought one despite only going to “look”).

Interesting facts

We expected to see plenty of textiles and were grateful for it – they are so colourful and beautiful but what we didn’t expect was the abundance of masks. We visited a mask maker in Chichicastenango. A lot of the masks are used by dancers in traditional dances, such as the ‘Dance of the Conquest’, during the Santo Tomás festival in December.

The ‘Dance of the Conquest’ is a traditional folkloric dance from Guatemala. During the dance participants adorned by elaborate costumes and masks reenact the invasion led by Spanish conquistador Pedro de Alvarado and his confrontation with Tecun Uman, ruler of K’iche’ kingdom of Q’umarkaj. 

The festival is a blending of K’iche’ Mayan and Christian traditions. The entire K’iche’ tribe is long since Christian, yet Mayan ceremonies and many of its ancient rites and beliefs persist in daily life.

Pretty cool right?! We love making these unexpected discoveries and learning as much as we can everywhere we go.  If you’re the same make sure you stop into a mask manufacturer if you visit Chichi to see these beautiful costumes, masks and hear their story.

Getting to Chichicastenango Market

Getting to Chichicastenango Market from Lake Atitlan is easy. We took a tourist shuttle from San Pedro La Laguna, it cost the equivalent of $20USD hours and took 1.5hours.

You can also take the shuttle from Panajachel.

Or for the brave, the slightly longer, cheaper way to do it is to take a chicken bus from Panajachel. We took the shuttle for convenience but if you want to do as the locals do and make it more of an adventure we found this guide here really informative.

Have you been to Chichi market? Tell us what you loved most! 

How I started to plan my trip around the world

Like most trips around the world, ours began as an idea. It was not a serious idea until I asked my husband, Addison if he wanted to travel the world with me for a year. But surprisingly he said yes.

After some serious thought and considerations I made a decision and started working on an actual plan to make our trip happen.

This post is my planning process in order. I tried to group the different tasks together not by activity, but more along a timeline. Starting with the first idea, which in my case was more than one year away from the start of the trip.

If you are at this stage where you just decided to do a trip around the world or are playing with the idea, head over to my other blog post called I want to travel the world. Where do I start?. It will help you get started and make some first decisions before planning all tasks listed in this post.

Jump to

  1. Decide to do a trip around the world
  2. Decide for how long you want to travel and when to go on your trip
  3. Find a travel partner or travel alone
  4. Decide what to do during your trip around the world
  5. Choose destinations
  6. Research new destinations
  7. Research climate
  8. Make a (more or less) final decision on destinations
  9. Research visa requirements
  10. Research necessary vaccinations
  11. Get first vaccination shots
  12. Create a budget
  13. Get second vaccination shots
  14. Research backpacks and suitcases
  15. Research accommodation alternatives
  16. Sign up for hospitality exchange networks
  17. Research what to do with your place
  18. Research how to book cheaper flights
  19. Book your first flights
  20. Get a second credit card
  21. Raise the credit card limit
  22. Research health insurance
  23. Get third vaccination shots
  24. Quit your job or apply for sabbatical
  25. Cancel your rental contract
  26. Do health checks
  27. Create a packing list and things to buy
  28. Buy a backpack or suitcase
  29. Find accommodation
  30. Research safety tips
  31. Get visa where necessary
  32. Cancel your phone contract
  33. Research internet options while traveling (WIFI or sim card)
  34. Do a packing test run
  35. Get WIFI or sim card
  36. Throw away stuff
  37. Get an international driver’s license
  38. Throw a farewell party
  39. Tell your bank about the travel period
  40. Pack for the trip
  41. Download movies and e-books to your phone/ tablet/ laptop

RTW travel planning tasks one year before the trip

1. Decide to do a trip around the world

Like I explained above, the very first thing you need to do is make the decision to do a trip around the world. Everything else follows.

2. Decide for how long you want to travel and when to go on your trip

We decided from travel from February 2020 for one year. The reasons for this decision where multiple:

  • First, we needed time to save the necessary money.
  • Second, we wanted to wait for our rental contract to run out.
  • Third, we wanted to be “digital nomads” and work while we travelled so we needed enough time to prepare some income streams.

So for us February 2020 seemed like the perfect time to start. Until COVID-19 hit… But that’s another story altogether!

3. Find a travel partner or travel alone

Many people do their trip around the world solo, but you don’t have to. I don’t like travelling alone, and I am fortunate to have my husband travel with me.

If you don’t have a boyfriend or girlfriend maybe one of your friends wants to go with you. And an even more exciting option;  find a person you don’t know to travel with you – many future travellers can be found in Facebook groups.

4. Decide what to do during your trip around the world

I want to go, and see as much of the world as possible in one or two years. We are in our 30s, and want to start a family one day so wanted to see as much as we could while taking it slow, for this reason we didn’t set a super tight schedule; but did loosely plan to be away for a couple of years.

There is so much you can do during a year of travel. Do you want to learn a new skill, volunteer by building a school or teaching somewhere, do you want to work on a farm, work online or do you plan/desire to see as much of the world as possible?

I am so curious about many countries, therefore decided I wanted to travel around the world visiting as many countries as possible.

But I asked a couple of other people about their trips and they did something completely different from my trip. You can read about Nina’s European adventure or Julie’s 16 months backpacking in South America to get some new ideas.

5. Choose destinations

We planned to spend six months in Mexico, and then head to South East Asia.

My process was as follows: Addison and I both made a list of countries we wanted to visit, and from that, we compiled a joint list. I even considered a possible route depending on the seasons and convenience of travel.

Over time this list changed a lot due to COVID-19 but having an initial plan helped make decisions early on (even though it wasn’t set in stone).

6. Research new destinations

My favourite resource is googling like crazy –  thereby finding other people’s travel blogs – or finding information on Pinterest.

But of course, I also love to watch the odd TV series or YouTube videos set in different places around the world – anything that shows me new ways for trotting the globe! For instance, we loved Somebody Feed Phil on Netflix, the Mexico episode actually pushed us towards going to Mexico.

Lastly, the best thing you can do is ask friends and family about their best experiences.

By doing all the research, I got new ideas and inspiration about other places I wanted to visit, what activities I wanted to do, and I gained new confidence by reading about stories from other travellers.

7. Research climate

For each country, it makes sense to have a look at the climate. If you don’t want to visit during the rainy season, it makes sense to know when the rainy season is. If you don’t want it to be too hot or too cold than that also needs to be a consideration.

Especially when it comes to packing. It is much easier to pack if you have more or less the same kind of climate everywhere you go. A trip to the desert and Antarctica, on the other hand, is tough to pack for.

We decided to only travel to hot climates or at least places that will be moderately warm during our visit.

8. Make a (more or less) final decision on destinations

Even with all the research, there are always more ideas that will influence your trip planning and only once you start booking things will you really get into detail, which is much further down the timeline on your RTW travel planning tasks.

9. Research visa requirements

For each country, you are interested in visiting research the visa requirements. There are countries you can get into without having to prepare a visa in advance.

Others require you to fill out an e-visa, yet other countries require that you visit an embassy to receive a proper visa.

There are often costs in connection with visa issuing, so if you are on a very tight budget, it really helps to know how much you should expect to pay for each visa. The website Project Visa is super helpful to find out visa requirements.

10. Research necessary vaccinations

Okay, here is a step you can’t do early enough! It is also one of the most critical tasks.

Now that you know where you are going, research what kind of immunization recommendations there are.

Make a list and talk to a doctor about risks. We sought a lot of vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhus, Tetanus, Japanese Encephalitis, Rabies and Yellow Fever.

Vaccinations can be quite expensive, true. And quite fast, but health is one point where you shouldn’t make decisions based on costs.

11. Get first vaccination shots

For many vaccinations, you will need multiple shots; getting started as early as possible is the way to go here.

I got my first round of shots 7 months before my travel year, and that was already kind of cutting it close.

Depending on what kind of vaccinations you decided on getting in the previous step, you might need more time to be fully covered.

12. Create a budget

In my other blog post I want to travel the world. Where do I start? one of the questions is “How much will it cost?”. This is really tough to answer, because everyone has different expectations, different travel styles, and different limitations when it comes to a budget.

We calculated that for two people $30,000 USD in savings would best for the destinations we wanted to visit. Some people say that is a lot, others say it isn’t enough. But it really all depends on your travel style. For us this was the buffer we wanted to have in savings. Even though we planned on working as we travelled, we wanted to have a years savings on hand.

You can either create a daily budget or a full budget. Alternatively, you can try to plan your trip around the world in as much detail as possible and try to figure out how much it might cost (this is a very complicated thing to do though).

Another option is looking at other people and kind of average their spending, so you know how much people spend on average. But then again it really all depends on how you want to travel.

You can see how much we’ve spent and earned on our trip here.

13. Get second vaccination shots

For some of the vaccinations, the second round of shots is one month after the first round. So, if you do it like me and had your first shots 7 months before your trip the second round will be 6 months before your round the world trip.

But like I said earlier is better, because the third round is half a year after

your second shots and that’s kind of cutting it close!

RTW travel planning tasks 6 months before the trip

14. Research backpacks and suitcases

For me, the question backpack or suitcase was a tough one. We decided on a backpack, because suitcases seem unnecessarily cumbersome.

Not only did we decide on a backpack, we also decided to do carry-on only. First, because it’s cheaper to fly (save on baggage fees). Second, less hassle in terms of carting a big, heavy bag around on buses, planes or trains.

I bought a Kathmandu Litehaul backpack for each of us. Which weighs about 12 kg when fully packed. Heavy but light enough for me to carry, while still below most countries’ maximum weight capacity for carry-ons!

Because I knew which bag I wanted, I was able to wait for a sale and managed to get ours 50% off.

See what’s in my bag here.

15. Research accommodation alternatives

Now we are getting to one of my favourite topics. I am not a huge fan of staying in hotels. And while many backpackers and world travellers love hostels, we only love hostels for a short stay. For longer stays, it was not going to be the best option for us.

So, we opted to primarily use AirBnB. and for month long stays.  Want our advice? Escape the ‘hotel chain’ rat trap for a more immersive, and often less expensive neighborhood outside the city center. We really like to stay with and rent off locals. This has many, many hidden advantages, the greatest of them being your first-hand knowledge of what kind of things to do, see, and eat at your destination. Staying with locals is also a super easy way to make new friends.

See our guide on booking the perfect AirBnB for digital nomads here.

16. Sign up for hospitality exchange networks

We signed up for Workaway. Workaway is a network of over 50,000 opportunities in more than 170 countries worldwide. As a Workawayer you can exchange work – usually up to 5 hours per day – for accommodation. Each opportunity is different so take a look and see what is right for you.

17. Research what to do with your place

We decided on giving up our rental, and selling all of our stuff. See our post Selling everything we own and what we learned doing it here.

This freed us up from unnecessary costs and responsibilities while travelling, but it is going to be a pain to look for a new place and buying new furniture when we finally return home.

There are other options open to you if you don’t want to give your place up (or if you own a house). You can, of course, just leave it as it is while you are travelling. However, we feel in most cases you are just leaving money on the table:

  • One option you have is subleasing/subletting your place for the whole time.
  • Alternatively, you can find a house sitter, someone who will take care of your house, plants, pets while living there (usually for free).
  • Another option is listing your place on AirBnB (if the law in your country allows it). I was briefly thinking about this option, because of the potential to earn good money from it. That said, as a responsible host (travelling afar) I would have felt a lot of stress while on the other side of the world so we did not pursue it. However, you could arrange for a company to take care of the cleaning and even management should you choose this income stream.

18. Research how to book cheaper flights

We have been booking flights for ourselves for many years, and (nerd alert) I actually really enjoy the researching process. I feel like the flights I am looking for are often costly. So, I soon discovered ways to find cheaper flights.

Here are a couple of blog posts I found really helpful and interesting:

By the way, have you heard about round the world flight tickets? There are different airlines and companies offering these tickets that let you fly in multiple steps once around the world. For example from the US to Europe, onward to Asia, then Australia, from Australia to South America and from there back to the US.

We found round the world tickets to be not flexible enough, because we didn’t really plan a straight route. I was sure we could find cheaper flights by booking them separately. Consider doing a bit of research into round the world tickets and see if they are a good fit for you.

19. Book your first flights

I am actually a person who needs a lot of planning and security.  Like most, I always fear prices (especially flight prices) will only get more expensive over time. So, I booked our first flight almost half a year in advance.

By the way, I book my flights via Skyscanner. It is a website that compares prices on many booking portals.  Be aware that in many cases the displayed price is not the final price, because of additional charges for checked luggage or even payment option fees.

RTW travel planning tasks 3 months before the trip

20. Get a second credit card

Another tip I have: make sure you have at least two widely worldwide-accepted credit cards from different card companies. For example, Visa and Master Card or American Express. That way if you lose one you still have a way to pay until your replacement card arrives.

Make sure you have your credit card institute’s phone number noted down somewhere so you can contact them right away if your card is gone.

21. Raise the credit card limit

While I’d never encourage anyone go into debt when you could work as you travel to cover your trip’s costs, it is important to have at least one credit card with a raised limit for emergencies or what my husband sarcastically calls ‘the unknown-unknowns’. For us, it was to ensure we could always buy tickets home, pay for an expensive activity, or any unforeseen medical expenses – should they spring up.

Keep in mind that if you choose not to become a digital nomad, your trip may cost you a lot of money,  especially if you have no job/income stream.

Once you have no job, there will be difficulty raising credit card limits or applying for new credit cards. So, do these two things early.

22. Research health insurance

In general, I recommend you get health insurance for your trip.

Try to find out what kind of long-term travel insurance is available in your country. If you are like me and you can’t get into any because you won’t be registered in any country during your trip around the world, your last option will be to get international health insurance.

23. Get third vaccination shots

Hepatitis A and B, as well as some other vaccinations, require 3 separate shots to fully cover you for at least 3 years.

Don’t forget to get your last shots on time, or else your previous shots may have been be for nothing.

24. Quit your job or apply for sabbatical

In some countries, it is customary to quit a job at least 3 months in advance. In New Zealand, the norm is 1 month. However, as a courtesy, I gave my employer 3 months.

I recommend that you tell your company about your plan to quit or to do a sabbatical as soon as you feel comfortable. There is usually some paperwork or bureaucracy involved, so plan some extra time to get everything done before the deadline.

25. Cancel your rental contract

Another thing you shouldn’t forget when planning for your trip is to cancel your rental agreement if you are planning on moving out.

In most countries, there are specific rules for how far in advance you must declare your plan to move out. Find out the rules for your place and cancel in time.

RTW travel planning tasks 2 months before the trip

26. Do health checks

Before you leave for a long term trip, it is a good idea to get checked thoroughly. This means making appointments at all the doctors you usually go to for check-ups during the year.

A visit to your dentist to get rid of eventual cavities is also a good idea.

27. Create a packing list and things to buy

I am a planning freak, and I probably had a preliminary packing list half a year in advance.

But you seriously should start thinking about what you need to pack and what you still need to buy about 2 months before you start your world trip.

28. Buy a backpack or suitcase

By now you should have made a final decision on whether you want to travel with a backpack or suitcase. I can really recommend travelling carry-on only. It’s super freeing!

29. Find accommodation

From about 2 months in advance it is time to look for accommodation. As I mentioned above, we wanted to stay in month-long AirBnB as much as possible. And around 1 to 2 months in advance is the best time to find potential hosts: It is far enough in advance for hosts to know their future plans and availability, but not so short notice that they already have heaps of bookings or other plans.

Keep in mind: when writing a request, make sure you ask your hosts to run a WIFI speed test for you. Especially, if you plan on working online while you are there. Read our post on find the perfect long-stay AirBnB here.

RTW travel planning tasks 1 month before the trip

30. Research safety tips

Only one more month until your trip around the world! Which means you have completed most of the more significant planning tasks – but there are still things left to do.

For example, researching safety tips. Since I come from New Zealand, a reasonably safe country, I never really concerned myself with safety before. 

A trip around the globe, on the other hand, with more extended stays in Asia, Central and South America can sometimes make research into safety necessary. Which cities should be avoided? Is the water drinkable? Is it safe to travel between states/provinces at night? What are the dangerous animals/venomous insects in the area?

31. Get visa where necessary

If you need to apply for a permit for the first couple of countries, you want to visit, do it now. As a New Zealand passport holder I don’t really need to apply for a visa in most countries, but each country is different so always do your research.

Make sure to check far enough in advance for which countries you will need a visa and how to get it.

32. Cancel your phone contract

Usually, cancellation of phone contracts takes one month, so cancelling your phone roughly one month before your flight date is the right time to do it.

Side note: This would also be a good time to determine whether your phone is country specific – locked or unlocked. My husband purchased a locked Samsung phone with Spark, a leading mobile phone provider in New Zealand. When Addison tried to add a Mexican SIM Card to his phone, it failed because the phone was locked (New Zealand providers only). We had to purchase a new phone, and ensured it was unlocked so we can change SIM Cards as we travelled.

33. Research internet options while travelling (WIFI or SIM Card)

I need internet access while travelling. As digital nomads we need a good WIFI connection, but of course we like to update our Instagram while on the go. And don’t get me started on the use of Google Maps – a luxury I don’t want to live without! For this reason, I did some extensive research into how to stay best connected while travelling. I have come to the conclusion that buying a SIM Card in every country is the way to go, because it is quite cheap.

However, there is always a short time between our arrival and actually purchasing a SIM card. We got a SkyRoam to use whenever we don’t have a local SIM. Honestly, it is quite expensive at about $9 USD per 1GB, but worth it for emergency purposes. A great safety net when the house WIFI cuts out, or underperforms while both of us are videoconferencing.

34. Do a packing test run

I get it. The last thing you want to do – about one month in advance – is a packing test run. Think of it this way, you will know whether you have forgotten to buy anything, and also if everything fits into your backpack or suitcase.

RTW travel planning tasks 2 weeks before the trip

35. Get WIFI or SIM Card

Only 2 more weeks until you are travelling around the world. This means now it is time to order your pocket WIFI or SIM Card (if you chose to get one). They are usually delivered to your address within one week, and you will be good to use them from day one. Perfect!

36. Throw stuff  away

Don’t underestimate the time it takes to do this! As I said, we got rid of everything except for a single box. Imagine how much junk we collected in the 2 years of living in our house.

Whether you have lived in your place longer than that, and you now going to move out; need to make space for short-term renters or house sitters; or want to put some things in storage while you travel, this might be a more significant task than you think.  Donate! Give things to a friend or neighbor.

37. Get an international driver’s license

If you are planning on driving in other countries, you need an international driver’s license. You can get this only in your own country before you leave and usually, this will be valid for 1 year.

RTW travel planning tasks 1 week before the trip

38. Throw a farewell party

One more week to go. It is getting exciting! And it is also time to say goodbye to colleagues, friends and family. I had 3 farewell parties, all with colleagues from work. I am super happy that they all wished me well for our trip around the world. So, take the time and say goodbye (for now) to everybody – shout it from the rooftops!

39. Tell your bank about the travel period

If you extensively start to use your credit card in different countries your bank and credit card institute might start thinking something is fishy and lock your card. To prevent that from happening, let them know that you will be travelling.

40. Pack for the trip

A couple of days before your trip and it is finally time to pack your things!

41. Download movies and e-books to your phone/ tablet/ laptop

Last step. On the day before you leave download movies, e-books and music to your phone, tablet or laptop so you will have something to do during waits at the airport long flights or bus rides.

Now, all that’s left to do is enjoy your trip!

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If you are considering a one year trip around the world, then you have come to the right place. If your most burning question is ‘I want to travel the world. Where do I start?’ Then this post is for you.

If you aren’t quite there yet and are wondering what the benefits of a round the world trip are, then let me convince you by telling you about all the things you can learn from traveling around the world.

In this post, I will teach you where to start with your considerations and your planning by thinking about and answering 10 easy questions.

Recommended for you: How I plan my trip around the world (including 41 planning tasks)

Planning a year of travel can be very overwhelming. I know that.

There are probably a lot of scary questions swirling around in your mind right now:

  • How will I pay for this?
  • What do I need to prepare?
  • How do I decide when to go?
  • What will my parents/friends/colleagues say?

These are just some of the questions you probably have. There are many more you will need to answer before you can start your trip around the world. But you need to start somewhere, and answering all questions at once can be very overwhelming.

For this reason, I put together a list of 10 question you need to answer so you can start planning a trip around the world.

10 questions you need to answer if you are thinking about a trip around the world

1. Should you do a RTW trip now? [Updated April 2021]

My simple opinion on this question is “NO” now is NOT the time to do it with borders still closed and many countries struggling to get on top of Covid-19.

BUT I do suggest you start planning now. Why? Because if you don’t do it now, you might never do it.

That is the problem with the ‘I will do it when I have more money’ or ‘I will do it when I am 30’ or ‘I will do everything when I am retired’ mentality. You don’t know the future, the magical time you are waiting for might never come. So, if you can do it now, do it now!

Of course, I know it is not as simple as that. So, take the time and evaluate your personal situation. Write a pro and con list if necessary. Talk to your parents, or friends, or partner (or all of them). Ask other people who have done a trip around the world about their experiences, challenges, and fears before they went.

I am sure you will find many reasons not to plan your around the world trip now, but there are probably as many good reasons to do it RIGHT NOW.

Sometimes an ‘as soon as possible’ is also a right answer, as long as you make a real plan to go 1 or 2 years from now and start planning now. Beginning to plan right now is one way to hold yourself accountable and not chicken out of your decision to quit (or pause) your job for a year. I know it can be scary, I have been there.

2. How long do you want to travel?

Actually, you don’t have to travel for a year to go see the world, it could as well be 3 months or half a year, or even two years. So, think about how long you want to travel.

Keep in mind traveling can be tiring depending on the speed you want to move from location to location.

Also, remind yourself that you will be gone from family, friends and your comfort at home. Will you miss it? Do you even want to go for one whole year? Or maybe, is one year even enough? Think it through.

3. Who are you traveling with?

This should be one of the most straightforward questions. Are you traveling alone (which would make this a solo trip)? Are you going with a friend or your partner? There are also people who travel with their parents. And of course, many people who travel all around the world with their family, husband, wife, and kids.

4. What’s your preferred travel style?

Let’s say you want to travel the world in one year, 12 months. What do you want to do in that time? There are basically two ways to travel with many small variations: 

You either travel fast, or you travel slow. 

Fast travel means trying to experience as many countries as you can in as short a time as possible.

Slow travel means staying in only a couple of select locations during the year and getting to know live in another country in depth.

There is no better or worse way. Just figure it out for yourself, and talk about your expectations with your fellow travellers.

5. Where do you want to go?

Now that you know how long and how fast you want to travel it is time to think about locations. There are many considerations you will need to think off once your planning gets more into detail, but for the purpose right now make a list of the countries you would want to visit during your trip.

This should be a list without judgment. Just write down from your heart. And when you are done try to rank them by how much you want to visit each country. 1 is your first-choice country, 2 is the next choice and so on.

If you are more than one person in your travel party, each person should make a list, and then you can compare your choices. Prioritize the destinations that were high on everyone’s list.

6. How long do you want to go to each destination?

This again depends on the answers to the questions above. If you want to travel for 1 year and travel slowly about 4 countries, you can spend a maximum of 3 months in each country. If you plan to see 20 countries, then each country will be about 2.5 weeks, so about 17 days.

Of course, there will be countries you want to spend more time in and in other places a couple of days (or weeks) will be enough.

Look again at your answers and figure out how long you want to stay in each destination you wrote down in response to question number 6. Start from the top.

7. When do you want to leave?

This is a difficult question to answer. Do you want to leave right away? In half a year? Or can you wait another year or two? There is a lot you have to consider to answer this question with a final answer.

How fast can you prepare for the trip? Do you already have the necessary money or will you need to save first? Is it a good time to quit your job now? How about other responsibilities? All of these questions will play a role in finding a start date for your trip round the world.

I had more than one year between the decision to travel to actually going on the trip. It was the best time to leave after my rental contract had finished and I had gotten my half-yearly company bonus, which is a huge part of my around the world budget.

8. What’s your travel budget?

The most common question when it comes to planning a year of travel is probably ‘how much does it cost to travel the world’ and the answer is: It depends.

It depends entirely on you and your travel style, what level of comfort you want and where in the world you want to go.

9. Why do you want to travel the world?

This might be the most philosophical question of my 10 questions you need to answer for yourself.

I will tell you why a ‘why’ is important. I recently read about a blogger who saved about 30.000 US dollar to travel the world and then decided not to do it and do a master’s degree instead. What does this tell you? When she started saving money to do a sabbatical to travel around the world, she didn’t think about her why.

What are you looking for?

10. What other burning questions do you have?

Write down all your questions and fears. You will need to work through each and every one of these questions before you are ready to go. I already wrote a couple of examples in the introduction.

Here are a couple more:

  • What will I do with my house?
  • Do I need health insurance?
  • How to save money to travel the world?
  • How can I travel for free?
  • How do I convince my parents to let me go?
  • And probably many more.

Just add to this list whenever you think of a new question.

Ready to go? Start planning now with our How I plan my trip around the world (including 41 planning tasks)

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The cross into Guatemala from San Cris was relatively easy and a well trekked route but there are a few extra precautions to take due to Covid. Save this post if you plan on taking this trip yourself.

Here’s how to do it:

🎫 Purchase a shuttle ticket in San Cristobal de Las Casas and be sure to do this in advance – they are currently doing limited trips.

🦠 Get a PCR or Antigen test for Covid-19 no more than 72 hours before you are due to cross the border. Make sure you have TWO printed copies of the test with you.

The journey:

  1. You’ll be picked up from your accomodation in San Cris between 8 – 9am depending on how many people they have to pick up before you. Make sure you are ready to go at 8am, they won’t wait!
  2. You’ll drive for two hours then make a stop at an Oxxo for food and the bathroom if you need it.
  3. Next stop is Mexican immigration. Here they’ll check you haven’t overstayed your visa, if you’re a tourist, and they’ll stamp you out of Mexico. If you have overstayed they’ll charge you a fee.
  4. Now you’ll drive 10 – 15 minutes to the Guatemalan border. You’re going to change shuttles here so you’ll need to carry your bags from the parking lot across the border to the immigration office in Guatemala – it’s only about 300 meters.
  5. At immigration in Guatemala first you’ll enter a temporary building and hand over your Covid test results. They’ll also take your temperature and ask a few questions. Once this is done they’ll give you a note to take to the official immigration office.
  6. The immigration officer will take a copy of your test results, the note from the Covid checker person and issue your visa. We are kiwi and American and both got 90 day visas, free.
  7. Once you’re all cleared by immigration it’s time to get into your new shuttle and drive the rest of the way to your destination in Guatemala. We went to Panajachel, and after clearing customs, it was roughly a 6 hour drive with one stop for food. We arrived in Panajachel at 8pm, exactly 12 hours after we left San Cris
  8. That’s it, you did it!

To carry on or not to carry on – that is the big question lots of long terms travellers ask themselves. For us it was a no-brainer! We didn’t want to be weighed down (literally and figuratively) so set out to travel as light as possible. Read about how we sold ALL of our stuff here.

We’ve swapped stuff in and out and picked up – not one, but two cameras along the way.

But I think over the last 12 months we’ve finally found the sweet spot. So, what is in our bags?

Tech: this is split between the two of us

  • Laptop (1 each)
  • iPad
  • Video camera
  • Camera
  • GoPro
  • Ring light
  • External hard drive
  • Hotspots x 2
  • UE Boom/Alexa
  • Router 
  • A lot of charging cables

Clothes: we both pretty much carry the same

  • Knickers x 5
  • Swimsuit x 1
  • Socks x 3
  • T-shirts x 3 
  • Shirts/nice-ish tops x 2 
  • Shorts x 1 
  • Long pants x 1
  • Dresses x 3 (Addison doesn’t have any dresses and has extra shorts instead)
  • Long sleeve top/Henley x 1
  • Sweater/jumper x 1 
  • Jacket x 1 
  • Hat x 1
  • Sandals x 1
  • Sneakers x 1

Other bits and bobs:

  • Minimal makeup and toiletries
  • Probiotic and Pepto Bismol
  • Antibacterial wipes and sanitizer
  • Masks x 2
  • Passports and copies of visas
  • Monopoly Deal for game nights

We spent a 12 months working remotely and travelling around Mexico, here’s where we went:

Sayulita > Puerto Vallarta > Guanajuato City > San Miguel de Allende > Oaxaca City > San Cristóbal de Las Casas > Merida > Playa del Carmen > San Cristóbal de Las Casas

Our first stop was technically Guadalajara but we were only there for 9 days at the beginning of Covid-19 so don’t have enough information to make an accurate assessment. For the purpose of this guide we are only including cities we’ve spent a minimum of one month in.

Each location has been rated on cost of living, wifi, food and things to do. Please note these are our experiences and opinions only.

Sayulita [rating stars=”3.5″]

Sayulita sign in the plaza

Sayulita was our first real stop in Mexico and we ended up staying here for three months! 

It was the perfect laid back place to get our feet wet (literally) it it’s a small town so easy to get around, English is widely spoken and the locals and helpful and friendly. 

Plus it’s got that cool, surfy-beach vibe.

Cost of Living [rating stars=”3.5″]

We spent three months in Sayulita at the beginning of the pandemic and a lot was closed which forced us to cook and stay in, this help us to keep costs low. However looking back the price of eating out and activities in Sayulita is higher than other cities or towns we lived in. We also got veeerrry lucky with our AirBnB and got it for a steal.

Wifi [rating stars=”5.0″]

Our Wifi was phenomenal, some of the fastest we’ve had in Mexico although we’ve heard some horror stories so be sure to check if your AirBnB host before booking. See our post on booking the perfect AirBnB here.

Food [rating stars=”4.0″]

There are some GREAT food options in Sayulita, some of our favourites were:

🌮 @yeikame_sayulita
you’re checking this place out the chicken quesadilla is a must try. They use a blue corn tortilla which was a first for Zahn and did not disappoint. We also love the breakfast burritos here, they are a nice, cheap, grab and go for a breakfast on the beach.

🍕 @larusticasayulita
We ordered pizza from here more than we should probably admit but anyone that knows Addison knows that he could eat pepperoni pizza everyday for the rest of his life and be happy but if you want something a little different try the La Rustica pizza (chicken, pineapple, tamarind BBQ and coriander/cilantro, yum).

🌯 @burrito.revolution
Not only are these guys some of the nicest people we’ve met they also make an amazing burrito and sauces I wish I could bottle and take home to put on everything. All of the burritos are good, all of the sauces are good.

🍛 @achara_sayulita
If you get over Mexican and pizza and feel like Thai this please is great. Our favourites here are the Penang (Zahn’s favourite) and the pumpkin fried rice 😋

Things to do [rating stars=”3.0″]

Again, due to Covid-19 a lot was closed while we were but regardless, the main things to do here are beach, eat and drink. Not that we are complaining!

We did also try horse riding, and snorkeling in Sayulita with Mi Chaparrita

Check out more on Sayulita here.

Puerto Vallarta [rating stars=”4.0″]

We fell unexpectedly in love with Puerto Vallarta. Yes there is a very touristy vibe. But once again the people were so lovely and helpful and there’s a whole other side to this place beyond the usual tourist and resort scene.

Cost of Living [rating stars=”4.0″]

Puerto Vallarta was much more affordable than we expected, we were able to get a really rate on our AirBnB which helped.

Wifi [rating stars=”4.0″]

The Wifi was good, although we did have the occasional drop out it was quick enough for us to both make video calls at the same time without a drop in speed.

Food [rating stars=”4.0″]

This was our first real introduction to tacos, oh-em-ge, the tacos! Plus there was such a wide variety of international options and beachside restaurants, you can’t go wrong in Vallarta.

Things to do [rating stars=”4.0″]

Within Puerto Vallarta itself there is plenty of art galleries, shopping and beaches to keep you occupied. There’s also plenty of day trips to do in the area including Mayto, San Sebastián, Talpa de Allende and more! 

Watch more videos from our time in Puerto Vallarta here

Guanajuato City [rating stars=”4.0″]

Guanajuato is one of our top three cities and we wouldn’t hesitate to come back, from the beautiful colourful buildings adorning the hills to the active city squares. Guanajuato is a must see.

Cost of Living [rating stars=”5.0″]

Guanajuato was were we really saw how cheap Mexico could be. We had an incredible 3-story house, with a breath taking view in town for roughly $600 per month. 

Wifi [rating stars=”5.0″]

No complaints here with the internet but as usual we recommend you check with your host.
Download Mbps 19.23, Upload Mbps 6.43

Food [rating stars=”2.0″]

Probably the only downside in Guanajuanto City; the food just wasn’t that good! But, it was very cheap. For example you could order a package breakfast which consists of fresh bread, fruit, coffee, juice and a main dish such as chilaquilles for about $85 pesos 

Things to do [rating stars=”4.0″]

You can’t walk around the streets of Centro Guanajuato without tripping over a beautiful gallery or museum. There’s also mines, tunnels, and mummies to explore. 

San Miguel de Allende [rating stars=”2.0″]

This was our first taste of disappointment in Mexico.  Our experience was seriously tainted by the absolutely atrocious internet speeds and high cost of living.

Cost of Living [rating stars=”2.0″]

Everything in San Miguel felt more expensive, from taxis to activities and everything in between.

Wifi [rating stars=”1.0″]

The wifi did not work at all in our AirBnB. We ended up hotspotting through a Telcel sim card. BUT, there is currently no unlimited data plans in Mexico! That’s what we said. So we had to top-up a couple times a day which was stressful and expensive.

Download 1.66 Mbps , Upload 1.23 Mbps 

Food [rating stars=”5.0″]

Although the food was more expensive than other places in Mexico – it was delicious. The restaurants in downtown San Miguel de Allende were on par with some of the best you’ll find all over the world. Plus, on the other end of the scale there were also fantastic taco and torta stands dotted around the neighbourhoods.

Things to do [rating stars=”4.0″]

San Miguel de Allende is one of those cities that is so beautiful you could happily just walk around and enjoy the sites but there is also plenty of more formal activities including food tours, archeological ruins and museums.

Read about some of our favourite things to do in San Miguel de Allende here

Oaxaca City [rating stars=”4.0″]

Oaxaca is known as one of the gastronomical hubs of Mexico and this city did not disappoint.

We spent a month here in November and could’ve spent many more. We were only able to scratch the surface of what Oaxaca has to offer because of Covid-19 restrictions but we’d gladly come back.

Cost of Living [rating stars=”4.0″]

The cost of living is reasonable in Oaxaca, you can find everything from cheap street food to high-end restaurants. We spent a lot of time dining out to take advantage of the amazing food scene which did push our monthly expenses up but you could easily live here on a budget.

Wifi [rating stars=”5.0″]

Oaxaca was a wifi dream with super fast speeds: Download 63 Mbps, Upload 19.26 Mbps

Food [rating stars=”5.0″]

There’s a really good reason Oaxaca is known for its food. The moles, the memelas, molotes plus the mezcal scene make this a foodies dream. 

Check out our food recommendations for Oaxaca City here

Things to do [rating stars=”5.0″]

Besides eating and drinking there’s plenty to do, and lots of culture in Oaxaca. In fact there are 16 indigenous languages spoken in Oaxaca.

Some of the top things to do are:

  • Visit the daily markets 
  • Go to Monteban 
  • Visit workshops of local artisans

San Cristóbal de Las Casas. [rating stars=”5.0″]

Probably our favourite place in Mexico. This small, colonial city in Chiapas, 2200 meters above sea level is a real treat.

Cost of Living [rating stars=”5.0″]

San Cristobal de las Casas is hands down the cheapest place we’ve lived in Mexico.
See a breakdown of our costs here

Wifi [rating stars=”5.0″]

We stayed in two different houses in San Cristobal and both times the wifi was excellent.
Download 46.69 Mbps, Upload 14.2 Mbps

Food [rating stars=”3.5″]

There are some great food options in San Cristobal de las Casas, all very reasonably priced. You can get a good meal at a nice restaurant for roughly $600 pesos for two people – including drinks!

Things to do [rating stars=”4.0″]

This is another one of those places that’s beautiful you could happily walk around all day and not get bored.

But if that doesn’t sound like you, can can also easily travel to waterfalls, lakes, indigenous villages or even the Palenque ruins.

Check out some of our favourite things to do in San Cristobal de Las Casas here

Merida [rating stars=”3.0″]

Merida was another city we left feeling a little underwhelmed by. The city itself is reasonably large and modern but lacked flavour for us. Most people spoke great English and used that to try and sell us on tours and trinkets, which is normally fine – we are used to it. But, here it came off a little cheesy and people would often follow us as we walked, under the guise of trying to help.

Cost of Living [rating stars=”3.0″]

Although the prices weren’t as high as we were expecting it certainly wasn’t cheap! 

We paid double what we normally would for accommodation, we had a private pool but were in the suburbs and needed to taxi to the city. 

See a full breakdown of what we spent in Merida here

Wifi [rating stars=”2.0″]

We stayed her over the Christmas holiday period and didn’t plan on working so I didn’t check the internet speed but it was not great and dropped out often with frequent power outages.

Another thing to note is that there is free wifi downtown that you can connect to.

Food [rating stars=”3.5″]

Like all modern cities, you get the full range in food options, from street food to fast food and high end restaurants.

While we didn’t find the food bad here it didn’t wow us.

Things to do [rating stars=”4.0″]

In the city itself there’s not a lot to do, there are museums, galleries and churches you can visit. However, the real reason most people visit Merida is for what’s just outside the city. 

There’s a plethora of ruins to visit; thousands of public/private cenotes (swimming holes) + beaches close by.

Playa del Carmen [rating stars=”3.5″]

Playa del Carmen has a reputation as a digital nomad hub and it’s easy to see the appeal, plenty of modern amenities – apartments, restaurants and bars and of course the beautiful weather and beaches. But, we felt a little old here and the found the overall costs too high. 

Cost of Living [rating stars=”3.0″]

The cost of living in Playa del Carmen was significantly higher than other parts of Mexico: food, taxis, and activities were all on the higher end of what we’ve experienced in Mexico. We ended up having to book accomodations quite outside of the city centre to get something we could afford. Taxis back and forth were expensive!

Side note, if you need to take a taxi DO NOT take it from within the tourist zone, you may receive a fare up to 4 or 5 times the price. Just walk a few extra blocks before hailing a cab and save yourself some $$

See a full breakdown of what we spent in Playa del Carmen here

Wifi [rating stars=”5.0″]

Another excellent wifi spot.
Download 64 Mbps, Upload 20 Mbps

Food [rating stars=”4.0″]

We didn’t eat out a lot in Playa del Carmen but what we did eat was pretty average.  

Things to do [rating stars=”5.0″]

There’s a lot going on in Playa del Carmen – a large digital nomad scene to chill; beaches to relax at. We particularly enjoyed getting out of Playa del Carmen and taking trips to nearby Akumal, Isla Mujeres and Cozumel.

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