Our Route Around the World

This is the route we planned to take around the world. It doesn’t include every stop we made, but most of them are shown. The colors of the route represent the mode of transportation. Most of the routes in red were planned far in advance so we had fixed dates where we knew we needed to be.

Our Overland Legs

We couldn’t backtrack all of our surface routes to return to where we landed. Most of our flights were one-way or open-jawed, with many of our long-haul routes between continents using air miles awards. Where possible and to see the most of a continent, we would travel overland using rail or car.

Overland in Southeast Asia included rail travel from Singapore to Chiang Mai, and originally Chiang Mai to Mandalay, but the Myanmar border was said to be sketchy so we went safely by air. And finally a multi-modal trip inside Myanmar, from Mandalay to Bagan by boat down the Irrawaddy River, and from Bagan to Yangon by bus. In China, we traveled by train from Shanghai to Lhasa on the train from hell, and car and train from Northern India to Mumbai.

We used bus, train, and ferry throughout Europe, but didn’t buy a Eurail pass. Buses in Europe are not like those in the U.S. They were efficient, comfortable and had much of the same amenities as the airlines. The buses went directly to places that rail did not. The trains we rode were slow-moving and antiquated, connecting much of East Europe and often not participating in the Eurail pass, passing through boring farmland in Serbia to spectacular scenery in the Slovenian Alps.

In South America, we traveled by bus from Mendoza to Santiago to Valparaiso to San Pedro de Atacama, by Land Cruiser from San Pedro de Atacama through the Uyuni Salt Flats to La Paz and by bus from La Paz to Cusco. We visited St. Petersburg by ship from Finland.

We originally planned to cross the African continent, from south to north, but reliable routes weren’t available in many areas along that route, and driving a rental car across the continent wasn’t an option, so we flew from Capetown to Tanzania, rented a vehicle and did a self-drive safari through the Serengeti. Our plans also originally included a driving trip from Capetown to Namibia, but the rental agency thought they could charge us for a full day when we came to pick up the camper at 5 p.m., so we decided to revisit Stellenbosch instead.

Ancillary Air Travel

Some places weren’t easily accessible using surface routes, or it was quicker, cheaper or safer to travel by air than use overland or sea routes. These destinations required separate airfare not included in our RTW air miles award routes. We did round-trip air (sometimes open-jawed) to New Zealand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Bhutan, Seychelles, Iceland, and Galapagos.

The map shows that we originally were going overland from Tibet to Nepal and onward to India, but the Friendship Highway was closed due to landslides. Instead, we used one-way flights from Tibet to Nepal and Nepal to India. In South Asia, some distances were just too great to go overland, so we flew on local airlines from Mumbai to Goa, Goa to Kerala, Kerala to Sri Lanka, and Sri Lanka to Maldives. All these flights cut days off our travel itinerary, and because we bought our tickets locally, it wasn’t terribly expensive.

In South America we flew the local airlines throughout Brazil—Sao Paulo to Rio, Rio to Manaus, Manaus to Iguazú— and from Iguazú to Buenos Aires to Patagonia, Cusco to Guayaquil, and Guayaquil to Medellín. The last couple of flights were recommended due to the dangers of traveling overland between Peru, Ecuador and Colombia.

Big Loops

Flying into all these different places would probably have been enough to keep us busy, but we decided to also take some extended trips out from our stopover cities. After all, what would an RTW trip be without more adventure.

New Zealand was a large loop from and back to Sydney, Australia. We flew into, but didn’t spend any time in Auckland and then flew to the South Island driving from Blenheim down the West Coast to Queenstown and finally flying back to Sydney to do another big loop. Australia included a big eastern loop via camper van hitting the major East Coast cities, some of the Outback down to Barossa Valley, along the Great Ocean Road to Melbourne and then back to Sydney. 

In Northern Africa, we took the ferry from Spain to Tangier, Morocco and back to Spain by air from Marrakech. In Argentina we drove from El Calafate, Argentina crossing the border to Torres del Paine, Chile and back.

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