In March of 2019, I quit my job, packed a couple of carry-on bags, and took a one-way flight to Auckland, New Zealand to begin my around the world itinerary.
Over the course of the next 375 days, I traveled to 20 countries and countless cities in 6 continents. I put together this post to walk you through the exact route, and how it all came together the way it did.
Whether, you are just interested in reading along, or you would like to put together an around the world itinerary for yourself, I hope this can inspire you!
1) Around the World Itinerary Overview
I knew from early on in my career that travel was a very important aspect of my life. I didn’t know at the time though, that I would have it in me to quit my safe corporate job of 6 years and travel for an extended period of time.
Instead of taking those few 10-day vacations and always looking forward to just taking that next trip, I thought a full year of solo travel would be the right move for me. I could visit places that would have taken years for me to get to, and challenge myself consistently along the way.
So, on March 13 2019, I hopped on a flight from JFK to LAX and then onwards to Auckland, New Zealand (essentially as far as one can get!). Over the course of the next 12 months, I got to experience some of the best travel moments of my life.
Whether it was meeting locals, exploring cities, hiking high into the mountains, trying new foods, engraining myself in new cultures, or hanging out with like-minded travelers. The one year of travel ended up being the best decision of my life, and one of the reasons, this site came to be.
Around the World Stats
2) Travel Considerations
As I planned the trip, there were a few “main” aspects that I was sure to plan the trip around. These included – weather, local holidays for & peak seasons, logistics, among a few other considerations.
Probably the most important aspect of the around the world itinerary, was making sure I was visiting countries during the best time of year from a weather standpoint. I did not want to go through all of this, just to visit countries when it was rainy season or when I couldn’t take part of certain activities.
For example, I made sure to visit Nepal during November when the weather was at its clearest (but quite cold) and there was little risk of rain and clouds ruining the trekking views. I made my way to the Philippines at the tail end of the dry season and Costa Rica at the beginning of their dry season.
At the end of the day, it was all about being able to fully enjoy my time in each place on a day to day basis and not have constant days where the weather wouldn’t allow me to do anything.
With that said, the weather is unpredictable and you never know what it can bring (no matter how much you plan). There were certainly days I was completely rained out of doing anything, and times where I had to move things around last minute to circumvent the weather.
But by initially planning the trip to avoid poorer weather conditions, I feel as I was really able to get the most out of the journey.
Local Holidays & Seasons
Another thing that I considered is to avoid traveling to countries during the local’s national holidays. While dealing with tourists is one thing, dealing with a whole country traveling at the same time is another.
This isn’t across every country out there of course, but for some countries during these holiday times, many locals decide to travel for themselves. This results in less availability for hotels and more expensive prices altogether. A couple that come to mind are Golden Week in Japan and Holy Week in the Philippines.
I will caveat that with saying, sometimes it can be a great experience to take part of certain local celebrations if that is what is of interest to you.
In addition to holidays, I also tried to avoid peak season when most tourists are traveling to a certain destination. Now, this is certainly not avoidable if traveling for a year, but it can help to steer clear of some places during those peak seasons.
Instead, I tried to visit places during shoulder seasons, as the weather is great but just less people are traveling to these places. At the end of the day it is just picking and choosing what works best.
The last main consideration when planning the trip was the logistics side of things. I just wanted to be sure that there was an easy way to get between city A and city B. Whether that be a plane, boat, train or bus, I just didn’t want to put myself in the position where I would have to go drastically out of my way to continue on with the next city or country.
To the best of my abilities, I attempted to book direct flights when possible. I remember in the Philippines for example, there were not direct flights between certain islands or they were not operating every day of the week. I had to put the itinerary together so I was not wasting full days just to get between two islands.
If I was renting a car, and I was taking a one way route through a country (such as Austria), I had to be certain that I could pick up and drop off the car in two separate locations without a hefty fee.
With that said though, there were certainly times where I had to compromise with logistics. If I really wanted to travel somewhere but it would take days of traveling, I had to be fine with that. It all becomes a balance between everything.
Also considered in the travel planning was the flexibility and having time to just unwind without anything planned. While I put together a list of countries and things I wanted to do in each country, I never had it written out to a tee.
I consistently moved things around as I went and sometimes did not even have a set date to leave a country I was in. Having that flexibility helped big time when things didn’t go 100% according to plan.
I also wanted to be sure that I had time to just rest and recover. For the majority of the trip I was out and about from morning until night. All of that traveling can take a toll on the body. So, you will see times in the itinerary where I may have stayed longer than one may expect just to have time to do nothing and all.
When I combined the weather, holidays, and logistics, an itinerary began to form that I continuously worked on for months leading up to the trip.
→ Learn more: check out the planning a trip around the world and around the world cost guides for many more considerations when putting together an itinerary, as well as my around the world packing list
With that said though, there were some things that I had to plan around, making this around the world trip a bit more difficult to plan out than initially expected. See the next section for more on that…
3) What I Planned Around
Now, the around the world itinerary didn’t come without any hitches. There were a few things that came up which altered my initial travel planning.
Timing is never perfect to take a full year off from your friends and family. And there were certain events that I just had to come back for. Due to this, you will see a bit of interesting travel plans that the trip goes through.
» I spent October of 2019 back in the US as I had weddings to attend of close friends. Due to this I ended up staying the month back in the US before heading out again (and did get to visit NYC, Philadelphia and Chicago during my time back). Then again in December 2019, I came back again, but this time just for a quick weekend.
» On top of that, my trip was originally going to be closer to 15 months of travel. As we all know though, Covid started to ramp up in March of 2020. The end of my trip was a bit hectic trying to figure out where to go and what to do. But on March 20, 2020 I ended up taking one of the final flights out of South Africa before the world went into lockdown.
4) Around the World Itinerary Details
From start to finish the trip lasted 375 days with 329 days outside of the country. Over the course of those 375 days I visited 6 continents, 20 countries, and upwards of 100 cities. I ended up splitting out my trip in five phases:
Phase 1: NZ/AU/Asia
Phase 2: Middle East / Europe
Phase 3*: Nepal
Phase 4: Central and South America
Phase 5: Asia/Africa -> cut short
→ *I returned home before/after I traveled to Nepal
Below is the country by country route I took along with the number of days (including days to travel to them). Throughout the remainder of the post I will go into detail about where I decided to travel to in each country.
Country #1: New Zealand (29 days)
Country #2: Japan (12 days)
Country #3: South Korea (11 days)
Country #4: Philippines (20 days)
Country #5: Indonesia (30 days)
Country #6: Australia (21 days)
Country #7: Singapore (4 days)
Country #8: Israel (17 days)
Country #9: Jordan (4 days)
Country #10: Austria (10 days)
Country #11: Germany (6 days)
Country #12: Slovenia (11 days)
Country #13: Croatia (15 days)
Country #14: Montenegro (10 days)
Country #15: Nepal (26 days)
Country #16: Belize (17 days)
Country #17: Costa Rica (24 days)
Country #18: Argentina (21 days)
Country #19: Chile (11 days)
Country #20: Sri Lanka (24 days)
Bonus: South Africa for 5 days until I had to take an emergency flight back home on my final day
Some of my travel plans would not necessarily look efficient on paper (Chile to Sri Lanka for example). However, given I did need to make some stops back in the US as I spoke about earlier, and with Covid ending the trip early, the trip doesn’t always make perfect sense without knowing the details.
You can see that I did spend quite a bit of time in many of these countries (24 days in Costa Rica). Like I said, when planning the trip, I did not want to rush myself in a country. I wanted to truly enjoy all different aspects of where I was. I also wanted to be sure to have enough “rest” days, to just spend time to regroup and reset before continuing on.
You may find many itineraries out there that visit double the amount of countries in the same time period. But at the end of the day, each person has their own travel style and what they want to accomplish on a trip like this.
For me, it was seeing the world at my pace and really engraining myself in each country I visited.
5) Around the World Itinerary Map
Below is a map of each and every place I visited all along the year long journey. You not only can see the cities I visited, but you can also see nearly every attraction I got to visit along the way. Feel free to zoom in for more details!
6) 1 Year Around the World Itinerary
With that all said, below is a breakdown of each country along with the main cities/attractions I got to enjoy along the way.
New Zealand (March 13 – April 10)
After spending a night in Auckland, I grabbed a rental car, and then began the journey from north to south. Along the way I was able to visit the following places:
* As I was making my way down the western coast of the South Island, a major storm caused mudslides and a collapsed bridge. I ended up missing out on Franz Josef and had to spend a day driving around the island to Wanaka. Always good to have the flexibility to change things on the fly!
Japan (April 11 – April 22)
From Christchurch, I hopped on a flight to Tokyo via Brisbane. After a full day of travel, I arrived to Tokyo, where started my 12 days through Japan.
Since this was my second time in Japan, I did not spend as long as I might have if it was my first time. While I certainly went to some of the same places from my initial trip, I did not go back to places like Kobe, Hiroshima, Miyajima and Osaka.
However, I did get to visit a bunch of new places as well, and took the following journey through Japan:
South Korea (April 23 – May 3)
It was then off to South Korea as I flew directly from Osaka to Jeju Island. Over the course of the next 10 days or so, I visited three beautiful places in the country:
• Jeju Island
Philippines (May 4 – May 23)
After a successful time around South Korea, it was then onto the Philippines. It was all about the beaches, water, and island life during this portion of the trip.
As the rainy season starts in June, I got there just in time to fully enjoy the experience. Besides a few nighttime rain showers, it was all clear to enjoy some time in the sun. I ended up spending time in 4 different islands for around 4-5 days each.
Logistics were important here as it can get quite tricky to travel around the country. With a combinations of boats and direct flights, I ended up visiting these places:
• El Nido
Indonesia (May 24 – June 22)
You are only allowed to visit Indonesia for 30 days without getting a longer term visa, so that is exactly what I decided to do. I spent a full month exploring the country visiting many places along the way.
While 30 days does sound like a long time, Indonesia is a massive country. I can honestly spend a year traveling around the country and still have things to do. But during my month there I started on the island of Java and then got to visit:
From Komodo, it was then a quick flight back to Bali, where I headed off to Australia for the next portion of my trip.
Australia (June 23 – July 12)
Australia was one country, where it was a bit tougher to pick a time of year that worked weather wise for various cities around the country. I could have gone right after New Zealand but found some of the logistics a bit too difficult to manage.
Either way though, while I did not have the beach weather for Sydney, all else went great in the cities further up north. Below were the places I traveled to during my few weeks in Australia:
Singapore (July 13 – July 16)
From Alice Springs I took a flight over to Perth for a quick layover before heading off to Singapore. I decided to split Singapore into two parts. The first couple days I would spend sightseeing all around the city. For the second two days, I opted for a bit of relaxing and treated myself to two nights at the Marina Bay Sands hotel.
Overall, the four days in Singapore ended up great and got me ready for the next leg of my trip as I traveled all the way to Israel.
Israel & Jordan (July 17 – August 2)
When visiting Israel, I knew that I wanted to spend a few days in Jordan visiting a couple of the top sites. So, I ended up traveling around Israel for 10 days, and then ended up in Eilat. From Eilat, I traveled into Jordan for 4 days and then re-entered Israel, where I spent another week.
While I could have figured out the logistics to be a bit more favorable, the three weeks between Israel and Jordan ended up something like this:
• Ein Gedi / Masada
• Dead Sea
• Mitzpe Ramon
• Wadi Rum
• Tel Aviv
* After visiting Jordan, I crossed back into Eilat, rented a car and drove all the way north to Haifa. I spent a few days exploring the northern coast and ended the trip in Tel Aviv for a few days of beach time.
Austria & Germany (August 8 – August 23)
After taking a flight from Tel Aviv to Vienna, I spent the next 2+ weeks driving my way through Austria and the Bavaria region of Germany. I spent time in cities and out in the mountains, while visiting several places along the way:
This is also a time where the weather did not always go according to plan. It was nice to have some extra days here in order to wait out the couple days of poor weather and then get up into the mountains.
Slovenia (August 24 – September 3)
From Mayrhofen, I took the quick drive to Innsbruck, dropped off my rental car and then took a train over to Ljubljana. I spent the next 10+ days driving around Slovenia and enjoying all different aspects of the country including:
Croatia (September 4 – September 18)
A quick train from Ljubljana to Zagreb and it was then time to explore Croatia for two weeks. I opted against renting a car here and just made my way around the country using busses and ferries. Along the way I got to visit:
Montenegro (September 19 – September 28)
Montenegro was the last country on the first portion of my trip around the world. I took a bus from Dubrovnik to Kotor and then rented a car for the next 10 days. During those days I made my way to a few different places:
• Durmitor National Park
• Lake Skadar
• Sveti Stefan
My last night of the 200th day of my trip was spent in the small coastal town of Sveti Stefan, where I got to enjoy one last sunset before making my way back to the US for the next month.
After heading to a couple of weddings and traveling to cities like NYC, Philadelphia and Chicago, I then made the round trip journey to Nepal. Here is where I took part of the Three Passes Trek + Everest Base Camp.
Nepal (November 11 – December 6)
Visiting the Himalayas had been a life dream of mine, and during this around the world trip, I finally got to experience some time there. I decided to go for the Three Passes Trek, which is essentially a longer version of the standard Everest Base Camp trek.
After three weeks of trekking, I had a few days of relaxing in Kathmandu before heading back for a quick weekend in NYC.
Belize (December 10 – 27)
It was then time to explore some of Central and South America, as I headed from New York down to Belize. During my time in Belize I spent several days scuba diving, visiting the inland of the country, and finishing up at the beach.
Technically I actually went to another country during the trip as I also did make the quick one night journey to Tikal in Guatemala. Overall, the trip to Belize (and Guatemala) looked like this:
• Ambergris Caye
• Caye Caulker
• San Ignacio
• Cockscomb Basin
Costa Rica (December 28 – January 19)
It was then off to Costa Rica, where I got to spend 3+ weeks traveling to all different parts of the country. It was a great mixture between volcanoes, rainforests, wildlife, hiking, and beaches as I visited the following places:
*The plan was to visit the Caribbean coast for the final few days of the trip around Puerto Viejo. However, the weather had different plans. So, I decided to just spend a few days in San Jose, rest and recover there before heading off to Patagonia for the next month of hiking.
Argentina (January 20 – February 9)
While I did spend a day in Buenos Aires, the main aspect of this portion of the trip was to hike my way through Patagonia. While, I did visit during what is considered one of the best times of year to go from a weather perspective, I still knew the risk of the Patagonian weather.
One day can be nice and sunny, while the next day could be a complete snowstorm (yes even in their summer months!). I mean, I even had a day when it was sunny and snowing at the same time.
Knowing the unpredictability of the weather, I decided to always give myself extra days in each one of the places I visited. This way if the weather did not cooperate for a day or two, I still would be able to enjoy my time there.
And for the most part, that is exactly what happened. Half the time I was in El Chalten, the weather made hiking impossible. A couple days in El Calafate by the Perito Merino Glacier were completely clouded over. But since I planned to have more days than necessary, it all worked out pretty well in the end as I visited these regions:
Chile (February 10 – February 20)
From El Chalten, I bussed back to El Calafate, and then took a bus ride over to Puerto Natales in Chile. From there began the O Circuit Trek in Torres Del Paine National Park (an extended version of the famous W Trek).
This was actually one portion of Patagonia, where I could not just add on more days for a weather buffer. Since I needed to book the accommodation in the park well in advance, I was locked into my days.
Although the weather was not perfect for some of the days on the trail, it was more than suitable for some trekking. Some top highlights included the Grey Glacier, French Valley, and Mirador Las Torres.
After 8 days of hiking the “O”, I made my way back to Puerto Natales and flew to Santiago to end my time in Chile.
Sri Lanka (February 21 – March 15)
It was then across the world to Sri Lanka, where I got to see the ins and outs of the country for the next three weeks. Yes, I know not the best flight plan, but I planned to spend the next several months in Asia/Africa. Along the way I got to experience a little bit of everything including:
• Dalhousie / Adam’s Peak
• Nuwara Eliya
• Yala & Udawalawe Safaris
And here is where things just started to get a bit crazy. We are talking March of 2020 as the world began to turn upside down. The remainder of my trip I was supposed to go to China (quickly got nixed), India, South Africa and Namibia.
I soon realized though, that traveling was no longer an option. After deciding to go to South Africa, I just lasted a few days in Cape Town, before taking one of the last flights out of the country back to the US. It wasn’t the way I wanted to end it, but I still did get to travel around the world for a year.
But now I have written a ton about the countries I visited before, during and after the trip around the world. I hope you find the itineraries and travel guides up on the site helpful!
If you have any questions or comments about any of it, just feel free to comment down below. Have fun out there and safe travels!