The Travel Itinerary for Your Life


You're going where?!?!?!?

It’s no secret that I want to see every country on Earth at least once before I die. With about 200 countries to see, it’s quite the ambition. But it’s important to me that I get this done, so I came up with a rough travel itinerary spanning my lifetime. Hopefully, by sharing this with you you’ll come up with a better and more efficient way to organize your travels too.

The Rough Outline to My Itinerary So Far

I think starting off traveling in Asia works the best. Unless you grew up with parents who took you traveling, you most likely won’t have seen many of these countries. This is perfect for those traveling in their early twenties. Asia is mostly cheap (with a few notable exceptions) so it won’t hurt the budget of anyone who is young.

The only thing that makes the trip expensive is your plane ticket. However, because you’re young and have fewer commitments you can travel for longer periods of time. You’re not likely to be married with kids and you’re at a time before starting your career. This is the perfect time in your life to travel for several months at a time.

Another advantage for traveling through Asia when you’re young has to do with the poor infrastructure there. It’s harder for people to go through these countries so doing it while you’re young makes sense. I’m not suggesting that older people can’t travel through these countries. Of course they can. But the packed buses, intense heat and unsanitary conditions make it difficult.

Using this method, you might not get to see every country in Asia. But that’s okay because there’s so much more of the world to see and you don’t want to stick to just one part. That’s why I moved to a different area of the world for my late twenties. This is the time for Central America.

I picked Central America for this time in my life because it is so close to the United States that getting there is relatively cheap and quick. This makes sense for your late twenties because you may be starting a career and not have as much time to get away for traveling. Plus, costs there are still relatively cheap. It may not be as cheap as Asia, but it is still cheaper than your next nearest option: Europe.

The Rough Life Itinerary to Come

Now that I’m in my early thirties I can travel further than Central America. I have more spending money now that I’m debt free so I can splurge a little more on a plane ticket. Plus, I still have enough youth and vitality to handle harsher travel environments. So for the next several years I plan on traveling mostly to Africa and the Middle East.

By your early thirties, you’ll be more established in your career. Pick the right career and you may even get a longer period of time to travel than the standard two weeks in the United States. For instance, I’m going to be a high school teacher. I’ll be getting three months off every year to dedicate to traveling. My fiance is a nurse and she can take a month off in a row to travel. That’s not enough for her though and she’s planning on becoming a teacher too so we’ll both get three months off each summer together.

By the time I reach my late thirties I will have seen most of Africa, the Middle East, Central America and Asia. This is the time I will start focusing on South America. I think this will be a good place to go in this time period of my life since it is more expensive than anywhere I’ve been before. Plus, the plane tickets there are costlier. By this time, I will have saved up some money and will have more of it to spend traveling.

Coming off Africa and the Middle East, the countries in South America will probably seem easier to travel through too.

Lastly, I will tackle Europe. This is the most expensive area to travel through so I’m going to focus more on it when I’m older and have more money. Plus, the accommodations and infrastructure there are more comfortable. That will make it much easier for me to travel through when I’m older and desire a little bit more comfort while traveling.

Changing Plans as I Go

Obviously the plans I’ve set out here may not reflect reality when I get to those points in my life. In fact I’ll be visiting Europe later this year for my honeymoon. But I think detailing out the travel plans for your life is a good idea if you think seeing a lot of countries in the world is important.

You have to realize that you might not actually make it to all the places you want to see in your life. But by having clear plans for your travels, you’ll at least see a big chunk of the world.

I also realize that some parts of the world deserve my attention much sooner than I planned. Machu Picchu and Easter Island are at the top of my list to see so I’m making plans to see them much sooner in my life. Remember, my lifetime itinerary is a rough plan.

Plus, I didn’t mention covering countries I may miss as I go. For instance, I still have yet to see Indonesia. Despite focusing on my rough plan, I’m still planning on going there. I will get to it, but it will probably be awhile. By the way I didn’t forget about cities I want to see in the U.S. and Canada, I’m planning on spending time here and there to see them too.

The point of this post is to get you to think of all the places you want to see and making the best plans possible for seeing them. Have you listed out every place in the world you want to see? You don’t have to see every country like me, but if you list out all the places you can make the best lifetime itinerary to see everything.
photo credit: Ian Hsu (iandoh)

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  1. I’ve never really thought to plan out trips ahead like this. Most of my travel has come out of school, where I didn’t have a choice, or some friends are going to a destination and ask if we want to go with them. Right now I’ve just seen so little and there is so much I want to see, I am open to all possibilities, but I thinking it out like this would help me make sure I get to some of my most desired locations (including Russia, South Africa, Kenya, and Tanzania) that aren’t high on other peoples must visit lists. Great post!

    • That’s how I first started traveling too. I got to see a lot of places in the US and parts of Canada that way. It’s good to find friends to go along on trips with, but I think it makes your travel planning reliant on others. By planning things out and making your own trips, you’ll go to more of your must-see destinations.

  2. Wow that’s actually a really smart idea! In my mindset I’ve been putting Asia and Africa off for when I’m a little older. I’ve jaunted over to Europe a couple of times and I’ve fallen in love with Central America so I keep going back time and time again.

  3. Wow! You’ve got you’re whole life planned out! I haven’t thought about it that way, since I really don’t mind if I don’t visit every country. I kinda guess my plan has been to prioritize the countries I want to visit, and then go down the list that way. But I like the way you’ve thought about this. Very cool!

  4. great plan steve and getting a carrer that will give you three months off is the cherry on top of it… my career has always given me just 2 weeks of vacation… goodluck man :-)


    dont forget to include philippines in your plan 😉

  5. My plan is just to see the whole of Turkey, If I can throw in a couple of other countries along the way then that is cool. Re planning, I will plan for the next trip and that is it. When that trip is over then I start planning for the next. From experience, I know nothing ever goes to plan in my life!!

  6. I came across your blog via your guest post at yTravelBlog. This lifetime itinerary is such a great idea, and brings up a lot of points about traveling to different countries that I never thought of before – such as infrastructure, comfort levels and times of your life that may work better for certain places. I jumped right into working after graduating from college, but feel the call of world travel more and more each day. I often think about switching gears to become a teacher in order to have big chunks of time to spend abroad. I am lucky that I work for a global company and get a small chance to see a few European countries each year, but traveling for work is never as rewarding as traveling for pleasure and discovery. Good luck to you with your lifetime itinerary and thanks for the motivation to start coming up with my own!
    I hope you’ll stop by my blog, MANIC in The City, for a look at my latest trip to Barcelona and my more often exploration of New York City.

    Thanks! @MANICinTheCity on Twitter.

    • Thanks for your comment, Allison Joy. I’m glad I gave you some motivation.

      You really are lucky to have a job that sends you to other countries. I’ve had one position where there was a possibility of sending me to Shanghai since we had an office there, but it never materialized. I’ve heard it isn’t as good as regular travel, but I would enjoy it as best as you can.

  7. So what happens if I am in my mid thirties, I have a wife and kids, and I still haven’t seen Asia? Is there a follow up to this to address people like me? :)

    I think the more I read, the more interest I have in places I may not have otherwise thought to visit. That’s a good thing. However, I don’t have a desire to see everywhere but I think we all have different tastes in travel. And that’s a good thing or else there would be long lines and crowds in all of my favorite places! :)

    • Hey Jeremy, if Asia is a place you really want to see than I would save up your vacation time and money and take a trip there. If you only get two weeks off, your plane ride will cut into your time there, but it still would be worth it. Another option would be to hold off going there until the kids are out on their own.

      I did see several families in Asia traveling, but not as many as in Central America. I saw a lot of families traveling there, especially Costa Rica.

  8. I can’t believe you have your life travel plans mapped out. That’s determination! :)
    Our travel plans tend to be based around other events. For instance, we might be going to visit friends in Italy in September so rather than just fly there, we’ll do a rail/road trip and take in some more countries along the way. It’ll be haphazard. I guess that means seeing the whole world is not that important to us. We just make the most of the small amounts of travelling we do.

  9. Azzie Ashkettle says:

    Fascinating the way you think concerning The Travel Itinerary for Your Life. brbr The one thing i actually might think is when you plan to do it in this manner you may need prepared to complete the effort. brbr You know this isn’t going to be prevalent since folks are terribly slack nowadays.

  10. This may sound anti-travel, but I’m really not interested in seeing every country on earth. Russia holds no appeal (I’ve already lived in and seen some of the former Eastern bloc and didn’t find it so great) and Antarctica doesn’t really hold much interest for me. I still need to get to Central and South America, which I am quite interested in. I like to spend a lot of time in one location, so it’s a little hard to travel everywhere, unless I were to spend years and years traveling around, which I don’t want to do. I think you’re right that Asia is the perfect place to start because it is just so cheap, plus there are tons of Westerners here to help out if an inexperienced traveler has any trouble.

  11. Hey,
    Just stumbled on this site now (through reading some comments from curiousworldtraveler’s blog) and it’s looking pretty great!
    I like your plan, but I’m actually doing exactly the opposite. I started out in Canada where I grew up, then did some North Africa, currently working on the Middle East, then going to Asia for the summer, then it’s Europe sometime between fall of this year and summer of next year, cuz I’ll also be starting grad school there in the fall. Hopefully South America, and the rest of the world will follow :)

    Keep writing!

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