Laying the Groundwork
I actually began my first “round the world” journey a full year before my departure, when I announced my vision to friends and neighbors at my annual New Year’s party.
During a ritual, each of us shared an important goal. To make our goals more real, we pretended that we had already accomplished or received the thing we wanted. We discussed how it felt, acted it out, made it come alive. A few days later, I pinned a big map of the world to the wall next to my desk. I even bought earrings, fashioned like globes, and wore them to keep me thinking and talking about my trip.
I joined a local travel club of international travelers who met bimonthly in members’ homes to share slides and talk about the regions they visited. We also went around the room for a “check-in period” to give each of us a chance to talk about our travel plans and ask questions. It was encouraging to learn that these women who had traveled solo around the world were just regular folks, not necessarily rich or brilliant, but ordinary people who had chosen to make travel a priority in their lives.
Five months before I left, I decided which countries I wanted to visit. I solicited the names of travel agents/services from other travelers and combed the travel sections of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times for airfare bargains. I also called each of the major airlines for price quotes. After extensive comparison shopping, I could not find a price below $4,000, which was more than I wanted to spend. So I was forced to streamline my trip, finally settling on visiting several U.S. cities, flying to France, traveling by train to and through Switzerland and Italy, by boat to Greece and several Greek Islands, and flying to Egypt, Thailand, Singapore, Bali, and Indonesia.
(This was written in the 90’s – now most of the searches are done online but I still recommend using a consolidator for “round the world” airline tickets).
I ultimately used a ticket brokerage firm (www.airtreks.com) that specialized in round the world (RTW) packages. Depending on your flexibility, you can expect to spend somewhere between $2,500 and $3,500 for a RTW package these days. Those packages let you choose from about 40 to 60 cities but rarely include the less-traveled routes to the South Pacific, the Caribbean, or the hearts of Africa and South America without extra charges. They also generally require travel in one continuous direction, which must be completed within six months to a year. One caution: if you buy your ticket from a “bucket shop” or consolidator, do your homework to make sure they’re legitimate (try to talk with some other clients, for one) and pay by credit card so you can stop payment if your tickets don’t materialize.
Excerpt from “Go Girl! The Black Woman’s Book of Travel & Adventure.”