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The Things We Did Right On Our RTW Trip

The Things We Did Right On Our RTW Trip

As you’re probably aware, the two of us are back home in Melbourne, Australia after our whirlwind adventure around the world.

We made a lot of mistakes while we were away but fortunately we also got a lot of things right as well. Here are ten things we did right during nearly 5 months on the road.

We kept our plans as flexible as possible.

Niagara Falls

By not having set plans, we were able to see things that weren’t in our original itinerary. We spent a few days at the spectacular Niagara Falls when we had a few days to spare between Chicago and New York City and went on a spontaneous road trip of the Scottish Highlands.

These were just a couple of the experiences that arose from our flexibility – there were plenty more!

We spent money on experiences.

Beluga Whale Interaction

We know that many budget travelers sacrifice experiences while traveling because they’re “too expensive” or “don’t fit the budget”. We are the complete opposite and believe in seizing every opportunity that presents itself to us.

For example, our Beluga Whale Interaction at SeaWorld may have cost $278 (plus $80 for a hire car) but it still remains the highlight of our entire trip and will be a lifelong memory.

If you really want to do something while traveling, just do it. Forget the expense.

We chased value rather than the cheapest option.

MGM Grand Signature - only slightly more expensive than a room at the Luxor but much better value!

People often think we’re “budget travelers” but the truth is we’re not – our main objective is searching for value. When looking for accommodation, we never went with the cheapest option.

Many travelers often choose the cheapest accommodation they can find and immediately regret their decision – they’re usually too far away from where they need to be or are stuck in a dodgy neighborhood. For the two of us, we’d much rather spend $100 on a good hotel than $60 on something that would potentially ruin our experience in a city.

We used Priceline to save big on accommodation.

Cheap rooms at the Hyatt Regency Newport Beach

Before we departed on our trip, we had heard of Priceline but never used it. By the time we finished, Priceline was the first thing we checked when searching for accommodation and it enabled us to find great value right across the USA.

The first time we had success with Priceline was on our California Road Trip where we scored a room at the Hyatt Regency in Newport Beach for $46/night plus taxes and fees. We used it many more times during our journey and not just in the US, scoring a last-minute room at a nice hotel in Amsterdam when most other accommodation providers were booked out.

We occasionally splurged on accommodation.

Oakhill Apartments Edinburgh

Our accommodation budget was around $100/night but sometimes it made sense to spend a little more for comfort and luxury. After an 11-hour overnight bus ride from London to Edinburgh (saving us paying for a night of accommodation), we forked out nearly $150 for a luxury apartment in Scotland’s Capital city instead of staying in a windowless Tune Hotel room for half the price.

Easily one of the best decisions we made – we cooked ourselves a delicious dinner, watched cable TV and enjoyed a fantastic night of sleep after a day of exploration!

We attended the World Travel Market in London.

How many of these travel bloggers can you name?

It was a coincidence that our visit to London happened at the same time as World Travel Market but as soon as we found out, we registered to attend this trade show as media.

We networked with tourism boards from all around the world (hopefully creating some opportunities for us later in the year), met some of our favorite fellow travel bloggers (can you name any from the photo above?!) and spotted celebrities such as Dannii Minogue, Brian Lara and the future King of Spain.

If you’re a blogger and can make it to WTM London in 2012, we highly recommend it!

We spent time with family and friends abroad.

Drinks with friends in Manchester

If you have family and friends living abroad, go out of your way to catch up with them. We got to visit West Point Academy in New York with Amy’s uncle, caught up for a pub meal with Amy’s cousin in Covent Garden, London and met up with some friends in Manchester for a fun night out.

It makes you feel that much closer to home (despite the physical distance) and it’s great to spend time with people who you haven’t seen for a long period!

We visited Iceland.

Hallgrímskirkja Church of Iceland

We had our flights booked to Iceland before we departed on our journey and the typical response we received from friends in Australia was “why the hell are you going there?”. At first we were going because it was a unique destination and broke up the flight between New York and London, but little did we know that it would become our favorite destination on our journey!

We packed all of the power adapters (except one!).

All of our gadgets that needed charging!

Up until the last two weeks of our trip, we hadn’t purchased a single power adapter as we had packed all of the necessary plugs in our packs. Arriving at a new destination and not being able to charge up all of your devices has got to be one of the most frustrating feelings a traveler can experience!

Unfortunately once we arrived in Belgium/France we realized we didn’t have that adapter (it looks the same as the other European plug!).

But we’re still claiming this as something we did right for 90% of our trip.

We started a travel blog!

Amy and Sheryll in Beverly Hills

This is by far the best thing we ever did before our round-the-world trip. Not only did we have a way to share all of our adventures with the people closest to us, this blog also opened up a plethora of opportunities that we wouldn’t have otherwise had.

But the best part of having a travel blog? The people we met because of Don’t Ever Look Back! We won’t name all of the fabulous people we hung out in the second half of 2012 (there are so many of you!) with but thanks to all of you for creating some of our favorite memories on our journey.

If you’re planning any kind of extended travel adventure, start a travel blog now!

38 Comments

  1. Posted January 8, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    Awh it looks like you guys had the perfect trip! Can’t believe it was a year ago you were planning it. I can definitely take some tips from this post. I never knew Priceline was actually that helpful.
    Bobbi Lee Hitchon recently posted..Sound to sound fact 10: Nevis bungy

    • Posted January 8, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

      It was a fantastic trip, definitely something we’ll remember forever. But there’s still so much to see so hopefully it won’t be too long before we’re on the road again.

      Priceline is fantastic – head over to the forums at http://www.betterbidding.com/ where you can find out past winning bids and the hotels so you can truly find a bargain.

  2. BPS
    Posted January 8, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    Wow, congrats on the trip. This post somewhat sparks an idea of an Asian trip for me. But not this year. Goodluck on your future travels

    • Posted January 8, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

      Thanks. We’re hoping to do an Asian trip at some point this year but time will tell whether we can make it happen… hope you get to travel somewhere in 2012!

  3. Posted January 8, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    Totally agree on being willing to splurge on experiences. I remember freaking out over the cost of paragliding and canyoning (and hot-air ballooning, and skydiving, and swimming with sea lions)–but each of those has been an absolute highlight of my trips, and they were things that I honestly couldn’t do (with the same outcome!) anywhere else. Also, Iceland! Totally hoping to get there–had a friend who played semi-professional soccer for a summer there and she just had the most amazing time. Glad you enjoyed your trip and can’t wait to see what’s next!
    Christine recently posted..The adventures of Xtreme Xtine

    • Posted January 8, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

      Exactly! We were determined to end our journey without ever thinking “oh, I wish I did ____ in ____” and I think for the most part we succeeded. Those once-in-a-lifetime experiences should never be skipped.

      Very cool your friend got to stay in Iceland for an extended period, we would love to spend a month or two there if the opportunity ever popped up! Hopefully you can make it there sooner rather than later.

  4. Posted January 8, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Amy & Kieron, congratulations on the success of your RTW!
    fotoeins | Henry recently posted..25000th photo in Vancouver

    • Posted January 8, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Henry! Enjoy your RTW and the next few months in North America!

  5. Posted January 8, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    Totally agree on the accomm choices and doing the things you really want, regardless of the cost…otherwise you miss out on some great things, or spend too much time hating where you are staying and spending more money on commuting back to where you want to be. The costs all balance out in the end…and if they don’t, you’ve done something amazing in return! Good tips!
    Tash recently posted..Sydney Test ’12

    • Posted January 8, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

      Exactly! We would rather travel for 100 days and do all of the things we wanted to do rather than travel for 300 days and have big regrets at the end of it.

      Thanks for commenting and following along, very jealous you got to be at the SCG in the last few days!

  6. Posted January 8, 2012 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    How funny. Q & I was thinking about this same kind of idea for just NZ alone. Things we did right and can’t wait to see how many more things we did wrong. Oh the joy of the unforeseeable future. Looking forward to seeing you guys in Melbourne! We caught a hostel up in West Melbourne, hope that neighborhood is OK.
    Gerard ~ GQ trippin recently posted..RTW: G’s Packing List

    • Posted January 8, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

      Definitely do a post like this about NZ – the best way for people to learn is from others successes and mistakes. Next up is the things we did wrong on our RTW and there are quite a few!

      Looking forward to catching up with you guys too… good news is that we now have a car so we’ll definitely be able to show you a bit of Victoria outside of the city! It should be an alright neighborhood so long as you’re not too far out of the CBD.

  7. Posted January 8, 2012 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    Great Job you guys,I’ve been reading your blog from the beginning and your trip seemed to have gone so fast.I’ve been traveling for over 50 years keep it up you will never get tried of it and there’s always places to see.I’m leaving Vegas for San Fran. tomorrow meeting my brother then flying to Hong Kong the next day.After a day in HK off to Clark in the Philippines where I have all me medical, dental needs glasses for myself and friends that are sick of paying 300.00 for a pair of 5.00 glasses from the Philippines.Then its off to Kota Kinabalu Sabah Malaysia my all time favorite place for 1 month. Has the best Jungle hikes white water river rafting climb Mt Kinabalu for the 1st time. Animals in the wild,small islands to go to.After that I’m not sure but thinking of going to Singapore and taking the train to Bangkok. Then over to Cambodia and Vietnam.My only advice is try to find a friend that works for a major airline and will give you buddy passes.My flight from SF to HK 1st class will cost me about 300.00 and is listed on United for 12500.00 great savings.Priceline is great and asianrooms in asia has great deals.I’ve stayed at Tune Hotels and you can’t beat the price I pay about 15.00 a night with added air cond and internet in Malaysia.They really have 5 star beds and showers but a very small room good for 1 or 2 people. Goodd luck to you guys in all your future plans Ken

    • Posted January 9, 2012 at 12:45 am | Permalink

      Thanks Ken, our trip definitely flew by but there is still plenty more travel to come! Sounds like you’ve got some very exciting plans on the horizon, we can’t wait to go to Kota Kinabalu – good luck for the climb, I’m sure you’ll be fine.

      Very jealous of you flying at the pointy end of the plane, that’s one of our bucket list items. Must find ourselves a friend who works with an airline!

      Tune Hotels really are great value but although understandable, we hate how strict they are with their check-in time. The morning we arrived in Edinburgh it was around 8am and we certainly didn’t feel like sitting around for half a day waiting to get into a tiny room!

  8. Posted January 9, 2012 at 5:56 am | Permalink

    You two are getting me so excited to go to Iceland! Hopefully this August :) I was originally just going to have a quick stopover there before getting to London, but now I am definitely thinking a week stopover is absolutely necessary. You guys definitely helped convince me that I NEED to go to Iceland.

    Also, just out of curiosity and being Canadian (and going to Niagara Falls SO many times), which side of the falls did you visit? Canadian or American?

    Keep up the good work!
    Kristy recently posted..Tattoos in Thailand

    • Posted January 9, 2012 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      If you can stopover there for a week, definitely do it! As we mentioned, it was easily our favorite place on our RTW trip and I’m sure that it will be right up there for you as well.

      We visited the American side, but Amy walked across the bridge to the Canadian side to take some photos. Hopefully next time (when Kieron’s visa issues are sorted), we can head over to the north side and spend some time there.

  9. Posted January 9, 2012 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Glad you guys made it safe and sound!

    And I think the whole “value for your money” is an important point. Sometimes it’s not worth the shitty, cheap hostel if it means no sleep and cockroaches in your room.
    Candice recently posted..Photos of Me Riding Things

    • Posted January 9, 2012 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      If only we had a way of words like you Candice – that sums up our attitude perfectly!

  10. Posted January 9, 2012 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Great tips, especially the spending money on experiences one. Whenever I’ve splurged on experiences I wanted to do I never regretted it.
    Alouise recently posted..Road Trip Memories 16 – Beaver, Utah

    • Posted January 9, 2012 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      Precisely! You’ll never ever regret doing what makes you happy, even if it does involve spending a bit of money.

  11. Posted January 10, 2012 at 12:45 am | Permalink

    Totally agree that your trip was a success when reading your blog. Hopefully see you on the road again soon.
    Cole @ Four Jandals recently posted..Review: 10 Day Egypt Explorer Tour with Expat Explore

  12. Posted January 10, 2012 at 3:07 am | Permalink

    Wait, wait, wait! You can’t go home yet! I just discovered your wonderful blog about a month ago and now it’s over? Oh no…you two get up and get moving again. You know you have to — once you get travel-lust you can never stop. I’m glad you’ve had the wonderful experiences you did.
    Jim @NeverStopTravel recently posted..New York’s Christmas and New Year’s Season

    • Posted January 10, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

      Haha don’t worry Jim, we’ve still got plenty more great stories to share and plan on doing a lot of exploring of our own backyard as well. We’ll certainly never stop traveling, it’s just a matter of generating the necessary funds to get up and go again!

  13. Posted January 10, 2012 at 3:30 am | Permalink

    All the cool kids know that Iceland is the place to be :)
    Scott – QuirkyTravel recently posted..Where to see alligators in the Everglades

  14. Posted January 10, 2012 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    Amen to that! Whether a blog is ‘successful’ or not, it really can bring about amazing opportunities and you can meet the most incredible of people…I saw a glimpse of it last year but 2012 is going to be the year of the bloggers that I make friends with =)
    Toni recently posted..Learning to say goodbye

    • Posted January 10, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

      Exactly! It’s all about the experiences and the people which we know you believe as well. All the best for 2012, hopefully we’ll be able to get together somewhere this year and have a few drinks!

  15. Posted January 10, 2012 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    I love that you two have pursued activities that cost money for the experience! Everyone has different budget priorities, and for me, I’m willing to eat well on the road even if that means I have to watch costs elsewhere. Good for you! I’m especially impressed with how long you were able to travel in the US with the more expensive accommodation.
    Heather recently posted..2012 and the Daydream Believer

    • Posted January 10, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

      I really wish we stuck to eating better but unfortunately that was the first expense we cut when trying to save money (preferred to spend it on the experiences!). Yeah we probably spent a little too long in the US but shall explain more in the next post.

  16. Posted January 10, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    I can’t believe your trip is already over! It seems like just yesterday that you two left. Congrats, though!

    And let me just say that I LOVE your travel style. I completely agree that you should always spend money on the experiences you want to have, and to search for value rather than the cheapest deal.
    Amanda recently posted..Photo Essay: An Afternoon on Parliament Hill

    • Posted January 10, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

      We can’t believe it either – the time definitely flew by but it was one hell of an adventure and hopefully more travel is not too far away.

      Thanks! Too often we’ve seen budget travelers who refuse to do something because it’s too expensive but we think that’s ridiculous. You never know when or even if you’ll have that chance again so live life while you can!

  17. Posted January 11, 2012 at 2:53 am | Permalink

    We always try to use Priceline, too! It saves you a LOT of money! My mom is a “pro” bidder on car rentals and hotel rooms! :)
    Claire recently posted..Excitement at Buckingham Palace

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 8:49 am | Permalink

      We can only imagine how much we saved – guessing it would have been well over $1000! Never had any luck with car rentals though. Your mom should definitely guest post on your blog with some tips! ;)

  18. Posted January 11, 2012 at 5:58 am | Permalink

    I’m planning to leave my American life with a 9-5 job during early summer 2012 and started a travel blog. I guess sometimes it doesn’t feel like something I should keep up but I’m hoping that once I get closer to leaving it will bring more interest. What tips do you have for people who want to have a meaningful travel blog?
    Heather recently posted..The 15 Day Travel Challenge: Day 13

    • Posted January 11, 2012 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      Hey Heather, we could write pages on this but our biggest advice would just be yourself. People follow people, not the blog itself. Also start getting active on social media and connecting with other bloggers/travelers, particularly on Twitter – it’s a great way to create awareness of your blog and also make some meaningful contacts.

      We’ve been getting asked this question a lot over the last few weeks and plan on writing a post about it sometime in the near future. Stay tuned! :)

  19. Posted January 19, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Looks like an amazing trip! Maybe we will bump into each other in Melbourne when I am back down that way!
    Jade – OurOyster.com recently posted..Best of/Worst of Travel in 2011

  20. Posted October 9, 2013 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Amazing job on sourcing fantastic, affordable accommodation. When travelling long term, budget is often a major factor and I am so impressed by your Priceline finds, your willingness to splurge on amazing experiences and to make the choices that are right for you, regardless of any other opinions!
    [email protected] recently posted..JORDAN: Why I’d Prefer to Forget Visiting the Dead Sea, Jordan

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