Should you hire a tour operator for your vacation?


This is where you really need to do your research.

I prefer to book trips all on our own. We haven’t used tour companies to plan out the trips for us. This is because we like to be on our own and because we like to spend a minimum of 3-4 days in each city that we travel to. And, because we are pretty good at planning! But that isn’t for everyone…

You might consider booking a tour that will take care of everything for you. The tour operator may book your flights, coordinate your transportation, book your hotels, tell you where to eat, what cities to visit, plan activities and have local guides for attractions. Some people love traveling this way.  These tours might be especially good options for inexperienced travelers, people who want to visit many cities in a short period of time, single travelers or people who don’t enjoy the planning process.

The benefit with traveling with a group like this besides convenience,  is that you have their experience and their trusted local guides. Plus, they might be able to show you things that most tourists don’t see or know about.

I have read great things about certain tours and some of them look tempting to me.

Of course, there is Rick Steves, you might have heard of him! He has fantastic travel guide books with lots of terrific tips and advice and he includes interesting history of the various cities that he travels to. I’ve never taken one of his tours but I have taken his advice! In fact, on a trip to The Louvre in Paris, we probably saved an hour of waiting in line by using his tip on a little known side entrance. It was awesome! He has tours all over Europe and tours specifically for families.

I also follow Adventures with Sarah on Facebook.  She works with Rick Steves. I’ve really enjoyed looking at her posts on her trips to Italy as well as Thailand and Cambodia. She also gives great advice on packing light. Plus, she just looks like someone that would be really fun to hang out and have a glass of wine with!

I follow a luxury travel group and many members have said amazing things about Adventures by Disney. They have tours all over the world including South Africa, Australia, Peru, Ecuador, China, Italy, Spain, Greece, Iceland and North America, just to name a few.

If you are planning a trip to the Galapagos Islands, you might consider Metropolitan Touring -operating in the Galapagos since 1969. Their reviews are fabulous and the Galapagos is on my short list…hum?

Here is a link to Travel & Leisure’s Magazine’s article on the Best Tour Operators of 2017

And another link to Conde Naste best of 2017

And finally, there is a website called Stride Travel.  It’s like TripAdvisor but instead of hotel reviews, you can read hundreds of tour company reviews.



What is involved with planning a trip around the world?

pexels-photo-269724.jpegA whole ton of stuff!

First up is money (decide what your budget is) and then time (how long can you be away from home?). After that, start doing your research! You also need the motivation to make the trip happen!

Once you really get started, you will need to tackle this list:

-Decide on your Round the World ticket provider (we are using Star Alliance)
-Choose if you want to travel West to East or East to West
-Think about the weather in different locations
-Figure out the logistics of getting from country to country as well as various cities       within the same country
-Make reservations for trains and flights
-Make hotel reservations or other housing
-Get immunizations
-Check the Center for Disease Control & Prevention website:
-Check individual countries for travel warnings:
-Visit your doctor for travel meds (antibiotics, anti-nausea, malaria etc.)
-Apply for foreign visas
-Make sure that your passport is good for at least 6 months after your final travel date
-Get travel insurance
-Check on your international medical coverage
-Take pictures of your passport and other important documents. Travel with them in  case yours are lost or stolen.  Leave a copy of your itinerary and important   documents at home or with a trusted friend or family member -bring 2 extra copies of a passport photo for visas upon arrival
-Put your mail on hold
-Ask your awesome friends and neighbors to check on your house (thank you!)
-Clean out the fridge and pantry
-Clean your house
-Make sure that it looks like someone is still living at your house (put lights on timers, consider having a landscaper clean up your yard)
-Pay all of your bills
-Turn off the gas
-Turn down the water heater
-Put all of your travel plans into an online travel itinerary like TripIt

-Plan more and then go over your plan again!

How did we come up with this crazy idea to travel Around the World?



It started small!

The idea for our trip of 10 countries in 100 days actually started as a much smaller idea for our next adventure. My husband and I were talking, over cocktails, (which is how all of our travel planning gets started!) and we were discussing where we wanted to go in 2018.

We have been going on an international trip almost every year for the last few years and loving it so we knew we wanted to go somewhere!

He said he wanted to go to SE Asia. I said that I would love to end up in Spain for our 20th wedding anniversary. And even though we wanted a predominately warm vacation, we agreed that we should return to New Zealand (during what would be their fall season) to tour the South Island. We also decided that if we were going to be in New Zealand, then we would only be a hop, skip and a jump from seeing my cousin and his family in Australia…and so on and so on and so on!

Well, next thing you know, we were ordering tons of travel books and mapping out possible routes around the world. I am an equal opportunity travel book lover! I don’t discriminate. I love DK Eyewitness Insider for their beautiful pictures. I love Rick Steves for his history and “best of” information. I love Lonely Planet even though I am not a young backpacker-it has great tips. I also love Foder’s and National Geographic.

We also ordered a couple of big, beautiful coffee table books filled with amazing pictures to inspire us. I really liked National Geographic Worlds Best Travel Experiences  and Lonely Planet The Travel Book . Another fun and popular book is Atlas Obscura -if you are looking for strange and different things to see all over the world, this book might just be for you!


We kept thinking maybe this was a really crazy idea but then we just kept coming back to the fact that the timing in our lives was actually perfect for a trip like this. So we went for it!

After a few months of talking and reading books and blogs and travel forums, we had a pretty good idea of our plan. Now we just needed to put our destinations into the Star Alliance Round the World website and see what happened. (we did look at a few other airline Round the World plans but Star Alliance ended up being the best match for what we wanted to do.) It took a few weeks of planning and reworking our itinerary to coordinate the locations that we wanted. We played around with dates and figured out how much time we wanted to spend in each location.

So, after multiple tries of mapping out our route, we had our plan! Holy smokes! Our crazy idea was becoming a reality!