Confessions of a Round-the-World-aholic


words + photos by Jenny McIver

Five years ago I had a dream – to take the trip of a lifetime “Round the World.”  Visit the Pyramids, the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall – there was so much of the world I longed to see.  So I did it.   I cashed in all the airline miles and hotel points that a decade of business travel had afforded me and after a solid year of planning, I made it happen.  It was the most amazing experience of my life and forever changed me as a person and as a traveler.  I confess…I am hooked.

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What I thought would be a once in a lifetime trip quickly turned into an annual adventure to ring in the New Year.  And as I embark upon my 5th circumnavigation of the globe this month, I am happy to say there’s no turning back now.

Why RTW?  Well, any old vacation can take you to Rome or Thailand or Australia, but only an around the world trip can take you to all of them on one plane ticket.  That’s the draw.  More bang for the buck, so to speak. 

There is quite simply no better way to see as much of the world in as little time.    Though my own journeys have taken about a month each, if you have as little as two weeks or as much as a year – a RTW trip could make an addict out of you, too.  

The logic goes something like this - say you’re travelling around the world and you find yourself in Kuala Lumpur.  Suddenly, a trip to Singapore becomes an hour flight instead of an 18-hour marathon flight from the States.  From there, hop over to Australia, New Zealand or Fiji – the world is your oyster.  Every destination is within your reach as you travel around the globe.

Would I ever have taken that 18-hour flight to Singapore from Atlanta?  Probably not, though I had always wanted to travel there.  But from neighboring Malaysia?  It’s a no-brainer.

I should also confess that even the planning of my annual trip has become a guilty pleasure.  My favorite part is the first step – mapping out the destinations.  I have a few favorites that I return to each year, but for the most part, the trip is an opportunity to seek out new and exciting destinations.  For the first few years, the destinations were easy – Machu Picchu, Angkor Wat, South Africa, New Zealand.  But each year as I check more must-sees off my travel wish list, the itinerary becomes more challenging.  This is, of course, all part of the fun.  Perhaps it’s time to delve more deeply into the Middle East, Africa or Central Asia?  Yes, yes and yes.

I like to think that each year the trip becomes a little more daring and exotic.  Not daring in a dangerous way, mind you, but in a way meant to challenge myself as a traveler.   When I announced to friends and family where my 2010 RTW trip would take me, several of them told me they would have to pull out a map to find some of the destinations.  That warms my heart.  Because travel isn’t just about Paris or Hawaii or Disney World – it’s about New Caledonia, Petra, and Siem Reap.  Destinations that challenge both your knowledge of geography and your knowledge of yourself.

So, I admit it.  I am addicted.  But when an annual RTW trip puts the whole world at my fingertips…why would I ever want to quit?  After all, there will always be more of the world to see.

 

A veteran business traveler, Jenny has mastered the art of turning hotel points and airline miles into an annual luxury trek around the world.  In 4 previous RTW trips, she has visited and written about more than 60 countries.  Jenny’s 5th annual RTW trip begins this month and you can follow her journeys at www.RTWin30days.com.

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Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog YourLifeIsATrip.com and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".