This is a great, original idea I had some time ago. I’ll comment on it at bottom. Brochure/website would look something like this:
theworldinayear.com visits these countries:
Palestine (the UN calls this as a country)
theworldinayear.com includes all Seven Manmade Wonders of the World (in order of oldest to newest):
The Great Pyramid of Giza
The Great Wall of China
The Colosseum in Rome
Chichen Itza, Mexico
Machu Picchu, Peru
The Taj Mahal
theworldinayear.com includes all Seven Natural Wonders of the World (in alphabetical order):
Amazon River (we’ll ride the Ecuadorian headwaters)
The Dead Sea, Israel/Jordan
The Great Barrier Reef, Australia (we’ll do a dive class and 3-day liveaboard)
Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
Iguazu Falls, Brazil/Argentina
Mount Everest, Nepal (viewing only)
Mount Kilimanjaro, Kenya/Tanzania (we’ll take a week to climb it)
Among many, many others, theworldinayear.com includes these activities, timed to the season/event:
Carnival in Rio de Janeiro
Visiting His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
Midsummer Festival in Sweden
Ballooning Over the Masai Mara
Diwali in India
Baekje Cultural Festival of Korea
Edinburgh Arts and Theater Festival
Easter Sunday in Ecuador
Epidaurus Festival in Athens
3-month (optional) Spanish language course while immersed in Latin America
what else? an A-Z sampling that is is no way exhaustive:
Belize Barrier Reef
Cradle of Humankind
The Eiffel Tower
The Forum of Rome
Uluru (Ayers Rock)
Xian (Terracotta Soldiers)
Zambezi River incl. Victoria Falls
COST (does not include all meals or your ticket from your home and back; does include all other airfares):
Europe leg only: $15000
Asia/Australia leg only: $15000
Africa leg only: $9000
Latin America leg only: $15000
Hello and welcome to theworldinayear.com! We are the one and only organization that can give you at least 90 minutes at each of 250 UNESCO World Heritage Sites (out of less than 1000 total in the world) in one 12-month period. But joining us for our itinerary is so much more than ticking the big cultural boxes. It’s an immersion in what it means to be human, it’s making new friends on six continents, it’s seeing most of the world’s birds and beasts in their habitats, it’s the opportunity to try pretty much every locally prepared dish in the world, it’s an unparalleled spiritual voyage, it’s the “greatest hits” of world phenomena, it’s the ultimate “gap year,” it’s the raw material for a film starring you that you will keep, watch, and treasure always, and it’s what aliens would do if they only had a year on Earth.
Why such a whirlwind tour?
Despite our daily free time and monthly beach breaks, this comes up a lot, and the simplest answer is that life is short. Unlike the mountains, forests, rivers, and monuments we will visit, your time on this planet is limited. In galactic terms, it’s an eyeblink. In that time, how much of this beautiful Earth are you planning to see? Many of us have to work during most of our productive lifetimes – realistically, a year may be all we can really give. We want to maximize that year, to enable moments and discoveries that you will recall and savor for the rest of your life. You know that feeling, when you’ve climbed the Acropolis, and you’re suddenly blown away by the history and physical beauty that has inspired generations? Yeah, we want you to have that feeling every day. For a year.
Hey, we here at theworldinayear.com don’t pretend to be for everyone. People pay more to join cults. We are not offering you a religion. We are offering you the longtime- consensus best of humanity and the best of the world, on a scale no one has attempted before. The tradition of the Grand Tour goes back centuries, but those old elite Europeans could never have done what we do. They didn’t have our high-speed trains and planes; they didn’t have the internet; they didn’t have our ways of connecting to each other.
For the people that “get” us, we do not habitually sacrifice quality for quantity. If we really tried, we could easily have done 350 World Heritage sites in a year – but that would have meant no beach breaks, no five days at the Great Barrier Reef (it’s only one WH site), no six-day climb up and down Kilimanjaro (it’s also only one WH site), no week in Paris (it has only two WH sites), no week exploring Costa Rica – like that. We have made many, many trade-offs of time and space, and though we know others would have done it differently (and are happy to tell us so in the comment sections), we’re pretty happy with this itinerary.
Why does it cost so much, and we’re still sleeping in hostels?
Have you been to hostels in Europe or Asia lately? They’re pretty nice – and the days of $10/night in most of the world are long over. In most cases, we’ll have a room for our own group, so you have some extra security there. We understand the sticker shock, but this is in line with a lot of low-budget backpacker traveling. If you do the math you’ll see that the cost is about $100/day – that includes housing, transportation including airfare (except for your ticket to meet us and your ticket home), all entrance fees (e.g. for museums, cathedrals, events, etc.), visa fees and visa negotiations (this is no small item), special surprises that are only for our tour, and of course guidance. We’re not making money on this! This is out of love – and because they said it couldn’t be done.
In that case, why does it cost so little?
Excellent question! We really worked hard to keep the cost under the price of a full year at a good university – this being the richest, most thorough year of education you will ever have in your life. If you’re asking this question because you’re rich, well…this itinerary could be done by very wealthy persons, and yes, you would probably use more planes and find your way into more five-star hotels. However, we believe you find out more “on the ground” – about another country and ultimately about yourself. If you only visit the places where the bellhops and waiters are accustomed to being utterly deferent, you haven’t really left home.
I’m supposed to sleep in my sleeping bag for a year?
Not really. A lot of places will loan us freshly washed sheets and blankets. But you have to have the sleeping bag as a backup. Also, you’ll need it when we stay at Uluru and on our African safaris. Other than that, you’ll have at least a mattress every night…no ground pad needed! (We’ll provide them when necessary.)
Sounds good, but I’m not into packages.
Neither are we! We came to this from a backpacker, Lonely-Planet-type ethos. But what could we do? You just cannot visit 62 countries in 52 weeks without structure. Having said that, we avoid hermetically-sealed buses whenever possible. Every single evening that we’re not traveling (the majority of them) is free time – that’s not the sort offered on Princess Cruises, but instead time for you to chat up locals, sample indigenous and amazing cuisine, check out bars, or just get a little lost. (Or hang at the hotel if that’s easier.)
Do we have to work?
Depends what you mean. Is this voluntourism, no it isn’t. Will you be asked to assist strangers, no you won’t. Is this the sort of vacation where you kick up your heels and the cabana boy brings you endless mai-tais? Well, no, it isn’t that either. If all you want is to “get away from it all,” to escape, this isn’t the right journey for you. This is less about escape than about discovery. This is less about putting the world on hold and more about finding the world. Although we rarely visit more than three locations (within a city) in one day, still, you should be ready to walk, ready to move, ready to engage, ready to keep the voyage going. No matter what you eat while we travel, you will be in amazing shape when you finish your year with theworldinayear.com!
Are meals covered?
Yes and no. Always yes to breakfast, usually no to the others…because people’s diets and budgets are so different. There will be some people who eat on $3/day (we did this while backpacking in our twenties; every morning you buy a baguette and jam and you’re basically fine). Others will find their stomachs not up to some of the spicier offerings, while still others will want to gorge themselves on local cuisine. We find it’s easier for everyone if we don’t mandate (or charge for) afternoon and evening meals – having said that, we love guiding you to places/dishes that we find delicious. We hope you will join us in savoring the world’s amazing cuisines.
Why aren’t we traveling to _________?
Ah, the itinerary. The two main criteria were UNESCO World Heritage sites and reasonable ease of travel. We couldn’t do them all, and we felt that the monthly, half-week-long beach breaks were important. For various reasons (war, instability, isolation, fragility), some locations just aren’t that easy to visit. Island nations posed a particular problem in this regard. If the main attraction of a country is basically its beaches and tropical flavor (as with many parts of the Caribbean and the Pacific) – well, we’ve included Bali and Costa Rica, does any place do tropical beaches better than them? The itinerary is targeted toward North Americans, that’s why we don’t currently include the US or Canada. If we’re going to the right country but the wrong location for you…well, yes, subjective opinions do creep in here. One way to look at what’s missing in the itinerary is to think of what’s waiting for you after you finish your year with us. You’ll be saying, oh thank you theworldinayear.com for setting aside West Africa and the Philippines and New Zealand and Easter Island and the Galapagos (and a lot more), now I’ve got something to look forward to!
What should I pack?
Believe it or not, you should (but are not required to) be able to fit everything in one bag that meets US TSA regulations for a carry-on bag. WHAT, I hear you say. Remember, almost all of this trip should be in nice weather! Let’s start with the sleeping bag. Carrying a Gatorade-bucket-sized roll-up is so last century. You should be able to find a new, perfectly well-insulated sleeping bag at REI or Big 5 or wherever that, when packed, is about the size of a volleyball. The rest of your luggage bag’s main storage space should consist of a towel, an emptied Camelbak (or similar water-pouch pack), an empty Hefty bag (for your dirty clothes), and about 10 days’ worth of clothes: 10 short-sleeve shirts, 3 long-sleeve shirts (made of very flexible, thin material; go to REI’s website or likewise and read reviews), 10 sets of underwear, 10 pairs of socks, 1 very light rain poncho (rolled up, they can be the size of your fist), 3 bathing suits, 3 pairs of shorts and 2 pairs of long pants (khakis, preferably). That, and shoes. You should have one pair of flip-flops for the beaches, and one pair of “going-out” shoes if you’re party-minded. You must also bring one pair of very comfortable shoes but why pack it when you’ll wear it on the plane(s) along with your very light (softshell) jacket, hat and (sun)glasses. As for your bag’s side pouch, you need: sunscreen, toiletries, bug spray, a head-lamp, your passport, and a camera (which most of you will already have on your phone). Why bother with anything else? Having said that, you are permitted to bring whatever you can carry (in a backpack, and/or in a bag with wheels), but don’t expect us to sympathize when you complain, or to wait for you to roll your refrigerator-size luggage onto a departing train.
Let’s make that a list:
1 sleeping bag
1 Camelbak (or similar)
1 pair of very comfortable shoes (e.g. tennis shoes, Tevas)
10 short-sleeve shirts
10 pairs of socks
10 sets of underwear
3 bathing suits
3 pairs of shorts
3 long-sleeve shirts (preferably very light nylon-polyester)
2 pairs of long pants (preferably khaki)
1 softshell jacket
1 light rain poncho
1 hat (with visor)
1 pair of sunglasses
1 pair of flip-flops
1 pair of “going-out” shoes (optional)
1 bottle of sunscreen (to start)
1 bottle of bug spray
1 set of toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, chapstick, hair gel, nail clippers, whatever)
1 head-lamp (“miner’s” lamp)
1 camera (phone)
1 camera (phone) charger
1 pair of binoculars
Can you really fit all that into a carry-on-bag whose main storage space is 22” by 14” by 9”? (Or 56cm by 35cm by 22cm?) You bet you can – well, after you set aside some of it to wear on the plane. Try it now! (All right, all right, if it all won’t fit, just use a bigger bag. Checking bags on airlines isn’t so bad.)
Why 10 days’ worth of clothes, why not 5 or 15?
15 is too many; you shouldn’t be carrying a steamer trunk around with you, see above. You’ll have the chance to do laundry (or have it done) every time we’re set in a hotel/city for more than a day – and that will be about once a week. We have a few week-long events (like climbing Kilimanjaro) where it makes sense not to have to do any laundry until you get back. Thus you want a good 7 days’ worth – we made it 10 just in case you have to change something in the middle of a hot, sweaty day.
What’s the deal with the Camelbak?
Staying hydrated is almost as big a goal for us as the UNESCO sites. Seriously. You must drink water all day like it’s going out of style. Now, if you want to buy a bottle of water every day, we’re not going to stop you. We feel so strongly about hydration that we take what some might consider extreme measures: every day (or every night), we prepare water for you to fill up your Camelbaks. Sometimes this means boiling large pots of water well in advance; sometimes it means water purification tablets. In any event, your humble guide carries multiple jugs from destination to destination for just this purpose. We highly recommend that you let him/her fill your Camelbak at the outset of each day’s adventure. After you get used to sipping on a water tube all day, you’ll wonder how you ever did without it!
Can I take souvenirs?
Sure, but you may wish you hadn’t. The best souvenirs are photos that you keep on your camera, or even better, videos. If you feel you must have something tangible, consider postcards – imagine you coming home and decorating a wall with postcards from your theworldinayear.com trip! Perhaps you are the sort of person who simply must purchase a toy elephant in India, a dragon statue in China, or something. We won’t stop you from shopping – we even encourage it, in a way, by leaving you free time at the end of most days. We would just like you to notice that “shopping” and “shipping” only have one tiny vowel’s worth of difference. For your sake, please, do not lug that beer stein you bought in Munich all the way to Indonesia with us. Ship it home!
Will we have internet access?
Throughout Europe, usually. (You should be advised that your phone probably won’t work as a phone/wi-fi hookup unless you are ready to pay beaucoup bucks.) Throughout the non-European world, it hits and misses; in Beijing, of course; in Botswana, you’ve got to be kidding. As mentioned, you have free time at the end of all days that we’re not on the road, and thus you’ll have at least a weekly chance to go online and check in, whether at our ho(s)tel or at an internet café (yes, the rest of the world still has those). However, if you are relying on remaining “wired” during the trip for the sake of a job or something, we would strongly recommend you put that job on hold.
What about my regular 6-month trip to the dentist?
You’ll just have to miss one. If a tooth is bothering you – or some other medical problem – we will do our best to stop and attend to that. Remember our half-week beach break every 30 days or so; that’s typically enough time to attend to any nagging maladies.
What about haircuts?
Again, you get that half-week “break” every 35 days or so. Find a crazy local barber!
What happens if I need to bail out halfway through? Can I get my money back?
Probably not. Think of us like a university; if you bailed halfway through the school year, would you expect your tuition back? Exceptions are obviously made in the case of medical emergencies or our negligence, but in general, you shouldn’t undertake this journey without the proper mental and physical attitude and aptitude. You have to be in good health; do not depend on being able to fill a prescription in another country. Even more important, you have to be ready to get up every day and push yourself to the world’s landmarks. It’s only natural that some days you will simply prefer to remain in bed. (Hopefully these can coincide with our rest/travel or beach days.) At some point, you will have to become what we like to call a “warrior of fun.”
You, blog reader, may ask me: who’s doing this already? No one, but there are many tour companies that do pieces of things like this in one-month or six week bursts, like gadventures and contiki. Why haven’t they tried the full itinerary? Well, needless to say, I think they should. It may be something of a logistical nightmare; perhaps they feel that not enough people would sign up. I wouldn’t have written all this – as a thought experiment – if I didn’t think some people would pony up to do it, but I’ve had other thought experiments with the itinerary as a sort of reality show or weblog series or something. I thought to write it as a novel (by the way, yes, the site is already mine) but as I began I realized…that’s a long novel. If you only spend a chapter on each week, that’s still 52 chapters…if each one is 2000 words, you’ve got yourself a pretty damn long novel (104,000 words) that is nonetheless WAY too quick to delve into character. I may still do it, but right now it’s just a beautiful thought experiment. How beautiful?
Exact, specific itinerary – with bus, plane and train times already researched – and conclusion next week. The world is worth two blog posts.