Round the World via India, Nepal and Tibet

An Interview with Nicola Cutcher and Olivia Fakoussa

Name: Nicola Cutcher

My RTW route: London >> Washington DC >> LA  >> Seattle >> Vancouver >> Fiji >> Sydney >> Alice Springs >> Darwin >> Bangkok >> Ho Chi Minh City >> Kathmandu >> Vienna >> London

How would you rate your RTW destinations on a scale of 1 - 5? 1 being completely rubbish to 5 being completely awesome?

I don't know if I can as I loved it all for such different reasons. I'll give it a bash but seems impossible. Washington (2) NYC (4) Boston (3) LA (3) Seattle (4) Vancouver (4) Fiji (5) Sydney (4) Ayers Rock (4) Darwin (2) Bangkok (3) Cambodia (3) Vietnam (3) Kathmandu (5) Vienna (3)

What was the best destination of the lot and why?

Nepal is the most incredible place that I have ever visited. I actually felt homesick when I left despite only staying a month. It has the Himalayas, the Hindu culture is so colourful and bright, and its fusion with Buddhism is intoxicating. The Annapurna Range in the Himalayas was just the best trekking I have ever done in my life. The people are genuinely the nicest I met anywhere, really smiley and welcoming, and I made true friends there. Kathmandu has such a cool hippy vibe and could be explored for years. It is a totally alien world and yet I was made to feel completely at home there which is quite a feat. Nepal's best place you could ever visit and I'm desperately awaiting my return...

What was the worst destination of the lot and why?

I don't really know. Darwin wasn't all I had hoped it would be. It was a city full of drunks and displaced people. I could smell alcohol on the streets. I was imagining a buzzing Australian / Asian gateway city with cultural fusion. Instead it seemed a bit of a wasteland. But many Aussies love it so maybe we saw the wrong side. I did some trekking there and bush stuff, which was great. It is Crocodile Dundee territory and it did feel like real, stereotypical Oz. It's just the city itself that felt a bit disappointing.

What was the absolute highlight of your RTW trip?

Nepal and Fiji. Fiji is so perfectly beautiful and the people so energetic and happy. I just felt emotionally full and brimming with happiness for my entire stay; it's paradise. The stars are perfect too!

Looking back now, what would you have done differently when planning or booking your RTW trip?

Nothing. I couldn't envision a bigger diversity of sights and wouldn't swap my experiences and itinerary for the world.

What top tips would you pass on to anybody about to book their RTW ticket or head off on their trip?

  • Overland travel, especially in Asia is very cheap and doable (if a little uncomfortable), so don't get flights between countries like Thailand and Cambodia.
  • If in the US and travelling overland between cities like Washington and NYC then get the Chinatown buses that go from Chinatown (Washington) to Chinatown (NYC) as it is only $10 as opposed to the $70 that the Greyhound buses charge.
  • Maybe be prepared to change your precise plans if there is a really cheap flight package and look into overland travel or local boat options to get into extra places. We didn't want to compromise aspects of our route but it is possible that we could have had a RTW ticket more cheaply if we had taken different destinations. We would not give up on flying to Vancouver. I'm glad we didn't.
  • We went with Student Flights and found that they were the most accommodating of our plans. The phone people really knew what they were talking about, and found a way to work out our personal itinerary. They were positive and made it happen. They also gave brilliant advice and phone support the whole way through, and never let us feel alone. Definitely recommended. Plus their insurance saved us in Nepal so they are solid all round.
  • Be positive about what you want to do. It will be possible. Don't be old that it isn't. STA said our route wasn't possible without extortionate cost but Student Flights sussed it for us. Beware of assistants who don't know what they are talking about. Take your time, shop around, ask lots of questions and really compare deals. Definitely ask other gappers for advice and use gapyear.com.

Round the world via India, Nepal and Tibet

Name: Olivia Fakoussa

My RTW route: London >> LA >> Fiji >> Auckland >> Sydney >> Singapore >> Sri Lanka >> Mumbai >> Dubai >> London

How would you rate your RTW destinations on a scale of 1 - 5? 1 being completely rubbish to 5 being completely awesome?

LA (4) Fiji (4) Auckland (4) Sydney (5) Singapore (5) Sri Lanka (4) Mumbai (3) Dubai (4)

Which was your best destination and why?

Sydney was the most fun and Sri Lanka simply the most beautiful!

What was your worst destination and why?

Mumbai was loads of fun, but really smoggy, which I hated.

What was the highlight of your trip?

So many that I couldn't possibly choose. I'd say almost every day included some sort of lifetime highlight - it's not so much where you are, but what you make of it that makes all the difference.

Looking back now, what would you have done differently when planning or booking your RTW trip?

Maybe I would have found out a bit more about the places first. I ended up deleting the Maldives from itinerary as after booking I found out how expensive it is! I'd say to do your research before booking and make sure you have a good idea how expensive it is to be in the countries you fancy.

What 5 top tips would you give to someone planning their RTW trip?

  1. Read up on the countries that interest you.
  2. Don't try to pack too many countries into too short a time - pick your favourites and leave the rest for another trip. There is nothing worse than rushing a great place.
  3. Compare deals, as often if you leave for the same trip at a different time of year it's a lot cheaper!
  4. Don't book everything in advance - you'll regret it later! Book the first few nights at maybe your first two destinations and leave the rest up to fate, making sure you have with you a few names of hotels.
  5. Don't take too much luggage! You'll be sorry when you have no room for shopping!