Round and Round You Go: Taking a Trip Around the World
|Palau, a fine place to start (PhotoDisc)|
Plotting your round-the-world adventure is much like a riveting game of connect the dots -- only you can move the dots into whatever configuration you like. To get you thinking of which dots to include, we offer a profile of a nine-month world tour, where we hit the hottest destinations during their shoulder seasons. But nothing's set in stone.Want to swap Australia for New Zealand? Forego Argentina for two months of ruin-gazing in the Mayan heartlands of Central America? Stick to Eastern Europe over the western region to save on the Euros? It's all up to you.
April to May: The South Pacific
In the spirit of the colonists of yore, travel westward to avoid some of the traps of jetlag and fly halfway around the world to the South Pacific island of your choice. The humid season that shrouds Fiji comes to an end in early April, making the climate temperate, the crowds thinner, and cheap hotels much easier to find. Scuba and snorkeling enthusiasts could spend entire months hopscotching from Fiji to Palau to Tonga, while those yearning to step into a totally different world can head for Papua New Guinea after a climatic inauguration in Fiji. Then, when you're prime, head for the bigger islands to the south (aka New Zealand). May to June: New Zealand and Australia Oceania is a massive region of infinite charms, not least of which is New Zealand, where you could easily burn your whole nine-month sabbatical. To make the most of your time in the Land of the Long White Cloud, get there in late April and spend two weeks taking in the country's chief attractions. If you're drawn to the Milford Track (aptly labeled the world's best walk), be sure to make arrangements well in advance; though May is just beyond the region's prime trekking season, access (limited to 40 hikers a day) is typically booked up to a year ahead of time. Less sure-footed folks can still take full advantage of the many other Kiwi adventures -- or just absorb the famous Middle Earth scenery. Then tear yourself away and fly to Australia. Though technically "winter" in Sydney, the temps in this stunning city seldom drop below the 50s. June is also the perfect time to head into the Red Center (Uluru alone justifies the cost of airfare from Sydney to Alice Springs). Afterwards, jump over to Cairns for scuba diving and snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, then end your time Down Under in the Top End -- the region's dry season means epic exploration of World-Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park.
June to July: Southeast Asia
If you want to see tourism in its infancy, hop a short flight (or longer boat ride) from Darwin over to East Timor, an island that's slowly evolving from its tumultuous past into one of the region's swankiest tropical retreats. Or forego that and head for Vietnam; the southern part of the country is in its wet season, but the central and northern regions are dry, and the low cost of living should offer a welcome change from Australia. Carve out some time to head into Cambodia; the wet season will make things a bit soggy, but that also means that the moats at Angkor Wat will be filled with water and the foliage will be lush -- an ideal setting to take in the temple ruins.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication