Our trip around the world itinerary

Misty mountain view; text overlay reads: Trip planning: our copmlete around the world itinerary

Last Updated on 10th June 2020 by Sarah and Justin

We’re writing this two years since we left our apartment in Brooklyn, NY to embark on a year-long trip around the world. We honestly can’t believe it was that long ago. We wrote the first draft of this post of our around the world itinerary from memory without referring to any of our (copious) travel planning spreadsheets or notes and got 95% of it right. Traveling for so long to so many places sticks with you. We will always remember how we held each other’s hands in nervous excitement as that first plane took off, looking at each other not really believing what we had planned for so long was actually happening. It truly was the best year of our lives and we wholeheartedly recommend doing something like this to anyone who has the desire and opportunity. If you’re looking for inspiration for your own trip around the world itinerary or are just curious about our journey, read on! And don’t miss our summary of things we would have changed at the end of the post.

Our trip around the world itinerary

A snapshot

  • Trip duration: ~13 months (386 days)
  • Countries visited: 27
  • Continents visited: Europe, Asia, Australia
  • Number of flights: 30
  • Types of international border crossings: plane, train, bus, boat, bike, foot

June 2016 (Sweden, Czech Republic)

View of the castle and an illuminated street at night in Prague
One of our favorite views of our favorite cities: Prague
On June 17, 2016 we boarded a plane at JFK and flew to Stockholm, Sweden. We were headed to Prague in the Czech Republic, but couldn’t fly direct so enjoyed a one-night layover in Stockholm. We had been before, so it was a low-stress place to kick off the trip, and we got to enjoy Swedish meatballs at our favorite spot in the city. The rest of the month was spent in the Czech Republic. After three days in Prague, we took a train to Brno, where we spent four extremely hot days, happy to have a hotel room with good air conditioning. We then took a bus to Olomouc, where we spent three days. There we thoroughly enjoyed the first completely unique food on our trip: a pungent, garlicky cheese called olomoucké tvarůžky.
Sarah standing in front of Wawel Castle in Krakow
An impressed and happy Sarah at Wawel Castle in Krakow

July 2016 (Poland, Germany, Scotland)

We took the train from Olomouc to Krakow, Poland and spent one week there, and then took the train to Warsaw for another week. We really enjoyed our first taste of slow(er) travel. We then took an even longer train from Warsaw to Berlin, Germany, where we spent 12 days. Berlin is one of our favorite cities and we were psyched to be able to spend a much longer time there than ever before. From Berlin, we flew to Edinburgh, Scotland. It was our first time in that part of the UK. We spent one week in Edinburgh and really felt like we explored it well.

August 2016 (Scotland, Faroe Islands, Netherlands)

Justin standing at the edge of the water in front of mountains on the Isle of Skye in Scotland
Justin on the Isle of Skye in Scotland
From Edinburgh, we took the train to Glasgow, where we spent five days and ate one of the greatest Indian feasts we’ve ever had. We picked up a car in Glasgow and drove north to a small village called Dornie. We spent a blissful week there in a cottage overlooking Eilean Donan Castle, from which we also explored the Isle of Skye. From there, we drove to Inverness where we spent two days. It was short but we packed a lot in, including the Highland Derby. We dropped the car back at the Edinburgh airport and flew to the Faroe Islands, where we spent four nights in Torshavn. From there, we flew to Amsterdam and (arriving late) spent one night at Schipol Airport before taking the train to Rotterdam the next day. We spent the rest of August exploring the Netherlands by train with: three days in Rotterdam, five days in Utrecht, and three in Maastricht.

September 2016 (Netherlands, New York)

Bikes lining a bridge in Amsterdam
Iconic Amsterdam
Finishing up the rest of our time in the Netherlands, we spent four days in Nijmegen and eight days in Amsterdam. We’d been before, but we stayed in a totally different neighborhood near Westerpark and enjoyed getting to know a new part of the city. We then flew home to New York to go to a wedding, take part in a fantasy league draft, and say hi to family and friends.

October 2016 (Japan, South Korea)

Two torii gates in Kyoto, Japan
Iconic Japan
We boarded a plane once again (this time with a little less stuff) and flew to Dallas for a one-night layover before a long flight to Tokyo, Japan. This was our second trip to Tokyo, but we were so excited to be back and see more of this massive city. We spent a week in Tokyo eating cheaply but deliciously, and Sarah had the honor of speaking at a Japanese LAM conference there. We then set off to explore more of the country – all new destinations for us – by train. We spent four days in Kanazawa, and then six days in Kyoto, where Justin tested out Japan’s dental services. During our time in Kyoto, we took a day trip to Nara and were charmed by the deer. We then continued on and spent two nights in Osaka, three in Hiroshima, and three in Fukuoka. After a final bowl of ramen, we took a ferry from Japan to South Korea and spent three nights in Busan.

November 2016 (South Korea, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand)

Trees with yellow and red leaves reaching over a small stream in Seoul, South Korea
Fall colors doing their thing in Seoul
We took the super fast train from Busan to Seoul, where we spent five days. During that time, we took one day trip by bus to the DMZ and spent about two minutes in North Korea. It definitely was not enough time in Seoul, so we hope to return one day. We then flew to Hong Kong, where we also spent five days. From there we flew to Hanoi, Vietnam. We spent a relaxing nine days in Hanoi exploring the city and eating the most delicious food. We then flew to Luang Prabang, Laos, where we spent six days. We celebrated Thanksgiving there and then flew to Bangkok, Thailand, where we spent five, along with one of our good friends!

December 2016 (Germany, New York)

People ice skating at the Cologne Christmas Market
Cologne’s Christmas Markets can’t be beat
We flew from Bangkok to Frankfurt and then hopped on a train to Düsseldorf, Germany. We spent four days there, getting our hockey fix with friends. We then took the train to Cologne, where we spent two whole weeks going to Christmas Markets and pretending to be locals. We then took the train to Frankfurt and flew back to New York once again for the holidays.

January 2017 (Thailand, Cambodia)

Sarah and Justin in front of an ancient temple at Angkor Archaeological Park in Cambodia
Still hard to believe we were actually here in Angkor Archaeological Park
We returned to Southeast Asia, flying back to Bangkok. We arrived not knowing our next steps, and ended up spending eight days in the city. During that time we got to know one of the city’s meccas of cheap eats at Terminal 21 really well. We then flew to Siem Reap, Cambodia and had five days there, three of which were spent exploring the temples of the Angkor Wat complex. We then boarded a plane once again and spent six days in Chiang Mai. We honestly would have spent longer, but it was Lunar New Year and we were limited by hotel availability. So we took a scenic bus to Chiang Rai, where we spent two nights.

February 2017 (Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia)

Enormous rocks standing in the ocean and on a beach: the Twelve Apostles in Australia
…or here at the Twelve Apostles in Australia
We flew from Chiang Rai to Krabi and then took a minibus to Ko Lanta, where we spent a full week relaxing on the beach (and Sarah in a hammock). To break up the journey from Thailand to Malaysia, we first took two vans from Ko Lanta to Hat Yai in Southern Thailand, where we spent one night. The next day we took two trains and one ferry to George Town, Malaysia. We spent four days there eating everything in sight and then made our way via ferry and train to Kuala Lumpur. We spent three nights in KL before taking a very, very long bus to Singapore, where we spent three days.
<< Read how we got from Thailand to Malaysia to Singapore >>
We then flew to Melbourne, Australia where we spent a week. We picked up a car at the airport and drove to Adelaide via the Great Ocean Road stopping for one night each in Apollo Bay, Warrnambool, and Penola.

March 2017 (Australia, New Zealand)

Sarah and Justin standing in front of Milford Sound in New Zealand
Another bucket list item checked: Milford Sound
We spent three days in Adelaide and then flew to Auckland, New Zealand, where we also spent three nights. We then picked up a car and head out on our North Island road trip. We drove to Rotorua (one night), Taupo (two nights), Hawke’s Bay (two nights), Martinborough (one night), and Wellington, where we dropped off the car and spent three nights. We flew from Wellington to Christchurch, picked up a car, and started our South Island road trip. We drove to Oamaru (one night), the Otago Peninsula (two nights), Te Anau (a total of three nights), Milford Sound (the ultimate splurge, stuck in the middle of our time in Te Anau), Arrowtown (three nights), Twizel (one night), Lake Tekapo (two nights), and ended with two nights in Christchurch. You can read more about our New Zealand itinerary here.

April 2017 (Australia, Singapore, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Austria)

Lit up supertrees at night at Gardens by the Bay in Singapore
Singapore blew us away so much we went back
We flew from Christchurch to Sydney, Australia, where we spent six days. We then flew back to Singapore where we spent another four days – and celebrated Sarah’s birthday. We were definitely glad we returned to the city and got to see (and eat) more of it. We then boarded a plane and flew to Milan, Italy and immediately took the train to Ferrara. We spent three days there and then took the train to Vicenza, where we spent another three. We took the train to Trieste and spent two there. We took a bus from Trieste to Ljubljana, Slovenia. During our eight days there, we took day trips to Lake Bled (by bus) and to Zagreb, Croatia (by train). Leaving Slovenia, we took a train to Salzburg, Austria and spent three days there.

May 2017 (Germany, Netherlands)

Rotterdam Blaak station at night
We still think Rotterdam is the coolest
We took the train from Austria to Munich, Germany and spent three days there. We then took the train back to Rotterdam, the Netherlands and spent a whole month there. We needed a break from all the moving around and enjoyed every minute of it.

June 2017 (Belgium, France, Switzerland, Germany)

Sarah standing in front of a view of Gordes in Provence, France
Favorite thing we saw driving around Provence: Gordes
We took the train from Rotterdam to Antwerp, Belgium, where we met Sarah’s mom, and spent three days there. We then took the train to Paris and spent four days there. We met friends and saw the French Open. We then took the train to Lyon, and spent five nights there. Then we took a train to Nice, where we met Sarah’s dad. We spent two days in Nice, including a quick trip to Monaco, and then drove to Noves in Provence for two nights. We took a train to Dijon, where we spent three days and said au revoir to France. We took the train to Basel, Switzerland and spent four days there. We then took the train to Freiburg, Germany where we spent three days.

July 2017 (Germany, New York)

A pink and white church in front of a castle on a hill along the Rhine River in Germany
Seeing castles along the Rhine River was not a bad way to end this thing
And now for the end (if you’ve made it this far congratulations and thanks for sticking around)… We took the train from Freiburg to Nuremberg, where we spent five days ogling how beautiful the city is. Then we took the train to Mainz, where we spent three days, including one spent on a delightful ferry cruise on the Rhine River. And then one final train trip to Frankfurt, where we sadly boarded a plane to fly back home to New York.
<< Want to know how we planned this whole thing? Read our tips for how to plan a world trip itinerary >>

What would we have changed?

Looking back on our trip, we’re pretty pleased with how it all turned out, but of course there are things we would have done differently. Our biggest takeaway was that we should have spent more time in Asia and Australia. Being based in the US, and having spent quite a bit of time traveling in Europe, we should have made the most of being on the other side of the world. This would have meant taking time from our European destinations, but that would have been fine. We desperately want to get back to places like Vietnam and South Korea and Australia, and of course it’s harder now that we’re not there. So our tip would be if you’re planning to go far away from where you’re currently based, make the most of it. With regards to particular destinations, we should have planned our time in Australia and New Zealand sooner. We only figured that stuff out a few weeks out and were a bit restricted by availability of reasonably priced flights and accommodations. Had we planned that part of the trip three or four months in advance, we likely would have spent more time in those countries. A bit more specific to our situation, we shouldn’t have gone home after the first leg of our trip. It would have meant making sacrifices to family and friends, but it was too soon. We definitely would have preferred to spend that time in (as mentioned above, Asia!) than in New York. Also, it required some logistical finagling. On the plus side, we could ditch a lot of the stuff we had packed unnecessarily. There are of course so many places we would have spent more time (three days in Kuala Lumpur is a joke and basically every single place in Vietnam is calling our names), but we don’t regret going anywhere. This trip confirmed we’re pretty good at knowing what we like and how we like to travel. And we’d do it again in a heartbeat.

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13 thoughts on “Our trip around the world itinerary

  1. Anya says:

    Oh wow, you guys covered a lot during one year of travels! We have recently returned from our year long trip too, planned to visit New Zealand and Australia as well but got so exhausted that decided to take a break. Any plans to start another year of full-time travel?

    • Sarah and Justin says:

      We go back and forth on it all the time. We still love traveling, but also love having a home. Traveling full time is tiring, we agree! If we did it again, we’d definitely take it much much slower and spend much more time in each place.

    • Sarah and Justin says:

      Your 16 months sound pretty epic as well! We’ve been saving a US road trip … but all the pictures we’ve seen of places we haven’t been in our own country make us want to get out there!

  2. The Family Voyage says:

    Let me say… wow! You went to so many amazing places but I was exhausted just reading the list 😂 We’ll end up with 11mo on the road in total, but I think only 14 counties. Doing it with two small kids has definitely given us a slower pace, but I’m fine with that. We also tried to go in roughly the same direction to minimize flight distances and costs.

    • Sarah and Justin says:

      Agree – slower is definitely better. If we were to do a round two, we would likely spend one month or more in specific places. I can’t even imagine traveling like that with two small kids – kudos to you!!!

  3. christinelizz says:

    Ok, I’m moving Australia to the top of my travel list just because the Twelve Apostles look AMAZING! This itinerary is my travel style perfectly, you’re able to actually spend some time in a place, and not catching a flight every other day.

    • Sarah and Justin says:

      Haha- awesome! Some people think the Twelve Apostles is an overrated attraction but we were truly wowed.

    • Sarah and Justin says:

      How exciting! Where’s your first stop? We recommend at least a week in Seoul. If you do the DMZ tour and another day trip outside the city, you’ll be in good shape to see much of the rest of the city. But it’s massive, and we imagine you could easily spend a month there and not get bored!

  4. Jan Stone says:

    I agree that you should have spent more time in Australia. You live on the opposite side of the world and can easily hop over to Europe any time you have two weeks to spare. You came all the way to our beautiful country and saw only two small parts. We are about to embark on a five month trip right around Australia and we will be just skimming the surface. Since we are based in Perth over in the west, we will skip some of the West Australian highlights such as Kalbarri and Karijini National Parks, the dolphins at Monkey Mia, snorkelling the Ningaloo reef at Turquoise Bay near Exmouth, as we can do those on shorter trips within Western Australia. We will however take time to see the staircase to the moon phenomenon in Broome. We want to spend more time on the other side of Australia..especially national parks like Undara Volcanic NP, Daintree NP, Eungella , Great Barrier Reef and Great Sandy NP, Springbrook, Lamington, Myall Lakes, Blue mountains…..and so many more including Kangaroo Island in South Australia…this will be my third trip around and still so much I haven’t seen and done. I hope you will come back or at least enjoy checking out some of the places I have mentioned via armchair travel.

    • Sarah and Justin says:

      We really hope to come back as well. Thanks for sharing your journey- will definitely follow along!

  5. Pingback: 18 Tips To Make Traveling as a Couple

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