Make the Dream a Reality
Another frequent question/comment from people has been - How did you manage to take a trip like this?! While I wouldn't say it was easy, the hardest part was certainly just making the decision to do it and then coordinating finances to make it happen.
I've gone over alot of the practical specifics on a separate blog, but here are some general tips to help you take the trip of a lifetime too.
TIME - Wait until you're at a transitional point in your life. Are you ready to change jobs or just got laid off? Are you in your last few years of being childless, or before your child enters school? Did you just get booted from your rent-controlled apartment? Time is a hard thing to come by and you may never get the opportunity again so plan for as long as possible.
MONEY - Do not travel if you're in debt. Mortgage on a house is o.k. if you can rent it for something close to what you're paying, but credit card debt or payments on a vehicle are a no-no. Get yourself out and quit buying stuff so you can spend your hard-earned cash on something much more enriching like travel :)
LOWER YOUR STANDARDS - Life in the U.S. and other developed countries is exponentially comfier than the lives of the majority of the people on the planet. A big reason for traveling is to see firsthand how the other half lives. You can't see this on package-tour or by staying in 5-star hotels. You've got to do it yourself to allow for local interaction. Also, your money won't last very long going this route either. I personally find it the most interesting taking budget accomodations and traveling overland when at all possible. While this might not be the easiest way to see things, it certainly packs alot of experience for the buck.
BE OPEN - Throw out all your preconceptions. Some of my most-loved destinations have been the places other people panned. And some of my least-liked have been those that were raved about (typically they prove to be tourist ghettos). Keep a sense of openness + adventure, though not to a fault (remember that some people are unscrupulous so trust your instincts). Reply like an Indian to interesting opportunities - Sure, why not?!
WHERE TO GO - It's a great big, interesting World out there, but don't pack too much in. We've met more people than I care to count who are racing around from one place to the next like they're trying to check destinations off a list - 1 week in Rajasthan, 2 days in Varanasi, 2 days in Kathmandu and only 4 days for a trek (that could have bee stretched to 3 weeks) before hoping on a plane to Bangkok, Chiang Mai + Ko Samui (the three most touristed spots in all of Thailand), then on a plane to Bali for 2 weeks, then Australia, then... you get the picture. I'm not saying this is wrong, but you're going to blow right through your money and only have fleeting memories of every place you've visited instead of a deep understanding of any one place. As a rule of thumb I wouldn't allow less than one month in each small country or in a state/province in a large one. Note: I've listed 2-3 week itineraries for all the places we've visited (See Recommendations) for those working stiffs... of which I soon will become again.
Any other questions? Just ask. We are more than happy to encourage people to travel and can recommend places to suit your taste.