A Trip Around The World
Chapter One: The Plan
Taking a trip around the world has always been a dream of mine. I have probably flown around the world hundreds of times if you count all my miles, but I’ve never done it all in one trip. On this trip, we are setting out to do just that…. a trip around the world! 5 Countries, 6 cities, 21 days. We departed LAX flying east, and will continue to fly east until we’ve completed the loop.
This entire trip was prompted by me winning a contest through an airline employee discount website called Staff Travel Voyage. STV offers discounted hotel deals to airline and travel industry employees and retirees around the world, and is always running free trip giveaways, so be sure to register for free on their site if you’re an Airline employee and like free trips!!!
The trip I won is the stuff of dreams; 4 night in Dubai and 6 nights in the Maldives!!! Shout-out to STV and a ginormous thank you for giving me this opportunity! Since the Maldives is literally on the other side of the planet from our home in Los Angeles, we figured this was the perfect opportunity to add a couple more stops along the way and make it “A Trip Around the World”.
Here is our itinerary: LAX-FCO-DXB-AUH-MLE-HKG-LAX
We will be departing home, LAX, and heading to Rome, FCO, (with a quick sprint through the Dulles airport). We will spend Easter in the Italian countryside with our family in a small and adorable town in Abruzzo called Ortucchio where my in laws live. We will then spend a couple nights in Rome visiting friends, and then head off on the red eye to Dubai. After two nights of city exploring and desert adventures in Dubai we’ll drive to Abu Dhabi to check out Ferrari World, and the Grand Mosque. From Abu Dhabi it’s another red eye direct to Malé Island in the Maldives. Since the Maldives is an island nation, and most major resorts are on their own private islands or atolls, we will be taking a seaplane and/or a speed boat to our hotels. We are staying at two absolutely gorgeous resorts in the Maldives, and I fully intend on spending most of my days in that gorgeous turquoise ocean. When that sad day comes when we will need to leave island paradise, we will be taking the red eye direct form MLE to HKG, Hong Kong! After all that sunshine and relaxation I’m sure we’ll be ready for a bit more adventure, running around Hong Kong enjoying the boats, the views, and the amazing food! After three nights in Hong Kong, we’ll hop on one more plane back to California. Since we will cross the international dateline on this flight, we will actually land in California on the same day we left Hong Kong (and almost at the same time). Gotta love time travel!
Here are couple things to think about when planning YOUR trip around the world to make it a little easier!
1. Always Fly East
This is the oldest trick in the flying book… always fly east when going on a trip around the world. If for no other reason, do it because it will cut down on your flight time. Think about the way the earth turns, it spins eastwards. The rotation of the earth in space creates an enormous amount of atmospheric friction and air currents. Enter a little miracle called the “jet stream.” Jet streams are high altitude air currents caused by the inertia of the earth’s spin. Jet streams have a tendency to lie just above 30,000 feet above the earths surface in the “troposphere” layer of our atmosphere. This is just above where most weather tends to lie. Next time you’re on an international flight, check your cruising altitude. It will almost always lie at 30,000 to 36,000 feet.
In the end, flying with the jet stream, the entire flight time of your trip will be about 4-6 hours longer flying east to west (depending on routes) than it would if you had flown the same routes going west to east when completing a circle around the world. The difference increases even more in the winter time where weather patterns and dramatic temperature differences create even stronger jet stream currents.
Imagine getting caught in a rip tide in the ocean. Currents in the air work very similar to the currents in the water. Going with the current, you’ll get from the beach to the end of the pier in a flash, swimming against it, it will take you much longer. The same works in the air, the flight time from IAD-FCO is 8.5 hours (going east), but it is 10 hours from FCO to IAD (going west). Thank you planet earth!
Flying over the Italian Alps about an hour before landing in Rome
Apart from the shorter amount of flight time, the other huge benefit of flying east is that you can fly red eyes! Now I know the exhaustion of not getting a good night sleep can be a serious consideration for some, but the way I see it; if I’m tired enough, I’ll always be able to nap and if I’m excited enough, I will forget that I’m tired! I’ll report back on how I feel after 4 red eyes! The huge benefit, is that you don’t waste entire days traveling, and you get to maximize your time in each location. We go to sleep after takeoff in Rome and wake up in Dubai! We then spend the early morning hours navigating to our hotels, checking in or stowing our bags at the front desk, and then hit the ground running! If we need it, we take mid afternoon naps, but most of the time we just tough it out until dinner time and end up going to bed early our first day in a new city.
2. Pick your farthest destination first
In order to plan our trip, and decide where exactly we wanted to stop along the way, we started by looking at the destination that was the furthest away from us geographically. For us, that was the Maldives. From there I looked at possible routes from LAX to MLE on Google Flights to get an idea of how to route us. I knew we needed to go to Dubai, so that was a logical stop on the way to the Maldives. From Dubai I backtracked and just started to search different possible routes from Europe to Dubai. When I saw Emirates had 2 flights a day from Rome to Dubai, that was an easy choice! The bonus was that we would end up being able to be in Italy with my husbands family for Easter! So from that point, we only needed one more stop on the way home, and we decided on Hong Kong. Using FlightMapper.net I was able to see all the destinations that I could get to directly from MLE. Singapore and Hong Kong looked the most enticing, and when I started to look into the flight details, Hong Kong worked better for our schedule. I have also already been to Singapore, and while I absolutely ADORE Singapore, I wanted to visit as many new destinations as possible on this trip. Starting from the farthest point and connecting the dots really helped me plan our trip efficiently to make sure we didn’t have any horrible 12 hour airport sits or weird flight connections.
3. Try to choose similar climates
Since you are going on quite an adventure, you will want to travel as light at possible. If you pick locations with the same basic climates, you will need to bring less stuff. Everywhere we are going on this trip has a pretty warm or tropical climate this time of year, except for Rome and the Italian countryside. I was able to cheat while packing for this trip, since I’m going to just leave my heavy sweaters and jacket in Italy and pick them up on our next trip out there in a few months. Other than that, there were really only two other obstacles in my packing.
The first is that both the United Arab Emirates and the Maldives are Muslim countries with very conservative standards of dress. While at the resort I will be free to dress as I please, but whenever I am in public I need to have my knees (and at time even ankles), shoulders and chest covered. In addition, tight fitting clothes are not acceptable. So for a California girl that lives in sundresses, mini skirts, and leggings, I had to get really creative! Luckily my sister helped me pick out a few maxi dresses, light cardigans, and drape-able scarves that will easily help transform my style from “beach casual” to “desert conservative”.
The second packing concern I had was regarding the baggage weight restrictions for taking the seaplane in the Maldives. ALL items I bring must weigh less than 20 kg total. This seems easy, but when you’re a master packer and can fit an exorbitant amount of items in a suitcase and tote bag like I can, bag weight can be an issue. However, I rose to the challenge, and was able to fit EVERYTHING I thought I could need for a three week trip around the world in one suitcase, and one tote, weighing a total of 17kg!
See my other blog post on my packing recommendations for details !!!
So those are my top three tips on how to plan your own trip around the world, and how I planned mine!!!! Keep following Kimmie Flies to see how these adventures unfold!!!!
Author: Kimberly Atkins Farcomeni
Editor: Natalie Atkins
737 900 wing, somewhere over the USA