The world is a big place. If we had a year to explore the world, how many could we reasonably see in that time? Once you start traveling around the world, you realize how big the world is. Traveling around the world for a year is very common in places like Germany or Australia. In most places it’s called a “gap year”, in New Zealand people talk about doing their “Big OE” or “Overseas Experience”.
A year is long enough to see much of the world’s fantastic diversity – and to experience a healthy dose of culture shock along the way. If one is planning to travel for a long time, it may actually be best to travel alone (unless one has a partner willing to do so as well).
Why is the world too big to see in a year?
There are a total of 195 UN member countries in the world (including the observer states of Palestine and Vatican City). Then there are even more countries that are not UN member states – like Greenland, Isle of Man, Aruba and the Cook Islands. This means that there are well over 200 countries in the world (there is no exact number that everyone would agree on).
- 193: full member states of the UN
- 195: UN member states, including observer states
- Less than two days: In each country if you visit all in one year
To see all the countries of the world, it would be necessary to visit each country on average less than two days. This is neither realistic nor desirable.
A year may seem like a long time, but in the context of seeing the whole world, it’s not long at all.
Related: See Hostelworld’s new group itineraries for solo travelers
You can go around the world in a year
While it is not possible to see the whole world in a year, it is possible to circumnavigate the world significantly in a year.
A year is plenty of time to travel around the world and sample countries on all continents. We could spend 2 months in Europe, a month in Africa (maybe Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa), a month in the Middle East (maybe Egypt and Jordan), a month in India and two months in Southeast Asia (maybe Bali and Thailand), one month in Australia and New Zealand, one month in East Asia (maybe Japan and Korea), a few months in South America and a month in Mexico.
- Visit: All continents of the world
This trip would mean that one can visit all the continents of the world (except Antarctica). It would be enough to have a much deeper understanding of the countries of the world and how different they are.
A trip like this would show off many of the world’s most touristy spots – but it would still leave the vast majority of the world unexplored.
Related: Can You Really Go Around The World In 88 Days?
How to finance a one-year trip?
There are many ways to fund a year-long trip around the world. One is (naturally) to save before you go. Another way is to become a digital nomad and work online and thus have a steady stream of income. If one has the right kind of job, one can even work on the bus or while waiting at the airport.
- World Tour: Feasible in a year
It is also possible to travel on a shoestring budget – if one stays in hostels and cooks their own food, one can live on a very low budget in many countries around the world.
- Point: Volunteering at hostels for bed and board
- Volunteer sites: Workaway, WWOOF
Another way is to work or volunteer – one can often volunteer at hostels around the world or find volunteer work (for room and board) on Workaway and other websites.
Wanting to work (or volunteer) more usually also means traveling much slower and seeing far fewer places overall – this is normally the dilemma faced by travellers. More travel also means buying more flights and these costs can quickly add up.
While many would like to go on a big trip around the world for a year, many others choose to choose a particular region and spend the whole year there to get to know it better. It also reduces the travel fatigue that comes with constant commuting.