Round the World in 180(ish) Days – Thoughts at the Start

Sarah on her rtw in 180 days trip in Oslo, Norway.

Hello to any friends, family, and other travelers who might have found their way onto my blog! Thanks for checking out Suitcase Six and tuning in to my adventures. I’m a week and some days into my round-the-world (RTW) trip and I thought it would be a good idea to tell you all my plans for this grand adventure. As the name suggests, I’m headed round the world in 180(ish) days, give or take a few. Before I get too far in, I wanted to write this as much for me as for my family who is eager to keep tabs on my global whereabouts.

I know that no trip goes according to plan but sometimes its hard to remember how plans have evolved. For the sake of keeping record, this post will share a bit about my plans, expectations, and goals for the next six months. I can’t wait to keep you posted on how things evolve and to come back to this post at the end of my trip and see what did and didn’t pan out the way I’d expected.

The map above is an interactive look at my projected route. It starts in Indianapolis, where my angel of a boyfriend, Christian, drove me and several others to Chicago for our flight out of the states. The first week of this trip has been a work trip with my work organization, HOPE mentoring. In the U.S., HOPE works in the juvenile prisons mentoring youth in an effort to help them pursue employment and education when they’re released. The ultimate goal is pretty straight-forward – provide a loyal, encouraging, steadfast source of support for these students so they can more easily reintegrate and avoid returning to prison in the future.

To this end, we were lucky enough to be invited for a tour of Halden Prison, one of Norway’s most famous open-campus prisons that has garnered recognition world-wide. Sometimes referred to as the world’s most humane prison, we came to explore the Norwegian criminal justice approach and compare it to our own, while sharing a bit of our work too. I’m hoping to write about that experience soon, so keep an eye out for that. About half of the trip will be spent with other people, joining me for particular legs. Roughly three months will be a solo journey.


Countries & Cities I’m Planning to Visit

These are more or less in order, but some countries in Europe I’m planning to hit more than once as I transit to other destinations. I’m just listing those countries once in the order that I’ll first encounter them. My accommodations are only booked through Ireland/U.K. so you’ll see the cities start to drop off as my plans become more and more tentative.

Norway – Oslo, Bergen, Odda (11 days)

Sweden – Karlstad, Stockholm (7 days)

Denmark – Copenhagen (4 days)

Germany – Hamburg, Frankfurt, Munich, Berlin (11 days – *due to changed plans I’ll be here 14 days)

NetherlandsAmsterdam (1 day)

United Kingdom – London, Edinburgh (15 days – Emily, my little sissy, is joining me for the U.K. and Ireland – then I’m off on my own! – *due to changed plans l was here 23 days!)

Ireland – Galway, Belfast, Dublin (4 days)

France (2 days – *due to changed plans I did not make it to France)

Luxembourg (3 days – *Luxembourg got nixed from the itinerary too)

Liechtenstein (3 days – *so did Liechtenstein)

Czech Republic – Prague, South Moravia region (9 days – *I’ll be here 14 days instead)

Austria – Vienna (6 days – *and Austria)

Belarus – Minsk (7 days – *and Belarus)

Poland – Wroclaw, Krakow, Warsaw (10 days – *not in the original itinerary)

Russia – Various (20 days – I hope to do the Trans-Mongolian Railroad over the course of a month, which will lead me through Russia, Mongolia, and China. The train ride takes 7 days if you don’t stop, so I’ll be aiming for about 3 weeks of stop-offs in different cities along the route).

Mongolia – Ulaanbaatar (10 days – *I’ll actually be here about 15 days)

China – Beijing, Shanghai (11 days – *no China in the itinerary either, due to my poor visa planning, which cause most of the changes in my itinerary)

South Korea – Seoul, Busan (9 days)

Japan – Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Osaka (22 days – Christian is joining me on this leg, a reunion I am so looking forward to, even though we’ve only been apart for a week!)

Canada – Vancouver (15 days)

USASeattle, Portland, Eureka, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Chicago (30 days – I’m planning to see all the Suitcase Six girls on the last month of my trip, ending my solo journeys in Canada unless I can convince my mom to join me there. Tahvi is in Seattle, while Marie is posted in L.A. where I hope to visit before I reunite with Christian and his family for his sister’s wedding in San Diego!

After that, I’m hoping to stop by Phoenix to visit Laura, my sister who just moved to Las Vegas, and Chicago to visit Anna, and Melissa if she’s relocated there by the end of her remote year. Otherwise I might have to hunt her down elsewhere around the world.)

INDIANAPOLIS – The wedding is the weekend after Thanksgiving (late November) so I anticipate making it back home, after Phoenix and Chicago stops, sometime in early-mid December. Don’t ask me what comes next, because I’ve not got a clue and am trying my hardest not to freak out about that.


My RTW Trip Bucket List

Some of the top things I’m hoping to do, see, and try on this trip, in no particular order:

  1. Hike Trolltunga in Norway (happening in two days!)
  2. Spend a day at Lake Baikal, the world’s biggest, deepest lake in Russia
  3. Walk part of the Great Wall of China (no China visa = no Great Wall visit)
  4. Eat at a Michelin Star restaurant in Japan
  5. House Sit to save money
  6. Try a WorkAway (volunteering in exchange for food/accommodations)
  7. See the Avatar Mountains in China (same for the Avatar Mountains 🙁 just have to plan another trip I guess)
  8. Go to Banff National Park in Canada
  9. See the Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany
  10. Take a tour in the Gobi Desert
  11. Visit a concentration camp in Poland

I’m a history major who studied WWII so I’d like to explore some of the major historically relevant sites while I’m in Europe. I’m also a huge fan of hiking and outdoor adventures, (which are often conveniently the least expensive activities) so I’ll be doing a lot of nature when I’m not city-hopping.


Other Goals and Notes:

I’ll be continuing my work with HOPE on a part-time, remote basis. This means I’ll be working 20 hours a week, in addition to my personal blog goals. THIS means that for the most part, I’ll not be going off the grid. I’ve got to stay semi-connected to wifi for work. I’m hoping to be very strategic about my work and blogging. On days when I have extensive train travel, I’ll try and get my offline writing finished. Days when I must be connected to wifi for work meetings, I’ll try to get as many hours in as a I can so I can take the next full days to explore.

I’m also trying to be as eco-friendly and conscious about the impact of my travels as I can. This means that outside of my flight from Chicago to Oslo, and most probably my flight from Japan to Canada, I’m going to try and stick to trains, ferries, and other means of transportation. I’ve also packed very strategically, with a lot of items that should help me stay more green than I have on past trips (reusable straws, sporks, tote bags, eco-friendly sunblocks, toothpaste tabs and shampoo bars, etc.) I’m traveling with only a backpack and day bag to keep things light. I’ll share the contents of my pack soon in another post so keep an eye out for that.

Some other random goals, (I’m a very goal-oriented person if you haven’t picked up on that yet):

  • Get back in shape and prioritize my health on this journey – hence the backpack. Walking around with 40 lbs on your back definitely gets you closer to health than sitting behind a computer screen for 60 hours a week.
  • Stick to my budget, or as close as possible, so that I can actually have some money left over when I’m home and maybe even put some into savings while I’m gone?! My “dream budget” for this six months is around $10,000 which I’ve been saving up for aggressively over the past two years. More on that later, too.
  • HAVE FUN. I want to grow my blog and read a lot of books and have a lot of personal growth and call my mom every week – on and on and on. But ultimately, I’m trying to set aside my goal-setting tendencies and live in the moment. I want to soak in every minute I can of this wild adventure I’m embarking on, and since its the first trip where I’ll also have to be working, balance is something I’ll be striving for each day. I’d ultimately love to be working remotely on a permanent basis, giving me the freedom to travel like this much beyond my six months. I know that means that I have to do a kick-ass job at my work though and that this trip isn’t 100% vacation. If things are a little quiet on the blog its because I’m trying to make sure I have time to actually explore!


A Few Photos So Far:

Me with two of the HOPE crew members, Jesse and Lena, walking through Oslo.

After arriving in Oslo, heading toward our AirBnB for the night.

Post Halden-Prison tour with the HOPE crew & Prison Vice-Governor.

Views of the surrounding area near our AirBnB.

Views from the Norway Constitution Day Parade in Round The World in 180(ish) Days

Norway’s Constitution Day in Fredrikstad.


How to Follow Along:

I’m obviously posting new articles on Suitcase Six,  but I recommend you follow Suitcase Six on Facebook and Instagram too if you want to keep up with my adventures. I’m hoping to share a bit more with my mailing list too, so sign up for that if you want the monthly newsletter and other updates!

If you’re based in one of the countries I’m traveling through, send me a message and lets meet up! I’m both grateful for the ability to take a trip like this and proud of myself for finally making this two-year dream a reality. 


Looking for more posts on working abroad? Try these next:

6 Non-Travel Careers to See the World

How to Prepare for your FIrst Ever Long-Term Travel Experience

“How Travel Changed My Career” – 7 Stories of Women Working and Wandering


Join the Suitcase Six mailing list to get access to freebies to inspire you on your work-abroad-adventure.

After you sign up, you’ll start receive the 30 Jobs to See the World freebie. With links to over 30 jobs that involve travel, you’ll have plenty of ideas to get you dreaming about working abroad.


Round the World in 180(ish) Days - Thoughts at the Start