Hi! we're kinda in the same boat, we leave in January and are first time travellers. We dicided not to go to thailand first simply because of culture shock issues- we didnt want to appear with no knowledge or experience in a difficult country where no one speaks english! basically we decided to do the standard route on its head. We are travelling from london to new york, then san fran and overland to LA,before flying to fiji, new zealand, australia and travelleing into Thailand on ground. We did it on a round the world ticket with STA travel approx 1000. Also take into account your insurance, innoculations, visas, equipment and daily living. You can get by in USA on £25 a day, same at fiji. £15 should do in a scrounge in australia and new zealand and £10 in south east asia will secure descent standards! (THIS IS FOOD AND BOARD!). The first step I woild advsie is getting a map! then look at what sort of things you wouls like to do and research like a bee. Then I would advise talking to a travel agent (STA are the best in my opinion) to see if your route if plausible ad how it could be improved. Our total budget is just over 5000 but this is different for everyone I think. The guys at the travel agents are best to ask, the guys at STA are all experienced travellers- it's nice to get face to face advice from someone who knows the ropes!