The last few months have gone by in a flash! I was so absorbed by finishing and submitting my PhD and then having too much fun at Glastonbury that I even missed the 100 day deadline. But in less than three months Simon and I will be waving goodbye to good old England and strapping on those backpacks to head to the other side of the world. First stop: Peru! (you can check out our whole route here)
I can’t believe how fast time is flying and even less how much work we still have ahead of us before take-off. For all of you who are also planning a round the world trip I thought I’d compose a list of things to do before you go away. I will start with the things we’ve already sorted:
- Pick your route and book flights – duh! You can either go for a round-the-world ticket like we did or buy one flight and then book as you go along. We were a bit overkeen and booked our RTW flights in February with Travel Nation.
- Get travel insurance: do this as soon as you’ve booked your flights so you are covered in case of cancellation. I booked mine through Travel Nation.
- Book major activities in advance that could otherwise book up. We booked our places on the Inca Trail 9 months ahead of time as it quickly books up and we didn’t want to miss out. We chose Wayki Trek as our operators as they are environmentally friendly and have great reviews
- Go to a travel clinic and find out which vaccinations you will need. You should do this well in advance as some vaccinations require a course of two to three shots over a period of a few months so find out as soon as possible
- Set a budget and save. I basically read every blog on the web on how much money you need to travel to the countries on our lists and then calculated a budget from the figures I found. Fingers crossed we can stick to it!
- Buy all your gear! I started buying all my bits and bobs months ago so I could take advantage of sales and discounts. I only need a snorkel mask, an underwater camera case and walking trousers. The most important piece of equipment is your backpack so make sure you find one that fits well and has all the features you want (panel loading, not too big, pink etc)
- Get a debit or credit card which doesn’t charge you for cash withdrawals abroad. In the UK I found Metro bank to be the best option for us. They have a free current account and they print your debit card on the day of your visit for you to take home!
- Cancel all unnecessary bank cards, phone contracts, insurance etc.
- Check your passport is up to date and you have enough pages for all the stamps and visas
- Get a health and dental check before you set off
- Sign up for Wwoofing (World-wide opportunities on organic farms). It’s an international organisation where you can find organic farms or other small businesses who are in need of volunteers. You help out with whatever work needs to be done for about 4-5 hours a day and in return you get free accommodation and food! It’s a great way to meet locals and to learn a new skill or two. We are hoping to do some wwoofing while we’re in Central America and Australia
- This one is for the girls: Start thinking about contraception early on as you might want to change to a more road friendly method. For example, if you are using the Nuvaring which has to be stored in the fridge you might want to think about other options as you might not always be able to keep it cooled while travelling in warm countries. The patch (it’s like a nicotine patch) might be a great alternative.
- Start a blog to keep your friends and family posted, here are some of my favourite travel blogs.
And this is all the stuff we still need to do, aaahhh!
- Apply for any visas in advance (check the guidelines though as they might only be valid for 3, 6 or 12 months so don’t do it too soon)
- Apply for the Australian working visa if you plan to work in Oz at all. I am 30 already so I have to apply before my next birthday, but I can work at 31 as long as apply when I’m still 30
- Sell all your stuff! I haven’t really started with this yet but have sorted out lots of stuff to give to charity
- If you are planning to take a laptop of similar with you then you’ll need to decide between the many options out there. We were struggling to decide between a cheap‑ish netbook and a high end tablet. I was keen to have a proper keyboard and wanted Windows but Simon was after a light-weight tablet to play games on and just surf the web. We found a great compromise in the Lenovo Yoga Pad which is a real laptop but the touch screen folds over and converts it into a tablet. We are just waiting for a good deal now!
- Forward your mail to a reliable friend of relative
- Create a dropbox account or something similar so you can upload and protect your photos on the go
- Get a student discount card like the ISIC if you are eligible, you can save on lots of activities and entry fees around the world ü
- Update your CV and Linkedin account in case you want to apply for jobs while abroad
- Write down all your email, online banking and other important logins for your mum (or someone else reliable) in case you can’t access the internet for a while
- Do a trial pack a few weeks before you leave to make sure you can fit everything and can actually get the pack on your back without toppling over (I had to learn this the hard way at Glastonbury, think struggling tortoise on its back…)
- Collect everybodys’ addresses so you can send postcards from the road
- Throw a farewell party with all your friends and family!
What do you think? Did I forget anything important?