We’re just a couple of weeks away from 2012, and lo and behold, even with the setbacks we are actually right on schedule with our round-the-world trip planning! I’m determined to stay on pace since there’s so much to do and the months leading up to the actual trip will be hectic even without the trip preparations. But that doesn’t mean I’m not astounded that things are actually working out so far!
Since we’ve both been so busy, J and I have been trying to have weekly “meetings” (so sad- we live together!) to talk through the trip. The meetings work out about 50% of the time, but somehow we’ve managed to get stuff done. Ordinarily, he’s perfectly happy to do things last-minute and will remain calm, cool and collected even if he’s packing on the way to the airport, but by nature, I’m not too much of a procrastinator. Let’s just say there was a terribly embarrassing moment in college where I procrastinated and subsequently completely choked during a presentation (my professor: “wow, I’ve never seen that happen before!”); I’ve been well-prepared ever since.
Our goal for 2011 was essentially to figure out the framework for our trip and then research all of the topics pertaining to it so that in 2012, we’re just need to run down the list and do everything we’ve already looked into. Easy? Totally (<-optimism!).
I thought I’d share our to-do list so that you can get a sense of what planning a trip of this magnitude entails. I’ll also be elaborating on some of these topics in future posts. You’ll notice that during the earlier months there are definitely things that could wait until later but we’re trying to get them out of the way since the 2-3 months before departure will be cah-razy.
Here it is:
- Set up blog: hi there!
- Decide on a budget: create budgets for the months leading up to and during the trip. Start cutting back on expenses. Boo. Hiss.
- Brainstorm ideas and research locations: look into festivals and sights that are “must dos”
- Map out a general route: determine where we want to go and approximately when we need to be in each location in order to follow warm weather, avoid major crowds (often not possible!), and hit the “must dos”
- Hoard miles: consolidate frequent flier miles and use credit cards as much as possible (but pay them off in full each month!) to accrue miles that we can use for flights
- Review homeowners insurance policy: determine what is and isn’t covered so we can fill in the gaps with whatever travel insurance policy we choose
2012 (6 months to go!)
- Finalize ideas
- Review condo policies and legalities: familiarize ourselves with deadlines and paperwork requirements in order to rent out our apartment
- Make living arrangements: for our first destination and anyplace where lodging options might deplete quickly due to major events
- Sign-up for programs: volunteer projects, housesits, adventure trips, etc.
- Purchase plane tickets: one way, to our first destination. Hopefully with frequent flier miles!
- Print extra passport photos: for visas, tickets, etc. we might obtain while on the road
- Order extra business cards: order additional business cards to trade with people I meet during the trip
- Set up communication capabilities: set up phone, conferencing, etc. in order to communicate locally and with friends and family back home
- Set up online bill pay and bank account: make sure we can pay any monthly bills online and open a bank account that won’t charge us international atm fees
- Arrange for storage: figure out what we can store at our parents’ homes and how big of a storage unit we’ll need to rent out for everything else
- Rent out apartment: start working with a real estate agent to list and show our apartment
- Take GRE standardized exam: take the GRE before I leave so that I have the option of working or going to graduate school after our trip is over
- Learn languages: Russian for J, Spanish for me
- Learn to drive stick: in many countries, it’s much more expensive (or impossible) to rent a car with an automatic transmission, so we thought it would be a worthwhile investment to learn how to drive stick beforehand
- Obtain international driving permit: it’s required in some countries
- Go in for check-ups: medical and dental
- Get vaccinations: already done since we needed several for our upcoming trip to Kenya and Tanzania. We’ll need a couple of others for the round-the-world, but we’re going to get those overseas.
- Get medication: the basics and a couple of prescription medications, but we’ll also try to buy some while overseas, as needed.
- Buy travel insurance: and document our things in the event that we need to file a claim
- Finish buying supplies: gear, clothes, toiletries, etc. We’ve been keeping an eye out for deals on things that we need and buying as they come up.
- Update resumes and LinkedIn profiles: so that we can hit the ground running with the job search after we come home
- Copy, scan and upload documents: create copies of necessary documents to bring with us and upload scans of documents, policies, etc. so that we can access them while on the road and easily share with family if something comes up.
- Send itinerary and contact info to family and friends
- Apply for Russia and India visas: I’d prefer to do this earlier, but both have strict limitations regarding when/how long they’re valid for, so we have to wait until closer to our departure date.
- Cancel subscriptions and services: magazines, cable/internet, cellphone, etc.
- Call credit card companies and banks: so they know we’ll be out of the country and won’t shut things down due to suspicious activity
- Set up passwords on tech tools: we’re going to be schlepping quite the arsenal of equipment with us, so we just need to set up passwords, etc. on each of them in the even that they’re stolen or lost.
- Re-route mail: probably to our parents’ homes so that they can help monitor any important communications that come through
- Pack up and move out of the apartment: stress.
Featured photo by Keith Williamson
Since my checklist is specific to my life circumstances and needs, here are a couple of other round-the-world checklists that you may also want to check out for comparison: