Logistics of RTW travel – part 4: Tracking your bookings (& saving your sanity)

If you need to catch up before we get started…

Ok, so we’ve worked out where and when to go. We’ve worked out roughly how much it’s going to cost. And we’ve worked out a plan to save the funds. Now that’s all done, it’s time to get booking!

But if you’re taking a trip like ours, there’s going to be a lot to book. Flights, trains, hire cars, hotels, Airbnbs, insurance and visas, tickets to sports games and museums and cooking classes… When you have 4 months worth of bookings, you’ll want to be able to keep tabs on things quickly and easily. You don’t need fancy accounting programs or booking-tracker apps; you literally just need a simple spreadsheet.

img_5141
This is basically how mine is set up, in a note on my trusty Evernote app:
TRANSPORT:
FLIGHT DETAILS BUDGET ACTUAL COST & DATE PAID BOOKED WITH BOOKING
NUMBER
NOTES
01 Jan: MEL – LAX $2400.00 $2285.00 paid via credit card 18.02.17 Qantas website 18.02.17 XXX88X Saved email in RTW folder
02 Jan: LAX – YYC $600.00 $629.00 paid via PayPal 24.02.17 American Airlines website 24.02.17 XX55XX
08 Jan: YYC – KTN $800.00 $784.00 paid via credit card 02.03.17 Alaska Airlines website 02.03.17 XXXX98
ACCOMMODATION:
HOTEL
DETAILS
BUDGET ACTUAL COST & DATE PAID BOOKED WITH BOOKING NUMBER NOTES
01 – 02 Jan: Los Angeles hotel $150.00 USD$85.00 to be paid on arrival Booking.com 05.03.17 ABCDEF Double room, non-smoking
02 – 08 Jan: Calgary hotel $800.00
08 – 12 Jan: Ketchikan hotel $500
OTHER:
DETAILS BUDGET ACTUAL COST & DATE PAID BOOKED WITH BOOKING
NUMBER
NOTES
Travel insurance $400.00
Canadian National Parks pass $150.00
Ketchikan city tour $50.00

And that’s about it. The way I use this is:

1. I started by filling in the first column of the travel plans that needed to be booked.

2. I filled in the second column with the amount we budgeted for each item.

 

Once we actually started getting things booked in:

3. I filled in the third column with the actual amount we ended up spending and the date it was paid

4. The fourth column was who I booked with, be in via email, website, third party, whatever, and the date they confirmed the booking.

5. In column five, I just put the booking confirmation number.

6. And the last column is just any notes.

IMG_9659
This has been SO much easier that trying to write down details, keep track of receipts, dealing with piles of paperwork I’ve printed. Because pretty much everything is done online these days, I’ve been able to have all confirmations and payment receipts emailed to me, and if I need to find them, I just need to copy and paste the reservation number from that spreadsheet into my email inbox search function! it’s also been a really great tool for keeping on top of how closely we’ve been sticking to our budget – realising how far under we actually were, we even decided to splurge on a gorgeous 4 star beach-side resort in Koh Samui for the end of our trip instead of our usual 2-star standard!
Advertisements

The #👫WorldTour…

This week, husband and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary, and 12 years together… wow. When we started dating back in 2004, it wasn’t immediately apparent that we had a heap in common. Except for travel. We used to spend hours talking late into the night about all of the places we wanted to see, all the adventures we wanted to take. He wanted to drink rum and listen to music in Havana. I wanted to  sail on the Nile and see the pyramids in Cairo. We discovered that we both desperately wanted to see New Orleans, which led me to discover a surprising appreciation for jazz music in this guy, and he to discover my odd fascination for mythology and the occult. We wanted to safari through Africa and stare out over the concrete jungle of New York City. We wanted to eat pizza in Rome and hot dogs in Chicago. We wanted to world.

But, we were young. We were university students with casual jobs and wages. We graduated together and wasted no time getting to work; we were both big dreamers, but husband had no idea just how stubborn or determined I could be once I set my sights on something, a fact that I think he’s come to respect (and fear).

Not quite a year after graduating, we were renting our first place together. We had to set aside our dreams of world travel so that we could get established in the working world and pay the rent and bills. A few years later, we felt the pressure to be “responsible” and bought land to build a house on (“because you should have been paying off our own home instead of someone else’s while renting,” said all of the grown ups). We moved into our shiny new home on a big chunk of land over Christmas 2009. A few months later, we were engaged, and in October 2010 we were married. We wanted a big, USA adventure for our honeymoon, but with a new house and a wedding within 12 months, it was impossible. So, once again, our dreams were shelved so we could be responsible adults.

Not long after, we realised we were both miserable. We loved each other very much, but we hated where we lived. It too big a house for us, with a mortgage that wouldn’t allow us to actually LIVE. We started planning our escape, allowing ourselves a glimmer of hope that our dreams of travel might actually be possible after all. I didn’t need dreams, though; I needed something concrete. I went into woman-possessed mode, and before long had a plan to get us on a 4 week trip to Egypt and Europe. In March/April 2013, I finally got to fulfil my lifelong dream of travelling to Egypt. I think  a lot of people assumed that we’d take that trip, “get the travel thing out of our systems” and be a proper married couple and start having babies. It just made us more determined to not make the same mistake again of doing what everyone expected; we already tried it that way, and we were both miserable.

Move along another few years, and were in a new house which we both adored. We got braver and planned our big trip to America (finally), for 6 weeks. Financially, it wasn’t easy (we went less than 2 years after the EuroTrip) with a mortgage and bills to pay, but hard work, a lot of sacrifices and sheer determination saw us get it done, and it was incredible. I also managed to save enough money to take a few trips on my own in that time, which was twice as tough, but also infinitely more rewarding.

Not long after returning from America, we realised that if we weren’t ready to “settle down” and have a kid because we wanted to travel, then we should stop wishing and start doing. We set ourselves a gargantuan goal; a four month trip around the world, the one we’d been talking about since 2004, to depart in September 2017 (keep in mind, we only got back from America in January 2015, just got back from Vietnam last weekend, and still have the mortgage & bills to pay). And guess what?

It’s happening.

Finally.

This time next year, we’ll already be a week or so into our 4 month adventure of a lifetime, and we are beyond excited! The planning and budgeting and sacrifices that are making this trip possible are bordering on absurd, but none of it seems hard. This is what we have both wanted for the longest time, and we’re so very ready for it!

Our itinerary will include…

  • Banff & Jasper National Parks
  • Yosemite & Sequoia National Parks
  • Ketchikan
  • Chicago
  • New York
  • New Orleans (duh)
  • London
  • Dublin
  • Iceland
  • Paris
  • Barcelona
  • Ronda
  • Bern
  • Munich
  • Berlin
  • Prague
  • Vienna
  • A whole lot of Italy
  • Osaka
  • Tokyo
  • Koh Sami

 

We have a whoooooole hell of a lot to organise between now and then; being on a budget and having a set date we need to be back home and at work, we’ve decided to book our flights and accommodation in advance rather than winging in. That may sound incredibly daunting, but it’s actually not as scary as it sounds; over the next 12 months leading up to the trip, I’ll be putting together a series of posts on how to deal with the logistics of such a big trip, so if this is something you’ve always wanted to do, too, you can’t use the “too hard” card as an excuse 😉

I’m also putting a call for help out there – if you have any recommendations on where to stay (cheaper hotels/Airbnbs), what to eat, what to see, lesser known experiences, please let us know!! We want to see and do and eat as much as we can, and if you live in any of the places we’re planning to visit, I’ll bet you can tell us a hell of a lot more than any guidebook can!

But for now, it’s head down, bum up, and off to work I go. On the train to work, it’s hard to believe that this time next year, I’ll be on my way around the world…