Logistics of RTW travel – part 6: Staying healthy on the road

If you need to catch up…
Part 1: When & where are you going?
Part 2: How to create your spendings budget
Part 3: How to create your savings budget
Part 4: Tracking your bookings (& saving your sanity)
Part 5: 10 things to do before you head off

 

Whether you’re travelling for a few weeks or a few months, your mental and physical health will be put to the test. Travel means exposing yourself to new environments, and with that comes all sorts of chances to get sick. While you can obviously never take away all risks, there are a few things you can do to minimise them and make your time away a little more pleasant…

 

1. Look at your diet and exercise regime a month or two before you head off.
If you like to walk a lot when you’re travelling and usually sit at your desk 8 hours each day for work, now is a good time to start walking a bit more each day. Start getting off the train a stop earlier, or get up an hour earlier every second morning for a walk before work. Also, pump up your veggie intake now – give your body every chance to be in the best shape possible and full of vitamins and anti-oxidants before you set off. If you need some quick, easy and healthy recipe ideas, click on over this way!

2. Get vaccinated.
Check with your doctor if it’s recommended to get vaccinated for any of the areas you’re going to. I think it’s a good idea to get a flu shot, too – sitting on planes, trains and automobiles with no airflow and lots of other people, someone’s bound to be sick! Especially if you’re travelling in winter like us!

 

3. Sort out your medications.
While you’re seeing your doctor, get any scripts for medications you may need while you’re away filled. Don’t count on being able to get what you need over the counter at pharmacies while you’re on the road, so if you can’t live without it, get it sorted out now. If you have a sad immune system like mine, it may also be a good idea to ask your doctor for a script for some wide spectrum antibiotics for anything you may encounter while you’re away.

4. Take a good quality multi-vitamin few a few months before leaving, and also while you’re away.
You’re generally not going to be eating as balanced a diet while you’re on the road, so if you can boost your system with some extra vitamins and minerals, that can only be a good thing.

5. Invest in good shoes .
If you’re anything like us and walk everywhere while you’re away, crappy shoes will make for a very painful adventure. And if, like us, you have flat feet, put even more thought into your choice of footwear – and maybe consider orthotics to bring with you.

6. Drink water, and lots of it.
Start your day with a glass of water before you leave your hotel or Airbnb, carry a water bottle around with you, drink a glass or two over lunch or dinner if you eat out, get it in however you can – your body will thank you later!

7. Spend 10 minutes each day doing some gentle yoga, or at least stretching.
Travelling takes a serious toll on your body, what with all of the walking and carrying bags and all. If you’re into your yoga, take a few minutes at the start and/or end of the day to run through a few poses. If you’re not into your yoga, just stretch – your hamstrings, calves, quads, back. It’ll only take a few minutes, but will make a HUGE difference.

8. Meditate.
Mental health is every bit as important as physical health when you’re on the road, especially for people like me who do suffer from mental health hurts. So, try starting your mornings with a short meditation session – even though the day is likely to get crazy at some point, you can at least start with a calm mind! You can download dozens of apps on your phone now with great guided meditations (my favourite is Insight Timer app), and even 5 minutes can make an enormous difference.

 

 

Ohh and happy 800th post to me! That was a nice surprise to realise when I was getting this one ready to go! Thanks for reading along, guys 🙂

Logistics of RTW travel – part 5: 10 things to do before you head off

If you need to catch up first…
Part 1: When & where are you going?
Part 2: How to create your spendings budget
Part 3: How to create your savings budget
Part 4: Tracking your bookings (& saving your sanity)

 

Whether you’ve decided to plan ahead like me or just wing it, this list is for everyone; some things are too important to leave to chance.

1. Check whether or not you need visas
Some countries won’t let you in without a visa, and they’ll have no qualms about shipping you right back to where you came from. For that same reason, even if certain countries do offer visas on arrival at a cheaper rate, you’re still better off organising them beforehand. Imagine if you spent all that time and money on your dream adventure only to be turned away before even leaving the airport?! And yes, it does happen – I worked as a travel consultant and heard a colleague dealing with that situation on the phone one day!

 

2. Get travel insurance
If you can’t afford insurance, you can’t afford to travel. It’s as simple as that. This should be the very first item you purchase, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s absolutely non-negotiable. And if you think it’s expensive, consider how much an ambulance or surgery could cost in a country like America, where the health care system isn’t quite what we have in Australia!

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3. Register your plans with Smart Traveller
I’m a big believer in “hope for the best, but plan for the worst,” so the next few points are along that path. First up, register your plans on Smart Traveller. It’s a service provided by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and is basically the place to register your travel plans for any “just incase” situations (think natural and man made disasters). If you’re a non-Aussie reader, check if your country offers something similar.

 

4. Put an itinerary together for family/friends
As well as registering plans with Smart Traveller, I always leave a copy of my itinerary with family and/or friends. Because if anything were to happen to me overseas or to my loved ones back at home while I’m travelling, I want them to know how to find me quickly. My itineraries will always have:
– passport & visa copies
– insurance details
– flight/train details (dates, times, cities & flight/train numbers)
– accommodation details (name, address, phone, email, booking number, dates)

If you don’t want to print everything, Evernote is an app you need. I wrote more about it here, but basically it’s a note taking app which I used to plan this entire trip! The advantage it offers is the ability to share notebooks with other users, so if you have an itinerary folder with all those details, you can just share access to it via the app! It also means that if you change or update anything while you’re away, the people you’re sharing with will be able to see the changes.

 

5. Know where your local consulates are
Call it overkill, but with some of the scary stuff going on in the world today (if Kim Kardashian isn’t safe in her Parisian hotel, what hope do the rest of us have?!), I’m erring on the side of caution. It doesn’t take long to Google and save the addresses, phone numbers and/or email addresses of your country’s consulates in some of the bigger cities you’ll visit. Save them in your phone, it couldn’t hurt!

 

6. See  your doctor
A quick phone call to your GP’s office should be able to tell you if you need any immunisations. Also, if you take prescription medication, make sure you have enough to get you through your trip. Some countries can also be quite strict regarding medication coming through customs, so if that’s going to be an issue for any places you’re visiting, ask your doctor for a letter to bring along with you.

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7. Call your bank and organize your foreign currency
Seems like a no-brainer, but make sure you know what currency you’re going to need! Rather than travelling with cash or being stung with foreign transaction fees at ATMs when you’re away, consider a travel debit card. I use a Cash Passport, and it’s perfect for what I want; I can load multiple currencies, use it overseas in ATMs or as a regular debit card with no transaction fees, and best of all is that I can top it up whenever I’m running low on cash via their website!

It’s also worth letting your bank know you’re going to be overseas for a while so if there’s a lot of international activity/you don’t touch your account for several weeks, they won’t shut it down!

 

8. Sort out your phone/communications
I don’t have international roaming on my phone, nor do I intend to. When you travel, there is pretty much always access to free Wi-Fi somewhere. If you don’t want to worry about a horrific phone bill while you’re away (especially if it’s for a few months), think about using apps like Skype, Viber or WhatsApp that you’ll be able to use when your connected to free Wi-Fi instead!

Husband and I are also those weirdos who aren’t on Facebook or Twitter, so we’ve told our family and friends who want to keep up to date with the trip to follow along on Instagram. We’ve also created a private, password-protected mini-blog using Tumblr (totally underrated app) that only our family and friends have the password to, so we can share more personal stuff. There’s also the functionality of a private message section and a public post section, again to make it easy to communicate without international roaming.

 

9.Bills, bills, bills
Unfortunately, just because you’re checking out of the real world for a while doesn’t mean it stops. If you’re like us, there’s still a mortgage, bills, car and health and home insurance to be paid while we’re away! . I’ve gone into way more detail about the financial side of things in this post, so a few small points here.

We’ve been saving and budgeting for this trip for quite a while, and have been putting a bit of extra money away each pay day to cover our mortgage repayments and other direct debits while we’re away. This way, any money we get paid for annual leave from work goes straight to our trip instead of those bills.

We’ve also elected to receive electronic bills for utilities, so we won’t miss anything. If that’s not possible, it’s a good idea to ask a friend to check your mail every week and open anything that looks like a bill, so you can pay it on time. The other option is to see if anything else can be set up on a direct debit payment plan.

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10. Record it all!
I’m obviously one for recording the memories I create, and I don’t think I should be the only one – think about how much time and effort you’ve put into planning this adventure. You won’t want to forget it all a few weeks after you get home! Invest in a good camera, get a travel journal and nice pen, create a travel blog. However you want to do it, make sure you have some place to keep all of the magic moments that happen on the road; those are the moments that turn into golden memories years later 🙂

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.

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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.

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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!

Logistics of RTW travel – part 1: When & where are you going?

I mentioned a few weeks ago when I introduced our #👫WorldTour that I was going to put together a little series of posts to explore the logistics of organising a round the world trip and wanted to get started now. I figured with so much time between now and when we’re actually leaving, I’ll give you one every few weeks during the lead up, and the most logical place to start with that is to work out when and where you’re going!

They may seem like a simple enough questions, but actually, there can actually be a bit more thought that needs to go into the decision making process than just picking a place on the map. Here are some questions that are worth spending some time mulling over before you really get started…

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WHERE?

Where do you WANT to go?
That should be easy enough – make a list of all the places you really want to see, however far fetched and impossible to get to they seem, and for whatever ridiculous reasons. I mean, to start off with, I only wanted to go to New Orleans to explore some of their more macabre history, myths and legends, even though it was on the other side of the world (and a damn expensive airfare away), and we all know how that worked out!

WHY do you want to go?
Similarly to the last question, work out WHY you want to go. Why you REALLY want to go. You want to walk through the cemeteries in New Orleans? Eat at the oldest restaurant in Rome? Visit that city your favourite movie was filmed in? The only person who needs to know the why is you, so be honest. Once you start asking yourself this question and answering honestly, you’ll be able to work out if your reasoning is good enough reason to warrant the time and money that’ll go into the adventure.

Are you compromising on destinations?
Once you’ve answered your first two questions, you can start putting a rough “itinerary” together – it may be nothing more than “London, Paris, Rome” at this stage. Once you have that list, ask yourself if you’re compromising on any of your destinations. For example, maybe in Italy you actually really wanted to go to the Amalfi Coast, but it looks way too hard and complicated to get to, so you compromised on Rome instead. When I catch myself thinking like this, I always stop; if I’m taking the time off work and spending that much money to get across the world anyway, I may as well do EXACTLY what I wanted to do, difficulties be damned. Because it’s never not been worth it, in the end 🙂

How much is it going to cost?
Some destinations are just expensive, even if you’ve budgeted carefully and stay in cheap accommodation. London, Tokyo or Geneva, for example, are all going to cost a lot more to spend a week in than Phuket, Hanoi or Goa. Ask yourself if you are going to realistically be able to save enough money to actually enjoy yourself in your chosen locations – there’s nothing worse than finally getting there and being dead broke and unable to make the most of your time away.

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WHEN?

Are you taking paid or unpaid leave?
This is a big one to consider and weigh up, because it can have a huge impact on your trip. For example, you may be able to take paid time off with restrictions around the time of year you take off (but you’d still be getting paid) versus unpaid time off any time of the year you please. Ultimately, that’s a call only you can make!

What’s going on in the world at that time?
Is it school holidays? That can drive prices up quite a lot. Are there going to be public or religious holidays on? That can limit opening hours of certain attractions and transport options. Are there any special events like major art exhibits or sports games on? That may mean accommodation will book out super early.

What’s the weather going to be like?
Again, this is a pretty individual one; I’m a winter girl, myself. I’d rather risk a flight delay due to a snow storm than risk missing a few days of my trip due to sun stroke. There’s also the consideration that certain places and attractions can have seasonal limitations – for example, driving around Iceland, we’re having to be quite aware of road closures during winter months, but there’s also a much better chance of seeing the Northern Lights at that time of year, so it’s worth it for us.

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Don’t let these any of these things put you off, but don’t go in blind, either; weigh up the pros and cons. And now, your turn to get planning 🙂 If you have any ideas for trips you dream of taking one day, feel free to share them here, too – more ideas for the bucket list is never a bad thing!

 

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…