Over the past few months, people have often asked, “How do you even START setting up a RTW trip like this!?”
One word: PLANNING.
If you’re not a great planner or not very organized, I’m really not sure if it would be a great idea to even ATTEMPT an around-the-world trip. Well, unless you want to spend an EXORBITANT amount of money and waste time in the process, and/or possibly put yourself in many dangerous or inconvenient situations. Fortunately, I am both a great planner and extremely organized. In addition, I have an EXTREME passion for life… heck, I have extreme passion in general, and that’s usually what drives me to do and accomplish anything and everything I’ve done so far in my life.
Just as passion is the main factor that drives people to pursue a career, join a sports team, paint a masterpiece, or play an instrument, passion is what drives many people—including myself—to travel as much as possible, experience other cultures, and get out of town for some relaxation.
Passion is also what keeps you going when you feel defeated or when things get tough in life. If it wasn’t for our passion for travel, we would have never overcome the stress (and sometimes defeat) of packing up our entire lives and addressing each task that needed to be done before we left Los Angeles.
I LOVE lists. My life is surrounded and mostly dictated by lists. Sounds kind of “stuffy”, right? But for me, it’s literally the only way I can stay on top of my work and personal life, and remember what I need to do and when it needs to be completed. Ever since I started traveling, learned to relax a bit more, and began to let go of my 24/7 “go go go” mentality about 7+ years ago, I hardly ever look at clocks anymore & can kind of be “flighty” with things that need to get done. LISTS are what keep me on track nowadays.
Speaking of lists, below is part of our main list we created to help up stay on track with planning and prepping for our around-the-world trip . . . and in the end I had to organize it into month-by-month deadlines because the overall list became incredibly overwhelming!
Here’s a little taste . . .
RTW TO DO LIST
- Research countries and cities to visit and put in order “musts” and “maybes”
- Estimate and research budgets for each place & come up with a legitimate overall budget that works for us.
- Research which vaccinations we need for all countries we’re visiting, and then . . .
- Get (and pay for) vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Yellow Fever, Typhoid, Tetanus/Pertussis/Diptheria, Polio, Meningitis, Japanese Encephalitis. Yes… can you say “hurt shoulder” and “expensive”!?
- Take passport photos
- Renew passports (mail in with payment, application, and photos)
- Accrue 180,000 miles each to “pay” for our RTW plane ticket, which includes: researching different credit card bonuses, figuring out how to reach high credit card spend limits by planning group trips and asking friends and family for help with charging high-priced items on our cards & reimbursing us with cash or check.
- Research countries and climates to figure out which direction to travel (east bound or west bound) according to northern or southern hemispheres and seasons, and then plan and try to estimate the best route to go in to ensure we miss snow, flooding, monsoons, and bad weather overall.
- Research and obtain travel health insurance (took probably 20+ hours to nit-pick through fine details and exclusions to make sure we are fully protected, health-wise, on our trip.)
- Schedule a doctor’s visit for an annual exam and to obtain medications for trip (antibiotics in case we get sick, anti-elevation sickness medication, and malaria pills.)
- Take out some kind of insurance to cover our more expensive belongings (laptops, cameras) on the trip in case of theft or losss.
- Research Visas for different countries: costs and ways to obtain them…. For us, for now, we just needed to visit the Chinese embassy in LA to obtain a 1-year multiple entry visa. In the future, we will have to obtain other visas on the road while we are traveling.
- Research banks and credit unions to find one that offers low or no foreign transaction fees, then set up a new account & transfer money over
- Research credit cards and which one(s) would be ideal to take on our trip (we were looking for a card with travel benefits, and low or no foreign transaction fees)
- Redesign & set up travel blog (took months of designing and coding on my part!)
- Design html email layout and gather email addresses for mailing list
- Take scuba refresher course (I haven’t been diving in over 2 years, so I wanted to make sure I was “up to speed” with underwater drills & life saving procedures for when we go diving on our trip)
- Set date for going away party, plan location, and send out invitations. Oh yea, and show up to the party 🙂
- Each of us create a will & trust, and add/update beneficiary information on all bank accounts and retirement accounts, in the unfortunate “just in case” scenario.
- Research phone options for trip, purchase and gather SIM cards, phones, chargers, and any other equipment necessary.
- Sell cars or find a place to store them while we’re away (I sold my car, James is storing his.)
- Renew drivers licenses (I needed to update my address, James needed to update his photo which was last taken when he was 16!!—braces and short hair, and all, haha!)
Research and come up with a list of items needed to pack for our trip, look for good prices (of course!) including shirts, pants, and socks that are made of lightweight, moisture-wicking material that dries easily; water purifier; luggage locks; cameras; utensils; packing cubes; and more.
- Research and try on different large backpacks to hold all of our belongings, laptop/daypack backpacks, and shoes . . . which were the most important items purchased for our trip!!
- Forward/change our mailing addresses with USPS, as well as every credit card, bill, and subscription.
- Research and visit storage units to decide what is the best size and location to put all our belongings while we are away.
- Choose a move date, research movers, and book the company.
- Pack up all belongings, sell furniture, donate unwanted clothing and other stuff to charity.
- Prepare and submit 2012 taxes before we leave the country.
- Research and book hotels, hostels, or home stays for the first month or so of travel.
And of course there are lots of other “little” less important—but still important—things to do like emailing/mailing contact information to close friends and family, research scuba and activities in countries we’re visiting, prepare music and movie files for our laptops for the trip, plan workouts and obtain workouts videos to play on our computers, backup and organize computer files before we leave, and photocopy all documents and leave with family members.
Phew! Yea…. I know, that’s quite a LOT, and we still are actually working on a couple items off that list at the moment. But we’ll get there….I know it.
And, in the end, if you’re passionate about something, and you really want to make it happen, you just have to GO FOR IT!
Think about what you are passionate about in life. What is YOUR main passion? What do you think other people would say is YOUR passion when they think about you and the life you are leading? And are you happy with those answers?
Think about something you really enjoy in life that you’ve been putting off for a long time . . . whether it is travel, or a hobby, or just some quality time with family or friends . . . and just stop putting it off. Make a goal date and shift your priorities slightly to make it happen for you.
Even the smallest passion is really worth it in the end if it brings a smile to your face today!