What does bare bones planning look like for a 100 day trip around the world? How low can you go, so to speak, until you run into trouble? At the moment I’m only able to answer the first question. For those who follow me, you will sooner or later find out the answer to the second!
In the spirit of following my right brain over the course of the next 100 days, I have planned virtually nothing. I invite you to learn from my mistakes :). There are a few things, however, that I could not avoid planning before my departure date. Here are the bare bones I will be working with:
1) MONEY. You need it. Not as much as you’d think, but you do need some savings. Down the road I will dedicate a longer post to this topic.
2) PLANE TICKETS. With your budget in mind, compare airfare to see where and for how long your dollars and any award miles can take you. Decide whether it makes sense to buy a RTW ticket up front or purchase as you go. If you have miles and you’ve decided that you want to go to particular places on particular dates, book those flights ASAP to snag award seats while they are still available. For my RTW trip, I am purchasing tickets as I go (why I made that decision is a topic for a separate post), with the exception of three flights that I booked ahead of time with award miles.
3) GEAR. Depending on the general route you’ve dreamed up, make sure you bring any gear with you that you think you won’t be able to find or afford on the road. A few tips for packing light: stick to a particular theme and/or hemisphere for your trip. Climbing mountains while also surfing around the world makes for a heavy pack! If you travel to both the northern and southern hemispheres you will have to pack both swimsuits/flip flops and parkas/heavy boots. That said, if you have more money to throw around, or decide to go into more debt, you can buy gear as you go and give it away when you no longer need it. The items I’ve purchased for this trip are a backpack, camera, and an ipad (another topic for another post).
4) TRAVEL INSURANCE. Back in the day, I was notoriously good at the board game of Life until the moment a fire burned down my property (which was virtually every time) because I never wanted to spend money on insurance. Between Life and my tendency on the Oregon Trail to drown in river crossings, I’ve learned that tempting fate usually doesn’t work out so well for me. And so, travel insurance made this list. When purchasing travel insurance, do you homework on whether it covers the types of activities you’ll be participating in. For me, World Nomads (the only travel insurance recommended by Lonely Planet for whatever that’s worth) made sense given my activities and budget.
5) VISAS. Research which countries require them. This visa mapper provides an easy map that shows which countries require visas based on your nationality. You can get visas by either mailing in a copy of your passport with the appropriate application to your embassy (or going in person of course) or, for some countries, you can pay online for an approval letter from the host country. Bring this approval letter and two passport photos with you when you get on the plane. Upon arrival in the host country’s airport you can collect your visa. Note that for the latter option you must actually fly into the country; it doesn’t work for overland travel.
And those are the Bare Bones folks! Feel free to add to the list!
T minus two days until I depart. Stay tuned to find out my first stop :).