The On-going Preparation...
It feels as if there are tons of things that need to be done before I leave. Of course, I won't be
able to do everything I want to before I leave. There are some things that MUST be done and
others that I would just like to get done. Here is my 'master plan' that I'm using to help me.
Hopefully the important things won't slip through the cracks this way.
This Website - This was something I wanted to start so that I had a way to keep people
posted with regards to where I am going to be and what I have done. It's definitely
time-consuming but will be well worth it.
Doctor - I will need to go to the travel doctor again and get the rest of my vaccines. I will also
need to find out what prescriptions I'm going to need to get and how many of each. I will need
to go to my regular doctor, too, and have him set me up with all of my prescriptions.
*Update - I went to the doctor and got the following vaccines: polio, measles/mumps/rubella, the first part of the Hepatitis A series,
and tetanus. I also got an EKG, had them do some blood work and did a lung/breathing test. I also went to get another Hepatitis A
shot in the series and the results of my other tests. I will go back in April to complete the series of vaccines for Hepatitis A and
Hepatitis B (I got the first one before going to Africa).
*Update as of 4/4/06: I got the last series of my Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B vaccines. My doctor also gave me prescriptions for
Cipro, Amoxicillin, Tylenol with codeine and another medicine for digestive problems.
Photography - I did get some good practice using my camera on my last trip but I know
there's still lots to learn. I'm hoping to take some photography classes before I leave.
*Update - I have taken one class so far on digital photography. I hope to have at least two more under my belt by the time I leave.
Laptop - I'm in the beginning stages of looking for a laptop to take with me. I need to find
something lightweight and small. Plus I don't want to spend an arm and a leg. I need to make
sure that it also has all of the features that I want.
* Update- I ended up buying an IBM X40 Thinkpad from somebody off of Craigslist. It's extremely light (3.2 pounds) and that is
with a bigger battery! It already had Microsoft Office on it and I got an extra 1GB of memory and the docking station all for $1250.
And it still has 2 years of the warranty left. I'm already using it and really liking it!
Destinations - I'm trying to figure out places that I definitely want to see. I need to sort
those from the places that I would 'like' to see. Considering I won't be able to see everything I
would like to, I need to prioritize a bit.
* Update - I've made a link for each country that I would be interested in going to. This way I can quickly reference them and the
important information to know before arriving. I've also made a rough 'itinerary'. This will be a quick way for people to have an idea
of where I might be at different times of the year.
Visas - I need to find out which countries I plan on going to require visas. After that, I need to
find out which ones are more difficult to get and find out how to go about these. Visas that I
anticipate being a challenge: Russia, Mongolia, Lebanon (and I'm sure there are others!).
*Update - I found a government website that gives accurate information regarding where visas are required. There are also email
addresses included for several countries. I'm going to email certain embassies for the ones I have questions about. Once I get my
passport back, I can get started with these. The tricky part with this is that you can't obtain a visa over 3 months in advance.
** I have found out that I can obtain an Lebanon visa upon arrival at the airport. I got my one-year India visa (it was ready on the
same day). I don't need a visa for Mongolia. And I will most likely obtain my Russia visa in Budapest. This week I hope to find out
about the China visa.
***Because Lebanon is landlocked between Israel and Syria, I have sent my passport in to the Syria embassy to get a Syria visa.
This will save me problems crossing the border since I've heard Americans can be turned away for visas at the border. The
Israel/Lebanon border is closed so that's not even an option.
****I got my passport back from the Syrian consulate (about one week after I sent it in to Washington, D.C. I also figured out that I
will get my Russia visa in Cape Town.
*****I went and got my China visa (I was able to pick it up two days later).
Passport Photos - I need to find out how many pictures I should get to take along with me
since I will need at least one for each visa that I get. In many cases I'll need two, and sometimes
*Update - I have a rough idea from the website I'm using for the visas of how many pictures I should bring with me. I will probably
get those taken shortly.
Passport - Since I have almost used up all of my pages in my current passport, I need to find
out if I should just get an updated passport with extra pages before I leave. Hopefully this will
be enough room for all of the visas that I need to get along the way, as well.
*Update - I received my new twice-as-big passport (it has 48 pages as opposed to the regular 24 pages).
Storage and Movers- I need to figure out what size of a storage unit I'm going to need and
then compare prices in addition to what the storage facilities offer (climate control, security,
*I have hired my movers. I feel like I got a good deal-- $99 per hour for four guys. This also includes insurance and all
transportation costs. I'm going to go ahead with Public Storage in Belmont to store everything.
Travel Insurance - While I know of websites that compare different travel insurance
policies, this is still something that I'm going to need to put a bit of time into.
*I purchased travel insurance for $200 for the year. I was going to purchase one with much better coverage but then read the fine
print and saw that I would have to have insurance coverage at home. Since I'm not going to have that, I opted for this one which still
seems too good to be true. I went through www.insuremytrip.com to find the different plans.
Will - As morbid as this sounds, I need to draft a will before I leave. Really, this is something
that should be done regardless of this trip.
*Update - I signed my will and Power of Attorney.
Budget - This has been an ever-changing thing since the time I first decided I was going to do
this trip. I know I don't want to live lavishly; I also know that I'm not going to be staying at
hostels unless under dire circumstances. There will be several times when I splurge (like for
my 30th birthday, when people visit, etc.).
*Update - I'm going to do my best to use the 'wedding money' my mom put aside for me for as many things as possible. After that
runs out, I'm going to rely on $20,000 that I've set aside for the trip.
Phone vs. Calling Card - Many people have told me I should buy a GSM phone and then
buy chips that come with pre-paid minutes. The GSM phone allows you to call from just about
anywhere in the world. But then there are calling cards that you can buy in places. One less
gadget to carry. But not as convenient since you have to find a pay phone and figure out the
*Update - I looked at these phones last weekend and the whole idea of them overwhelmed me. I have decided that I will just pick
up a calling card in a place if I feel that I really need to call somebody. I think I'm also going to look into Skype. I was told this was a
very cheap way to call home while I'm on the computer.
**I have put some money into the Skype account that I created. My sister got a microphone for her computer and we tested it out
and it worked extremely well.
Bills/Mail/Magazines - I'm going to need to change the address for everything that I
receive a bill for and everything that I subscribe to. While my sister will have the task of paying
my credit card bills and transferring my bank funds when I don't have access to the Internet,
she will be rewarded with many new magazines.
*I have changed my address with the U.S.P.S. as of the middle of April to be forwarded to Michelle's house in Atlanta. I have also
arranged to have all of my credit card bills paid by automatic payment out of my checking account. This means, despite having
three credit cards for my trip, I will only have to worry about transferring money in my Wells Fargo account and won't have to
worry about thinking about each individual credit card. I have also gone ahead and changed all of my magazine subscriptions to my
Car - I need to sell my car and cancel the insurance. As sad as this is going to be, it's also going
to be a relief to not throw any more money into that thing!
*Update - 4/26/06: I ended up selling my car to friends. I definitely would have rather sold it to someone who I don't know at all
because now I will feel responsible if anything happens...even though I disclosed everything. They seemed to really want it so I just
decided to go ahead and sell it to them. This all took place 30 minutes before I left for the airport - better late than never, right?
Once I got to the airport, I cancelled my insurance.
Buying Essential Items - I need to buy the items that are on my 'packing list'. I don't want
to wait until the last minute to do this. I want to make sure that my backpack is entirely
prepared a few weeks before I leave so that I won't even have to think about it.
*Update - 'Santa' (i.e. Michelle and Clarke) took good care of hooking me up with so many things I needed! They bought me most of
my toiletries, a toiletry bag, a clothesline, a cocoon (to slip over any shady bed I might be sleeping on), a travel pillow, a
quick-drying towel, a reading light, compressor bags for my clothes, an electrical adapter, a leather passport holder, a 1GB memory
card, and last but not least....a gift certificate to the Starwood hotel chain for when I need to treat myself!
**After talking to someone who did an around-the-world trip, I decided to buy a silk cocoon that takes up virtually no room. I also
bought a zip-up hoodie with 'Buzz Off' to keep the bugs away and an SPF 30 coating on it. This will be good for the camping safari in
Africa. I'm also going to buy quick-dry underwear. I heard these are priceless for a trip like this.
***I caved in the last moments and bought more clothes. I bought two more shirts to bring with me.