Wow! I can't believe that two weeks from today I will walk onto an airplane to begin an adventure around the world. Sometimes I feel as if I haven't done anything in preparation for this trip. Other times I can't believe everything that - I think - I have done in preparation for this trip.
Some people put years into planning an RTW trip. Michelle and I decided about 6 months ago that we were really going to do this. For many, six months is not a lot of time to plan a trip around the world. So, when you think about the fact that we've been planning for as long as we'll be gone -- well, in my wait 'til the last minute, no planning ahead brain, it's kind of a long time.
So how is the planning going?
Lucky for me, my travel buddy is much better at planning ahead than I am. If it weren't for Michelle, I don't think anything would be taken care of yet. Also lucky for me, she claims to believe we have both been putting equal effort into the planning of this trip!
So what is already booked?
Most of the big plane tickets are booked. Chicago to Bangkok, Hanoi to Kathmandu, Delhi to Kilimanjaro, Kilimanjaro to Istanbul, London to Reykjakvik. Many people have asked if I bought a "round the world ticket." I did not. I found we have saved a great deal by watching fares regualarly and booking when they are low. For the most part, we are flying only between continents.
What else is booked?
A few days in Chitwan National Park. A 12-day trek in the Annapurna range in the Himalayas. A tiger safari in Ranthambore. Trek to the top (and back down) of Africa's Mt. Kilimanjaro. A week of medical volunteering at a hospital in Tanzania. African safari in the Serengeti. A rental car in Great Britain. Cruise to Norway. What? A cruise? Yes, how cool will it be to be a couple of backpackers on a fancy cruise! Let's see... what are the rules for formal nights again? Hiking boots, a tank top and a smile, right?
What else has to be taken care of before hopping the border for six months?
Nobody would accuse me of being very good at planning ahead. I've missed a few planes in my life, and I frequently wait unti the very last minute to take care of time-sensitive chores. So it should come as no surprise that most of the major preparations that don't involve buying a plane ticket, a package tour or a hiking permit have been made very recently or (hopefully) will be taken care of in the very near future. To name a few... I went to the doctor and confirmed I was fit - physically and mentally - and able to safely undertake such an adventure. I went to a travel clinic and obtained prescriptions for three months worth of malaria prophalaxis, some antibiotics and some western medicine for preventing altitude sickness. Oh, how I wish cocoa leaves were legal in more countries!
Also at the travel clinic, my arms served as pin cusions for the day while I received four of the five shots I apparently need prior to leaving. I get the fifth shot on the 8th. Three were repeats/boosters, the fourth and fifth being for Japanese Encephalitis
Other things come along when one is planning a trip such as this. I confirmed my savings account held sufficient funds, but upon attempting to open an alternate, online account for hassle-free withdrawls while vagaboning around the world, I failed. Apparently when you try to open a bank account using the wrong social security number it slows down the process a bit. Hopefully I can get in to see the dentist next week, and I need one more continuing education credit to keep my Illinois nursing lisence up to date. Oh, and also hopefully, my W2 forms will show up in the mail soon so I can file my taxes before I leave!
I'm pretty sure I'm finished shopping. If I'm not I certainly should be. I haven't attempted a pre-trip packing yet, something I have never done. In fact, I don't recall I've ever packed for trip more than 24 hours in advance. However, I'm already pretty sure it's not all going to fit, and a pre-pack experiment is definately in order this time.