Hi, and welcome to my first post! I currently write this whilst sitting at a rather empty Delhi airport with my two travel buddies in the early hours of the morning as we wait 7 hours for our connecting flight to Bangkok. We’ve been planning this 6-month trip to South East Asia for almost a year now and although I always knew planning for such a big trip would take up a lot of time, I never anticipated just how much time. Adding in the fact that we were leaving just after Christmas, along with my own personal tendency to leave things quite last minute (bad habit!) meant that the two months leading up to our trip were hectic to say the least!
That’s why I thought to get this blog started it might be useful to make a checklist for others that might be thinking of travelling. Some points are really small tiny things to check off, but are important nonetheless and can be easy to forget.
- Research and booking – ongoing: Researching our route, the countries we were visiting, and how to plan for our trip took up a lot of time but was also a lot of fun. I mean, who doesn’t love a bit of destination research before embarking on a trip? However some bits weren’t as fun, like deciding on who to book our travel insurance with (and reading lengthy policy documents!) and where to buy our jabs and what not, but are obviously just as necessary.
- Vaccines – 2 months before: As we weren’t too sure how long we’d be away, I thought it would be best to get a health check-up before heading off, although it’s not really necessary. This lead to discussing jabs and anti-malarial tablets which meant having to go back and forth to GPs and travel clinics as some jabs need up to three different shots on separate occasions. So it’s definitely worth going early! I ended up getting hepatitis A & B, typhoid, rabies and the weekly larium anti-malarial tablets online at Total Pharmacy, but as always its personal choice. If you’re a Londoner I would definitely recommend Your Travel Clinic in Stockwell for jabs – it’s a bit hidden away but our rabies jabs were significantly cheaper there than everywhere else we saw.
- Leaving work – 1 month before: I had to tell my boss at work that I was leaving, as well as hand in my notice and discuss exact leaving dates. I thought it would be a bit nicer to give my work 6 weeks notice but I think for most jobs 1 month is the minimum. Then we had to put aside a date for our Christmas party/my leaving do to say goodbye – sad times!
- Set up the blog – 1 month before: This is just a personal thing, but I really wanted to have this blog set up before leaving. I actually bought the domain name months ago but didn’t really have a real reason to start posting – until now. It took a good amount of time fiddling around with wordpress, installing plugins and making it look pretty which took up a good chunk of time.
- Shopping – 1 month before: Even though I planned to buy most my clothes out in South East Asia, I was amazed at just how much stuff I needed to buy for this trip. I’ll write a list of what I packed in my next post, but Christmas deliveries and slow posting dates meant I had to order anything online with good time. I can’t deny there wasn’t some last-second panic buying a few days before the trip though – luckily there were plenty of Boxing Day sales!
- Hair – 2 weeks before: This probably doesn’t apply to most but for all the blondes out there who highlight their hair – we all know that travelling for a long time brings the fear of blocky, uneven roots! I knew that there was a strong possibility that I might not be able to highlight my hair for at least 6 months so I pre-booked a hair appointment two weeks before leaving and decided to get my locks done ‘ombre’. This means that my darkened ‘dip-dye’ look will hopefully avoid any uneven regrowth.
- Check electronics – 1 week before: My iPod hadn’t been working properly for a while so I thought I’d have to make an appointment at the apple store, but luckily it just needed manually restoring. I also had to get my phone unlocked in case I wanted to use locals sims in Asia, and I ended up spending quite a bit of time downloading new music for my iPod.
- Informing the bank – 1 week before: To ensure that our debit cards would work out in South East Asia, we had to inform our banks where we’d be travelling and for how long. I’m with HSBC and I literally popped in for 5 minutes and they made note of it.
- Printing visa photos – 1 week before: To enter a lot of countries in South East Asia you need to bring visa photos, so I went to Snappy Snaps and brought twelve with me as they come in packs of six.
- Leaving party – 1 week before: This is a fun one, but it still took some degree of planning. Again, as we weren’t sure how long we’d be away we wanted a good night out/Christmas party to bid goodbye to our friends. So we had to decide on a couple of venues, check possible dates to have it, create a facebook event and all that jazz. Not so much work but still something to do!
- Packing – a few days before: The dreaded packing! I had to put a full day aside to decide on what to take and how to pack it all.
- Setting up the new laptop – a few days before: For Christmas I got an Asus transformer T100 specifically for the trip. I spent some time tranferring some files from my older laptop and downloading new programs to set it up for my trip. It’s amazing by the way and ideal for travelling!
- Ringing the airline – 72 hours before: Travellers entering Thailand are technically supposed to show proof of onward travel but as we were flying in with a one way ticket we had to ring up the airline to check if it would be neccessary for us. It was all good in the end!
- Beauty stuff – a day before: To prepare for 6 nomadic months wearing little makeup I dyed my eyelashes black and my eyebrows dark brown to match my new ombre hair to make the idea of going make-up free slightly less daunting!
- Printing documents –a day before: It’s always a good idea to have some copies of your itinery, passport, travel insurance policy and any important numbers.
Thankfully after an extremely stressful couple of months we’re well on our way to South East Asia!