This is where the journey begins! - Char's blog..
Trip Start May 29, 2010
68Trip End Oct 09, 2010
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Even though I have read all the gap year books I could find (Gap year for Grown ups is recommended) and they all warn about the amount of planning and organising required for any temporary departure from "normal" life, I'm still overwhelmed by the amount of time required to get all our trip related admin sorted. Not only do we have to consider what we do while we are away we need to make sure what we leave behind is intact and adequately funded for our return (which I don't want to think about!).
Researching and organising itineraries is fun but has been a little stressful as we were hoping to be spontaneous, something which is lost all too easily in everyday life. This is either not possible for certain parts of our trip or has led to considerably increased cost, our Canrail open ticket for example is 50% more than if you stipulate every stop and date which, for us defeats the object as we don't want to get stuck in a place that wasn't what we expected or have to leave a place we love too early. South East Asia is a minefield of confusing visa requirements though I'm pretty certain I have got to the bottom of that following lots and lots of research and phone calls. Thankfully UK residents are visa exempt in many countries but that doesn't mean to say the embassies make that easy to find out.
The kit list, now where do we start!
So many people have told me that I am basically going to look like a cave woman and smell like a foot for our whole journey due to the limited amount of kit that can be carried in a backpack but I am determined to at least smell nice except maybe in SE Asia as apparently that will keep the mosquito's at bay.
Without lists I'm not sure I'd be sleeping at night. There are so many things to do and the most important thing is prioritising each stage. Ticket, flight and travel booking list, visa list, to do list (so I dont forget to go to work etc), vaccinations list, kit list, shopping list, cleaning list - you get the point. I started my kit list MONTHS ago and have been adding to it pretty much everyday, each item I feel is absolutely necessary is, I am told, much to my dismay, a luxury which we cannot spare the space or weight allowance for. Bye bye straighteners hello 80s revival, I have no idea how I will live without my Blackberry this is something I am still trying to come to terms with....
Wow, we have been having weekly vaccinations for about 8 weeks and we still have our last rabies jab to go the week after next. I should be able to lie open mouthed in a sewer whilst being ravaged dogs and stabbed with used needles though I'm hoping that's not all going to happen at once - or at all.
I foolishly opted to have the first 5 vaccinations in one go on the same day as we had an adventure race the following week and I didn't want to feel under the weather for it. That was probably one of the worst decisions I have made in a while, within about 15 minutes of having the 3 jabs I felt like MJ. The next 3 days were not pleasant to say the least!
I've had no problems with any of the other jabs since thankfully, but the bad experience was, I accept completely self inflicted..
The nurses at our surgery have been fantastic though we were advised to have a lot of jabs that we would have to pay for privately (the majority of jabs are free on NHS except rabies, Japanese encephalitis, yellow fever and malaria tablets) so I went to an independent travel clinic in Manchester (Nomad on Bridge Street - very efficient, helpful and friendly service - a 15 minute trip consultation costs £5 which is credited against future purchases) for a second opinion and was told that the NHS nurses are trained to advise with extreme caution so once we had reviewed our proposed route I found out that we didn't need a few of the recommended jabs which saved us about £700 - bonus!
We still have to get our malaria tablets sorted but we have plenty of time....famous last words.
We are just starting to buy the few items we have not so far accumulated and are yet to buy our backpacks so that will be a major milestone for us and we can start trying to get everything in them. Scary to think that everything I will need for the next 5 months will be attached to my back (or more accurately Al's back!)
The coming weeks will be packed with shopping for kit (though we have opted to buy the majority in Canada/NZ) and making last minute arrangements. I'm not looking forward to saying goodbye to family and friends but it will be more than worth it and as they say absence makes the heart grow fonder.