It took us quite a while to plan for this round the world trip and make it become reality. 1 year (or more) of dreaming about it, thinking about it, idealizing it. 1 year of making that dream become an actual project, plan for it (and save for it!!). And the year to come will be about finally living this dream, which is the best to come yet. So technically, this a 3 years experience.
Once the decision was taken, started a roller-coaster of emotions and a lot of work. Some people might think, “it’s not that complicated is it? You pack your bags, you leave, and then you see what happens: Where you want to go, what you want to do…”. Well, yes, I guess that’s an option. The “courageous unplanned” one how I like to call it!
But the truth is, there is a little bit more work involved before leaving. And I guess I also like to plan for it… a little bit.
Also, we knew we were planning for an 11 to 12 month travel, and wanted to make the most of it.
“How do you start planning such a long trip?” many people asked us.
For our part, these are some of the steps we took:
1- Figure out our work situation:
We both are employees from big companies. We both like our work environment, love leaving in Barcelona and plan to come back (eventually!! At least this is the plan if we don’t end up on a nice island and live of fresh water and coconuts). So it seemed only logic to speak with our respective companies and ask for a sabbatical leave of 12 months which was granted to us.
2- Mapping out a route:
One of our very first step, has been to list all the countries we potentially wanted to discover in the world… and the first list was long. Very long! We reduced significantly that number to a “reasonable” 34 countries, and started reading about each en every of them. From there, we draw a map of seasons, with ideal period to visit and time of year to avoid, in order to find a certain logic in our route, considering we wanted to leave in April.
With this, we decided to start the trip in South America, travel our way up to Central America, fly to New Zealand then Australia, and continue travelling through South East Asia.
3- Evaluating a budget:
Eventually, we reduced our must see country list down to 16 (still ambitious), and started wandering about the budget this would represent.
We read a lot of travelling blogs, traveller experiences, touristic guides. We made a rough estimation of how much time we would spend in each country and how much that could cost us (and we are very curious to see how that estimation vs. reality will look like!)
The average daily budgets account for food and accommodation per person. And extra expenses account for bus (travelling distances within the country), visits…
But we knew that this budget was not complete as we would have many additional cost pre-departure such as flight tickets, insurance, storage room, equipment…
4- Flight tickets:
We made simulations with the 3, which was a much simpler task once the route in mind! OneWorld Explorer resulted to be the cheapest option allowing us to buy 7 flights for 3,800 € (including long distance ones such as BCN-Sao Paulo, LA-Auckland, Beijing-Colombo, Colombo-BCN…).
Conditions are quite simple:
Changing flying dates is free of charges and possible at any time
- Final return date has to be within 1 year after departure date
Changing a flight (departure or arrival airport) comes with an extra fee of 125$ (to be verified during the trip!).
Luckily, most countries we plan to enter do not require a visa for visits of less than 3 months, except New Zealand, Australia (which can be requested online – as e-visa) and China (which we will have to figure out on the go since we don’t quite well if we will go and when).
Better fully covered! The plan was to freeze our current local spanish insurance and subscribe a healt&civil insurance that covers us worldwide. There is a long list of insurances for travellers. After carefully studying each of them, we made our choice for Chapka Insurance, which is the most complete one (for EU travellers). 12 months cost us 480€/pers.
Vaccination: we went to the International Center of Vaccination were they gave us a long list of recommended injections to do (Yellow fever, Tetanos, Hepatitis A&B, Typhoid fever, Encephalitis, Rabies, Polio and more strange names I don’t recall…). As we are both not so much in favour of vaccinations, we did the very minimum: Yellow Fever which is compulsory to enter certain countries and Hepatitis A.
Pharmacy kit: we got a prescription from our doctor to make ourselves a travelling aid kit with: Antibiotics, Malarone in case of malaria risk, strong mosquito repellant, water cleansing tablets, rehydrating solutions…
8- What to do with our flat
It could have been quite easy to sub-rent our flat in Barcelona for a year. However we did not want to have this on our mind for this whole time in case of issue. We decided to leave our flat for good, and store all our belongings somewhere.
We looked for storage spaces. There are great offers out there, usually for 1 to 3 months, but any time period above 3 months is starting to be very pricy and depends as well of the volume of space needed.
Luckily, we didn’t have much furniture to store, and even more luckily, a work colleague of Adrien offered us to store all our boxes in his house, for free (thank you Claudio!).
We wanted to open an account in a bank that have cheap commission rates for withdrawing cash in foreign countries, but also offer interesting insurances. For the French people out there, the online bank Boursorama has the best offer. But know that dealing with them is quite a pain!
What to do with our phone? That was quite a question! Difficult to think about leaving for one year without a phone to be honest. We are not that disconnected yet! After researching and thinking of multiple options, we decided to buy new smartphones which support 2 sim cards. That way we keep our spanish sim and stay connected via WiFi, and will be able to buy prepaid local sim cards in the countries we visit to be able to make local phone calls.
11- Quit all other subscriptions (internet, car insurance, gym, bicing…)
12- Redirect our paper mail since we are leaving our flat.
13- Copy, save and store any important documents that could be needed in a cloud (ID, driving licence, vaccination certificates, medical prescriptions, yearly tax declaration, flight tickets, insurance certificate…)
So there you are! These are the most important points we ticket off our to do list before the big trip. Of course I checked about 50 times if my passport was not expired and 100% valid (for those how know the Rome story)… but of course this is detail!