Planning a RTW Trip Checklist

I thought I would clearly write out all the things that I learned and did while planning my around the world trip.  I read a lot of books, watched tons of youtube videos, and scoured endless hours on blogs and discussion groups.  I don’t think it takes as much planning as I did though.  For me, I was just really interested in it and had a little time before my trip.  I think I seriously planned and started doing things for the round the world trip for about a year.  It has been on my mind for a very long time though.  I had to budget, get rid of possessions, see travel doctors, see primary physicians, see dentists, and open up new bank accounts.  I simplified this list and it doesn’t take in account for the number of things  that I had to do to complete each task.  It also doesn’t take in account for things that I did to setup and learn how to blog either.


IMG_22811) Chose destinations – Okay, once I made up my mind to go on a travel around the world trip, I had to figure out where I wanted to go.  Sounds easy right?  Well not for me.  It’s kind of like asking yourself “if you could do anything you wanted, what would it be?”  Having lots of time to travel is something I have never had the luxury of doing with short vacations.  I broke out a pen and paper, viewed google maps, and literally wrote down a list of countries that I wanted to see.  Then I had to be realistic on how many countries I could actually visit in a year, along with a tentative feasible route.  I didn’t want to be on the move and rushed to hit the next destination the whole time.  I’m not doing this just to collect stamps in my passport and be one of those people “been there, done that, got the t-shirt for it.” And I didn’t really feel the urge to see places that I that could visit when I’m retired and are also expensive.  I really wanted the adventure of third world countries. So I started by googling images and checking out youtube videos of places I wanted to see.  Then I setup a tentative itinerary that could change at any moment along the way. Then only thing I prepurchased as far as transportation goes, is a one-way ticket from the U.S. to India.

2) Figured out budget – How much money did I need for something like this?  People travel all different styles so budget is really relative to what people are comfortable with.  If you are staying at resorts, buying lots of souvenirs, going to expensive countries, then it will take a substantial more amount of money.  I actually prefer traveling as a backpacker and taking local transportation.  I like to mingle with locals and see interesting things along the way.  I could probably write a novel on budget but I will save that for another post. I broke my budget out to dollars per day then added another amount for transportation costs.   I actually budgeted for more than I think I will need but I wanted a little flexibility to do things and not worry too much about it.

$dollars per day X [number of days of trip] + [transportation costs, airfare] = Budget Needed.

3) Cut out expenses.  Doing this trip, I had to really cut out a lot of expenses to save money.  I had a spreadsheet that I made to really help me figure out my expenses and what my monthly savings were for my trip.  I cut out going to concerts and doing a lot of things!  I didn’t go to one RedRocks concert this year which is really hard to do in Colorado. I cancelled things like my monthly spotify account, nextlix (I’m currently a member of Amazon Prime so I wasn’t going to pay for duplicate services), and other miscellaneous expenses.  I started bringing my lunch to work and really started to go to cheaper places when I ate out.

Income – Expenses = Savings

Storage Unit3) Sold and donated a lot of items – It is actually liberating simplifying your life.  I had to do the horrible task of cleaning out my old storage unit. It was definitely painful and I really dreaded doing that.  Moving is honestly one of my greatest weaknesses but I knew I had to do it.  I sold my truck, motorcycle, mountain bike, and bunch of other junk.  At first, it seemed kind of hard getting rid of things but that definitely got easier.  I made a lot of trips to that storage unit and ARC for donations.

4) Got a Car2Go membership. This membership allowed me to search for a car2go smart car close by and reserve it.  It is about $15/hour to drive.  I lived pretty close to everything so I didn’t need to drive too much anyways but the car2go was really convenient for cruising around running errands.  I’ll have to admit that driving a smart car on the freeway is an invitation to be tailgated by every full sized trucks.  haha.  Also please note that using a smart car for making trips to a storage unit doesn’t fit too much. There is no backseat.

5) Started going to the doctor.  I started getting things checked out while I had medical insurance.  My company actually paid me to go get a physical.  I made trips to the dentist, primary care physician, and the eye doctor.  I wanted to get anything resolved that needed to be resolved.

6) Vaccinations.  So most normal medical insurance won’t cover travel vaccinations.  I had find out what vaccinations would be covered by my medical insurance and get them through my primary care physician.  Then I scheduled an appointment with a travel doctor for other vaccinations and prescriptions.  I will write another post in more detail about that.

7) Applied for Travel and Bank Credit Cards.  I had to research and find credit cards with no foreign transaction fees and bank cards that don’t charge ATM fees.  My Charles Schwab card actually will reimburse any ATM fees that I may get hit with.  I have backups so I can have access to my money when some card gets cancelled for some transaction I made while traveling.

8) Setup a power of attorney on my account – One of my best friends volunteered to be the power of attorney on my financial accounts in case I need someone on stateside to receive a credit card and mail it to me.  Or actually whatever may be needed to get an account turned back on if it is cancelled.

9) Renewed Drivers License – My drivers license was expiring while I’m gone so I wanted to make sure I had it up to date. I scheduled an renewal appointment at the DMV online which saved me from waiting in line half a day.


10) Got a International Drivers License – Got this through AAA which only costs $15 and works in a ton of countries.  This way I don’t have to hand over my real drivers license when I’m renting a motorcycle, scooter, or car. I found a AAA location in Denver, drove over there, and knocked it out with two passport photos.

11) Researched Visas – Each country is totally different and I needed to find out what the requirements were. So I literally had to go down my list of desired counties and visit each embassy website.

12) Applied for India Visa.  This was a little bit of a pain.  I had to complete a bunch documents, fill out online applications, and mail off my passport to Houston.  It turns out that I actually missed a document which they notified me by email and I was able to scan and email it back to them.

13) Setup Travel forwarding Mailbox.  Set this up so that I am able to get my mail online while traveling.  They will scan and send me an email pdf of my mail while traveling.  They will even deposit a check if needed. I had to also go through the tasks of changing the addresses on all my accounts and then doing a change of address through the post office.  I did that online.  I had to also close out my post office box and return the keys as well.

14) Created a Skype account and Google Voice to keep cell phone number while traveling.  I decided to go this route.  There are other options on keeping cell phone such as setting up a T-mobile account with an international plan but it doesn’t work in all the countries on my list.  I am going to purchase SIM cards along the way to use my unlocked iphone.

15) Replaced iphone – I had a cracked screen and it seemed like my phone was on the fritz.  I used the insurance and purchased a new refurbished iphone. I figured it was easier to pay the $200 now than $$$$ later.  I maybe purchasing a cheap phone while traveling anyways but having an iphone is nice.

16) Researched and bought Gear – I really probably overdid this.  I researched, researched, and researched.  I bought and neurotically switched out gear.  I took two backpacks back to REI before settling on the Farpoint 40.  For the past year I have been stockpiling gear for this trip and spent countless hours reading reviews. I have been meticulous about each item that I’m carrying and trying to make it fit into a carry-on bag. My photography/video gear had to be something that I could fit in my carry-on as well.  I think I have it dialed in now but who knows if that will change during my year long journey around the world.  I think my experience in ultralight backcountry backpacking really helped in getting my gear down to size.

17) Scanned driver’s license, birth certification, passport, visa, vaccinations list, yellow fever card and uploaded online.  

18) Made copies of documents, passport, visa, plane ticket, and license to carry around.


19) Took my own passport photos and printed a bunch of extras for visas when traveling.

20) Prepaid for a storage unit for year.  And then I had move items into that storage unit!  I paid $930 for a 5×5 unit.


It felt like it was a lot of work but definitely worth it!




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