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.

IMG_2528.JPG

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.

IMG_2529.JPG

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.

IMG_2537

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

 

 

 

T-Mobile International Cell Phone

So I just found out T-mobile has a international data and text plan for 1 gig starting at $50.  Taxes and other fees will be assessed on top of that. The coverage works in over 120 countries and in those countries it will be similar to what the locals are getting.  They will charge you $.20/minute usage fees for local calls and calls back to the united states.  If you are connected to wifi, calls back to the US will be free.  The data and text will be throttled from my understanding and it won’t be flying at 4G.  I’m sure this is a more expensive option as to picking up SIM cards along the way.  Especially when spending time out of the countries with coverage.

Credit Card Travel Notification Online

posted in: Blog, Travel Credit Cards | 0

Important:  You need to inform the credit card companies when and where you are going to be. I just got off the phone with Chase about my credit.  You can now update your travel notification via the website by clicking customer service and then the travel notification form link.  This lowers the chances of the credit card getting turned off when you use it in a foreign country.  Note, I have had credit cards turned off even though I gave them warning to put a note on my account.  I love the fact that you can do it online!  Doing it online is so much easier than having to call internationally each time.  Especially when you are like me and have a loose itinerary.  Now I can update as needed as long as I have an internet connection.

Setup my virtual mailbox

posted in: Blog, Virtual Mailbox | 1

I got my virtual mailbox setup this week so that I can view my mail while traveling abroad.  It is a service that will scan my mail to be viewed online, forward to another location, or even deposit a check for me. I researched all the major companies out there and decided to go with Traveling Mailbox due to their price and the fact that they have a location here in Colorado. They don’t charge all these ancillary fees to scan and shred mail like most of the others service providers such as EarthMail.  It was pretty easy to setup.  It took me a few minutes online to complete the application and then I had to print out a post office form that allows Traveling Mailbox to be an agent for my mail.  The form had to be notarized and have a copy of two forms of identification attached.  Luckily, I work in the legal department which made it easy to get notarized. After that I had to scan the signed notarized document and send it back to Traveling Mailbox to complete the application.  I ended up pay $20/month for this service which will give me a piece of mind while traveling.  Now I just need to get all my banking and addresses changed over.

Traveling Mailbox will

  • Scan your mail so that you can view online
  • Forward your mail or parcel to any address
  • Deposit Checks
  • Shred unwanted mail

RTW Planning Progess

posted in: Blog, Planning a RTW Trip, Vaccinations | 0

Departure date of March 1, 2015

Update: I have decided to fly back to Texas for a week.  I will now depart on Feb 28th to Texas and then fly to India on the 8th.

I have pushed back the departure date to March 1, 2015 but I have decided I will not push it back any further.   After I sold and donated many of my possessions, I have decided that I will get a small storage unit for the rest of my possessions.  I’m looking at an extra $700 to $1000 expense to keep my items in storage.  My budget isn’t going to be quite what I wanted on the trip but I think I will be fine.  At this point, I just have to go and if I run out of my budget on the trip, then I run out..cut the trip shorter or find some way to make it work.  I really don’t like over planning itineraries so my plans are a bit flexible anyways.

This week I was able get a travel consultation for my vaccinations and trip prescriptions.   There are an overwhelming amount of terrifying diseases out there and you can really get wrapped up into the preparations.   Currently, I am already getting my Hep A & B shots with my primary care physician.  I have one more dose in January before I’m fully immune.  On this travel consultation, I received a shot for yellow fever and polio.  I opted for the pills on TB since the immunity lasts for 5 years versus the shots only lasting for 1 year.  They also recommended getting a vaccination for rabies ($250/dose – 3 doses) and japanese encephalitis ($240/dose – 2 doses).  At the thought of tacking on an additional $750 for the rabies and $480 for the japanese encephalitis, I kindly said I’ll think about it.  Honestly, how common are those and what is the true risk?  I ended up spending $300 for my visit and she gave me prescriptions for travelers sickness, altitude sickness, and malaria treatment.  I told her that I’m not a fan of taking malaria pills and they made me sick when I took them once before.  For a year on the road, it is not feasible to take pills everyday and honestly I think that is overkill.

In January after the holidays, it is going to be crunch mode.  I think I’m going to go ahead and get a small storage unit.  The costs of shipping/moving items back to Texas really don’t out weigh the costs of just paying for a storage unit for a year here in Denver.

January todo list

  • Take extra passport photos
  • Mail off application for international drivers license
  • Mail off application for Visa to India
  • Get storage unit & start moving items
  • Put truck up for sale
  • File Tax return

 

Mail Scanning Service

posted in: Virtual Mailbox | 0

You can setup a virtual mailbox that will scan your mail and allow you to view on the road.  Fees range from $15+.  Most averaging over $20.  Beware of the fine print as some have ancillary fees that can add up.  The states of the addresses vary so it depends if you have a preference for address location.

Services

  • Open mail, scan the content, and email to you
  • Forward to an address
  • Shred mail

 

Virtual Mailbox Companies

 

RTW Visas

posted in: Blog, Planning a RTW Trip, Visa | 0

I am learning a lot through my research on this.  Most of the online RTW blogs that I read have serious advice on doing plenty of research before you go.    I will continuously update this as I find information  So my goal is travel the world.  I don’t have a set itinerary which makes it a little difficult.  In this scenario, it is best to get an idea of countries beforehand.  I really would prefer to show and get visa on arrival but unfortunately that is not possible in every country.

Each countries has different requirements.  Here’s the questions I am asking when researching.

  • Can I get a visa on arrival?  If so, do I have to enter at the international airport or can I cross the border on land?
  • What is the process? and process time? Do I some part of it early and the rest on arrival?
  • If you have to mail your passport off when doest the visa start?
  • How long and how much does the visa cost?  Many countries have different options.
  • What documents are required?  Bank Statement, proof of residence? Itinerary?
  • Do I need an exit plane ticket before I can get it?
  • Am I required to show immunization history?

Keep in mind foreign travel requirements are temperamental and can change quickly especially in political unrest. 

Please note that I’m an U.S. citizen and have written the information based on being an U.S. citizen.  The requirements can be drastically different for different nationalities.

U.S. Citizens traveling to other countries.

The U.S. government has setup a great sit for visa information on each country: travel.state.gov

ASIA VISAS

 

India Visa Requirements – Updated 11/12/14

This is a country you want to do your research on.  I finding that this needs to be done ahead of time and is a little bit of a pain.  For India, you need to go through a third party which can be found online.  You will need to mail off your passport and wait in turmoil to receive your passport back unless you are lucky enough to live in Washington D.C, Chicago, New York, Houston,  San Francisco, or Atlanta.  Wait times can vary with nationality as well.

NOTE: Duration of Visa starts when application is processed not on entry.

 

Duration of Visa Costs
10 Years (120 Months) Multiple Entry $171
5 Years (60 Months) Multiple Entry $171
6 Months Multiple Entry $81

 

Nepal Visa Requirements – updated 11/13/14

So there are two way to getting a visa to Nepal.  You can receive the Nepalese visa at the Kathmandu international airport and along various border crossing (listed on Embassy website) or apply via the embassy.

Embassy of Nepal

  • Visa on Arrival: Yes
  • Visa Length:  15/30/90 days (multiple entries allowed)
  • Visa Cost: $25/$40/$100
  • Requirements: 1 recent 2×2 photo, visa application, passport valid for at least 6 months

 

Cambodia Visa Requirements – updated 11/13/14

  • Visa on Arrival: Yes, at Siam Reap and Phnom Penh airport as well as some other border crossings (listed on embassy website).
  • Visa Length: 1 month from entry
  • Visa Cost: $20
  • Visa requirements: 1 4×6 cm recent passport photo, 1 visa application form, passport valid for 4 months, (and may need to demonstrate sufficient funds in account and a return ticket)

Embassy of Cambodia

 

Laos Visa Requirements – updated 11/13/14

Embassy of Lao Visa requirements

Embassy of Lao Visa Information

  • Visa on Arrival: Yes, at international airports and various border crossings.
  • Visa Length: 30 days from entry and can be extended by the Laos Immigration Office.
  • Visa Cost: $50
  • Visa Requirements: 1 application form, 2 recent color passport photos, passport must 6 months of validity.

Vietnam Visa

http://www.vietnamvisapro.com

How to keep your cell phone number while traveling?

This is freak’n awesome!  So as my daily routine of scouring the internet for more information, I started reading of people who keep their cell phone number while traveling and not paying Verizon, ATT, T-Mobile, or whoever you might have.  It is pretty simple and has two steps.  The first is Google Voice.  So Google voice has this service, where you can get voicemail and they will forward your number to whoever.   They are not a cell phone service provider.  You basically pay $20 to port your cell number over to them.  Keep in mind, once you do this, it will terminate your cell phone service with your current carrier and you will be liable for any termination charges.  Anyways, you transfer (port) your number to Google voice then here is step 2.  You then setup a Skype account that allows you to receive and call numbers as long as you are on WIFI. Doing this will allow you to forego paying high international calling fees and be able to receive calls from your local cell phone number.  It only works while on WIFI.  You will also need to download the app for your phone.  So you then setup your google voice to forward the calls to your Skype number.  On Skype, you can setup the caller ID to read your own cell number as well.  So when you are dialing out from some international location, people will see that it is you and your recognizable cell phone number calling.  They can also call you on your cell phone number while you are hooked up to WIFI.

Steps to keep your cell number for RTW

1) Create Google Voice Account

2) Port number to Google using Google Voice

3) Setup a Skype Account

4) Setup Caller ID on Skype

5) Use Skype on your iphone with the Skype App

 

 

How to take your own passport photo

Taking your own passport photo is easy and saves you money.  If you are like me and would like to save money and have a little more control of your passport photo, here’s how you do it.

passport U.S.

1) Choose the background

Take in front of a white or off-white background like a wall or piece of poster board taped to the wall.

2) Get your Camera

Any camera will do.  You can even take with your smart phone.

3) Pose and snap the photo.

According the government website, they say make a neutral face expression.   Wear normal everyday clothes.  You want to look like you do always.  Also the photo should be taken within 6 months.  No uniforms, camouflage, hats, electronics, or goofy face expressions.  You can wear prescription eyeglasses if you wear them daily but make sure the lens is not tented.

4) Crop your photo using Travel.state.gov website

They have setup this website to make it easy to frame your face and crop your photo to the correct size.

5) Save and Print

 

 

Planning a trip around the world todo list

Things to do before leaving on my around the world trip.

Let me start out by saying the amount of reading, planning, and day dreaming about my life as an international vagabond has probably been overkill.  Most people who do longterm travel, do far less than I do but there are definitely some that do more.

Budget

This is the big question in everyone’s mind.  How much?  Well as much as this seems the deciding excuse as why a lot of people can’t go, I am finding that you can really do this on whatever amount you want.  There are ways to generate income on the international road as well as ways to save money on the road.  There are many different systems that travelers have to extend their trip.   And there is a colossal amount of information out there telling on how to do it.  I will save that for another post.  I decided to try save as much as possible and have definitely sacrificed a lot in order to achieve my dream.  I have had to constantly remind myself of the greater and my dream.  Here are the things I personally suggest and have done.

1.   Sell or donate your stuff.

This has been actually liberating.  I realize how much junk that I have accumulated over the years and getting rid of it has been freeing.  Most of that crap is replaceable anyways.  I have a storage unit that I was paying $140/month for items I would never use again or I could replace with a few bucks.  Honestly, what I do need that stuff for. This is too hard for some people as they are too tied to their possessions.  Remember in the end life is about experiences and I won’t get to enjoy my dream if I’m worried or having to store my junk somewhere. So I sold some stuff and donated a boatload to ARC which is similar to Good Will but for mentally handicapped people.

 Big items sold
  • 1100cc Yamaha V-Star Motorcycle
  • Yeti 575 Mountain Bike
  • Toyota Tacoma – In progress

2. Create budget spreadsheet.

One thing that I’m learning about traveling, is that you need to know how much money you have, how much you are spending, and how long that will last you.  Some of these people online are meticulous and fastidious on their budgets.  I have to say that I’m becoming the same .  I want my travels to last and so I have over estimated probably by far on everything.  I will create another post on just creating a budget spreadsheet another time.  This budget spreadsheet has been just for the art of saving and how much I want to have on my trip.  I have to say, I have been a little loose on my expenses until this point.  The objective of a budget spreadsheet is to see how much are you saving versus how much you are spending.   Then take the saving and divide that by the number of desired months, then that is how much you have each month, kind of like your personal salary on the road.

Monthly Income – Expenses = Savings

Total Savings / Time on the road = Monthly psuedo salary on the road.

3.  Dial in expenses and work on savings.

For me, I had to make some sacrifices for this.  I actually turned down a lot of fun activities this summer due to me trying to budget but I know it will be worth it in the end.  I have already done things like I turned before and on my trip, I will be doing so many new and exciting things that I will be so happy that I am able to enjoy it with a few extra dollars in my pocket.

  • Sold Items and got rid of the $140/month storage unit.
  • Started weeding out my monthly expenses.
  • Cut out eating out as much
  • Started bringing my lunch to work.
  • Cut down on concerts
  • Cut down on trips to the mountains.  I live in Colorado.
  • Cut down on buying things.
  • Became a cheapskate.

 

I want to start off by saying you can really do this on whatever type of budget that you want to on.  It is basically living as an expat or on the road.  I have read online about who people that literally start out $1500 and made the trip happen.

My RTW Todo list

  1. Budget
  2. Cut down on spending and dial in expenses
  3. Sell Motorcycle
  4. Sell Truck
  5. Get CarToGo membership
  6. Go to Storage Unit and sort through items.
  7. Donate items.
  8. Sell possessions
  9. Donate possessions to ARC or Goodwill
  10. Get storage unit and prepay for a year.
  11. Get Charles Schwab ATM card to reimburse ATM fees
  12. Apply for Chase Sapphire card with no foreign transaction fees.
  13. Apply for Capital One Venture card with no foreign transaction fees.
  14. Renew drivers license
  15. Get international Driver’s license with AAA
  16. Get health checkup and vaccinations that insurance will cover with doctor
  17. Schedule travel consultation appointment with a travel doctor to get rest of vaccinations
  18. Get new travel camera
  19. Switch current photography equipment to more travel friendly equipment
  20. Get GoPro and accessories
  21. Purchase backpack
  22. Purchase laundry kit
  23. Purchase travel bar shampoo
  24. Purchase locks and chain
  25. Purchase passport cover
  26. Purchase travel pants
  27. Purchase Icebreaker T-shirt
  28. Purchase wool socks
  29. Purchase hiking shoes
  30. Purchase earplugs and eye mask
  31. Purchase Exofficio travel underwear
  32. Research destinations
  33. Watch tons of youtube videos
  34. Visit tons of travel blogs
  35. Research like hell
  36. Get tentative game plan on which countries to visit
  37. Get VISA requirements for tentative countries
  38. Start Travel blog
  39. Get travel insurance
  40. Book ticket
  41. Daydream often.
  42. Read lots of books!

Packing List for Around the World Trip

Okay, before I started traveling, I read numerous articles and blog posts on what to pack.  It seems the internet is filled with a bunch regurgitated information that was written by one person and then repeated by numerous people online.  I started out with carry on only and thought that was the way to go.   As I have become more of a seasoned traveler after spending one year on the road, I have learned a few things.

My RTW Packing Mistakes were:

  • Carry-on only RTW or gap year trip.
  • Carrying DSLR, GoPRO, Tripod, Laptop, 2 Hard Drives
  • Not carrying my coffee kit.
  • Not carrying enough zip lock bags

 

If you are bouncing from flight to flight…then maybe…but washing your only short sleeve shirt in a sink every night gets old.  Plus it gets old wearing the same stuff everyday.  If you a traveling for a few weeks, sure that is fine…but RTW for a year plus…not thanks.  Most of the time, I’m riding buses, ferries, trains…and whatever else transportation I could find.  Carry on only didn’t really matter and checking in a bag was much easier than lugging around at the airport.  I found life on the road was much better when I had a little bigger bag.  Also packing the bag in a 40 liter carry on only bag every few days, become a dreaded jigsaw puzzle getting everything to fit.  Then I was afraid to pick up things that I needed because I knew I couldn’t fit them.

 

Coffee on RTW TRIP

Before my trip I read blog posts, articles, and recycled blog posts that stated…don’t bring your coffee kit…enjoy the chai tea or the local drink.  Well obviously these people weren’t well traveled and didn’t really care for coffee…most of Asia is 3 in 1 instant coffee that has coffee, powder milk, and sugar in it.  It is absolutely disgusting.  The few places that served espressos were often times made by some person who obviously didn’t know how to pull a shot of espresso with a combination of preground beans.  So in India, I realized my mistake…unfortunately for a coffee geek like me…it would be months before I could put together a coffee kit.  Every town, I would go to, I would search for coffee roasters which was like searching for a needle in a haystack.  Myanmar, I found a coffee roaster that was selling the Aeropress which is a coffee brewing device but they had no grinder.  I tried preground beans and they were absolutely terrible.  Months later in Laos, I found a place that sold grinders but they sold out the month before.  They said it would be a month before they go any new ones in.  Hmm…then 2 months later, in Saigon, I finally found a place that sold a Hario Mini Mill Hand Grinder.  I think I teared up….it was a glorious moment for me.  So the point is, if you really like something, don’t worry about weight…just carry it.  That’s my philosophy,

 

RTW Coffee Kit for my Asia trip

 

New RTW Coffee Kit for South America – This is important to me.  So I am adjusting a few things on this trip.  I am bringing the whole coffee setup so I will always have it one hand.

  • Hario V60 Pour Over Device – Hario is my favorite device.  Long term travel is more like living on the road so this time I am opting to bring the comforts of home.  The Aeropress is a good device for travel and makes a excellent cup but after a year of travel, I really really missed the hario. 
  • Kalita .7 Liter pour over Kettle – Sure I could brew a cup of coffee without this but for me, having the perfect cup is important so I am willing to carry the extra kettle.
  • Bonavita Electric Kettle – Finding hot water is available a lot of times but it’s not always just off of a boil.  Now I can 
  • Hario Paper Filters
  • Coffee Mug
  • Hario Mini Mill Grinder

 

Things I wish I wouldn’t have carried or things I sent back.

  • DSLR – What a pain to lug this around.  I love photography but lugging around a huge DSLR camera got old.  I think it is one thing to carry it on your two week trip but a whole year…
  • Tripod
  • GoPro & GoPro Accessories- Sure it was cool at times but again I didn’t use it on a daily basis…so it just took up room in the pack.  I would probably suggest picking one camera just taking that.
  • Laptop – Lugging around a laptop was a pain, plus always having to unpack at security crossings.  In the Philippines, I bought an ipad and barely even opened the laptop after that.
  • 2 Hard Drives – Again….if I didn’t have the laptop, then I could have done without the hard drives
  • Steripen
  • Travel Sheet – I guess it had a use in India.  I sent it back and wished I had it for one night in Vietnam but I would say it is not needed for Asia.

 

Things I added along the trip

  • Swiss Army Knife – Very useful and always needed.
  • Sherpa Down Jacket (similar to the Patagonia Down Sweater)- Bought in Nepal and used it in Japan and Taiwan as well.
  • Fleece Jacket – Bought in Nepal and used it in Japan and Taiwan as well.
  • Socks
  • Cargo Shorts
  • Ipad
  • Large screen smart phone – After an accident in India, I bought the larger samsung phone.  Since then I could never use a small smart phone again.  I sense upgraded to the iphone 6s Plus.

 

Things I have added for the South America leg of the trip

  • iPad Keyboard – I am opting to leave the laptop back home this time.  I will use a keyboard on the ipad.  Everything will be stored on the cloud so if something happens, I am just out the cost of ipad.
  • Updated Coffee Kit – See above
  • 3 Bandanas – I carried one the first time and always wished I had another.  Bandana really has a lot of uses.  When I had a 2 am surprise wakeup to change buses, I left my sleep eye mask on the bus…I ended up using this as my sleep eye cover.  I also used it as a face mask for dusty situations and once with I was sitting next to a guy on a bus who had the plague and kept coughing a fine mist on me.
  • Medicines & Eye drops
  • Neti Pot – These things are so great.  I use to use it everyday back home. When I got an allergy infection in Manila, I was seriously missing it.
  • Orajel – When I had a tooth ache, I couldn’t find anything that works as good as this stuff.  In the Philippines, I had to some stuff that was made from cow blood at the pharmacy.
  • Freezer Zip Lock bags – These were actually impossible to find in Asia.
  • More ear plugs – I traveled the whole year with only two pairs.  Then I lost one….why not carry extras.  They don’t weigh anything.
  • Travel Organizers – I ended up using my waterproof bags and stuffing my clothes in there.  I got tired on walking around in wrinkled clothes that made me appear that I was wearing my cleanest dirty laundry.  I want something that I can fold the clothes into this time.
  • Large Hanging Bathroom Toiletry bag – I ended up using a ziplock in Asia.  This time I want to have one large one that can hold soap, shampoo, and all my toiletry items.

 

Backpack and Organizing Gear

  • Deuter 65+10 Aircontact 65 +10 – I started with the Osprey travel Farpoint 40 but switched to the outdoor Osprey Kestral 48 in Nepal.  After spending a few months of carefully negotiating room in my pack and having to spend so much time packing to get everything to fit, I upgraded to a larger pack.  Being that I am going to do some more trekking, I need to the space.
  • Deuter Travel Backpack Cover –  This is probably one of my favorite items.  It fits around my backpack and I can lock it when I’m in a hostel or a plane.  It is also waterproof which is nice if the bag rides on the roof of a van.  
  • Northface Day Pack
  • Eagle Creek Travel Gear Pack-It Cube Set, Black, One Size
  • Sea to Summit eVAC Dry Sack – 20L for laptop/camera and 8L electronic accessories. –
  • 1 Waterproof dry bag for dirty laundry
  • eBags Shoe Sleeves – Set of 2 (Black)

Clothes

Electronics

Toiletry and Laundry

 

Miscellaneous

  • Sea to Summit DryLite towel – Large
  • Scuba Mask and Snorkel  I would love to carry this but at this point, I just don’t think I have room with my photography equipment.  I regret not carrying a mask for diving.  I also wished I had a dive computer.
  • Chain and Combination Lock If riding a bus, can chain luggage overhead and go to sleep.  Or chain luggage in hotel room.  
  • 2 Small luggage travel locks
  • Small First Aid Kit – Neosporin, bandaids, moleskin, aspirin, traveler prescriptions
  • Freezer Zip Lock Bags
  • Black Diamond Revolt Headlamp, Titanium
  • Miniature Keychain LED Flashlight
  • Duct tape – don’t have this now but would be nice to have.
  • Ear plugs – I suggest carrying extras
  • Sleep Mask – left this on a bus in india during a 3 am surprise bus change.  I just use a bandana over my eyes now.
  • 1 Aeropress Coffee maker.  – Bought it in Myanmar but don’t have a grinder.  Tried it with preground but that was absolutely undrinkable.

Photography – I am not carrying DSLR, GoPro, Laptop, or in South America. I think it will be nice to have a piece of mind not worrying about it.  Plus lugging all that really seemed overkill.

Lonely Planet Guide Book

Best Around the World ATM Card

Charles Schwab Banking

No International ATM fees!  After researching the best credit cards and bank cards, I came across the card.  Unlike my Wellsfargo card who nickel and dimes me in a seemingly duplicated fee business model, Charles Schwab actually doesn’t charge you for using the ATM card or have any other unscrupulous banking fees.  In fact, they will reimburse your ATM fees if charged by another bank, even if it is international.  Wish I had this card when I was one of the $10 ATM fee places.  Vegas, cough, cough.  They make their money of investors.  Setting up the Charles Schwab One Brokerage Account, gave me one account for savings and trading stocks and one checking account for banking.  The funds can be easy moved around and they charge $8.95 per trade.

Travel Credit Cards

RTW Card

Capital One Venture Visa

After ungodly amount of researching, I picked up another travel credit card this week.  It seems on my previous travels, my credit card always gets put on hold.  I cancelled my old card with BarClay after this happening on multiple trips.  Even after I called them beforehand and told them that I would be traveling to this country.  And then the international phone number on the back didn’t even accept collect calls.  After paying a $80 long distant bill to get the card turned back on and getting a Barclay person on the phone who doesn’t even hardly speak english, I was done.

There are many out there that are good but I decided to go with the Capital One Venture Card.  It has 2:1 miles which I can redeem easily but purchasing any ticket or hotel with my card and just use the miles to pay for.  Some of the other cards require you to use their travel agency or have some other stipulation that seems to be a pain for me.  This card has $0 first year annual fee, and $59 there after which is cheaper than most.  It has no foreign transaction fees which is the most important thing when selecting a travel card.  The ubiquitous 6% foreign transaction fee on most cards adds up fast.  It also gives you a 40,000 mile bonus when you spend $3,000 in your first 3 months.  I will probably get another card before my around the world trip but I want to make sure I start getting these situated.  I don’t want to apply have multiple cards in the same month.

Key Travel Credit Card Factors

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Miles (2:1 in this case)

 

 

Packing Cubes

RTW Packing

Being organized is hands down the most important thing when trying to pack light and fast on a RTW trip.  After researching packing cubes, I have decided to go with the Eagle Creek Specter Compression Cubes.  The pair cost me $38 which contains one that can be utilized for shirts and another for underwear.  I will probably get another set before my trip which I will use for shorts/pants and socks.

The fact that I can compress 6 shirts easily into a pancake, gives me the benefits of being organized and not taking up much room. Basically you pack up the cube, then zip the side compression zipper which compressed the cube into a pancake.

Eagle Creek Specter Compression Cubes

Eagle Creek Specter Compression Cube SetEagle Creek Specter Compression Cube Set 2

 

RTW Backpack

Around the world backpack  – UPDATE I EXCHANGED THIS BACKPACK FOR A MORE SUPPORT FRIENDLY PACK

 

I have decided that I want to do carry on only.  And the thought of checking in luggage which can be rummaged through and have missing items when I get to my destination is nerve wracking and will give me anxiety many times on my around the world trip.  So I picked up an updated version of my old Osprey Porter 46 at REI this weekend.

Osprey Porter 46

Osprey Porter 46 Laptop

Osprey Porter 46

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First of all, let me say that I absolutely love this backpack.  I have used the older version on my travels and it has been great!  Not having to check luggage has saved me and gave me a peace of mind plenty of times.  When a typhoon was coming into HongKong and my connecting flight was cancelled, they asked if anyone had carryon only that could be pushed to the next flight. Out of a line of a 100 people, I raised my hand and was hustled to the front.  Other people had to camp in the airport overnight.  And when on a bus, I can even fit on my lap rather than throwing it in the scary out of sight underneath compartment where it can be easily snatched.

The newer version of the Osprey Porter 46 is only sold at REI.  It features a new updated back compartment that will fit my 15 inch MacBook Pro as well as iPhone, and Kindle.  It will be nice having these items accessible without having to pull out all the contents of the backpack every time I want to use my laptop or kindle in public.

Carry-On only for Travel Around the World

By purchasing carry-on compatible backpack, I will be forced to make decision on what to carry.  I find the advantages of having carry on luggage only for a RTW trip far outweigh any disadvantages as seen below :).

Advantages

  • No stress of having to let your luggage out of sight.  Especially when you have expensive gear or the fact that airlines do lose luggage.
  • Easy to carry. Carrying a small piece of luggage around everyday is much easier than lugging around huge bag all the time.
  • Fits on your lap.  Nice to be able to set on your lap rather than the trunk of some shadey cab driver or under a bus.
  • Simple Life. Carrying only what you need not only will make the trip more stress free, but it will make the trip more enjoyable.

Disadvantages

  • Cough cough, none!  Maybe forcing yourself to slim down and pack smarter, you won’t have that one item that you lugged around for an entire year to use only one time.

 

Around the World Travel Vaccines

posted in: Blog, Round the World Trip, Vaccinations | 0

Getting Vaccinated for a Trip Around the World

This week I was able to use my health insurance to cover some of my vaccines.  My insurance does not cover travel vaccines but they were able to cover Hep A and B as well as Tetanus and Wooping Cough which are covered under preventative healthcare ($295 savings).  I used my annual visit which is covered 100% by United Healthcare and I also got $100 Visa gift card from my company as an incentive.  Closer to the departure of my around the world trip I will get a travel consultation and get any other recommended vaccines and prescriptions for the parts of the world I will be visiting.

Travel Vaccine Health Costs

Hep A and B – $85 per dose (3 dose series)  – Second 1 is one month after the first, and the third is 6 months out.

Tetanus and diphtheria $40

Denver Health has all travel vaccine costs listed here.

Malaria

After speaking to my doctor, he was telling me that malaria prescriptions for one region will not be effective in other regions so you need to get malaria prescriptions that are specific for where you are going.  My friend Mike who travels quiet a bit and is a doctor recommends picking up malaria medicines at the local pharmacy in whatever part of the world you are. They will be plentiful and cheap wherever you go.

 

 

 

 

Sony RX-100 III Travel Camera

SONY RX100 IIILast night I just ordered a new small-scale camera for my travels.  The Sony RX-100 III!!! I have read numerous articles and watched plenty of youtube reviews of this tiny little powerhouse of a camera.  Click here to watch a review.  It is packed with meticulous DSLR camera settings in body that fits into your pocket.  Shooting in RAW, no problem.  Manual – bokeh (blurred background) no problem.  It has an impressive F1.8 Zeiss Vario(24-70mm) with flexible screen and view finder.  I don’t need to get into the sales pitch for this camera but it is bad ass.

So I wanted something that I could fit into my pocket, take great photos, and take video.  Let’s be honest, what good is an incredible photo taking DSLR camera if it is sitting in the hotel or you are too afraid to pull out in a sketchy area.  I really like this camera as to something that I can have on me at all times and will be non-invasive with pulling out in a crowded market or hanging out of the window of a chicken bus.  Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my DSLR camera but I think there is a place in my camera bag for both.  Sometimes I just don’t want to lug around that heavy workhorse of a camera around.

My company gave a bonus for doing these health requirements, blood work, health assessment, health coaching, ect.   So I received $450 in gift visa cards for that.  I had another $200 in Citireward dollars that I could apply to my Amazon account, then $150 out of pocket and I bought the $800 impressive Sony RX-100 III camera.  Not too bad.   While researching for around the world trips, the secret is learning how to be smart with your dollars and take advantage of things like this to pay for things.  Learning the mindset of not a really parsimonious budget but just learning to be smart with your finances will go a long way in RTW travel.