I started sketching out the following “to-dos” one day on my blackboard wall when I first resolved to do this trip.
… Obviously – NOT the best checklist…
To combat feeling overwhelmed and giving up on the trip entirely, I resolved to find the most comprehensive checklist, and the best one I’ve found is this one from AirTreks (an AMAZING resource for everything to do w/ extensive travel. More on that later)
Although most people recommend planning one year ahead. It took me that long to finally decide on going, so I’m going the speedy – 6 months of planning route.
I set a date – January 8th, 2013
Oh crap – that leaves me 5 months. Oh well…
This is their timeline, and it has given me extreme peace of mind and allows me to keep knocking items off the list. I printed a copy, put it in my binder and started:
START A TRAVEL BINDER
AirTreks Official Planning Timeline
A good way to manage the RTW trip planning process, and to keep you from feeling overwhelmed,
is to set a timeline, a practical schedule to arrange your errands into specific time periods before
you leave. Use this timeline to organize your life from a year out all the way up until your day of
1 year – 6 months out:
o It’s still too early to be purchasing tickets so use this time to decide on your destinations, outline your itinerary and set a budget – in other words, dream.
o Make a destination list, ranked by importance, interest and convenience.
o Utilize Trip Planner, price out different itineraries and get a feel for what each one costs based on what matters to you most: price, length, destinations and/or route.
o Research, then prioritize your country and city list. Decide which to include or omit.
o Use seasonality and websites like What’sOnWhen.com and Goby.com to estimate when you want to be in different locations.
o Dig a little farther – not all the best info is reachable through Google. Use the blogrolls from your favorite travel blogs and read. Some of the best info is found in smaller travel blogs.
o Start planning your budget. Set a price goal (and add 25% to it, just to be realistic).
o Arrange for your house sale if you’re going that route.
6 months – 4 months out:
o Time to get the ball rolling! Select a route on Trip Planner and follow the prompts to submit it to one of our agents.
o Wait for the callback or email from one of our consultants (within one business day), or else call us.
o Take as much time as you need when working with a travel consultant to get the trip you want. Ask many questions. Our consultants will give cost differentials for whatever tweaks you have in mind.
o Get your passport or make sure it will be valid at least 6 months beyond your last travel date. If not, renew.
o Research necessary visas. (Visa limitations often dictate travel dates.)
o Decide on your travel dates.
o Take the plunge – buy the tickets! (Don’t forget travel insurance.)
4 months – 3 months:
o Set up where you’re staying, what you’ll be doing, arranging tours, events, activities, etc. Perhaps contact GlobalBasecamps.com for accommodation suggestions.
o Tell your family and friends you’ll be out of town – give them your dates of travel.
o Begin applying for visas, work permits.
o Set your daily itinerary – what you’ll be doing on a day to day basis. Add items to your calendar. If you have specific things you want to see, pencil them in between flights. Don’t be too detailed here. Spontaneity makes for great travel experiences.
o Buy or download guidebooks.
o Decide upon your life at home (what to do with your house/apt, bills, car, mail, pets, etc)
o Set up frequent flier accounts.
o Acquire no fee international credit cards. (Or make sure yours can be used internationally.)
o Get a spare debit card (in case you lose one).
o Contact friends in faraway places to let them know you’re coming.
o Begin to organize your life for an extended leave of absence.
o Get a Yahoo or Gmail account (any online account that can be accessed worldwide). Notify your contacts if you’re switching.
o Organize your address book. Fill out any absent contact info (phone numbers, emails you don’t have). Don’t forget to add our Customer Service email to your list!
3 months – 1 month:
o Take advantage of this time period, the days between your major planning and the departure week, to hone your travel skills. Take local trips, be a tourist in your hometown or simply take a planning break. Watch some travel movies.
o Purchase any needed supplies, gear and clothing (backpack/luggage, electronics, SD cards, travel-wear, soap, personal ID, long white scarf, travel mascot etc.)
o Request your sabbatical or give your work resignation (gulp!).
o Set up a travel blog, buy a new camera, read an encouraging book.
o Get your student card if applicable.
o Get an international driver’s license if applicable.
o Acquire extra passport photos.
o Arrange for subletting, if you’re going that route.
o Set up online bill-pays.
o Plan dinner dates with family and friends you won’t see for awhile.
1 month – 2 weeks:
o Finalize your accommodations, especially your first couple nights away.
o Get your travel vaccinations and immunization records.
2 weeks – 1 week:
o Carefully read over your itinerary/reservations – look for discrepancies.
o Visualize yourself traveling in each place from day to day. This will help in acclimating yourself to the experience and also remind you of last minute needs.
o Copy and scan important documents. Upload them to the Cloud, so you can access them online without anyone else’s help.
o Pull out your packing checklist! Customize one (at OneBag.com) or use ours. Give yourself adequate advance notice to purchase any items you forgot about earlier.
o Call your bank to let them know you will be away — banks often freeze accounts when international charges appear out of the blue.
o Stop your mail.
o Start gathering the things you’ll be taking for assessment.
o Time to reconfirm your first flight! (A good thing to do before every flight.)
o Jot down a reminder list for the night before your departure.
o Set up an out-of-town message on your email to let people know about response delays.
o Start packing! Get everything you’re taking with you and do an inventory. Keep that list with you throughout your trip so you can do counts along the way. This will keep your baggage within airline limits and also let you know right away if you’ve lost something.
o Get cash/travelers checks and some of the local cash of your first destination.
o Do laundry.
o Don’t for get to breathe! Take a sleep aide if necessary. Anxiety overload can keep you from accurately gauging what’s left to do.
Day before departure:
o Finish packing. Checklist in hand, load up that luggage. Don’t forget to weigh your bags and check LuggageLimits.com for the airlines you’ll be on.
o Make any last minute phone calls.
o Hug your family, friends and pets.
o Charge your phone/camera/laptop/music player.
o Celebrate! But don’t forget that hangovers can worsen jet lag.
Day of departure:
o Eat well and drink lots of water. Make sure to have a nourishing meal before your flight. You’ll need the carbohydrates and hydration. Alcohol dehydrates you and worsens jet lag, which can be debilitating upon arrival in a new country. You’ll need your facilities, so prepare for it!
o Reconfirm your flights two to three days before each flight (see above).
o Take lots of pictures.
o Enjoy life! You’ve earned it.
Although that list from Airtreks is a great comprehensive starting point, it doesn’t cover what WE have to do.
So I created a google doc to share with my man / travel partner, so we can keep knocking things off our checklist / adding to do:
** This is just a demonstration of my way of doing it, your needs are probably different.