A year travelling abroad – How to prepare?

On our 6th day of travelling I’m sitting on our friend Simon’s balcony in Ras Al-Kaimah and find myself still not quite prepared for what’s lying ahead of us.

I… and I think I can speak for us both… still haven’t quite realised that we will be travelling for about a year. It just seems so surreal, something out of our dreams, something teenagers do just before facing the slightly harsher reality of student life. Not the typical endeavours of a couple in their early and late 30s with stable (albeit uninspiring) jobs, a nice home and dreams of dog ownership.

However, we both love travelling, exploring new places and sharing new experiences. For us it was either now or never. We chose now.

The prospect of a year long trip raises a few questions – how does one prepare for such an adventure? What to pack? What vaccinations to get? What to buy? What insurance to get? What water bottle does one need? And what footwear? Etc., etc.
I’m not pretending to know the answer to the above, but this is my attempt on sharing our experience. The plan is to update blog posts as we go along and share what worked and what hasn’t (hopefully not only to your amusement but also the benefit of other travellers).

Where to go when?

One of the first questions that was on my mind was where should we go? And when? And for how long? What are the best places? What can we miss or indeed want to miss? Where is it safe? Etc., etc.

I like to do travel research by reading other blogs as you get first hand, real-life experience reports and recommendations rather than just marketing-copy. Unfortunately, the internet was rather disappointing when it came to answering my above questions. I didn’t find any one guide which listed all countries with their seasons by month for example*. And all places were described as ‘best place I ever visited’. Not very helpful when one tries to select a chosen few.

So, I’ve done what I always do: start a massive spreadsheet.

We knew that we definitely wanted to go to SEA, New Zealand and Nepal and were also eyeing with South America. I’ve researched all the countries we were interested in (thanks roughguides.com), put them in a spreadsheet and colour-coded them by seasonality, see below.

World travel planner
World travel spreadsheet by Petra

From there I could identify potential itineraries. The one we settled on, so far, is to visit our friend Simon in Dubai, then fly over to Thailand to learn how to dive in Koh Lanta and then go straight to New Zealand (South island first, then North) to catch the end of summer and stay there for 2-3 months. Then around May-time fly to Fiji, then Australia then work our way up through Indonesia and Malaysia, maybe Thailand again and end up in Nepal around October for some trekking. Afterwards, no idea yet, but I shall consult my beloved spread sheet again. Maybe India? Maybe more SEA? Japan? We shall see! In any case, we’re keeping our itinerary pretty flexible so all might change in the end.

Here’s the link to our itinerary:

What about all those other question? ‘What water bottle did you pack?’ I hear you ask. Coming up next: What extensive online research can do to you.

* Annoyingly Lonely Planet have brought out a book literally called ‘Where to go when?’ about a month before our travelling started…

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