The Overwhelming Experience of Planning your Backpacking Trip

The Overwhelming Experience of Planning your Backpacking Trip

When travelling was merely a dream I’d be excitedly thinking over where I wanted to go, eyes glazed over from staring longingly at travelers beautiful photographs.  Jealous,  I asked myself, “Why can’t that be me?”.

When you are lucky enough for that dream to be a reality, you can’t simply book a flight to that beautiful beach highly recommended on a travel bloggers website. Instead you start to think, to plan, to worry, to worry you’ve not planned enough and to think that you are worrying too much.

No one really talks about the buildup to leaving your job, home, family and friends, the challenges you face, what you need to do before you go… Everyone’s experiences are different and as this is something myself and Jade are currently going through I thought I’d share ours.

No matter how many Google Documents you create containing list after list of where you want to go and what you need to do, it will not help you mentally prepare for how hard it is to just drop everything and leave.

There are a million things you need to remember to do before you go, some of which we are struggling to fit in with our departure date (flights are not yet booked) in July. We could of course postpone the date we leave, but once you pick a date, it’s hard to let go of it; you’re essentially invested in it.

If you are like Jade, you try to plan everything until your departure day in chronological order; travel vaccinations, flights, handing in your job notice and giving up your house or flat. I’m grateful she is like this as I am not the best at planning. If I was alone I’d like to think I’d of got my flights sorted, vaccinations done and maybe a rough idea of where I’m going. But she and I both know this probably isn’t true!

‘Everything we need to do before travelling around the world’ list

  • Book vaccines
  • Get passport photos
  • Send off passports
  • Get bank cards
  • Unlock Phones
  • Get vaccines
  • Get anti-malaria tablets
  • Work out when we are going to visit people
  • Get Australian visa
  • Book flights/list of flights
  • Book hostels/list of hostels
  • Get currencies
  • Get insurance
  • Get photocopies of everything
  • Hand in resignations
  • House notice
  • Pack up house
  • Sell stuff from house/tip
  • Pack bags
  • Get everything from Amazon wish lists

As you can see, we have a lot left to do and that is terrifying. Working a full time job whilst trying to organise the next year or so of your life is really, really hard. Below I am going to summarise the few things we have actually done so far.

Book Travel Vaccines

Our first hiccup. We live in the middle of nowhere in North Wales, UK and of course the Nurse at our local Doctors who administers travel vaccines has recently retired. We were lucky enough to snag a last minute appointment in England to receive our vaccinations on the rare occasion we both had a day off together. We were under the impression we needed the following Vaccines:

  • Hep A
  • Hep B
  • Typhoid
  • Malaria Tablets

We walked away with a £79 bill each and a Hep A and Typhoid combined jab. Nothing else. We do now know however, that we also need to add Rabies to the list and possiblly Japanese Encephalitis. A further £350 – £450 left to spend on vaccinations which we will hopefully be able to get on our month off in June. That is the problem again with working full time. I work Monday – Friday and I am unable to get to a travel clinic during the week to receive jabs 2-3 weeks in a row. So fingers crossed June will be okay!

Send off passports

Our second hiccup. We sent off our passports using the Post Office’s (UK) check and send service. Thank God we did as I’d started the form off selecting the wrong check-box and Jade’s passport photo hadn’t been signed nor had it got the date on it. The woman at the Post Office kindly fixed mine for me and sent it off. However a panicked Jade realised she needed to post her Passport back to Yorkshire so a family friend could fix their mistake!

Unlock Phones

We both have iPhones and we are both on the UK network, EE. The unlocking process was relatively painless, you request online to have your phone unlocked, agree to pay £8.99 on your next phone bill and receive a text around a week later with unlocking instructions for your phone.  It is however, £8.99 well spent. Having your phone unlocked means that when you are moving from country to country you can easily and cheaply pick up a local sim card for your phone, with good data plans too I hear!

Work out when we are going to visit people

This is a bit of a challenge, depending of course how much friends and family you have! Seeing as there is two of us (luckily we have the same friendship groups) we have two lots of family to visit before we go. We want to make sure we see as many people as we can before we leave, it’s nice to take the time out to spend time with people you are not going to see for a long time. The further in advance you plan this the easier it will be to see as many people as you can before you go.

Hand in resignations

This was the hardest thing I have had to do so far. I am lucky enough to be in a job with a lovely, supportive team and the response was better than I could have hoped. Planning to hand in your resignation is stressful, getting all the timings right is so important and you want to make sure you honor your resignation notice period (mine being six weeks) whilst also keeping to schedule with your travel plans.

Time is going too fast

It’s quite scary how quick everything starts to take shape and come together. You can do little things to make the planning as painless as possible.

  • Create an Amazon wishlist – great for people who want to get you a going away present or if you have a birthday coming up (like me!) before you go travelling. Send your wishlist to your family so you can start to make a dent in your list of things to buy.
  • Use Google Doc’s to plan – it’s an incredibly useful free tool. It’s based on the cloud so you can work on it from anywhere. You can add people to the document so they can make changes using their Google account. It’s a great feature as it means multiple people can edit the document at the same time!
  • If you are looking to book flights use websites such as SkyScanner and Momondo to get a rough idea of how much you need to budget from the beginning to the end of your backpacking journey.
  • Use resources such as the /r/backpacking sub on Reddit to ask questions from a knowledgeable, helpful community.

Do you have any tips for preparing to go backpacking around the world? Maybe some advice on mentally coping with the buildup to your leaving date. Leave a comment below and share your stories!

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Tamara Pensa

Tamara is passionate about everything design. She loves reading, music, photography and gaming and her dream has always been to see the World. Tamara has recently quit her job as a Graphic Designer & Marketing Executive to travel the World, in the hope that she can combine her passion of travel and all things design.

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