The idea of a trip formed in my head towards the end of my business school applications in December last year. Anyone who has been through that process realizes how spirit-draining it can be, and my mind started wandering as an escape from endless evenings of essay revisions. The idea of an around-the-world trip wasn't new -- I had a couple former coworkers that did the same thing who I could emulate -- and I felt this was an efficient way to knock off many of the places on my travel "to do" list.
Thankfully I got accepted to the University of Virginia Darden School of Business on January 27, at which point the wheels really started spinning to put this idea in motion. First, I needed to decide when to quit my job. I knew by end of April I would have decided where I would be going in the fall (it ended up being Darden), and I felt it was important to have made the B-school decision before launching myself abroad. With school activities starting up in mid-August and knowing I would need time to catch my breath after so much travel, I decided to limit myself to a two-month voyage.
With the exception of a summer exchange program I did in Germany in high school, I've never spent more than two weeks away from home, so two months felt like a ton of time to see everything in the world I always wanted. When I started planning my trip, however, I quickly realized it was almost no time at all. I would need to prioritize, and some destinations fell off the list.
After a couple frantic last-minute switches (due to political instability in Greece and Bangkok), I finally set up the following itinerary:
May 17: Depart Washington D.C.
May 19-28: New Zealand
May 28-June 3: Australia
June 4-10: Shanghai
June 10-15: Hong Kong
June 15-18: Singapore
June 18-24: Phuket, Thailand
June 24-28: Malaysia
June 28-July 1: Dubai
July 1-6: Istanbul
July 6-12: Croatia (hopping along the coast from Split to Dubrovnik)
July 12-19: Barcelona & Ibiza, Spain
July 19: Return to Washington D.C.
So if all goes to plan I'll be back in the U.S. in two months, having left crossing the Pacific and returned crossing the Atlantic. Murphy's Law must be in effect for something of this complexity, so I'm near certain that I won't follow this perfectly, but will try.
Putting this together was way more work than I had anticipated. After leaving my job I've spent most of my past two weeks frantically researching destinations and booking flights and accommodations. All 3 of my credit cards have called me at some point with concerns -- I'll admit it was strange trying to explain to a Visa representative that, yes, in fact I HAD booked a Melbourne to Shanghai one-way ticket through a sketchy Chinese airline's website. Totally fine.
Of course I was overly thorough in my logistical preparations, booking all accommodations in advance and trying to consider all the little things I might need. Like a cell phone that will work overseas (not Sprint!). And a way to check email on-the-go (horray new iPod!). And the means to power it all (fancy new plug adapter).
My trusty companion for the whole journey is an Osprey-brand hiking backpack. I now have 72 hours to figure what to stuff in it. I hope to pack it well.