Friday, May 14, 2010

Trip Preparations

Hello and welcome to my new Blog! First of all let me inform you that this is my first time blogging, so if I'm breaking any rules regarding "blog etiquette" please let me know. Those who know me well know that I've held a general antipathy towards blogs in the past, but given the sheer number of people who expressed an interest in staying posted on my summer travels I felt this was a far better source of information than email. Plus if you get bored you can always stop reading -- in case you don't want to know what I ate in Istanbul that day, etc. :)

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.


  1. good luck! can't wait for updates!

  2. You know you suck, right? And since I'm very familiar with having a blog (albeit, one I have neglected for a little over a month now) I was going to say that you need to be sure to add pictures! Tons and tons of pictures! But then I saw the backpack and figured you got the idea.

    But seriously...have fun!! I haven't been out of the country since the lame Carnival cruise I took during spring break when I was 22. So I'm traveling vicariously through you this summer. Be careful, enjoy and by all means, don't forget to post some pics :)

  3. two travel tips:
    1) Have some sort of smaller shoulder bag to use during the day. You won't stick out as a tourist nearly as much (I've found the stringy soccer style bags work especially well).
    2a) If you're paying for local transportation, make sure there's either a meter or the price is in writing. Otherwise they'll charge you triple what they probably charge locals.
    2b) If you must use unmarked local transportation, walk a few blocks from whatever tourist hub you were at. You'll save a ton of money on fares that way.

    Okay that was really 3 tips, but from one well-versed traveler to another in the making - don't forget to slow down and soak everything in! You'll forget 90% of your memories, but impressions last a lifetime.