Where to start.
24.11.2016 - 02.12.2016 10 °C
Okay so, to cut a long intro down, at the beginning of 2014, we (Milly & Paul) both moved to Southern Spain and started working at the same gaming company in Gibraltar, where we met.
After an amazing first year, it was quite obvious that we both loved travelling and that we still had loaaaaads of places that we wanted to tick off our bucket list's. Both in our our late 20's we decided to jump straight in to it. In other words, we had better get it done before we are "serious adults" with "serious commitments" and we didn't want to fall in to the majority of these guys who quote 'I wish I had done that before it was too late'.
So anyway, we decided that we wanted to take a "big trip" (slight obsession with quotation marks). We visited lots of different places together in a short space of time (mainly within Europe) and we pretty much went somewhere new whenever we had the chance.
Upon deciding that we would actually take the "big trip", we had to take lots in to consideration. Most importantly, can we stand being glued at the hip for the duration?
We had been living together a while and all was well, but then also decided that we would work together (exact same work pattern) living in each others pockets. This way we could also have the same time off together and take some extra little trips before our "Big Trip" This really helped because we got to see how both of us would cope when faced with different kinds of stressful situations in day to day life and whilst travelling.
Luckily, we didn't face too many problems. We pretty much discovered that Milly ridiculously stresses out over little things that don't really matter, whilst Paul is cool as a cucumber and that Milly remains weirdly calm in an actual stressful situation whilst Paul adopts a useless mute approach. Something that conveniently seemed to work for us.
Surprisingly, working together seemed to go down pretty well and it helped with planning. We spent months and months discussing different idea's for our travels, such as places we wanted to see, things we wanted to do, experiences we wanted to share with each other and how long to go for.
We decided to give ourselves 18 months give or take to save up enough funds. It was handy that we had a good while to plan because their was a lot to consider. Just a few of these things include the route, flights, visa's, travel Insurance, how to save, vaccines, new Passports (Ours were slightly beaten from our daily trips over the Spanish border in to Gibraltar as you will find with most people in the same role). So anyway, we needed to both visit the UK for over a week to get new passports. We also had to consider the budget, what to do with our apartment, where to store our things, what about our cat? and the big fish tank we had? and both bank cards which expired? and what about our jobs?
Thinking about it, all of these things and much more make it easier to understand why many people don't ever end up taking their "Big Trip". It is a dream and it's not the kind that is easy to make come true without some strong will and determination.
Anyway, some how, through all of the excitement I imagine, we managed to buckle down, save and plan our trip. We decided to plan a trip for about 8 months. We stopped going out every weekend, rented out our spare room out for a few days or weeks to people which was really helpful. Rather than dip in to the savings at the end of the month, we would have extra funds from our guests. It was also cool because we got to meet some really interesting people and even made some friends who we plan to visit and stay with on our trip. We agreed that simply cleaning a room and changing bed covers was the easiest money we ever made. So much so that it felt kind of awkward when guests would thank us. Another way in which we believe we saved lots of money was by indulging in many different tv series. We choose the long ones with about 5+ series so that they would last long. Another thing was our food shop. We would write down every meal we would have for a month and then make a list of the exact ingredients that we needed and strictly stick to the list. We could not believe how much we saved. One month it cost us €40 for the whole month and we ate really well. It's amazing what a difference it makes when you really plan things.
We have spent hours, days, maybe weeks planning things. From looking at different routes, prices of flights, accommodation, things to do, things to see. We became pretty obsessed really. When we had about 8 months left until we planned to leave for our trip, we reassessed things and decided to leave about 4 months earlier than originally planned. This really put the pressure on and made things real. After day dreaming about all of it, it was time to really actually do stuff. The first thing we did was visit the UK and get shiny new passports.
Next, we chose our route. That was much tougher than you would think. It included looking at flight prices on different sites for different times of year, not to mention that we had to look at the weather for different places at different times. Our route changed so many times. Some people thought it was silly to go in a clockwise direction because the flights from Europe to South Africa are so much cheaper than the flights from South America to South Africa. The facts are, that's true, but the flights work out more expensive on the other side of the world to go in the other direction and so it worked out best to choose clockwise.
Another thing that was questioned was why we chose to go from South East Asia to Beijing and then back to South East Asia. The reason for this was that we needed to apply for visa's from Kuala Lumpur to enter Beijing, which actually worked out well because it places us in Beijing for Chinese New Year and it's much cheaper to get a visa from Kuala Lumpur than from most places.
Anyway, once we chose a rough version of our route we booked our travel insurance. After that, we booked our first flight to India and consultations for our vaccines. Obviously with such a big trip, we had to get lots done. Not to mention that we had a few trips planned and so we had to find the right time to make the appointments between the trips and shift work. For example, the rabies vaccines are taken on day 0, day 7 and day 28. They can make you pretty poorly as you are injected with the virus to help your body learn to build up immunity. To be honest, other than a dead arm, we both weren't too affected. We got off pretty easy
We also discussed where we would stay after the trip. Would we return to Spain with the easy life we have only known together, working in Gibraltar, or would we head back to the UK where our families are who we are both very close with and miss lots. That subject also gave us lots to consider and changed a few times.
After many discussions and visits back to the UK, we both decided that we would choose Spain. Obviously it will be hard missing people but the opportunities and happy life it gave us outweighed that. Plus we could always visit people and vice versa. We are aware that nothing is ever set in stone but as two people who like to plan ahead, that's our plan.
We have both picked out rucksacks and other little things we will need to take, such as micro fibre towels, first aid kits, macs in packs, travel kits, plug adapters, sewing kits, medication, camera's, clothes, foot wear, deet to repel mosquitoes........Lots of stuff but not too much to carry on our backs 😩
Whilst away we do expect our route to change here and there. It's expected as we meet people, like places or dont like places. But we have already booked India to Kuala Lumpur to Singapore to Beijing to Thailand. As we touched upon before, we needed to start the route through Kuala Lumpur. We also had to have our flights in and out of China as well as accommodation booked to apply for our visa.
We only have a certain amount of time before the visit that we can actually apply for the visa. It is the same in many countries, however, the actual application process in most other countries is much easier. For example, we could apply up to one year before visiting Australia and we could do it all online.
The Indian visa newly offered an online option this year and so we were able to do that too. It was a little bit tougher than the Australian visa as you need to apply within the 34 days before your trip and no earlier. You also need to upload a picture of yourself of a certain size as well as a scan of your passport. One document must be JPEG and the other, PDF (both with a max and min file size) without being computer savvy, this can be quite a task. Not to mention that the "very official" visa application is written in broken English and so we just kind of had to wing half of it.
With the application time being only one month before your visit to China, we can't do it before the trip (it will be at least 2 months before we reach Beijing) and we will need to do it whilst we visit Kuala Lumpur, where there is a Chinese embassy (The closest embassy to Gibraltar is Madrid). For that reason, we extended our stay in Kuala Lumur, just in case we have any trouble. For no reason should we get declined, but it does add a little doubt to the whole situation. The kind of doubt which Milly tends to obsess over, but also massively prepare for. The amount of 'To Do' lists that have been made in the last 6 months is something "special" let's hope it pays off.
With just three weeks left until we leave for the big wide world and just one week until we leave our home in Spain, we still have so much more to do. We are just finishing work this week and can't wait now. Some days seem like everything is going at a million miles an hour, whilst others feel like seconds are hours. It's very hard to explain. Anywho, we are very excited!!! Make sure you check in for updates on our trip of a lifetime around the world.