Ready-Set-Go!

Posted by Kadri Uljas on  August 14, 2014 |
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A post about getting travel groove on, packing whole life into 75L bag and actually leaving your home for good.


Getting the groove on.

Gavin (Canada) and David (USA) helping out with charity work at dog pound in 2012

Couchsurfers Gavin (Canada) and David (USA) helping out with charity work at the dog pound in 2012

Nothing beats a travel with good mindset that starts from right preparation.
Going for a yearlong get away, needs a bit more time to get acquainted with travel hacks, setting down a reasonable budget to spend and making peace with yourself and your comfort zone based on the things you want/have to experience on the way.
Our planning started out about 4 years ago, when we opened our home for Couchsurfers and started to learn from others experiences.

Over these years we have carried out needed vaccinations, bought gear to support the trip and started to save money for the actual thing. So if anyone now is interested on a bit more detailed planning process, the next part is for you:

Budget

Desserts at fancier hipster Ruinbar

Desserts at fancier hipster Ruinbar

A topic that deserves its own section based on the ways and needs of one traveler. Budget reflects directly the list of options one will have while exploring new places.

You can travel a month spending 2000€ in lucrative city breaks with bar hopping every night and fine dining in the sky bars.

Retes - Hungarian delicious street food

Retes – Hungarian delicious street food

Or you can travel twice as long for half of the money, cooking in the hostel kitchen or lingering behind the street corners for cheap local food and sharing a dormitory with other 12 strangers. Are you interested of touring with a small group of friends with the known paths; or are you up for working and helping out few hours a day in exchange of free accommodation, food and insights to the culture? The list of possibilities is endless, and it will just come down to every ones needs and wants and compromises with its comfort zone. So how to know what your budget can offer?

The easiest is to calculate your budget by a simple equation:
the whole budget for the trip / with how long you want to travel in days = the money you can spend each day.

This will be pretty blank out way to help you determine how long can you travel, what transportation you are going to use, what sleeping arrangements are you going to get and what are the things you can do on the way.

Our estimated budget overall is very small, expecting to spend just 25€ in a day for two people including accommodation and food.
We need to do some compromises on the way with the daily allowance, especially in Europe, but try to keep the average around that sum.

In order to maintain that small budget and travel for a year we have to:

  1. Skip the fine dining, but cook our own food or fancy the street food.
  2. Choose a tent over motel to sleep in – also at some weird places like TIR truck stops next to highways.
  3. Cut off with booze and cigarettes- first one is a bit trickier, second one is a no brainer for us.
  4. Couchsurf as much as possible
  5. Help out/ work in hostels for an exchange of free/cheaper accommodation
  6. Choose hitch-hiking, boat hopping over paid transportation
  7. Use sites like Wwoofing, HelpX, Workaway for the work exchange
  8. To extend travels, work at least 6 months in Australia, New Zealand or Canada with work and holiday visa. Also work in wherever possible for some short periods of time.
  9. Travel at the end of high seasons, when places are still open, but crowds are going home and prices will drop.
  10. Volunteer through different organizations to get new experiences.

To get an idea where to go and witch destinations to choose from, a list of prices and cities is here.

Pre-travel spending

This is something that will actually tops up another half of the budget and is better to be done over the time, not at once.

Vaccinations:

Don’t overdo them, but don’t underestimate the value of them. A list of vaccinations you need to have depends on the countries you visit, but basic Hepatitis A and B are the most common to do. Shots come usually in two parts, so make sure to have the first one at least 6 months in advance, to be able to receive your second shot. All together about 250€. Check for some campaigns on the medical institutes web pages.

Insurance:

Amust for every traveler going out by themselves. Also a good insurance is not a place where to pinch a penny. Let’s put it this way, in worst case scenario you need to be airlifted from somewhere in Asia in critical situation and need an extensive treatment, then it can cost your loved ones more than 100 000€. If you don’t have a rich uncle in Canada, then better pay the fee.

We chose World Nomads Travel Insurance  maximum package, that for a couple costs 1980€, including coverage for all extreme sports possible and saving your ass with unlimited overseas medical expenses.

Must have travel gear:

  • a good backpack -130€ and up
  • a flight bag to go with it –  25€
  • a small padlock to secure the whole thing
  • Lightweight jacket for wind and rain – 50€ and up
  • Good shoes (can be some good running shoes or something specific like Keen)- 50€ and up.
  • A easy dry towel -around 25€
  • small lightweight sleeping bag (less than 1 kilo and suitable for 10 C temp) – 80€
  • lightweight tent – 300€ and up
  • small air mattress – 30€ and up
  • Solid reusable water bottle- 20€
  • Secret waist pouch for documents and money – 20€

What else to fix beforehand:

  • Make two passports that will able you to travel and to get visas on the meantime
  • Make tons of copies of your documents and if possible laminate them and put them different places in your bags. They come in handy, when needed to leave an identification copy behind somewhere, or issuing a new one abroad.
  • Have both Visa and MasterCard on your wallet, as them both are not used simultaneously in all the countries.
  • Do some visas in advance – like Australia, NZ or Canada, to have a safety net if you truly run out of money. All the other visas can be issued in the bigger hub cities like Istanbul for example.

When these basics are settled its time to get down and dirty- the packing.

Life in a 75L bag

Before actually packing, there is need to discover what you have buried in your apartment over the years. Be warned, discovering and sorting all those things that you did not have an idea that they existed can take up most of the time you planned to spend on hanging out with your friends. Also since the emotional bond with the newly found great pieces of crap can make you feel that you would never want to let go of them again, you do have to realize that your bag can carry only certain amount of things, and these things from the past, most likely won’t keep you warm or keep you happy, when you could have had to pack a warm sweater instead. So make yourself a favor and just go through them at once.

Packed bags

Packed bags

How to pack the whole life in one bag?

  • Take 10-20 minimum 300L strong garbage bags
  • Throw everything that you do not need, did not remember that they even existed and the things you think you might need (but probably wont) in the future, in the bag, and never look back.
  • Try now to pack everything that is left to your backpack
  • Don’t fit?
  • Repeat the actions above.

Besides there are few travel hacks that come in handy.

Don’t fold your clothes, but roll them.

This way they are much easier to find, clothes do not wrinkle and you can fit more.
Also, Andre uses this combination to roll pair of shirt and underwear and seal it both ends with socks of the same pair. This way, he has a clothes prepared for the whole week and they are easy to grab.

Ikea delicates laundry bag for packing.

Ikea delicates laundry bag for packing.

If you are keen to travel with backpack then a genius trick is to use delicates laundry bags (sold in Ikea for 2€ including 3 different sized bags). They are ideal to pack your clothes and guarantee easy access. Also they will help you to maintain good relationships in the hostel room, when coming in very late and alternatively crackling through plastic bags while searching for the pajama from the very bottom. Also they will be handy when giving the clothes up for a laundry.

Other thing is to use small bags or zip lock bags to organize your small things and wires. Know in advance where you have put your jacket and shoes, and stack them in logical order based on the actual needs and weather outside. Believe us, it can sound like a common sense, but we have had to excavate through our bags at random places, more than once.

All together it took us about 10 hours of packing and repacking and we delayed our travel because of it a whole day.

After all that you are ready and set!

Kadri Bag

Kadris Bag

Andre Bag

Andres Bag

GO

Going out the door without keys to go back in is a weird experience, your brain will battle a bit with questions like “is this really a right thing to do?”

Once on the go, happily throw away your transportation cards which won’t make any use from now on anyway, and write down the first destination on a piece of cardboard. Remove your sunglasses, smile and thumbs up!

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Easy as that!

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