49 days till I depart and still plenty to do. I should enjoy this bit, with Project Management being part of my job role before embarking on travelling, I would have thought it would be plain sailing. I found that eagerness can turn into stress if you’re not careful.
So where’s my planning at right now? Best way is to share a screen shot of Asana. Asana was introduced to me my friend Doug fairly recently – it’s awesome. A free and simple (very important) task management tool. I’ll leave the full description to the site, but for me I wanted something that was (a) simple to use, (b) i could update on the move viaÂ phone, (c) wouldn’t snowball into a managementÂ nightmare.
In summary, I’ve got my flights to China, HK and Thailand booked, Chinese visa in transit (preying it’ll be accepted – see below), NHS travel vaccinations and rucksack. The annoyance with the Chinese visa is that you have to have booked and provide proof of inbound/outbound flights andÂ accommodation during your stay. As you probably know, flights are generally non-refundable. Sure you can pay for refundable flights and change them if you get denied a visa, but those flights are pricey (so you get stung if they accept the via and you have to take them) AND they charge a fee to cancel/change dates (if you’re unlucky par say). In short, there’s a big premium to pay for “flexibility” – more than I expected. The visa agency have my form, my passport and myÂ squeaky clean proof so I’ll find out Thurs if that has gone through. Fingers crossed.
I didn’t like being forced into choosing particular dates and eagerly spending the effort trying to find a clever loophole ended fruitless.Â I have a bunch of guides to trawl through. Having found that a combination of work and society’s habits have over time reduced my attention span, I’m looking forward to soaking myself in some travel guides.
The bulk of my planning experience to date had been accumulated through a great book I read called “A Rough Guide to First Time Around the World“. This book does its best to replace several dinner sessions with mates who have done RTW trips and organises the information well. The book had two winners for me. Firstly, page 114 has a great “Departure Countdown” which gives you pointers in date order of prep (e.g. 6 months before – get/renew your passport if it’s due to expire soon and 1 month before – purchase hostel discount cards). Who’d have known that the various travel vaccines can’t be taken in one shot a week before you depart. To beÂ ashamedlyÂ honest, I didn’t.
Second major takeaway from this book was the advice it gave about deciding where to go on your trip. In short, it was don’t just go to places, but DO something at each of them.Â After sitting and contemplating I asked myself – “Ok Andonis, you have this time to go and travel – what do you want to do that you CAN’T do in London as things stand now”. The answer that bubbled through was I’d like to learn Kung Fu from the Shaolin monks in China and gain some clarity of mind in a retreat type place. [I’ll cover how I eventually settled on the school in another blog].Â There was a definite aha moment when that came through. The world, in my mind, became a much more reachable place.