Planning, but not

Travelling round-the-world has been in the back of my mind for over 6 years now, but none of the details were ever put on paper. My round-the-world ticket was booked just 4 weeks before my departure date, and no accommodation was booked until 2 days before. I was not prepared. But this trip is all about freefalling a little, so I’m ok with making things up as I go along (says the Virgo planner person?!). Travelling for such a long time can be really daunting, especially as there’s a lot to do. Before restaurant life I’ve travelled a fair bit, so here are some tips (these makes me look smart):

Sign up for bank account that is part of the Global Alliance. I’m already a Barclays Bank customer (UK), plus I signed up for an account with Scotiabank in Canada too. This means you can avoid bank fees when you take money out from another bank under the alliance. I’m estimating this move will save me around $400+. I also got an Amex with 20,000 welcome points (for future travelling) and first year’s fees waived, and tried to book as much of the major stuff using that. I did keep my RBC bank account too, mainly because if I lose my other bankcard, I can transfer money between the two accounts. Amex isn’t accepted everywhere, so I do have a Visa too. Make sure you exchange some foreign currency ahead of time and not at the airport. Plus, if you’re paying with a credit card abroad, always choose to pay in the ‘home currency’ and not the country that you are from. Again, bad exchange rates that you can easily avoid. This all means I can eat more!

I got 25 days travel insurance, including medical, baggage loss, trip cancellation and a bunch of other benefits from using my Amex to book my trip. But if you’re planning to book other flights (say London to Copenhagen for instance) using your Amex, you won’t qualify for those benefits again because your trip has to start in your host province (in my case British Columbia – fudge!). For the record, this never used to be the case, so call your credit card company and ask lots of questions. You need to be careful that you’re not waiting for test results or have any pre-existing illnesses for the top up insurance to kick in. I have private medical, which covers me for 60 days, so as my travel insurance was just topping up the medical and then I had to opt in to buy coverage for lost or damaged bags, etc, it made sense to try the top up using my Green Shield medical plan. This route was approximately $200 cheaper, then I added a 0 deductible, so if I get sick, I had get treated (for a non-pre-existing sickness), I don’t need to pay $500 every time I get treated. In total I saved over $300 and got better coverage. I was actually quoted $1000 [enter panic attack] by another company and the Amex route was over $750. My coverage cost me $558.24.

If you are leaving the province for an extended period of time, you should call BC Medical. They asked me if I wanted to suspend my coverage – the answer to that was ‘hell no’. If I don’t have BC Medical, that very expensive medical insurance wouldn’t mean a thing, zip! When it comes to travel insurance it will be expensive, but I’m super clumsy and it’ll be cheaper than if I actually get sick.

File your taxes before you go (if it’s tax season). You may get a nice payout to pay for some of the expenses.

Go to the travel clinic as soon as you know you’re definitely going. My plan was to be travelling by February, but the Japanese Encephalitis vaccine got in the way of that. I had to get 2 shots that were 28 days apart.

Move in with your parents to avoid paying rent. I saved $1,725+ (3 months at $575 + bills, internet etc), and yes that move will do your head in from time-to-time. But now I’m typing this blog post from a beach!

Scan your passport, credit card(s), bankcard(s), permanent residency card and give it to someone you trust. You can also download the Cam Scanner app on your phone.

I always unlock my phone and use a local sim card. I’ve done this in India, England and Canada, and will be doing it in Australia to avoid crazy roaming and data charges.

Book budget European flights separately from your RTW ticket. It’s super cheap to get around in Europe. Just make sure you don’t travel with more than a carry on. I saved a good chunk of change by booking my own short flights.

Ok, maybe the 6 pairs of shoes in my luggage wasn’t the smartest move. Pack light – but I didn’t. My suitcase has my knife roll, house-ground spices, clothes, a bottle of Okanagan wine, and lots of other random stuff, oh and it was overweight! It may be an idea to ask a buddy to objectively take things out for you.

Hide some money in a piece of clothing that you won’t use until later. Hopefully, you’ll forget about it and it’s like ‘I FOUND MONEY’! Best.feeling.ever!

Before I flew out, I hosted three popup dinners and three catering gigs, all in the space of a month. Save as much as you can because there’ll always be something that will come up.

Happy travels!

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