No matter how far in advance you plan a trip like this (we made the decision nearly 18 months ago), the week before is always going to be a scramble. Luckily, both Anna and I had our last day of work on Friday, giving us 10 days to sort out our s***. And it is necessary!
Being Swiss, there are certain things I tried to do in advance. Write a packing list. Write an actual to do list. Write another a list, of all the London restaurants I want to eat at before leaving. But with only 7 days to go, the panic is starting to set in. And the only way I can combat it is by making more lists!!
It’s the things I’ve been putting off for months that are the most tedious. The coins from my piggy bank that need counting. Backing up my laptop. Setting up my iPad to double as a kindle.
If anybody is thinking of backpacking for an extended period of time, though, here are some essential preparation tips. These should ideally be taken care of a couple months before you leave!
- Get travel insurance, and take your time to research the policy that’s right for you. We used GoCompare to compare quotes and chose Outbacker Insurance, which covers us for travel, possessions, and most importantly, any medical issues
- Get your vaccinations! I’ve had 8 injections in the past month, with two more tomorrow. Some of them require multiple doses before you leave (Hepatitus B, rabies), so make sure you leave enough time (at least 6 weeks). Also, make sure you budget for these – some are available for free on the NHS, but many of them cost extra (I went to a Nomad travel clinic for those). God I hate needles.
- Find out if anything on your itinerary needs to be booked in advance. We learned early on that access to Machu Pichu has restrictions on daily visitors, so we’ve booked our trek (which includes the Machu Pichu entrance fee) already, even though we don’t plan to be there tunil April. After a lot of deliberation, we decided on the Salkantay trek, rather than the classic Inca trail, as it’s cheaper, but offers stunning landscape views in lieu of additional ruins.
- Think about what you’ll need that you don’t already own, and go buy it / order it online. For us, this was a weatherproof case for my camera, money belts, a tiny portable speaker for impromptu hostel dance parties, and a pegless washing line, amongst others.
- Figure out what you’re going to do with all your stuff, and try and organise / clear some of it out bit by bit. If you’re putting it into storage, research to make sure you’re using an inexpensive, but reliable option!
- If you’re winging it and being pretty flexible with your itinerary (like we are), just make sure you know where you’re sleeping for the first few days. We plan to couchsurf as much as we can throughout the trip, but luckily, we’ll be staying with a friend in our first destination, Buenos Aires.
- Have a farewell party, even if it’s just some casual drinks in a pub with a few friends.
One week to go!! Eeeek!!
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