Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Itinerary Indecision & Shiny Travel Things

She's making a list... she's checking it twice...

It's not my Christmas list, unfortunately.

Thank you, commenters on Monday's post, for encouraging me to look into travel vaccinations sooner rather than later!

I started gathering information and learned a lot from the CDC traveler's health site and from speaking with a woman at the Seattle Public Health Center. I just got new insurance — since I'm under 26, I was able to seamlessly hop onto my mom's health plan — and discovered yesterday that most, if not all, of the vaccinations I'll need will be covered. Hurrah!

But before I can determine exactly which vaccinations to get, I need to define my itinerary a bit further from its current state, which is: "Thailand, then anywhere!"

Oh, hum. Will someone please hand me some darts?

I have a few must-attend events in 2012 that'll require me to return to the States for a week each in mid-May and early July, which makes choosing my itinerary a bit tricky. I have to take into consideration weather, festivals I'd like to hit, tourist seasons and costliness of each country I want to visit, then try to arrange those countries into an itinerary that makes sense in terms of time and money.

"A year of traveling" sounds like a wonderfully luxurious expanse, yet I'm already worried about being short on time and missing out on things.

I definitely want to spend plenty of time in Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. I'd like to spend a month each in New Zealand and Australia, although I know they're more expensive. I've dreamt of visiting Greece and Croatia, but I don't know if I want to do Europe (again, money). Maybe Central and South America? And Africa would be amazing, but I feel overwhelmed by the thought of it.

I hear Iceland is nice, too, but it's all out there in the middle of the ocean by itself. Poor Iceland.

There. That's the jumble of thoughts in my head right now. I've never traveled outside of North America, so choosing where to go is proving to be difficult — I want to go everywhere! Feel free to add your two cents in the comments.


While I'm getting rid of many belongings in preparation for my round-the-world trip, I'm also acquiring a few new ones to take along for the ride. Luckily I'm much more decisive when it comes to choosing these things than I am when trying to choose places to visit.

Here's what I've picked up so far. (Links point to where I bought each item, and none are affiliates.)

Canon PowerShot S95 digital camera

Hello, my precious. This arrived in the mail on Tuesday and I'm already smitten. I've used this camera before since my photographer friend has it, and it's been recommended by travel bloggers galore for its compact size and low-light shooting power. It also captures HD video!

I have yet to decide whether I'll take my incredible-but-large-and-heavy Canon Rebel T2i with me. (Keep in mind that I already have a 15" MacBook Pro to worry about.) Either way, the S95 has a guaranteed spot in my pack.

MOO business cards

I first learned about MOO business cards when I met Jodi Ettenberg of Legal Nomads and Shannon O'Donnell of A Little Adrift on a train from Seattle to Portland last June. How lucky was I, as a girl wanting to learn more about traveling, to randomly meet such awesome solo female travelers?!

Jodi and Shannon both had lovely MOO cards that featured stunning photos from their travels. They let me peruse all the cards and choose my favorites to keep. What could have been a basic exchange of contact information morphed into a fascinating conversation about the stories behind the photos. On top of that, the cards were thick and beautifully printed — much more memorable than the average business card.

A sampling of Jodi Ettenberg's MOO cards.

While this blog is not a "business" at all, I know I'll want to keep in touch with the folks I meet throughout my travels.

I chose 16 of my favorite photos, which were taken everywhere from Hawaii to New York City, to make up the front of my cards, and designed my own back. I like that the description — "Writer - Runner - Photographer" — is who I am, not what I'm paid to sit in a cubicle to do. I'll be thrilled when these cards arrive in a week or so.

***Attention, men: You may want to skip this next one. Don't say I didn't warn you.***


I had read about the DivaCup on a few healthy living blogs starting about six months ago, but I never considered getting one until I chose to pursue long-term travel. It's a menstrual cup made of medical-grade silicone that is used in place of tampons or pads, and Shannon has written that she loves it with every fiber of her being — read her great review for more information.

I haven't received this in the mail yet and can't say much about it other than what I've read, but it'll be a huge relief to not worry about lugging tampons around with me! Aaaand, end period talk.


I still have many items to pick up for my round-the-world travels — like, uhh, a backpack — but fear not. I've been poring over several resources and have a great idea of where to go from here. For example, both Jodi and Shannon have put together pages full of ridiculously helpful tips to aid round-the-world travel planning:

See what I mean about how I couldn't have met two more awesome people on that train?

And just one more thing for today: You all can rest easy knowing that this little guy has been permanently spared from my recent decluttering rampage.

Several reader comments and a frantic email from my mom convinced me to keep my childhood bear, Corduroy. I don't think I could have gotten rid of him anyway. Look at that sweet face!

The lesson here? Many possessions will come and go, but a few special things are simply irreplaceable.


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  1. Is that your vaccination list? I wouldn't worry about getting Japanese Encephalitis or even rabies, Hep A and Typhoid you can get in one shot, only get Yellow fever if you are going to Brazil where it is required. Malaria pills are always a pain in the ass... what sort are you getting?

    Diva cup *skipped* I know what it is and I don't want that image in my mind again.

    If you are looking to hang around SE Asia more what about Nepal? its about $600 return from Bangkok. I am heading there to do Everest base camp (something else to consider since you are so fit?).

  2. I am so excited for you! I remember the frantic weeks leading up to actually leaving -- though it'll be here before you know it, I consider taxes, vaccines, and your first night's accommodation the only true "have it done before you leave" musts. Other than that, you can handle it :) Here if you have any questions, have fun planning!

  3. @Wayne: It's a "vaccinations to look into" list — I'm sure I won't be getting all of them! Need to hammer out more of an itinerary and talk with a doc before deciding.

    @Shannon: Thanks, lady! Your blog is seriously a lifesaver. Sooo much great info!

  4. So glad we took that train together and that my resources list has been a help for you! A lot of what I thought I needed I was able to pick up on the road, and though you'll never feel totally prepared before you take off, the second you're on that plane, you'll be calmer than ever, I'm sure of it. Hope our paths cross again before WDS! xo

  5. When I first set out, I decided to go to an English speaking country first to reduce my culture shock (actually, there was practically nil culture shock since I went to Canada, haha), but it did make it easier once I got to South America as I'd already transitioned into a travelling lifestyle. But if you feel confident going somewhere you don't speak the language, or if you have friends there, that's awesome & more power to you! :D

  6. I have a spare room if you manage to swing through Perth, Western Australia - though it's far from everything it seems... been following your blog for ages and feel a slight connection as I lived in Vancouver for 8 years before moving here - have a ton of friends in Seattle too... you bring a little piece of 'home' to me through your posts.

  7. If you decide to visit Europe, you should definitely consider Italy.

  8. What sort of accommodation are you looking into when you travel? Hotels? Hostels?

    I'm headed towards Thailand in May (Are you headed to some of the islands? I hear they are great...but I'm headed towards a more commercial island unfortunately) and NZ in December probably. I'll probably be looking at Hostels in NZ.(Should get my Hosteling International card renewed!)

  9. I'm glad you're keeping the bear. Those overalls are super cute. :)
    I've been considering a Diva cup for kind of awhile now, but I'm a little afraid to try it. It does sound perfect for travel though.

  10. Can't wait to read about all your adventures. So when i was in europe travelling i was in spain and italy for Carnival, which is basically the party leading up to lent. It was really cool to be in Venice for that. I know alot of the latin american countries also have large carnival celebrations. You should see if you can be in a city that celebrates it! So fun!

  11. You have to go to Paris!! Not sure if you've been there, but you def have to go!! :) Also can you send me a postcard if you do??? :)

  12. That’s why it is so difficult to explain in a few words why people will travel world of wonders.
    Thanks you for interesting post ;)

  13. Speaking of Everest Base Camp... It's now on my Life List because of this blog post: Not sure if this is the kind of thing you do while traveling the world or if it's a whole undertaking in and of itself, but it looks AWESOME, so there you go. No matter what you do, I hope you enjoy yourself :-) Can't wait to read about your adventures!

  14. I'm a returned Peace Corps Volunteer. When I learned I was being sent to Africa I was terrified. I was certain I would die there of some awful disease. What I quickly learned was that daily life is daily life everywhere. Fear evaporates and new friends emerge. I vote that you simply go where you are drawn to..... and allow yourself to change your mind as often as you want.

  15. Hey Devon,

    Love your blog...good luck to you on your incredible journey this next year! I look forward to keeping up with your adventures via your blog! Just one suggestion, I noticed that when I click on any of the hyperlinks on your blog, it takes me away from your blog...I think it may be better if the link opened up in new window so your blog window is still open. Take care and keep posting! You are an inspiration!

  16. @ponderer[jc]: I'll be looking to stay in hostels, guesthouses, spare rooms, whatever's cheap and safe!

    @Sarah: Great advice. Thank you for sharing your experience!

    @Pooja: Thanks for the tip — I hate it when I get taken away from blogs via links! I've updated the links on this post and will make sure to do so going forward.

  17. As always, I love your post :)

    I often see US travelers focusing on Asia/Europe, and I can see the appeal, being different continents. Still, I wonder why they're not attracted to central and south america as well. There's very interesting stuff in the rest of the american continent, and exchange rate is so much better than Europe.
    When I start traveling, I'd like to start within america, and then expanding to another continents. I want to see Macchu Picchu (Peru), The Galapagos Islands (Ecuador), The Amazon (Peru/Brazil), Tierra De Fuego (Chile), El Salto Del Angel (Venezuela) and so many other things in this continent...

    Then again, to each his own, and you should go where your curiosities take you.

    I also happen to have a curiosity for Thailand, Laos, and the surrounding places. But for some reason I want to start with america. Maybe the language, maybe my previous experiences in south america.

    Menstrual Cup = Success. My wife started using The Keeper/Moon Cup and took her a couple of periods to get used to it, so I (and she) would recommend to actually use it ASAP so by the time yo start traveling you won't be dealing with "adjustments". Very good and environmentally-friendly option BTW.

    Thanks for the posts! They're very interesting, keep'em coming!


  18. As a piece by piece world traveler, I would recommend serious time in Australia, as you are thinking, and then if I could do S.A. again, I would continue my Peru (Machu Picchu, amazing and cheap) travel south to Chile and then back up to Brazil. I believe this is what a couple I met in Peru were doing in their year of travel.

  19. yay! definitely come to New Zealand! You wont regret it, it's beautiful here :) And, there's so much to do!

  20. Yay! Definitely come to New Zealand! You won't regret it :) it's beautiful here.

  21. wow, that is SO amazing that you are taking such a big leap in to the UNKNOWN!! my DH is from australia and i have traveled there 4 times, so if you need any recommendations on things to do, email me! =) there are so many upscale hostels that are still cheap. best of luck on the very exciting journey are soon to embark on!!

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