Most, if not all, of those who will be reading this will know some or all of this story already. However I feel I should put it in for completeness.
Last year I got married and went on the most wonderful adventure with my husband to New Zealand for our honeymoon. Unfortunately, shortly after our return, I was made redundant. Having never been in a situation like that before I made a panic decision and ended up in a job that just was not right for me.
After a lot of discussion, we made the decision that we could both benefit from taking a career break to go travelling. We are lucky enough to have very few financial commitments and my in laws have been kind enough to look after our beloved cats for the duration of our travels.
After the decision had been made, we started planning. We made the decision to take 6 months and narrowed down our destinations to focus on East and Southeast Asia. As much as we would love to see the entire world this seemed the most sensible plan for our time scale and budget.
Asia appealed to us from our previous travels in the region. We have both been to Japan before and cannot express how much we enjoyed our time there; I have visited south Thailand before and would love to go back so I can share it with my husband; and we had a few days stopping over in Malaysia during our honeymoon. All this left us wanting to explore more of the continent.
Once we had made the decision of where to go, we started looking into how to achieve it. We had already spent a lot of time discussing finances and we started doing research into the destinations themselves. We had discussions with most people we knew and could think of who had previously done long term travelling, picking up hints and tips. A lot of folk we talked to suggested booking though a travel agent and some people directly recommended STA Travel. We generally don’t use travel agents but we decided to look into it.
As I mentioned, before going into Sta Travel we had done some research, including looking at the UK government website for each country we were looking at; as well as travel tour operators we have used previously (Intrepid Travel and G Adventures). While the staff at STA Travel are incredibly helpful and friendly in our experience, I would still suggest if you plan to do any trip to do your own research first as it makes things go more smoothly for everyone.
Several trips into STA Travel and a lot of emails later, we came up with the rough itinerary shown below.
This itinerary may well change over the course of our travels as we intend to be flexible, for this reason most of the itinerary remains un-booked. We have booked a flight to Beijing and one home from Tokyo; we have also booked a tour in China, Mongolia and Vietnam; as well as volunteering with Tiger Conservation in Malaysia and Elephants in Thailand.
China and Mongolia require a letter of invitation in order to apply for a visa, this is much easier to obtain when on an organised tour than visiting the country individually. Currently for UK citizens, travelling for tourism in Vietnam can enter the country for 15 days without a Visa, our tour should ensure that we see all the things we want to see within that period.
We have recently received our letters of invitation for China and Mongolia, we are in the process of applying for the Chinese visa. If anyone would be interested I could write a post on our experience in attaining these documents once we have them.
Luckily as we have both travelled to Peru previously we are covered for most vaccinations required already. We both required an update on our Typhoid, which was covered on the NHS. We were recommended to get a Rabies course, Japanese Encephalitis and Tick Borne Encephalitis, so we are in the process of that at the moment as well. Two sets of jags down one to go.
I have made myself a packing list and we are aiming to go hand luggage only. I have bought some things for this trip including lighter weight boots and a new backpack, but we still have some bits to get together. If you are interested I could do a more in depth packing list once I have all my stuff together.
Other than that, I have left my job already, to prepare for this trip and my husband has handed in his notice since his company does not do sabbaticals. We leave on the 16th of June and are very excited.
So that is the story so far. If you want to know more about anything I have written above or there are any posts you would like to see in the future let me know in the comments. If you are interested in our journey, then please follow this blog.
This post is in no way sponsored, links are included to help people find the relevant information if they are interested. I have only included links that we have used, I am sure there are other services that would work in their place.