24.08.2013

Guide to plan a looong trip

Its some preparation that needs for a long trip, even though we try to not plan anything of the day-to-day activities except the route itself; Mexico-Patagonia. We want to be as free as possible! But yes, Im the worst to "not-plan" a free and "spontaneous" trip.

Chinese temple in Malaysia


First of all, we fixed our leave at our work, quit our apartment and bills and moved all of our stuff to my parents home in south of Norway. We extended our insurance for 5 months and included all of our gear. Usually if you travel more than 45 days (normal travel insurance) you have to pay around 1000 NOK a month to be insured from a norwegian company. Since we're husband and wife (yeah) its 1000 NOK for both of us and since we have an awesome family solution at the insurance company (from my grandparents) its 1000 NOK total per month for both travel insurances and our valuables. Great success cause insurance its one of the biggest budget posts beside flight tickets.

Another good insurance you have to do is vaccination. Check this norwegian scheme for which vaccinations you need where (some countries actually demands certain vaccinations, or else you can't enter!): http://reiseklinikken.no/reisevaksiner.asp This is cheap insurance!

Then we bought bags. We had excellent help from our local travel shop Nomaden in Oslo. We chose Osprey Waypoint bags which have "everything-you-need" for backpacking. Bottom-room, external bag, many pockets inside, rain cover integrated, straps on all sides, comfortable back harness (also for my bended back). We've also chosen to travel with a smaller bag inside this bag where we have our camera equipment so its easy to slip it our when we have to check in the big bag or leave it under the bus i.e. This way we will always carry our camera stuff. Very important when you do transportation cause the luggage guys have throwing competitions when you're not watching. Even in Egypt last year the staff stole some of my camera equipment!

At Nomaden buying travel gear

Then we come to travel tech gear. Beside our camera equipment and main bags we have: pad locks for the bags zipper (TSA locks - special locks with a keyhole for the customs to use if they want to check the bag without breaking the lock), sarong (use as towel), external harddrive w/ protective casing (to save our photos/video), silk bag to sleep in where its hot or with unknown linen, first aid kit with the most important (plaster, coal tablets, infection cream, tweezers, paracetamol, silicon gloves, disinfection liquid, cotton swabs and electrolytes), waterproof/unbendable deck of cards, copy of passports, travel pouch for your bank cards, vaccination card, passport and money (tucked under my pants on the waist), mask and snorkel, head torch, leatherman, spork, pictures of your family and norwegian/swiss culture, rain cover for bag, paper folder for tickets, sunnies and sun cream and lotion. No room for clothes :)

CouchSurfing is very much the way of traveling in our opinion.  This is the way you can truly experience the local culture, food and people. CouchSurfing is like the travelers Facebook. You make a thoroughly profile and contact people in the certain areas you're traveling in. Maybe they can host you or maybe they want to show you they're city/village. This way its very much easier to travel on a budget since CouchSurfing is supposed to be totally free. Sometimes when we've "hosted" people in Oslo we've also bought them a local meal or drink as a nice gesture to experience some culture. I have experienced this lots of times with friends in Asia who I have visited several times through out the years. Usually we only do hotel in transit or when its nothing else available. If we're lucky, some countries even have "homestay" where you pay around the same price as a hotel or more expensive but food together with the family is included. This is the local food and this is the local way to experience. If you want to stay in a 4* hotel or on the beach all the time, you can go to Tenerife. Off the beaten track my friend is where you're answers and school of life will be investigated.

My dad backpacking with us in Malaysia

Test all your stuff before you leave so when you're in a crisis, you're certain how to use things. That's especially important for us on this trip since we've invested in new cameras and underwater housing. We've already had a trip to Malta to test it and next week we'll go to the Maldives to do the final test. Also, if you haven't backpacked much, try your rucksack with the real weight you're going to travel with and go to the gym to build up a good repertoire of muscles to sustain a backpack on the shoulders for a long time. Right now we're doing gym at FitnessXpressen which is also important for our diving but most important for me to protect me lady ;)

Mél testing out the new underwater camera set-up

We haven't done much planning, only the first 2 weeks in Mexico because we're doing activities with some friends and they have a schedule. First week in Mexico (after our secret honeymoon place) we will go white shark diving outside Guadalupe, west coast Mexico. This has been one of our dreams for a long time, to see the top predator in the ocean where its best visibility to see them - in the world. The next week we'll head down with plane to Cancun to do sidemount diving in the cenotes. For the rest of the trip our goal is to travel Patagonia for at least a month. We have some highlights we've pointed out but we're not sure if we can succeed experience them. Diving at the Galapagos, sailing in the Caribbean, horseback riding in the Andes, visit the Angel Falls in Venezuela, see the blue hole in Belize, dive with whales in Patagonia. We will have a 2 week pit-stop in Florida in november since we're participating at DEMA Show. In Florida we will have some days where we're planning to go snorkel with manatees, parachute jumping, flyboard and dive in the Keys with our colleagues. Great times ahead!

Since we're going to be gone for around 6 months we have to plan whats ahead when we're returning. We're going straight to Thailand as travel leaders on another trip when we arrive in february so we have already packed these bags and left them at our work place. The challenge will be to find an apartment to hire in Oslo when we return from Thailand again late march..

Transit at airport in West-Timor

It's also very important not to leave friends, unfinished business and family without feeling good about it. This is the time-spending-part of the planning as your feelings can't always be time related. Make all unfinished business gone from the to-do-list, this is a part of the "freedom" feeling you will receive en route. "No worry, no sorry. No money, no honey. No honey, big scooter" - malay saying. You actually have to go and deliver that DVD you always borrowed from the neighbor or tell your brother you love him with your life before you leave. Our trip is not supposed to be a life risk, but this is the time to really sort out your feelings and show them cause your loved ones are not going to see you for maaany months. Thanks God for Skype people!

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