Going round the world – how it started

Around the world…finally.

Anyone that knows me knew that I’ve always talked about/wanted to go travelling.  Not just a holiday but a year long adventure.  In-fact I’d been talking about doing it for so long and never actually done anything about it that people started to believe that I’d never do it.  Any time I told someone that I was going to be booking my round the world trip soon they would just assume that I was talking shite again.

Well, this time, I’ve only gone and done it!  I’m actually going round the world! Before I get into the details… I’ll start from when the ball started rolling.

In the beginning

It all started over two years ago when after a drunken conversation with Donna McGarry about how we both wanted to go travelling and see some of the world.  For anyone who doesn’t know Donna, she is a friend that I met while training to become a “Mortgage Servicing” telephone monkey for the Halifax.  She randomly got thrown into our group because she was “sick” and missed out on a couple of days training with her group.  The reason she was “sick” though was because she had been at the Oxegen festival over the weekend and missed her bus home.  This was all very obvious from the curious sunburn marks where her festival wrist band had been on her arm.  She was fooling nobody about her “illness”.

We kept in occasional contact over the couple of years since leaving the Halifax after about 2 months of working there…until the drunken conversation that started the round the world ball rolling.  Not much happened for a while after that because Donna was just about to go on a mini adventure in the USA and I had just got back from Laura and Roberts wedding in Hawaii.  Needless to say we were both pretty broke.

Over the course of a few months the texting increased and the  round the world (rtw) kept creeping up more and more in conversations.  We’d started to get serious about the whole idea, even visiting one of those USIT work and travel events to try and kick start proceedings.  Things still weren’t going anywhere fast and it was another years (at least) of faffing about until we both thought enough was enough.  If we didn’t do something asap we would still be talking about going away when we were 67.

Getting serious

The end of September 08 was approaching and the talk of this RTW was still going strong but we weren’t getting anywhere.  Donna was stumbling round with a broken leg (as the result of an unfortunate incident at Oxegen 08) and working 1 or 2 days a week for a local newspaper.  The cast was removed sometime around Halloween 08  and Donna had also returned to “working” approx 1 day a week in Tesco.  This meant that her income was slightly unstable and prone to fluctuations depending on how many hours she was getting in Tesco and the newspaper.  Although I knew that she was 100% up for going rtw, some things weren’t adding up, namely the financial aspect.  I knew I was going to have trouble trying to save on a full time salary.  I couldn’t see how Donna was going to be able to do it.

Christmas came and went (including a great Kings of Leon gig) and Donna was still in the land of part-time work.  It suddenly dawned on me that there was no way we were going to be able to book the tickets this month (now Jan 09) as Donna still hadn’t found full time employment.

It was time to have a serious chat and re-evaluate our plans.  The serious chat seemed to work because Donna made the transition from part-timer to full-time work.  Things seemed to be on track.  We also decided to delay the departure until Jan 2010 to allow more time for saving.  The full-time work also seemed to be motivating Donna too, she seemed more determined to final get the trip booked.

Sussing out where to go

As far as an itinerary went…we didn’t have one.  This is was where we planned on using the Travel Agents such a USIT, STA Travel and Trailfinders etc. to our advantage.  Before we did that we sat down in a bar with a laptop like to geeks and tried to figure out a rough route and key destinations that we wanted to go too.  We were both agreed on key destinations and we also made a list of bonus placed that we would like to get in, budget permitting.  I wanted to take in South America and Donna wanted to take in Fiji but we were both willing to sacrifice them if the budget wasn’t allowing it.  We were a bit shocked when we discovered that the weren’t the most helpful bunch of people when it came to trying to find out information on the best possible routes.  By this stage it all felt like we were just humouring our wanderlust because we were still no closer to actually doing anything about it

When we went to the various travel agents we were met with lots of  “why are you wanting to book so early” and “you can’t book yet, its too early” type comments.  We were beginning to think that we would never get this trip booked, and to make things worse, Donna got her bag  stole while we were sitting in Trailfinders.  We really were thinking that it was a sign that we would never get booked.

Another few months had passed and we were still no further ahead.  After a short sharp shock to the system we decided to put our heads together for a final massive push.  We persevered though and walked into STA at some in the summer of 2009, told them the route that we wanted, bargained for the price we wanted (based on a price match against USIT) and paid our deposits.  We had finally done it!  Deposit paid, and a few weeks later, full payment was made and the tickets were issued.  It was a long haul but a huge relief to get it booked and confirmed.  After years of planning, faffing, more faffing and yet more faffing we had finally booked it!

Our final itinerary

Here is the route we will be taking:

Belfast > London > Hong Kong > Bangkok — overland to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, down through Thailand and the Islands — Singapore > Cairn — overland (working and travelling) through Australia — Cairns > Christchurch — overland to — Auckland >Santiago — overland through Chile and Argentina — Buenos Aires > London > Belfast

The good thing about the type of ticket we are travelling on is that the dates are flexible so we can slide them back and forward (for a small fee) as required.

Next steps

Now that the itinerary is finally sorted we have all the rest to sort out, including:

  • Irish Passports
  • Australian Working visas
  • Accommodation for the first stop on our trip, Hong Kong
  • Travel Insurance
  • Decent camera for the trip
  • Clothing
  • Backpack
  • Money
  • etc.
  • ect.

Its going to be a busy few months trying to organise things  and also break the news to my work that I’ll be leaving.  Not looking forward to that at all.

I’ll try and update regularly as we get things sorted.

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