With the start of my travels with Remote Year fast approaching I am starting to get through the long list of things that need to be done. After returning from Cuba I had to renew my passport and then obtain the required visas. Getting the Vietnam visa seemed a lot more complicated than I remember. Submitting on-line forms, emailing the embassy to find out how much it costs, reading a very long list of instructions, determining the additional postal fee seemed overly complicated but in the end my passport with visa was returned in week.
Luckily I am up to date with the various jabs you need for travelling so one thing off the ‘to do list’. I still have some malaria tablets left over from previous trips – hopefully we will not need too many as all the city destinations are in low risk areas. That just leaves short trips out into the countryside in certain countries. Flights were also easy enough to purchase given the number of cheap flights available between the UK and Spain.
One thing I was very surprised about was the costs that are associated with maintaining your ‘life’ in the UK while away. Renting out the house was not an option due to the high cost of changing to a ‘buy to let’ mortgage. But leaving the house empty would have resulted in problems getting house insurance. Also Council Tax is still payable even if the house is empty. Luckily a family member is moving in temporarily to look after the place while I’m away so that resolves a lot of these issues.
The next thing to deal with was the car. I have located a place off-road where the car can be stored but it still needs to be insured and I was surprised to find that the cost of fire and theft insurance is not much different from fully comprehensive.
Then on to travel insurance. Again this turned out to be a little more complicated, and expensive, than I originally anticipated. The problem is that most annual travel insurance deals cover you for as many holidays as you like but the maximum length of any trip can only be 31 days. You must then return to the UK. Next I tried the standard gap year insurance deals but found that the level of insurance, particularly with respect to valuables, was extremely low. Eventually after trawling through the internet and making numerous telephone calls I found a company ‘Insure And Go’ who offered a more tailor-made insurance package that was much more suitable.
I am finding that a lot of my time since being accepted on Remote Year has been spent visiting friends. I feel very privileged to have so many friends who want to catch up before I leave and who want to visit me while I’m away. Spending time maintaining these great friendships is very important to me. In addition I have one long weekend away and a wedding to attend before leaving on the 1st June.
As time is so limited, attention is now being paid to what to pack. In the last few days the people on Remote Year Magellan (the name given to our Remote Year group) have been introduced to each other via Facebook and we are all starting to get to know one another. We can also talk to people on who are currently on their Remote Year and a lot of advice has been given on what to pack. The general advice is that you don’t need as much as you think. I would generally agree with this notion and I have noticed that over the years of travelling I have packed less and less. Packing for this year is going to be different: I’ve got to take lots of technology to ensure that work can continue uninterrupted. Hopefully I’ve now got this covered – as long as my new work computer arrives on time.
Then I need to consider what I will be doing while I’m away. As my previous blogs have alluded to I love trekking and therefore bringing my boots, warm and waterproof mountain clothes are essentials. I’m also contemplating taking my sleeping bag and mat for short trips while up in the mountains – we will see how much space is left!
I’ve decided that a lot of things I will be able to buy while away so I’m not going to fill up valuable space with lots of toiletries etc. Instead I will take small bottles to last a few days that can then be refilled for short trips away. Next I’ve purchased mozzie-repellent, sun cream and restocked the first aid kit. What is now left is sorting out what clothes to take. Essentially I will need to try to cover all types of situation, so taking clothes that can be mixed and matched is definitely the way forward. I also need to take clothes to suit the different climates and local customs: wearing shorts in Morocco may not be the best decision if you want to fit in culturally!
Things are starting to fall into place. The spare room is a right mess as I’ve chucked everything I’m going to take on the spare bed. But at least it means that I’m semi-organised. I will have to clear it out at some point as I have friends staying soon….