Christy and Aaron Tracker

Follow Christy and Aaron on their backpacking trip around the world

Wow, I am Really Glad I Have My…

Posted by Christy in Planning on 08 25th, 2010

OK, I am not sure if there is anybody out there looking at our site for preparation on a world trip. If you are, then you are in luck; this post is for you!

We did our best to pack for our trip, and I think we did a pretty good job. You can see what we packed on the “Our Gear” tab, but I thought I would highlight some of the things that I am REALLY glad we have, and some of the things we wish we had. Please keep in mind we are still learning, and this list really probably grow later on.

So, without further adieu, “Wow, I am really glad I have my:”

1. Quick-Dry Towel

You use it when you go to the beach, when you are finished bathing at hostels and at campsites. Most hostels don’t provide towels, and if they do, they charge extra. Of course, I suggest a quick-dry towel because, obviously, it drys quickly when you are on the go, and also because it is so lightweight.

So, before you venture out into the world, remember to grab one of these puppies. You will need it.

2. iPad

Can I tell you how many times a day I use this? Originally, we were going to just bring Aaron’s laptop. Then, as a going away present from my company University Pipeline (now Tissla), they presented me with an iPad. I can’t imagine traveling without it. There would have been countless fights between Aaron and I over the use of the laptop.

And since it is so lightweight, Aaron and I like to bring up maps on the Internet and reference those when WiFi is not available. We also like to send tickets, confirmations, etc. to my e-mail and bring those up on the iPad when needed.

Once again, thanks Tom and Tissla for the tremendous gift. It has been a lifesaver!

3. Dry-Fit Shirts

I have been sweaty. A lot. Thanks to my dry-fit shirts, I haven’t been nearly as uncomfortable as I would have in cotton T-shirts.

Also, they are more lightweight, AND they keep better than cotton. How about that?

4. Medications

I have to admit, this has become a bit of an obsession for me, but can you blame me? We are in foreign territories, being exposed to environments we have never been exposed to before, and we are bound to get sick. Plus, my Advil has saved me from experiencing long periods of (Ahem. Boys, avert your eyes.) menstrual cramps.

We stayed with our friend Tim in Germany, who happens to be an army medic. He supplied me with Pepto Bismol, antihistamine cream, allergy pills, etc. It was fabulous. I personally don’t mind carrying around a huge medicine cabinet with me, but Aaron thinks I am crazy. (We will see how he feels after he gets the runs in Africa.)

5. Mosquito Killer Tablets

I actually did not bring these with me from the States. In fact, I had never heard of them before our arrival in Bucharest. Our CouchSurfing hosts/friends Razvan and Andra introduced them to me after I demonstrated my extreme fear of mosquito bites by running around there apartment smacking the walls trying to kill mosquitoes.

For those of you who don’t know, you can buy these tablets for about $3 for a pack of 10 (at least in Romania). Each tablet is about the size of a piece of gum. You simply burn them with a match/lighter for a few minutes, depending on the size of the room. Soon you will see them flying around like mad then all the sudden drop dead on the floor. It is best thing EVER. Fewer things give me joy than watching mosquitoes die (Really that is an exaggeration. Sort of.).

So, if you have severe reactions to mosquito bites, or simply hate mosquitoes, go buy these. I can’t imagine traveling without them now.

Those are my big five. Now onto the things I WISH I had but do not:

1.) Battery-Powered Fan

We have had some really, REALLY hot nights. I usually can sleep through anything, but when it is so hot I feel like I am suffocating, that I can’t sleep through.

What makes it worse is that we usually can’t open any windows because of my fear of mosquitoes (poor Aaron). Which brings me to my next item:

2.) Mosquito Net

It is kind of scary how many of these items have to do with preventing mosquito bites. Oh, well.

Yes, we do plan on buying one of these for Africa. With the risks of malaria (which we have medication for, incidently), it is just not safe to go without.

That’s it. I hope this was useful. And for those of you who are not planning a RTW trip, it was interesting right? RIGHT? Whatever. :-)



SPOT GPS Tracker

Posted by Aaron in Planning on 05 22nd, 2010

Before leaving I quickly connected our SPOT GPS tracker to our website. I was pleased to see the tracker is working properly. The location described on the right is accurately updating. We can now be tracked in real time without needing a Wi-Fi connection!

I know the formatting is not good, so I will work on customizing the location information when I have some free time in Ohio.



Skype

Posted by Aaron in Planning on 05 9th, 2010

We signed up for our Skype subscription today. Our subscription will allow us unlimited pc to phone calls to the United States. We are hoping that this will be enough for us to talk to our friends and family back home without the cost of international phone calls. As long as we can find a wifi connection we will be able to call back to the United States! The subscription is only $2.99 per month. If we find we want to be able to call to other countries we can upgrade to a $13.99 a month plan.

One other option we thought about was was to get an international cell phone. After talking with a couple of couch surfers who were traveling the world for a year, we decided not to get an international cell phone. Jerome and Morgane bought SIM cards in the first 3 countries they visited, but they ended up using very few minutes. In the fourth country, they decided to skip the cell phone to see how they would adjust. They found they did not miss the cell phone at all and had not purchased SIM cards again. They felt they wasted a lot of money early on for a service they did not use. Based on their experience, we are going to try to travel without an international phone. The good news is we can always buy a phone if we feel the need for one.

Hopefully with our Skype account we will be able to stay connected and we will not need the extra expense of a cell phone. It is going to be weird to not have a cell phone for the first time in 10 years.



Oww, My Arms!

Posted by Aaron in Planning on 04 15th, 2010

Yesterday I had my first round of immunizations. I got 4 shots, so today my arm is hurting. I was originally planning on going to the San Francisco travel clinic to get all of my shots at one time, but Christy realized the clinic does not accept health insurance. We are getting as many immunizations as possible from our doctor since they are covered by insurance.

I got the following shots yesterday:

  • Hepatitis A & B
  • Polio
  • Meningitis
  • Tetanus

Polio and meningitis were optional for me since I was previously immunized. My doctor advised me to get them anyway, just to be safe.

In addition to the shots, I also got typhoid vaccine and traveler’s diarrhea pills.

Christy and I are going to the travel clinic next Friday to get all other necessary vaccinations, like Yellow Fever.

I wish I had known Hepatitis A & B are a series of shots spanning 6 months. The travel clinic suggested scheduling an appointment 6 weeks before the departure date. Since our trip is so long we will not be around to get the final shot 6 months later. We have been planning this trip for years, so we could have gotten the full series of Hepatitis A & B shots if we had known they took so long.

With a little Ibuprofen, the pain is my arm is not bad and fortunately I did not get sick from the tetanus shot like I did as a teenager. I should be completely healed just in time for my next rounds of immunizations!



Updates

Posted by Christy in Planning on 04 11th, 2010

It has been awhile since either Aaron or I have written a post. Here are a few updates:

1.)  We purchased our one-way tickets to London.

We purchased the tickets from studentuniverse.com for $411 each. We are flying from Columbus on May 31. We will purchase our RTW (round the world) tickets in Europe since it is so much cheaper to purchase them there rather than the US.

2.)  We gave notice to our employers.

Aaron let Cisco know of our plans a few weeks ago. His boss was initially shocked, but he was excited for us. Aaron was offered a leave of absence (gotta love Cisco). That means we will still have health insurance during our trip, and he will have access to the internal job boards when we get back.

I let my bosses know on Friday. They, too, were surprised, but very supportive. They did offer me a position when I come back. We will see what happens!

3.)  We got our backpacks!

After about 6 trips to REI, we FINALLY got our backpacks.

I got the women’s Osprey Waypoint 65L Travel Pack – Women’s (It holds 65 liters). It was $250.

Aaron got the Osprey Porter 65L Travel Pack. It was $130.



First Draft of our Route

Posted by Aaron in Planning on 01 17th, 2010

Christy and I just finished creating the first draft of our around the world plane ticket. We are going to choose the OneWorld alliance instead of the Star Alliance because the tickets are cheaper and the rules for travel are more flexible.

Here is our first attempt at an itinerary:

Route-map-20100117

This route would have us going to the following destinations:

  1. Columbus, OH, United States
  2. London, England
  3. Istanbul, Turkey
  4. Moscow, Russia
  5. Amman, Jordan
  6. Cairo, Egypt
  7. Accra, Ghana
  8. Nairobi, Kenya
  9. Cape Town, South Africa
  10. Johannesburg, South Africa
  11. Hong Kong, China
  12. Tokyo, Japan
  13. Mumbai, India
  14. Singapore, Singapore
  15. Adelaide, Australia
  16. Auckland, New Zealand
  17. Columbus, OH

This itinerary only includes flights, so we will definitely be using ground transportation to explore surrounding countries. We will just be using the flights just to get us across long distances.

It is hard to not buy the tickets right now, but we want to wait to make sure we are completely happy with our itinerary. Lets see how long our patience holds.



Hostelling International Locations on Google Earth

Posted by Aaron in Planning on 11 23rd, 2009

Hostelling International (HI) has hostels all over the world, but their website does not have a way to download all hostel locations into Google Earth. Fortunately, I was able to find the Keyhole Markup Language (KML) files used by the embedded maps on the HI website. The same KML files can be used in Google Earth to map hostel locations. The following files are all owned and maintained by Hostelling International:

Open the files in Google Earth and you will be able to see the hostel locations on a map. This will be a great way for Christy and I to plan travel routes by coordinating hostel locations with landmarks and transportation stations. Also, since the KML files are  saved on our computer, we can find a place to sleep without needing an internet connection.



The man in seat sixty-one

Posted by Aaron in Planning on 11 18th, 2009

I just stumbled upon a great website for traveling by train all over the world. The man in seat sixty-one is a travel website run by a former British railway professional who decided to share his knowledge of train travel. The site has grown into a massive collection of timetables, maps, tips, and links to train and ferry information all over the world.

This site is going to be a big help in planning our travels through Asia. One of the great pages on the site is a suggested way to plan a budget and itinerary for a complex trip. Up until now we have been vaguely outlining where we want to go and how much we will spend. The spreadsheet method should be a great way to organize things a little better. I have always been concerned with ruining the adventure of travel by over organizing the trip, but I think we can build flexibility into the schedule once we identify critical timing points and costs. Some trains only run once a week, so mistiming a train connection can mean spending significant time in the transfer cities instead of more desirable locations.

I cannot wait to start building the spreadsheet and seeing our trip develop more concretely. I hope I can find the man in seat sixty-one on one of our trains so I can thank him in person.



Planning our own Long Way Down through Africa

Posted by Aaron in Planning on 10 20th, 2009

Trackers,

One of the places I am looking forward to visiting is Africa. I have always been interested in Africa. My brother and I once ate Burger King everyday on vacation to collect Lion King trading cards because we loved safari animals. Two years ago, I was amazed by the stories and photographs of my aunt’s safari to Kenya and Tanzania. My most recent inspiration came from Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman’s excellent Long Way Down travel documentary. Watching Ewan and Charley travel the length of Africa on their motorcycles opened my eyes to the diversity of Africa. I loved watching the people, wildlife, and environment change as they rode across the entire continent. I have seen Long Way Down twice now, and every time I think about it I get more excited to explore Africa. Long Way Down, and the similar Long Way Round, are two of the biggest influences in my desire to go on this around the world trip.

After Europe, it seems to make sense to head down into Africa to fulfill my dream. I would like to follow the route Ewan and Charley used to travel from Tunisia to South Africa by land, but I know without motorcycles this will be impossible. I am quickly finding planning a route through Africa is going to be a lot more difficult than it was in Europe. The travel infrastructure is not as good and some countries will be off limits to us. Right now I am relying on Wikitravel to help me piece together the methods of travel available to us. We would like to fly as little as possible, but we expect to fly a few times in order to reach all of our African destinations.

My list of places to visit currently looks like this (roughly ordered in the order we will visit) :

  • Morocco
  • Tunisia
  • Egypt
  • Ethiopia
  • Kenya
  • Uganda
  • Tanzania
  • South Africa
  • Madagascar

That list is definetely open for revision. One of the great things I learned from Long Way Down is there are so many wonderful places to explore and people to meet between the traditional destinations.

Planning for Africa is going to be a challenge, but the more I research the more I get excited.

Check out Long Way Down for yourself and prepare to get inspired to visit Africa.



Great Advice from Amanda of The Lost Girls!

Posted by Christy in Planning on 10 19th, 2009

Hello, trackers! (Oh my god, I just came up with that! That is SO CUTE!)

I am pleased to bring you some great tips from one of my favorite travel writers thus far, Amanda of the Lost Girls. Amanda traveled the globe in 2006 and 2007 with a couple friends. Their blog at www.lostgirlsworld.com is fabulous, and it has helped Aaron and I immensely in our preparation for world travels. The Lost Girls also have a book coming out in 2010.

I wrote to Amanda asking her for some advice. What should be expect? What countries cannot be missed? What can we simply not the leave the country without?

Here are some tips that she gave to me. I think if any other RTW planners stumble upon our site, they will find this useful:

1.) Travel Insurance is a MUST.

2.) We will NOT need a fancy water purifier (Which I was going to ask for for Christmas.)

3.) A lot of time spent on the road is planning the next step.

4.) Laos and New Zealand are two countries that should not be missed.

Thanks for the excellent advice, Amanda!