Sunday, 21 December 2008

We have a plan….!

We now have a pretty much fixed thought of the route that we are planning on taking and some idea of the rough timings. These are flexible apart from a few (which I have marked in Bold) UK depart date, New Years in Sydney, Rio Carnival











Mongolia/Trans Siberian












Hong Kong















Sri Lanka



























New Zealand





















Costa Rica




































South Africa





Of course there will be places that we need to spend longer in, and places that we decide to reduce the time, but this plan gives you some idea of where in the world we will be during the next months, sure does beat bein at work!!

The two key purchases that you must think about

This is our first major travel for a long time and definitely the longest duration we will be away. Therefore we didn’t have some of the stuff you need; in particular the key things that we really needed to get are the right bags and the right shoes.

I know this is a bit of a boring post, but if you think about it, the shoes we buy are going to be used for other 16 months! And hopefully will see us through a number of treks and 100s of miles. The bags will be our ‘room’ for this time, everything we need will be packed in them and we will need to carry them everywhere. It was therefore really important to choose correctly.


We decided to go simple on the bags, one main bag – that we could check in, and that we could carry. I really wanted to be as flexible with this bag, as we actually are not doing that many unguided treks, without porters, so for me a classic rucksack was not the best option. Based on the fact that we were going to be in cities for quite a number of days also, a travel pack, that could be wheeled, carried or used as a backpack would the ideal spec. And it exists!!!

Urvi found the Berghaus Jalan range, and unless you live in the US (they don’t seem to be available in the US) this is the best we have found, the bags we bought are 70 litres for me and the 65 litre ladies version for Urvi. We will see what happens through the trip and if they last (!) but on first inspection they are strongly made, light weight, do have lots of cumbersome mechanics etc and most importantly have really good rucksack straps.

We then will use approx 25 litre smaller rucksacks. These packs will be used on a day to day basis, used on the treks and also taken as carry on, to store all the valuables whilst travelling etc.

Our basic advice is to MAKE SURE you buy bags that you can carry, DO NOT buy the biggest bag you can, just so that you can take more stuff. Remember on budget airlines the check in limits can be as low as 15kgs, which is far less than you may be used to.

Keep the bags simple, check the quality of the zips and don’t be afraid to invest in good products, they need to last you,


For me it is simple – buy the best quality boot your budget allows, and buy boots that suit the most difficult conditions you will face – not the most common conditions. We will be doing a few hard treks, and therefore a simple light walking shoe will not be enough, it might not the height of fashion, but I can easily wear proper hiking boots in the city, but not wear simple shoes in the Himalayas.

We are going to take 2 main sets of shoes, one per of solid hiking boots – Urvi Asolo Styner GTX, Anand Vasque Wasatch. The second are sturdy hiking sandals, with solid soles but still sandals – Urvi a pair of Keens, and I am taking my existing pair of Tevas, that have lasted me 8 years thus far.

Finally we will take a pair of cheapo flip flops for use in hostels, and chilling out by the pool!

The World Trip gadget bag

As most people will know i love my gadgets. Whether its IPods or home cinemas, i love them all! Therefore when the world trip was confirmed I immediately began to think about what we ‘needed’ in terms of technology.

You do need to be careful about wasting money on gadgets you don’t need, and also turning into a big attractive target for thieves and other undesirables! Therefore I think that curbing ones enthusiasm when it comes to how much kit you pack is crucial. I am not sure we have completely got it right yet, but to date this is what we are taking:

• Sony A350 Digital SLR, with 18-250 travel lens
• Fuji Z100fd Ultra compact simple Digital camera – i don’t want to be heaving the main camera around in the middle of Bangkok etc!!
• Asus Eee PC 1000 – ultra compact PC, for emails, photos, making bookings etc etc
• 320 GB External HD – to back up all the photos we take, and also to store all the music etc that we would want
• Cheap, simple mp3 players to use whilst travelling – don’t want to take the full ipod
• Nintendo DS – just because!!
• Mobile phone – for emergencies

It does not sound a lot when you look at it, but just remember the associated cables, chargers etc. It all adds up. I may remove some stuff, especially because, one of my main objectives for the world trip is to get away from all this technology and dependence on TV watching etc.

Having said that, when we were planning the shopping I did decide to go for the best camera kit we could justify. This is going to be one of the highlights of the trip for me – taking photos and documenting the trip through them. Therefore the Sony A350 kit with the 18-250 lens, a 2x convertor and a 50mm standard lens, seems to be the perfect kit for me.

We will be putting our whole packing list on the blog soon, and i will be also blogging some of our other purchases in a bit.

Monday, 22 September 2008

East or West which way is the best?!!!

Might sound like a random question but if you are going to do a ROUND the world trip, then you really must decide on which way round you are going to go! We have found that it is actually pretty important.

For the last 18months we have been planning to essentially go westwards, travelling through Africa - South America - Central America – Pacific – South East and South Asia – and finally Tran Siberian. This was based on some consideration of seasons but essentially not based on a whole lot of logic.

We have now decided to go eastward (the more traditional route). Essentially the final choice should be based primarily on the following things:

Seasons that you will encounter as you travel – some places you will really want the best season, like the trekking season in Nepal and Peru the best time to visit the glaciers of Patagonia and Summer/Christmas in Australia. There will then be other places that you MUST avoid at certain times, such as the hurricane season in Cuba (we made that mistake in our first plan!) the heat of the Middle East, and the monsoons of India/Sri Lanka. The only thing is that you can’t fix a logical route AND get the best weather everywhere; therefore the trick is to prioritise!

Specific events that are unmissable – it an obvious point but again the route, and the direction you travel should enable you to be in the right place at the right time for specific events. For example we will be taking in the New Years in Sydney, the Rio Carnival the Wildebeest Migration and hopefully the football world cup. Of course if you are not a football fan then being in South Africa during the world cup is probably not a good thing!! And in general be careful, as specific events push accommodation prices through the roof.

The most efficient travelling route – don’t try and get to every destination at the perfect time, otherwise you will find yourself travelling some really silly routes and criss-crossing around the world, clearly not good for the wallet or the environment.

The Jet Lag factor – if you travel eastwards you continually lose time (travel from NYC to LON and the 7hr flight seemingly takes much longer -12hrs) this continual jet lag could be a problem, as compared with the Westward journey where you theoretically gain hours as you go round. As we have not done a world trip before it is difficult to say how much of an issue this is, but possibly more of an issue is simply the number of travelling legs you do. Keep it to a minimum and allow time in between, I guess the biggest thing we have learnt is just how little time we feel we have, despite going away for 17months!

So in conclusion we have decided to go eastward, taking on the Tran Siberian first, then China, Japan, Tibet and you can see the rest….!

We will be doing a detailed route post very soon, but please do ask any questions!

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Less than 300 days to go!!

As of today we have less than 300 days to go!!!

20080710_048442_DIG_DRO_RTW_9999_W55_Light Reading

We have to get busy reading...!

Urvi has been busy and has already gone through the whole of South America, she has south Asia to go. Anand has yet to even select a book to read, but you know he is instinctive and is not so much into planning stuff... :)

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Bye Bye Micra

20080605_048116_DIG_BHX_GEN_9999_PHONE_Selling the Micra

In line with our plan to move to Mum and Dads as early as possible, we pondered about selling the car also. To be honest to have 3 cars in a family with 3 Drivers and a baby driver (Sorry Urvi!) made no sense. Of course we loved the car and would have wanted to keep it, however we calculated that for it to simply be in the driveway – and keep it in a road worthy condition would have costed in the region of £500 per year. It is worth a serious think. If you are going away for a year or more, then the cost is a bit prohibitive

Who knows we could come back and buy the same car at a bargain price!!

Saturday, 21 June 2008

We move out of 33 Ash Drive...

We have taken our first step!! in some ways the World Trip has begun...

20080522_048101_DIG_BHX_RTW_9999_A100_Packing Up 33 Ash Drive

there were boxes everwhere....! And we got everyone roped in to help...

20080620_048413_DIG_BHX_RTW_9999_PHONE_Leaving 33 Ash Drive

...but as of the 21st of June 2008 we have move out 33 Ash Drvie and moved in with Mum and Dad. Will be good fun, we can now relax...!

20080608_048411_DIG_BHX_RTW_9999_PHONE_Leaving 33 Ash Drive

The House is on rent so if you know anyone who needs a place to stay in Birmingham...!

Friday, 23 May 2008

What to do with the house while we are away...

Right from the beginning we knew that going away for 12-15 months was going to mean we would need to do something with the house. Options were 1) keep it empty – no rent/no costs, 2) sell it – possibly not a good idea in the current climate, and besides we have a really good mortgage deal!! Or 3) rent it out – the popular choice, but you really need to set your mindset.

We have finally gone for the rental option. Benefits being:

  • Rental income offsets the mortgage – a big plus, and means we can go away with less financial pressure.
  • Your house gets used, cleaned and hopefully cared for!
  • You limit the storage requirements for things, if you were to sell up
  • For us specifically, we get to keep our wonderful 10yr mortgage deal.
  • It’s a new experience – being a landlord – so why not?

All the guidance suggests that if you are going to rent and go away, then vacate your place early and rent while still in the country. This will give you some chance of getting the Tenant you really want, also any teething problems can be ironed out. However this could pose a problem as you have to live somewhere yourself!! We are in a wonderful position as my mum and Dad live 20 miles down the road, and therefore we have been able to move out a year before departing and move in with them – Thanks Mum/Dad!

Despite having them so close by we have gone for a fully managed rental service with our chosen agent – Oulsnam (a local group in the West Midlands) . They offer a fully managed service which I personally think is the best option. They will promote, let and manage the relationship with the Tenant, all we have to do is count the cash in, and authorise any works that might be required. Our house is 4 years old, so the hope is that not a lot of work would be needed. Fingers crossed.

A really good site to check out is the career break site - they have loads of current info. Summary thoughts are:

  • Start six months before you NEED to rent (your departure date). Even rent some where yourself if required.
  • Meet at least 3 agents before you decide who to go with – remember if you are going fully managed, your house is in their hands, so don’t be attracted by the highest rental quote, think about the company.
  • Management fees run at around 10%
  • What you leave in a furnished house is the landlord’s responsibility to maintain and therefore cost to repair. Think about what you leave.
  • Make sure the issues of income Tax are resolved. If you are away for 6+ months, you can claim tax exemption – the Inland Revenue have a form for this – NRL1. Have not done this yet so can’t tell you how the process is.
  • Sort your buildings contents insurance out, you will still need some.
  • ENJOY THE TRIP, don’t worry about the house.

I will post more as we go; currently we have started packing and will keep things updated.

Friday, 2 May 2008

A year to go!

Right well here we are, check point No. 1 approached and passed!! We have a year to go before Urvi and I depart for RTW 2009.

It is strange; a lot has been done so far, mainly related to saving for the trip, and setting the itinerary. There is still loads to do, and judging by the pre trip action plan I have set up – which now contains over 200 actions! – we are gonna by busy.

The main thing to say at this stage is I can honestly say plan early and get moving with the plan. As a planner by profession I really enjoy this, and have set up endless spreadsheets setting out what we need to do and by when. The trick is to do things in time, and don’t leave it to the last moment.

Emotionally is it a great feeling to know that this time next year we will either by on our trip or so close that we could almost touch it! Now the fun will really start.

Of course all this fun is not without cost, it is almost like having a 2nd full time job, as the evenings and weekends often go in sorting plans out, re-planning and then actually carrying out the plan!!! We have also undertaken some practice treks and plan to do a number of weekend treks before we go, lets see how much we actually do!! More posts on these as we go.

We are then also renting our house out, so will embark on getting this sorted, there is a wealth of info on the web about how to rent your place out when you embark on a trip like this, it is clearly worth doing but has its pitfalls and once again, get things sorted early is the motto (more on renting in a bit).

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

File Note – We can go on our trip!!

Hurray!! Based on the latest version of our plan, we have saved enough to travel round the world. After years of thinking, this is a really achievement, and I personally feel great that we will be able to undertake this trip with no financial tension and no need to work as we go. A major personal achievement of mine has been delivered.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Getting your finances in shape

Interestingly, the first thing I noticed when Urvi and I started thinking and researching a Gap Year World tour was the amount of variation people were suggesting as a budget.

The books talk about setting some expectations regarding the type of traveling you want to do and the type of places you want to stay. Based on this you can get a feel of the amount you need to have in your World trip piggy bank. We have been basing our current thinking (more to do) on £20 GBP per person per day this gives us an ‘on-the-road’ budget of £14,600. In addition you need to budget for:

• Pre trip stuff – kit etc
• Major travel costs (round the world tickets etc)
• Insurance costs etc
• Contingency funds for costs at home (your mortgage etc etc etc!)
• Money for when you come back

All in all we are working on a budget of £35,000 for the year. This may change as our planning progresses (more later)

What this meant for us is Saving saving saving!!

Immediately, the fact we wanted to go debt free, and not work while on the road, determined our leaving date. So far we are talking about the 2nd of May 2009, which at the time of starting this project gave us plenty of time to start saving.

Lessons we learnt to enable us to do this were:

• Have a clear idea of the type of traveling and lodging you are planning for.
• What you save before you can go, you can enjoy when you are on the road.
• The small savings mount up - £40 is a day’s budget, so saving 1 “Dinner out” pays for a day on the road.
• It is difficult to gauge what the costs will be so allow for contingency.
• Open a dedicated savings account for your trip and don’t dip into it.
• Try and save regularly, each month – it is a good feeling to see your savings accumulate as the months pass!
• Ensure you record your pre trip spending against your World trip account, so you know that when you get on the plane on day 1, you know how much you have left.
• DON’T MAKE MONEY YOUR DRIVER! But if you sort this out before you go your whole trip does not turn into a budgeting challenge

Of course if all else fails approach rich relatives for a loan!

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Thoughts on Blogging

I will be honest, both Urvi and I are pretty tech savvy, but until we began started planning this trip I had not contemplated setting up a Blog. Its bit strange really as I read a number of blogs, mainly technology related but also my second love Cricket, but I have never set one up myself. It is a pretty liberating experience really. A bit like writing a diary, but enhanced by the sharing element of it, and of course the ability to drop in a live Map and Pics.

As a technogeek, and someone who attempts to take meaningful photos, the documentary/archiving aspects of this are really exciting for me and in some ways I cant wait to take this on while we are traveling.

Our world trip blog, is the first of what may be many blogs, so please do tell us what you think and how we might improve things.

A journey round the world begins with a simple plan…

One of the first things that we found when thinking about trip was to start planning early. I know that people talk about a trip like this as a voyage of discovery and therefore the more planning you do, the less you may enjoy the experiences, but honestly a certain amount of planning is essential.

First things first, we decided on a number of issues very early on, much of this sounds obvious, but it is important to clear these things at the beginning.

• The trip was going to be for 1 year.
• We were going to fund this trip 100% out of our savings, no money no trip!
• Based on needing to save and plan before we go we decided on a departure year of 2009
• As much as possible we would try and get to ALL the places we both wanted to visit. But also we knew that there would be further trips in the future.

So from here on in the planning began! I tell you, it is half the fun I think!!!!

How it all started...

Sitting in the Tower of London museum, we had a conversation about things to do and achieve in life, I wanted to buy a Merc, She wanted a nice house, I wanted to set up a home cinema, and she wanted to travel the world....

...What? travel the world, how we going to do that? We were in our mid 20s and trying to establish our careers, progress in life and set up a home, family etc. How can you do this and travel the world?

I guess it is all about Risk and how much risk you want to take to achieve your ambitions in life. For me it was about potentially leaving a job for a year to travel the world, but with no real assurance of having a job to return to.

This was the first lesson I have learnt while planning for this trip. Life is about making decisions and sticking to them, there will always be pros and cons, but doing nothing is the best way to go backwards.

That was 2004, this is 2008. Join us in the trip of our lifetime!!!!

Tuesday, 1 January 2008


About this site: This site is for our families and friends, and also as a keepsake for ourselves. Over time it will give us a place to share the experiences that we are sure will change us for ever. We'll consider it to be a success if our family and friends enjoy it, and if it encourages or helps even one more person to travel, then even better!

About us: We are Urvi and Anand Shah, a married couple of seven years now! Urvi is the wife and Anand the husband. We are in our late 20’s although I (Anand) am gonna be 30. We live in Birmingham, UK. Urvi is a Physiotherapist and I am a Healthcare Manager working in the NHS. We're basically a fairly normal pre-kids couple, looking to find the meaning of life (!)

About this trip: This is a trip inspired by Urvi. We have always enjoyed travel, but have not been able to go to all the places we have dreamt of. Being the inpatient people we are! We decided to fulfill a lifelong dream and travel the world all in one go. The trip will be 15 months. We started slowly saving soon after we met, and with the proper planning, it all turned out to be more affordable than we originally anticipated (let us know if you'd like more info on this). With a few exceptions, we plan to get to all the places each of us wanted to visit and experience.

As we want to get a really feel for the countries we visit, and not stay cooped in western hotels, or bus tours; our accommodations will usually be hostels, homestays, camping where possible and even camper vans! I (Anand) would also like the odd day of luxury thrown in too!

Our travel philosophy: We're more interested in finding out what life is like in a given place than we are in seeing all the tourist spots. That said, we don't "go native" when we arrive somewhere. We have adopted a style of planning well and in detail, but trying to keep as much flexibility for when we are there. We want to spend a fair amount of time just walking around to get to know a place and lifestyle - the "vibe," so to speak.

Travel is going to be a mix of as many forms of transport as possible! From flying on the Airbuss A380 super jumbo, to cruising the Nile, to the endurance of the trans Siberian railway!

What do you think we MUST DO

We would love to hear from you and get some recommendations of the things that we must see, do, eat or experience during our trip.

Please leave advice, a travel story, a tip - or just tell us about your favorite place to visit or a spot not to be missed.


Urvi and Anand

  © Blogger template 'Isolation' by 2008

Back to TOP