So, the planning began. I hope this round the world guide can be helpful to other fellow travelers. This was probably half a year before leaving for my big trip. Though, I have to add, once I am passionate about something I get really efficient at researching topics. Therefore, some people might want to start with their planning way ahead. All of this was happening while I was still right in the process of writing my master’s thesis which kept me occupied on a full-time basis. Trust me, it’s always in your hands, if you really want to make something happen you can and will make it happen!
Research Volunteer Projects Abroad
I definitely wanted to do some VOLUNTEER WORK so I started searching for opportunities around the world. I am a visual person so I actually put together a big world map on paper and wrote down all the projects I was interested in and organized them by their location on the map. This gave me the perfect overview on timings, deadlines, requirements, prices etc. Yes, most of the projects come at a certain price like ‘The Great Projects’, ‘Working Abroad’, ‘Global Volunteers’ or ‘Moving Worlds’. Make sure to apply in time and probably organize it before you book your flights. I would have loved to do even more volunteering but couldn’t quite afford it. There are also opportunities that run for free like ‘Free Volunteering’ or ‘Wwoofing’. I narrowed my initial 30-40 choices down to 8-10 favorites and decided for these two final projects: Whale Shark research in the Maldives and English teaching in Thailand.
What are the Visa Requirements?
I further wrote down all the countries I primarily wanted to visit and started hitting up friends all over the world checking for their availability. Thank you, Facebook, one thing I don’t want to miss is having the opportunity to stay connected to all the great people who I’ve met throughout life. I also put together an excel sheet to have an overview of CLIMATE CONDITIONS, the best time to travel etc. for each country. I also added VISA REQUIREMENTS and deadlines (list below). Oh how happy I was that I owned a German passport with which I could receive visas on arrival for 30 days for most of my destinations. Beware that as a German citizen for e.g. Australia you will have to apply for a tourist visa online beforehand, for the USA you will have to have a valid ESTA and for China, you will have to make an appointment at a Visa Issue Service Center and supply your application at least 1 month before your departure. If you know someone in China have that someone issue you a formal invitation that will support your visa application. In general, the website of the German Department of State was my best friend for researching purposes.
What kind of Immunization do I need?
Make sure to check required IMMUNIZATION ahead of time since some immunization requires 3 sessions and sometimes vaccines are not in stock, this happened to me with the typhoral vaccine for the typhus immunization. Due to production stop, it was no longer available. If something like this happens, go to a Tropical Institute, they were able to help me out. I was already vaccinated against Hepatitis A/B and had all the regular vaccinations. I further was vaccinated against typhus and anti-rabies inoculation (‘Tollwut’). Also, make sure to take an emergency kit (list below) with you and have your doctor issue a statement that you need the medicine throughout the time of your travels, some countries have strict regulations and require such a statement.
Where can I buy an ‘Around the World Ticket’?
Next, getting a good deal for the FLIGHTS was essential. I first consulted ‘STA Travel’, they have offices in all major cities but you can also check out their offers online. They have great deals for around the world tickets, individual flight combinations and student deals. If you are still a student I highly recommend getting the INTERNATIONAL STUDENT IDENTITY CARD (ISIC) which enables you to get cheaper flight tickets with STA Travel and general student deals all over the world. It is valid for 1 year. So be sneaky and definitely get your ISIC right before your de-registration from University which will give you another year of claiming student prices and offers all around the world. My first appointment was very promising. I told them my country preferences and got a price estimation. You can either chose a set route or ask for individual preferences, the price will depend on the option and the countries you chose. And the more flexible you want to keep it, the more expensive it will be – makes sense! I had quite an idea of my route and didn’t need much flexibility. Unfortunately, the estimated price did not match the final calculation as the final offer was more than double the estimated price. At this point, I only had another 1,5 months left until my departure date.
My MilesAndMore Ticket
I was in serious doubt if my trip might still be happening but then another option presented itself: Getting an Around-the-World-Ticket through ‘MilesAndMore’. Miles and More offers you to exchange your earned miles for an around the world ticket. For 180.000 miles you get 10 stops (7 long stays, 3 stop-overs under 24 hrs., 1 stop = getting on and off the plane, so you want to make sure to have as little connecting flights as possible) within 12 months with Star Alliance Airlines. It simply depends on whether there are still enough seats left (for one flight I was on the waiting list until 2 weeks before departure. It was kind of nerve wrecking but hey where’s the fun in always knowing everything ahead of time).
I gave the service team a call right away and presented my preferred route to them. 24 hrs later I received my flight schedule with dates and flight times. No, as a student who had studied the past 5 years I hadn’t earned a single mile throughout my life but my dad due to a career in international executive work had which you can transfer to another person. It ended up being my master graduation present. I financed the rest with savings. In the end, miles and more solely requires credit card data and passport information and upon receipt of an official confirmation your ticket is booked. Some helpful information, the amount of 180.000 miles could have also been exchanged for a GoPro which gives you an idea of the monetary value. On top of that, I simply had to pay the airport fees which in my case were only 900€ in total. I had never heard of a better deal!
How can I set up my Insurance?
Another thing you want to have organized is your INSURANCE. Back then I was privately insured so my insurance company would calculate a total amount based on a single day charge. For other insurance types, you will have to check for extra deals to add to your current insurance. For short-term travels, I can recommend getting a credit card that covers your insurance as well. I have a Visa Vision Card with which I can withdraw money internationally with not fees from my German bank and only little to no fees from the international bank plus I get a 30-day insurance each time I travel abroad. Also, it’s advisable to send your bank a list of your route. You won’t have to struggle with a blocked credit card like that. Otherwise, the bank might assume a misuse of your card when they track it and see that it has been used in Asia one day and Australia the next.
Enough with the Round the World Guide Talk – Let’s go Traveling!
Finally, the only thing I had organized before leaving Germany were my flights and the volunteer projects. Any accommodation, shorter inland flights (e.g. Australia) and all other adventures were still in the vague. People knew me as a very organized person who preferred to have things planned beforehand. I let go of it completely and took off with the attitude to just take it day-by-day. You can read about how this went for me in the posts about each destination… I loved it! I have never experienced things so intensely and have been living my life with this attitude ever since!
My final route
Australia – Hervey Bay
Australia – Great Barrier
Australia – Whitsundays
Australia – Brisbane
Australia – Sydney
Hawai’i – Oahu
Hawai’i – Big Island
Hawai’i – Maui
Hawai’i – Kauai
Maldives – Visa on Arrival for 30 days (can be extended for 90 days)
Hong Kong – Visa on Arrival for 90 days
Singapore – Visa on Arrival for 90 days
Vietnam – Visa on Arrival for 15 days
Shanghai – Visa issued for 90 days, application 1-3 months before dep.
Thailand -Visa on Arrival for 30 days
Australia – Visa issued for 90 days, application online before departure
USA – Visa on Arrival for 90 days, holder of a valid ESTA Visa Waver
Medicine to treat gastrointestinal discomfort, bacterial infections, malaria, bladder infections and influenza, ointments for skin irritations, antiseptic, mosquito repellant:
Parenterol forte 250mg
MCP Drops 4mg7ml
Infecto Trimet 200mg
~ Fasten your seatbelt and off to the Maldives ~