My entire life I’ve sought new adventures. As a kid I loved exploring my neighborhood. As an adult I love exploring the world. The title image is of my itinerary in Ethiopia next week. Today I’m embarking on a three-and-a half-month trip outside the US. First stop: Istanbul. From there Addis Ababa.
New Adventures: Decisions, Decisions
It turns out I don’t plan as well as other people do. I tend to dither. So does my co-author and travel buddy, Phillip. That’s a good thing, because we understand each other’s mind-set. That’s a bad thing because, well, we dither together.
Last month we were finally able to decide on going to Ethiopia. Last week we finalized plans to go to Armenia after Ethiopia. (I will spare you the amount of back-and-forth that decision entailed.)
We both agreed that planning for Armenia two weeks before showing up there was a good thing. We thought that waiting until we were in Istanbul together and then planning the trip a week ahead “would be cutting things too close.”
Some of you may either be laughing or recoiling in horror.
New Adventures: Some Planning Advised
You can’t decide to go to Africa one week and show up there the next.
You need to take a Typhoid shot at least two weeks in advance in order for the vaccine to take effect.
You also need a Yellow Fever shot – if for no other reason than to ease passage into other countries. Even if I have no exposure to Yellow Fever when I’m in Ethiopia, when I return to Istanbul I will need to show proof of my vaccination at Turkish customs.
I also took the travel clinic’s advice and bought Duration bug repellent spray. An 8-ounce bottle covers two-long sleeved T-shirts, one short-sleeved T-shirt and a long-sleeved tunic top. You spray the garments inside and out and let them air out for a week to get rid of the smell. The Duration treatment lasts 6 weeks and multiple washings.
You also need to check out visa requirements for various countries. It used to be that you bought your Turkish visa upon arrival. Now you have to get it in advance online.
New Adventures: Packing
Here’s what I’m packing for three and a half months:
The amount of stuff I take with me is in inverse proportion to the length of time I’ll be out of the country.
First, the longer the trip, the less I want to lug around.
Second, I’m packing for everything from Africa in June to a wedding in Bucharest at the beginning of September. There is no way I can get it right, so I don’t even try. I take a few stabs and then make do. I will inevitably need to buy a thing or two along the way.
The sum total of my clothing is a little more than one layer.
I’ll throw in undies, toiletries, an exercise outfit and be done with it.
Roll your clothing, don’t fold.
I’m more concerned about my work, so in addition to the laptop and tablet I’ll take the manuscripts I’m working on. I’m still devoted to paper.
I also love notebooks. The colorful one on the right I got in Astana, Kazakhstan last summer. It’s only 1/5 full so I have plenty of room to write. The plain one of the floor to the left has lots of notes on a story I’ll be working on, hopefully later this summer.
New Adventures: Experience Helps
Even though I don’t plan way ahead, I’m better now about getting administrative things done. Here are the kinds of things it used to occur to me to do only after I had boarded the plane, when it was too late:
Contact my credit card company to let them know what countries I’ll be traveling to.
Make a copy of my passport.
Get cash in $5s and $10s to use for tipping.
Sign up for an international phone plan.
After last summer and my fabulous pickpocketing adventure I have already made sure to:
Write down my credit card numbers to keep separately.
I’ve done all this now in advance of boarding.
New Adventures: Being Thoughtful
Since we’re going to Ethiopia and taking a rather luxurious tour, I’ve been giving thought to what I can contribute while I’m threre. I haven’t decided yet what I am going to do, but I’m sure to find a charity or organization in Ethiopia to support.
This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen