The October Checklist

What happened to October? How is it possible that in just two short months, I’ll be on a plane to China?

September was a jam-packed month for planning — in part because I was WAY excited about every little detail, and in part because I had to make some headway on some of the more expensive and time-consuming projects. But now that I look back, October was pretty significant. Here’s what I spent time on this month.

Did some travel “practice.” I made two trips to NYC, spent a day driving around Pennsylvania, and played tourist in my own city. I also read a lot of travel writing. Inspiration, you know.

Made connections with friends and acquaintances in faraway places. Once you start asking around, you’ll be surprised by how many friends, friends of friends, and friends of family are spread all over the world (and more than willing to offer you a couch and a home-cooked meal).

Kept working on general itinerary ideas. I’ve known from the start that I won’t be making a day-by-day plan, which is smart, because my priorities have evolved even over the last few weeks as I’ve read more and talked to other travelers. I feel very strongly about going to Burma, Thailand, and Cambodia, but outside of those big-picture ideas, I’m excited to be surprised.

Quit my job. Sigh.

Got a no-fee international credit card. I was going to skip this because I assumed I’d use mostly cash (and therefore just pay ATM fees a few times when withdrawing large sums of money), but I’ve been told that it’s possible to use credit cards most of the time in Asia (for bigger purchases, not for bottled water and street food). A little bit of research told me that Capital One Venture and Chase Sapphire Preferred are the cards of choice for world travelers. I went with the former, but the benefits of each were basically equal.

– Along similar lines, I made sure my other credit cards and debit card can be used abroad. I obviously won’t be carrying all of my sources of money with me, but I want to know that what I do have is accessible and that I’ve gone through the proper steps to notify these companies.

Decided on travel insurance. I haven’t purchased anything yet, but everyone I’ve talked to uses World Nomads. I’ll likely be doing the higher level of coverage that includes an extreme sports package — why yes, I’d like to be insured for snorkeling/scuba diving/bungee jumping — as well as rental car coverage. I’ll also be upping my renters and personal property insurance, which I currently have through USAA, to cover my electronics and other valuables while on the road. I know that American Express and Capital One include some type of coverage for cardholders, but I’ll feel better knowing that I have all of my activities accounted for.

Started a packing list — and filled in some missing pieces. Ah, this is where I excel — thanks to my color-coding, list-making, OCD-organizing tendencies. At first, this seemed like a daunting and unpleasant task, but there a lot of great resources out there from people (and young women in particular) who have done this before, and I’m having a blast revising the list and shopping and checking things off. More on this later.

Two months down, two to go!

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