Planning for a year long trip

So you have finally decided to go for a year of traveling the world!! Congratulations!

But how do you plan for that? How do you tell your bosses? How do you leave it all behind and pack your whole life in a backpack?

See what we did before going to help you with your planning!

This section is about the travelling arrangements we did before we started the trip.

They are personal, and you do not have to do it all.

We will separate it in parts: professional, documents, insurance, banks, letter of attorney, house, car, animals and finally the inter rail pass. Then we sum it up with how much did the pre planning cost.

Professional

We already explained this in the “decided to go” section. Paula had to deliver a resignation letter and Bruno a letter asking for an absence of leave for a year (as it was accepted by his company).

Documents

  • Passport: do not forget that you need to have at least a valid passport for 6 months before you entered several countries. So Paula had to do a new one because it was only valid till August that year. COST 65 Euros. Bruno had a valid passport for another 2 years.
  • Visas: we have no problem entering any of European countries since we are Portuguese and most of the countries outside Europe have online visa appliances. The visas we were worried because it could only be done in our home country were Russian and Chinese Visas, and they were both complex.
    • Russian Visa: we decided to take a tourist double entry visa, since we would like to visit Kazakhstan and come back to Russia to continue the Trans Siberian and you pay the same for one entry or double entry. They demand a lot of documents! Here is a list an how we got them:
      • Passport with 2 pages free, valid for 6 months after the date of expiration of the visa
      • Photo 3,5 x 4,5 cm like a passport photo
      • Russian tourist operator confirmation: you need this to enter in Russia, so it is a mandatory cost also… You can do it in a tour operator or in a website that allows you to do your own itinerary and it is also accepted in the Russia embassy that is called way to russia. Here you fill in your personal data and they send you in 24 hours the papers you need to take. COST 30 USD each (26,17 Euros – total 52,34 Euros). We paid with card and received the documents in about 12 hours with the tourist invitation and travel voucher. Please don’t forget to print one for each!
      • Travel insurance that covers all the period of travel that covers 30.000 Euros of medical expenses per person – we did it in AXA, but you can do it in AIDE, EUROP ASSISTANCE, GLOBAL, MAPFRE and EUROPEA – we paid 133,28 Euros for both
      • Form of visa request: you fill it in this site and you have to fill all your personal data and your complete itinerary according with the Russian tourist operator information (do not worry, you can change it afterwards, they just want to know what is your planned itinerary and in our case, why we wanted a double entry visa). Don’t forget to print and sign the form!
      • Then, after all of this, in Lisbon you have to go get it at the visa center that is in Rua Anjos 67A, from 9am to 5PM. COST 70 Euros each (140 Euros total) and they take your passport for 4-10 days, so do it with time! If you are in a hurry, they can do it in 1-3 days for 105 Euros. A warning: they check everything, so bring all the copies you need and fill it all with a lot of care! For me they noticed that I haven’t put my middle name, so I had to do the form all over again…
      • So, TOTAL COST for person (we are not counting with the photos and passport fees) – 162,81 Euros (325,62 Euros for both)
    • Chinese Visa: we also wanted a double entry visa, since we wanted to go to Hong Kong (and that counts as leaving China). The schedule here is the tricky thing – only for 9AM to 12AM – and the embassy is in Lapa at Rua São Caetano 2. So what do they need?
      • Passport valid for 6 months after the date of expiration of the visa + a copy of the identification sheet of the passport
      • Photo 3,5 x 4,5 cm like a passport photo
      • A declaration of the employer proving that you are working. If you are an independent worker or if you are unemployed, you have to write a letter explaining what you do, what is the reason for travelling and a bank account extract proving that you have at least 1.000 euros (they count with 80 Euros per day). If you are a student or retired you need to present the respective card.
      • They ask for a copy of the flight reservation with the dates of entry and of leaving the country. We did not have this, since we were doing it by train and we didn’t had plans for coming back. So we wrote a letter explaining that we were doing the Trans Siberian route. Arriving in the embassy we were told that this wasn’t enough, that we needed to have hotel bookings explaining all our itinerary trough China – we went around and signed on Bookings.com and booked hotels in Beijing and Shanghai.
      • A form that you can download and fill in this site. Don’t forget to put the details of your itinerary (we put Beijing and Shanghai according with the hotel reservations).
      • Again, they are very picky and they check everything, so be ready to come back several times. Total COST 60 Euros each (120 Euros total)
    • Mongolian Visa: we did not have much time, and since there are no Mongolian embassy in Lisbon (closest one is in Paris) and we had to send the Passports by mail, we decided to do it afterwards or in Paris, or as we found out we can also do it in Moscow or in Irkutsk. We will keep you posted!

Insurance

We did a travel and health insurance for a year of travel in Ocidental Insurance, a Portuguese insurance company. It included luggage insurance, life insurance, health insurance with basic coverage and repatriation expenses. We already travelled a lot without insurance, but because it was a year long travel we decided to invest in an insurance that would cover at least some emergencies that could happen. COST 17,65 a month for both of us (total per year for both of us 211,8 Euros – 105,9 Euros each)

Banks

First we warned our banks that we were doing a whole year of travelling, asking for them not to cancel our accounts if they detect exchanges in foreign countries. We also closed bank accounts we weren’t using, avoiding to pay unnecessary fees during our year of travelling.

We heard about Revolut card that allows us to pay less banking fees and transfer money easily between accounts so we sent for one card each – 6 Euros per card. We will keep you posted about our experience with this card.

Letter of attorney

We decided to leave a letter of attorney giving full powers to our parents if anything happens during our time away. They can represent us in banks, courts, police, everywhere we could remember… It cost us 65 euros each, but we saw it as an investment, since if something happens we don’t have to pay a flight back if our parent can solve it.

House

Since we were living in a rented house, we only had to call the landlord and warn him (with 2 months of warning) that we were leaving. Of course we had to change all of our stuff. Big work! it is when you realize how much you have that you actually don’t need! We donated a bunch of stuff and transferred everything we thought was important for our parents house (we didn’t had much furniture, so that was easy!).

We closed all of our accounts:

  • Television, Internet and Telephone: we had a Vodafone account that had already passed the 2 years mandatory period, so it was easy to just call the company and cancel.
  • Supplies: water and electricity were also closed.
  • Cellphone: Paula had to keep her cellphone account because she still hadn’t ended her 2 year period after buying her cellphone with points from Vodafone. This was the only fixed account that we couldn’t close.

We didn’t had any other credit in the bank, as we also planned to have nothing in our life that would stuck us to fixed payments, so it was easy for us. If you have credits to pay, as house or car, you should check with your bank.

Car

Paula had an old car, that she simply let to her parents care. It was too old to sell at a fair price and it can still pass the inspections and be driven safely, so we gave it to her parents for them to use it. We still had to maintain the basic insurance and pay the taxes, since the car is still working.

The cat !!!

We were also lucky because Paula parents already had a cat, and didn’t mind to care for one more. Either way, we will really miss her during our travel (although we know she will be fine and wouldn’t miss us…).

Inter rail pass

In Europe, you can buy an Inter rail pass that gives you access to all trains in the area you are buying the card in the European Union. We checked the prices and it was cheaper for us to buy a global ticket that allowed us to make 7 days of travelling by train in a month period in all the 30 countries included in the card (France, Germany, Great Britain, Norway, Sweden, Austria, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Croatia, Denmark, Hungary,Poland, Romania, Montenegro, Bósnia-Herzegovina, Bulgary, Check Republic, Macedonia, Servia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey and Portugal) than to buy the tickets separately. We paid 318 euros each for the card (global card, >28 years old, 2nd class).

OK, so now, how much did we spend?

  • Fixed costs: Paula cellphone (45 euros/month), insurance and taxes of the car (120 euros/year).
  • Single costs/per person: new passport for Paula 65 euros, Russian Visa 162,81 Euros; China Visa 60 Euros; Insurance 105,9 Euros each; Revolut card 6 Euros; Letter of attorney 65 Euros; Inter rail pass 318 Euros – TOTAL 782,71/per person.

Yes, it seems a lot, but don’t forget that they represent single costs (some mandatory) that will save us money in the future. They were also costs that were diluted in the months before travelling.

And now, with everything in check… We can finally go…