Last weekend we passed the 100 days-until-departure milestone! Only 3 months to go and the preparations have truly kicked off now. There was quite a list of things we have to do before we can close the door behind us: rent out the house, find a storage for our stuff, buy travel gear, deal with all sorts of authorities, organize insurances, etc… While we still have many items to tick off, we are pleased to have taken some major steps. And I must say – fingers crossed – so far things are running pretty smooth. Time for a roundup on what we have done till now.
Renting out the house
Personally I was a little concerned about finding a tenant for our house. This proved to be a needless concern. After searching the internet for people looking for a house in Arnhem, I quickly found a couple looking for a place. But they happened to have just moved in an apartment a few houses next door. They still came by to have a look but after giving it some thought they decided to stay at their apartment.
Next was a friend-of-a-friend that Carina had contacted. The house gave her a good feeling right away. Also she was willing to commit herself to rent it for the full 2 years if we would give her a good price. Since having the house occupied for the whole period was something we already hoped for, we swiftly agreed on a price that was both beneficial for her and covered our costs. All set! House rented out! We are now in the process of having the contract verified. And it seems our bank will grant us permission too! (by default you are not allowed to rent out a house with a mortgage). So… things are looking good on this subject!
Buying my backpack
Now that my biggest concern was off my head it was time for some fun-shopping… I was going to buy my new backpack! When we started the idea of this long-term trip I thought we would need a huge, at least 100 liter travel bag to ship all the things we needed to bring. After all… when you’re on the road for 2 years you need a lot of stuff, right? Wrong! After reading some interesting posts and articles on packing light such as this one on Travel Independent I was convinced:
I will travel light!
Well… in my opinion it’s light: 50 liters and 12 kg max. There are people traveling with 40 ltr / 10 kg but after a quick look on my stuff that seemed a bit too optimistic. After all, I do need my travel hammock 🙂
So I was looking for a 50 liter backpack. First I had my eye on the Deuter ACT Lite 50 + 10 but after reading some blog’s about choosing the right backpack (specially top-loading vs panel-loading), I wasn’t so sure about the Deuter anymore. I had always used a panel-loading backpack before and was quiet happy with the single lockable zipper (top-loading has many entries) as well as the detachable day-pack and the suspension system that can be zipped up. After reading a good review on the Osprey Farpoint 55, I was pretty sure this should become my new backpack.
Carina was a little skeptical though. So after I proved that 55 liters was enough to fit all my stuff (I packed everything into her 55 liter backpack including my big hiking shoes and the clothes I would normally wear) we went out shopping to Zwerfkei. If you’re living in Holland I recommend this store, very nice shop and they have a large collection of all kinds of travel gear. After we came back home with all our newly bought gear, of course I had to prove once again that my new backpack was the right choice… And it was! Everything fits in nicely, all well organised (thanks to the packing cubes) and it weighs about 12 kg. Mission completed!
We bought our first ticket… and had a small change of plans
The original travel plan would take us to Turkey and from there by train to Iran. After that we would follow the Silk Road traveling through Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to Kyrgyzstan and finally into China. Would… Because, as always, we slightly changed our plans 🙂
Although following the ancient overland Silk Road is a romantic idea, we had a bit of an aversion against the visa hassle with some of the above-mentioned countries (LOI’s needed, expensive visa). Also, the nuclear issue with Iran is a bit distressing and dictatorial Turkmenistan didn’t have our interest in the first place. On top of that, Iran in mid summer is ridiculously hot. So we decided to skip some of these countries and fly directly from Istanbul to Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan) and pick up the Silk Route from there. We will do so on the 11th of August, giving us almost 4 weeks to get to Istanbul (which we will probably do by train).
That’s it for now. There are some more steps we have taken regarding insurances, tax authorities and that sort of things but I won’t bore you with that.
It feels good to have taken the first actual steps towards the journey. I mean, things like saving the money and being granted a sabbatical were important steps too but still far off from the real journey while renting out the house and buying airline tickets definitely contributes to the feeling that it’s actually happening now!