KRISTINA'S PRE-TRIP JOURNAL: FEBRUARY, 1998
Feb. 1, 1998: Prepararion or Obsession?
Where should I begin? I guess this all started
about two years ago on a road trip to the Grand Canyon. David and I were
talking about traveling and the concept of a year around the world came
up. We've been planning it ever since.
Well, actually I've been planning it, doing the research on the net, reading everything I can get my hands on, sending away for info and talking to as many people as possible. Not that David has not had his input, but he knows how much I enjoy this and I'm much more organized.
Right after the Grand Canyon trip, I went out and bought a huge map of the world which we mounted on the wall above the computer. Every time I read about a location I wanted to go to I put a red pin on the map. The green pins are the places that we've already been.
I ran out of red pins quickly.
I have a large file cabinet drawer full of manilla folders, one for almost every country or area of the world. They are filled with articles ripped out of magazines, or pages downloaded off the web. Pick a country, any country, and I'll tell you where to get a good meal.
Maybe this sounds like an obsession? Ok, a little one, but I can think of worse. And, hey, I DO plan great trips. We spent ten wonderful days driving around Italy for our honeymoon. We spent a fabulous week in Paris last October in an apartment we rented right off the internet. Could not have asked for a better place to be.
All I'm trying to say is that it pays to be prepared. Some people have accused me of over-planning or a lack of spontaneity, but I just want to be prepared. It's worth it to me not to spent half your time at a destination trying to figure out how things work. Why not know the best way from the airport into town before you get there so that you can enjoy yourself once you arrive?
I've been planning this trip in my head for the last two years. Locations, pack lists, money issues, possible sponsors, health issues, all swirling in my head every chance I get to day dream. Even this web site. I'm hoping it will not only entertain all the armchair travelers out there, but answer some questions for which I have not yet found the answers.
Most of the journals I've read have been written by one person, usually traveling solo. Many have been simply accounts of jumping from one youth hostel to another, one drunken night after another. Most have been written by men. We hope to give a couple's perspective on a single experience. I want to address issues that are geared specifically toward women travelers. I also want to begin this journal in advance of our departure so that our readers understand what it takes to prepare for a trip like this.
Feb. 2, 1998: Health Care Run-Around; An Exercise in Frustration
Today I tried to find out about getting our various immunizations. An exercise in frustration. First I called the 800 number of our HMO to see what was covered. I was told, "nothing, unless you are a high risk patient." Then I called my doctor. I spoke to the receptionist who said, "The doctor is busy, here's a number of a clinic that does it for free." For free! Too good to be true. The number she gave me was for Public Health, which was disconnected. I called information and got the new number. The person at Public Health said, "Oh, we don't do that here, call the County Immunization Clinic." I called them and they said "Oh, we don't do that here, call this other clinic." Aaagh! And guess what? That last clinic's phone number had been disconnected. Back to square one. And of course, my doctor never called me back.
Feb. 3, 1998: Welcolme to the World Wide Web!
I finally got our web site posted today! The journey officially begins today. There is no way we can turn back now.
Feb. 22, 1998: New Zealand Motorhomes
Working 60+ hours a week does not allow me enough time to prepare for this adventure. On my "List of things to be done right NOW" is; get new passport forms, get passport/visa photos for both of us, info on immunizations (yes, I still haven't accomplished that one!), get the shots, and get info on medical insurance for travelers. And this is just the beginning!
Last week I did some research concerning the beginning
of our trip-the South Pacific Islands and New Zealand. This was helpful
because I discovered that we must be in New Zealand by September in order
to be able to take advantage of low season prices on motor homes. High
season (which is their summer) begins in October. We are planning on renting
a motor home for a few weeks to travel the country. In low season this
seems to be a fairly cost effective means of travel. It begins at
approx. $70USD/ day for transportation and lodging for two people for 14
days. In high season the price goes up to $114USD/ day. Of course, this
does not include gas, or campground fees, but we should be able to save
some money by cooking for ourselves. These prices are for a two berth motor
home with toilet and shower. I found all of this information available
on various web sites which may be included later on our links page.
Since we will not be bringing tents and sleeping bags this may be as close as we get to actual camping during this trip.
Feb. 23, 1998: Join the Club
I accomplished a lot today. I found an immunization clinic here in L.A. that specializes in travel medicine. We have an appointment two weeks from today (ouch!). The good news is that they don't charge a consultation fee. The bad news is that I don't know how much the shots will cost or which ones we will need. First we need to decide exactly where we are going.
This led me to the CDC web site which is great. It's
very informative, if not a little intimidating. There is health information
about anywhere you would possibly want to go. I discovered the most important
reason for us to begin the shots now is the Hepatitis Vaccine. For this
to be effective, you need two shots, six months apart. For us to get both
before we leave, we need the first shot no later than early March. Then
I need to find out which shots I had a a child. Unfortunately, these records
are no where to be found. Did I get Polio and Measles vaccinations?
When was my last Tetanus Shot? Will we be going to any countries in Africa
with Yellow Fever? Which type of malaria medicine to take?
Today I called and joined an organization called IAMAT, the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers. They are a non-profit organization that assists travelers in finding qualified, English speaking doctors worldwide that have agreed to treat travelers for a set fee. They are sending me a free membership card and information. I will send them a donation as soon as I get all the info.
I also discovered on the internet an organization called Hospitality Exchange. For an annual fee of $20, members receive a directory of all other members who are willing to host travelers in their home for a day or two. This is something I'm very interested in because I think it will allow us to get closer to their cultures. I'm hoping I'll get to see more of the local food this way. Plus, many of the people hosting have pets and I know I'm going to need a "cat fix" while on the road. I miss my cats when I'm away for a week, I don't know how I'll make it a whole year.
By the way, I just saw a Pepsi commercial set to the theme of the Village People's "YMCA". What is the world coming to? See "Other Questions We Hope to Answer" #13.