Preparing for a world trip 2.0: Complete Control versus Go With the Flow?

On Friday evening, the 31 of May, we will board a plane and leave for the second time on a trip around the world. Where we had planned everything in advance last time, it is now completely different. Have we planned anything at all? And are we prepared for this journey, which is now not four months but for an indefinite time?

Full control mode versus nothing planned at all?

Eighteen months ago we left on our first world trip. In four months we travelled through nine different countries. Yes indeed, that’s a killer pace because on average it’s less than two weeks per country. To make this go smoothly, we had been preparing for almost a year. We knew exactly which routes we were going to do, in which hotels we would sleep and what activities there would be. Months of anticipation and for someone who likes control (Oui, c’est moi!) The ultimate dream.Charlotte Plans a Trip


There was almost no room for spontaneity. When another couple told us that we really had to go to that one island in the Philippines, we nodded politely, but a trip to that island didn’t fit the schedule. In addition, we went from high light to high light, hardly any time to process all the beautiful things we saw. After two months of travelling, in the company of my good friends Susie and Nicole, it hit me: I was tired of travelling and just didn’t feel like it anymore. I didn’t want to change location again, get on that plane again, I just wanted to relax in one place.

And so, after long discussions, we decided to skip the planned island hopping in Thailand and instead stay a little longer on Bali. That did not happen without a struggle. Ries was not ready to stop moving and was quite addicted to new impressions. He wanted to continue and was a bit bored in Bali. But after good conversations and with the prospect of super cool activities in Australia (diving at The Great Barrier Reef) and New Zealand (road-tripping and camping), he agreed and we spent an extra week relaxing in Bali.

Would I have done it differently?

Looking back on these four months of travelling, I can see now that we evolved. After all these completely planned out trips, which not always went like we wanted them to go, we didn’t find it that scary anymore to travel without detailed planning. To have no idea which route we would take or where we would sleep the next night. That it is nice to be flexible and that it is much more fun to take the time for a place so that we see more than just the top 10 highlights from the travel guide.

But we could never have made that development without going on a fully planned four-month trip. I for sure would never do our first world trip differently and enjoyed every moment of it!

And this time? Just go with the flow?

Did we only purchase a single ticket, no further planning at all? No of course not, I didn’t suddenly become a completely different person! We have also made preparations for this trip. However, they are a lot more global, with lot’s of flexibility and a lot is still unplanned.

A number of things are certain, for example, we have collaborations through which we have already planned small parts of our journey. And we are looking forward to a nice wedding in Turkey for which we have booked airline tickets. This time we just made a global plan that offers a lot of room for change:

* Update January 2020: we have now been on the road for over 8 months and wow what do I like this way of travelling! It’s much quieter, more time to really discover countries and the flexibility to change our plans at any time! *

What do we prepare for this trip?

Are you curious about what preparations we have and haven’t made in recent months? I describe them below.

We booked our first flights

We have booked a return ticket for our first four months (East Africa), the same applies for a one-way ticket from Amsterdam to Nepal via Turkey. In recent months we have been monitoring many different discount sites to get the best deals. The reason we have not booked other tickets (from Nepal to Sri Lanka and beyond) is that we want to stay flexible and don’t yet know how long and where we want to go.

Read my secret here for super cheap airline tickets!

We have gotten the right travel insurance

It took us a bit of puzzling to find the right travel insurance. Because we are carrying a lot of camera gear, we want to be well insured. In addition, we will be travelling for a long period. Most travel insurers just cover a maximum of 90 days per year.

In the end, we opted for ANWB travel insurance (a Dutch insurer). Here we have the best coverage and we can go travelling for 180 days in a row.

Did you know that: you are often not insured for when the country receives negative travel advice after booking? This was the situation with us when we booked tickets for Nicaragua last year. Our previous insurance company did not compensate for rebooking costs or cancellation. This is the case with most travel insurers. However, sometimes you can opt for an additional cover which does ensure you against this. That’s what we did this time with ANWB. More information can be found in this video (I’m not sponsored by ANWB, this is pure advice from me to you).

FP:RangiroaWe did our visa preparations…

Well, preparations … we read about the different visas we will need for East Africa. For Madagascar this is a special visa for 60 days, for Kenya and Uganda we take a combined East Africa visa. You can buy these in advance, but then you have to hand over your passport and go to the consulate or embassy multiple times. We, therefore, decided to purchase the visa on arrival!

We found tenants for our apartment in Amsterdam

We have permission from our landlord to sublet our nice apartment. After finding nice tenants we drew up a contract. The new tenants will be living for the next ten months in our apartment.

We arranged a jeep for in Madagascar

For the first three weeks in Madagascar, we have already arranged transportation. We will travel with a 4×4 Jeep from the Dutch company Roadtrip Africa. Including roof tent, so we can go camping! With this car, we will take a road trip of three weeks through the north of Madagascar, a fairly unknown area.

We have gotten advice on travel vaccinations

Finally, we visited the GGD to check which vaccinations we would need. Fortunately, it turned out that have gotten all the necessary vaccinations. For Africa, however, we have to take malaria medication (Lariam) for four months and we have gotten altitude sickness pills for in Nepal.

What do we still have to arrange before we leave?

Are we completely ready? No, absolutely not, it is now mid-April and we have a month and a half left. Lot’s of time, or not at all … we both still work full time, go to Scotland for another 10 days, have some parties, a wedding and much more. So you see, plenty of time .. not!

To-do list:

Create a good backup routine

Making a back up of all pictures and movies regularly is very important I think. However, to be honest, we don’t always do this well. If our laptops and hard drive break down or are stolen on a trip, we will really have a big problem. That’s why we want to create a certain routine in which we not only make a backup on a hard drive that we bring along but also work with a Cloud service. If that hard drive is also stolen, we still have our images in the Cloud. Some research still needs to be done in this area.

* Update: we have a perfect back up routine now in which we use this external harddrive (100% shock proof!) and use Google Cloud service *

Read more into Kenya, Uganda, Nepal etc.

We really have to read some more into the countries that we are going to visit. We already know a lot about Madagascar, but we need to do more research about Kenya, Uganda and Nepal.

Arrange international driving licenses

Because we will be driving in countries outside of Europe, we must have international driving licenses. Our European driving licenses are not recognized in some countries.
Tip: Because an international driver’s license is only valid for one year, buy it just before departure.

Packing and storing things

And finally, we will have to pack our backpacks and pack the rest of our personal belongings and store them. A year and a half ago we did this too, it surprised us how many things we had. We are fairly minimalist and easily throw things away, but somehow we have more possessions than we realize!

 Africa packing list: Click here to see what’s in my backpack during our Africa trip!

Packing our gear

How about you? How do you prepare for a big trip? Do you have tips or tricks, let us know via a comment!

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  1. by Szilvia on 27 February 2021  19:22 Reply

    Hi Charlotte!

    I love your blog! I admire you for your traveling around the world. You are really good! Blogs are very understandable
    and interesting. Ideas, tips and that prices up there as well.
    You never mention about safety or something...or did I miss it somehow? I haven't read yet about all your trips. And I couldn´t decide what year you were and is the second world trip already done? :-)
    I'm not a really backpacker but your information are very useful, I love to travel!
    So, thank you for your great travel blog, I'm looking forward the next one!
    Take care!!!!

    • by Charlotte van de Sande on 28 February 2021  17:30 Reply

      Hi Szilvia,
      Thanks for your kind words! We did indeed come back already (because of covid). We came back in March 2020. All diary blogs tell a bit more about how our trip went on a personal level ;-).

      We occasionally mention something about safety but not that often. Most places we went were actually pretty safe (or at least they felt very safe). However there are some parts in the world which are less safe, in case we came close, we mention this!

      Hopefully soon we can all travel safe again!
      Kind regards,

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