When I started to plan this trip I knew I would do a lot of online research, but I have always had a soft spot for real books. So when I got an email from Lonely Planet that they were having a sale I jumped on the chance to get their book “The Big Trip – Your ultimate guide to gap years and overseas adventures.”
This book became my bible. I made myself wait until I was a year out – June 2013 – until I read it. I thought that planning too early would just make me too excited and make the reality of waiting to go so much harder. So the summer of 2013 I would dedicate to reading this book cover to cover. It didn’t take me the whole summer, I could barely put it down.
The guide is set up to help you plan out logistics as well as destinations. It’s arranged in four parts:
Part One: Travel Smarts – This is where the logistics are. From visas to immunizations to travel insurance, it has helpful websites and information to get you started on all the less fun but entirely necessary details.
Part Two: Tailoring Your Trip – Starting to get more into the details of actually traveling abroad, this part has options for where to stay, working and volunteering, even learning a new language abroad. I took some notes on international German programs in case I want to explore that option (despite being a German major in college, I’ve gotten embarrassingly bad).
Part Three: Where to Go – Ah the fun part. This is where the day dreaming starts and the destinations get mapped out. I wrote down so many places and activities that I wanted to see from this section. It also helped more substantially form my trip; I was able to rank places as Must Sees or Would Like to Sees or Could Misses.
Part Four: Directories – I am considering taking these pages with me. They’re helpful websites and organizations to know about before and during travel.
I took a lot of notes in my travel notebook from reading this book. I frequently refer to them to see when I need to start looking into things (get a passport ASAP! Brazil visa first! Immunizations 8 weeks out!) or just as a reminder of the cool places I’ll be going. I carry this notebook with me everywhere in case inspiration hits or I feel like I need to check about some important task that I think is coming up.
I can’t recommend The Big Trip enough. It’s a great resource in so many ways and it helped me with a lot of the pains of initial planning. And it made for inspiring evenings staying in reading.