So-You-Wanna-Travel Checklist

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a modern-day Rapunzel who’s stuck inside a castle with nowhere to go (but if Prince Charming is out there, I won’t mind a visit). I have traveled before–but my relatives / friends did all the planning, booking, and every other -ing needed to make the trips happen.

So now that I’m 25 days away from my first do-it-yourself trip abroad, all my sentences start with: “I should’ve paid more attention to–“

And because there’s no cram school for wanna-be explorers, I keep fooling myself that once I finish this checklist, the world is going to make sense again:

1. Save.

Travel Checklist Save

Say hello to my frog prince.

He takes his “vitamins” twice a month–even if it means that I’m gonna be munching SkyFlakes crackers until the next payday.

I have no plans of staying in a posh hotel, but still. I’d rather be starving now… than starving in some land far, far away.

2. Research.

If my search engine could talk, it would probably ask for some variety: “Cambodia and Thailand–again?!?”

There’s hardly anything that Google doesn’t know–from budget accommodations and visa requirements, to must-see places and even tourist scams. For once, having a know-it-all friend isn’t so bad–especially for the uninitiated (like me).

3. Set the date.

Ever since I read the presidential proclamation on the official holidays for 2013, I knew that August was the month to watch out for.

The 21st day of that month is a holiday–and the part that seals the deal? The Monday that follows is a holiday too! This kind of timing spells V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N. If everything goes according to plan, I get to spend six days off work while using only two leave credits. Strategic PTOs for the win!

4. Buy tickets.

Travel Checklist Buy Tickets

Seat sales: Teaching everyone about patience (“The server is so slow!”), adaptability (“The dates you want aren’t on sale. Choose other dates.”), and perseverance (“I’m looking, I’m looking… We’re booked!”)–one promo at a time.

This unlikely teacher is doing a pretty good job (read: forget about August 21-26). By rescheduling the trip a week earlier, we were able to cut the cost of the air fare in half!

My savings account is dancing in glee.

5. Ask friends.

In my case, bombard them with questions about their very own Indochina trips. Online results are convenient, but nothing beats hearing been-there-done-that stories over a bottle of beer, a cup of coffee, or a large serving of milk tea.

6. Book accommodations.

Travel Checklist Book Accommodations

Yup, I didn’t strike out item # 6 entirely. Because I’ve booked a room in Siem Reap (thanks again, Trip Advisor)–but I haven’t found a place to stay in Bangkok yet.

Let me rephrase that: I’m torn between an inn that’s near the Sky Train or a B&B that’s near Khao San Road/major attractions in the Old City.

Any thoughts?

7. Pack luggage.

Traveling light is a magic trick that I have yet to learn. Pray for me.

8. Research and save some more.

There’s no such thing as ‘too prepared’–especially for someone who’s leaving the country for the first time. And if ever my first trip is all set, it doesn’t mean that I don’t have to prepare for the next one. *wink wink*

The End.

Less than a month to go–and I still have two and a half things to settle. Did I miss anything? Share your own travel checklist!

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