The 8 Weeks and Counting List

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The photo above is from a series I shot for Torontoist about Yasmine Louis, an amazing artist in Toronto. Her captions on each piece are as interesting as the artwork.

On January 4th I gave my employer 10 weeks notice and on January 6th I purchased a one-way flight to Mexico. This was immediately followed by nausea, panic and anxiety. Fortunately, the next day it was replaced with exhilaration. I was making progress.

That small burst of productivity subsided and procrastination set in. I’ve been talking up this trip for a year, mastering a spiel along with with nearly formulaic answers to all the typical questions:


where are you going? how long are you going? aren’t you worried about traveling alone?

and what will you do when you get back?


Yet I haven’t progressed in the next stage of a RTW plan. I blame it on my notorious procrastination and fear to actually spend my savings.

For over a year I watched my savings account slowly creep toward my travel goal and while I’ve surpassed the original goal I feel like Mr. Smithers greedily clinging on to every last cent. I want a netbook. I need a netbook. I do not want to spend money on a netbook.

But I have to change and start spending; my lackadaisical attitude will only hurt me in the end so below looks like a list but it’s really a set of deadines:

Eight Weeks

1. Complete blog, there are a few things I still want to do – why can’t I find a simple WordPress plugin so people can enter their email for new post updates.
2. Finish buying items from packing list
3. Create packing list<
4. Find a Canadian bank and credit card company that won’t gouge me in foreign transaction and admin fees
5. Buy Netbook and download photo editing software (fingers crossed Lightroom works), Skype and iTunes
6. Sell remaining items on Kijiji, and donate remainder to charity

Four Weeks

1. Buy travel insurance, likely from World Nomads, there doesn’t seem to be a better option even though theft isn’t really covered
2. Decide to either pay the $150 for a Yellow Fever shot or find a cheaper solution in Mexico
3. Get additional passport photos (thanks Thinking Nomads!)
4. Get more memory for camera

Two Weeks

1. Call Health Ontario to let them know I won’t be needing free health care for a while. Then ponder why Americans haven’t figured out universal healthcare is actually a good thing
2. Hair cut/colour, eyebrows waxed
3. Buy US dollars and Mexican Pesos
4. Book first two nights accommodation
5. Get up early enough to visit the insanely popular Black Hoof Cafe in Toronto and eat the Bone Marrow Doughnuts
6. Clean and empty apartment

I think that’s all. If not, in those remaining two weeks , I’ll be scurrying around frantically trying to balance last minute chores with tearful goodbyes. Unless, of course, you see something and are kind enough to comment…



Join the Conversation

  1. Chris - The Aussie Nomad says:

    I know exactly what you mean. I’ve perfected the pitch to anybody that asks me. As soon as the conversation starts on gear I shift back and forth and change the subject 🙂

    Oh and the money thing, I can’t bring myself to take money out of my savings account. I made a rule once its in there it can’t come out. This weekend I hope to start buying some gear and its going to kill me to see that total go down and not up.

    On that wordpress plugin look into using feedburner for your RSS feed etc. It has an option to email people when you post an article. (I can help you get the code if needed).

  2. Ugh I just finished the process of selling almost everything on kijiji… it is so annoying, but once it’s done – so freeing! I also had a ‘sell everything/goodbye apartment party’ with friends and family, which sold some other stuff of mine that wasn’t really worth putting online. Might want to consider?
    Make sure to leave photo copies of all your important ID’s with your family. (passport/license/visa etc)… I also carry copies tucked away incase anyone steals my wallet.

    If you have the guts, wax strips for eyebrows. I am going to attempt haha. Let you know how that goes.. eeepp

  3. Hi Ayngelina,

    we’re a couple months behind you but if Canada has Nationwide Banks they’re a really good company for travellers. Recommended on Hopefully they’re not only based in the UK.


    ps you have ear plugs in that list, yeah?

  4. I, too, recommend Feedburner for the RSS feed. If I remember correctly it was super easy to set up…the website walks you through it and gives you the code to add and tells you how to do it. Good luck and congrats on 8 weeks to go!!

  5. Ayngelina Author says:

    Thanks everyone for the feedback, I was hoping someone would comment on Feedburner.

    @TheAussieNomad Would love your help on this. If you click on subscribe it takes you to but I’d love to just have a simple field to enter email addresses on it like @Gillian has on their site.

    @Hogga I have managed to get copies of all my passport info and other ID only because I already had it. I also recommend scanning it and emailing it you yourself. I was robbed in ’08 in Saigon and because I had a copy it made getting a temporary passport so much easier.

    @Sean I’ll definitely look for that bank. Canada tends to be a bit closed with banks and we only have 5-10 I think. It means they’re stable but they don’t offer great packages.

  6. Ayngelina Author says:

    Selling everything in my apartment and leaving it before I go. A kind friend just bought a house so she’s letting me store my bed and some Tupperware bins there.

    I know you looked into the HSBC US account. Do you think it’s better to travel with a US account over a Canadian dollar account?

  7. Nomadic Chick says:

    Pretty lady, if spending money is your worry, get stuff like additional passport photos, yellow fever shot, etc. in Mexico. As for dollars, you could fly in with USD and exchange for pesos… are you keeping your apartment??

  8. I’d second the idea of getting some things for your trip while in Mexico, I wish I’d thought of doing this. Everything is so much cheaper here than in Canada. The only issue you might run into is the language barrier but once you get basic numbers and questions down it’s a piece of cake.

    Another suggestion if you haven’t done it yet is to set up Skype and get family and friends on it. Even if you use it to call landlines you’ll save a bundle, but Skype to Skype is free and video calls seem to make if feel more personal.

  9. I felt the same about the laptop. I knew I needed one, but I didn’t want to spend a lot of money.

    I bought the 10 inch ‘Eee PC 1005HA’, it’s small, cheap, very long battery life, and your fingers don’t have to be of a baby’s size to be abe to type. The keyboard is the same as on a large laptop. I really recommend it!

  10. I know what you mean about not wanting to spend your savings, I have a real problem with that. But just remind yourself you were able to save it once and eventually, you will again. But in the meantime, enjoy the trip! Can’t wait to read about your journeys.

  11. Don’t forget mail and getting it forwarded or stored. Preferably you should stop the credit card statements and do everything online. Also make sure any driver’s licenses or car insurance or car registration won’t expire when you’re gone…though it sounds like you’re selling everything.

  12. This was immediately followed by nausea, panic and anxiety. Fortunately, the next day it was replaced with exhilaration.

    The nausea, panic, and anxiety will all come back, but don’t let them get to you… you’re doing the right thing! Looking forward to reading about your prep and forthcoming adventures.

  13. Hey! First time visitor. I love the layout of your site. It looks awesome and this weekly countdown is such a great idea. I’m definitely going to have to do something similar when I make my way around the world.

  14. haha! I love that you mocked us Americans without universal health care. Trust me, it frustrates me to no end!

  15. Ha! found your blog on my own – google is an amazing thing.

    Sorry I haven’t popped in before but basically Africa sucks for internet access.

    First thing – your layout rocks. well done. only one thing to consider: it does take a while to load on slow internet which may be an issue for you when you’re trying to do stuff on the road. And to be really niggly, the grey in this leave a comment box is so light I can’t really see what i’m typing. But that’s it. And you really did a good job and i’ve sorta proud and jealous at the same time.

    Now on to your checklist here. Just a few comments.

    Additional passport photos – never needed them and if i did I could easily get them in any country.

    Mexican pesos – there are bank machines at the airport and everywhere. You won’t need them.

    American dollars – didn’t need any until we got to Africa and then we just bought them at the bank. And we still have 75% of our US travellers cheques (the only reason the 25% were used was my failure to transfer money into our daily account quick enough. Plus why carry cash if you don’t need to.

    But here’s my money tip. Definitely carry both a Mastercard and Visa. (Amex is useless abroad). The bank card worked fine all throughout Latin America but as soon as we got to Africa if there wasn’t a Barclay’s around we had to do a cash advance on the credit card and sometimes the MC would work and sometimes the Visa would work.

    As for the bank thing: Either that $25/month TD account or the similar CIBC account is the best bet. Although our Scotiabank account has been pretty good for free banking about 50% of the time – they have branches in about half of the Latin American countries and are affiliated with Barclay’s which is in almost all the old British colonies in Africa. The other times we’ve easily spent $25/month on foreign banking fees.

    yellow fever shot – it’s a once every 10 year expense and I’m surprised you didn’t get it before. I say just do it. I’ve yet to get any of the shots I planned (but don’t really need) to get abroad because finding an english speaking doctor at a reputable health care place on the road was just too difficult.

    As for the netbook – did you check Craigslist or Kijiji. Sure they might be stolen but they’ll be cheaper. 😉 Although they’re already pretty darn cheap. Don’t forget the sturdy hard drive though!

    okay I’ll stop now so I can keep reading.

  16. Best tip I can give you is to imagine a day on the road, start to finish, to make sure you’re not overlooking anything. (A short overnight or two with all the gear you’re taking would be good, too.) Head to toe hygiene and clothes; sunrise to sunset activities, including border crossings/flights, photo taking and uploads… Helps me remember things I might otherwise have forgotten!

    ps: Irfanview for fast and dirty photo editing basics, GIMP for more elaborate stuff. Both are free!

  17. Wow, very exciting! I feel the butterflies for you! It should be a great trip!

    I admire those who are willing to take a chance like this. Not everyone has this opportunity to take advantage of it.

    I like the look of the new blog! This is an exciting time for you. Good luck and look forward to the adventures! (and like you, I want a netbook as well!)

  18. What the hell is a bone marrow doughnut?

  19. Barbara Weibel says:

    Oh my! First, don’t worry about spending the money. That’s what you saved it for. If you worry about it, you’ll ruin your trip. Just be thrifty.

    Now, for a few other things, if you don’t mind a veteran at this sort of thing chipping in:

    Switch to Feedburner for your RSS and set up the option for viewers to receive an email each time you publish a new post. It’s a snap and there’s nothing better around – believe me, I’ve tried them all.

    RBC Bank and Capital One credit card. Open 2 accounts with RBC, put most of your money in one (we’ll call that the master account). The other (operating account) put in a couple thousand dollars. Set up online banking so you can access both accounts and transfer money from one to the other. Get TWO debit cards for the operational account, that have TWO SEPARATE numbers. Carry them in different places at all times. If you lose one, you have a backup that’s a different number, so you can call and cancel the lost one and still have a good card left. DO NOT get a debit card for the master account. That way, if the worst happens and someone gets your user name and password, you only have the smaller amount of money at risk in the operating account. Whenever you need more money in the operating account, transfer online. Piece of cake. BTW – do NOT set up online bill pay with the bank – that’s risky. Instead, use each individual vendor’s web site to make your online payments.

    You do NOT need to buy U.S. dollars and pesos ahead of time. You’ll pay through the nose if you do. Just use your debit card to get local currency from an ATM machine upon arrival. There are NO foreign transaction fees and the bank will give you a very good exchange rate, and usually, if you stay in your network (Plus, Cirrus), there are no ATM fees for the first three transactions each month, so take out fairly large amounts of cash each time. ATM’s are everywhere – even in the heart of Africa.

    Capital One is the only credit card with no foreign transaction fees.

    Consider Medical Evacuation insurance, or make sure the company you choose also covers evacuation in the event of a serious injury.

    You don’t need a Yellow Fever shot for Mexico or Central America – don’t even think you need it for South America. Africa, that’s another story.

    Scan all your important documents and email them to yourself. Airline tix, passport, driver’s license, medical prescriptions, eyeglass prescriptions, insurance cards, and receipts for large electronics items you are carrying so you have proof of value if they are stolen or lost.

    If you want to know anything else, let me know – will help if I can.

  20. Isn’t it nice to reflect back on something like this a year after reading it? Somethings that appeared so unimportant seem ridiculous while you didn’t realize just how important other things were. It’s always nice to have a blast from the past and I love your Mr. Burns reference haha.

  21. Caroline Eubanks says:

    Great list! I hope you have a blast in Mexico.

  22. Kinda fun to look back on old posts, isn’t it? Digging the new site layout, much cleaner. 😉

  23. What a great post! It’s so fun to reflect on the old days isn’t it 🙂

  24. Don’t forget to load up your netbook and/or smartphone with some good e-books and music as well as maps and screen captures of useful travel websites with useful tips in case you’re somewhere where internet access is spotty.

    Also, if you use Google Reader (free) you can conveniently follow your favorite travel and news websites via RSS so you can see what’s going on at a glance on your computer or smartphone.

  25. Not everyone is against free health care. Even before my 2 hour emergency room visit that cost me $3000 I was all for it. 😛

  26. Lindsay aka @_thetraveller_ says:

    This sounds oddly familiar… after about a month of being on the road and not dying my mother wouldnt stop telling all her friends about her awesome daughter who backpacks the world.

  27. So, now that you are on the road for almost a year – did your fears come true? What would you recommend now?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I travel with a 65L bag but I want to downsize to 45L and I would also ditch all the fancy travel clothes. Eventually you get tired of looking like a backpacker with synthetic fabrics and just want regular clothes.

  28. Wow that pretty much describes perfectly what I did in about 4 weeks, well 2 weeks due to procrastination before my trip. Honestly, as an American by birth I can’t for the life of me figure out why my countrymen hate universal healthcare. Especially after I had to pay a $600 dental bill while trying to save. Did anything change in preparing for your Europe trip? What would you change?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I did pack for Europe differently and wrote about it here –

      I didn’t follow up to that email but a lot of people were concerned about clothing and not having things but I was so much better off this time.

  29. Lombok Wander Tour and Travel says:

    very nice list to give. thank you

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