“Everything is going to be okay, right?” I ask Ankit as the madness of packing up and leaving ensues around us.
“Yes, Billy,” comes the reply as he kisses me on the forehead.
This has become almost a daily ritual, as everything is feeling so.bloody.real right now.
With just over three weeks to go, nerves are fraying. While we both cannot wait to board that plane to Ho Chi Minh City on the 11th of August, the process of getting everything ready before we go is slightly* (*extremely) overwhelming. It’s situations like these that make an alcoholic out of a person.
As a way of a) providing myself with some solace in the fact that we’ve completed a lot so far and b) giving you all a bit of a progress report of what we’ve been up to and what’s left to be done, I decided to write this post.
On the plus side, we’re extremely excited about what lies ahead, and cannot wait to get stuck into this new adventure so that we can share our stories with you all.
What we’ve done so far
Selling the car was always going to be the most important thing on the to-do list. After all, it would be impossible to leave the country without doing so. Ads were put on Dubizzle and Facebook, and we faced an agonising wait for enquiries. And once they started rolling in, we’d get ridiculous offers of less than 15k of what we were asking for – I’m all for bargaining, but come on people, up your game.
In the end, however, a friend of a friend of Ankit’s ended up buying our beauty. We had to wait a couple of weeks for the usual paperwork and bureaucracy to pan out, but we got there in the end. We bid farwell to Suzie on Monday and that’s when it all began to feel very real.
Found a new tenant for our apartment
We had to find a new tenant for our apartment in order to avoid paying for the final three months of our contract. Unfortunately, we didn’t know we had to do this until we called the real estate agency to tell them we were leaving. Yes, it was a nasty shock, and yes, we should pay more attention to contracts than we do.
But thankfully, another friend of a friend of Ankit’s has come to the rescue, and is signing a one-year lease with our landlord. Note to self: it pays to know a lot of people.
Sold the sound system and TV
The first things to go were Ankit’s mammouth sound system and our TV, so we’re now faced with a massive expanse of empty space in the living room. I must admit, I’m dreading the moment when some of the furniture will start to disappear, as it took us so long (and a lot of love, effort and fights in IKEA!) to put the apartment together in the way that we wanted it. But, again, we’re looking at the bigger picture and persevering. Marching onwards and upwards!
Placed ads for our furniture on Dubizzle
Must go now: chest of drawers, shoe cabinet, mirror, TV stand, my desk, the sofa, two lamps, a bed, a dresser, a Christmas tree (good luck selling that in the middle of the summer) and numerous other small items. As I mentioned above, I’m not looking forward to having an empty apartment, as this is not the first time I’m packing up and leaving, so I know what it feels like. However, I know that with every piece of furniture that we sell, the closer we’ll be to getting out of here, and that fills me with so much excitement.
Told our families
Although you’d think my family would be used to my globetrotting and slightly outlandish ways by now, they were still taken aback by our plan to leave Dubai and travel indefinitely. I get the impression that they thought that now I’ve met a lovely guy that I would finally quit the travelling ‘nonsense,’ settle down somewhere and start a family.
They live in hope, I suppose.
But thankfully, although I was met with comments of fear (“Please be careful in whatever you do,” my grandma exclaimed) and of despair (“You shouldn’t be moving further away from me. You should be coming to live near me,” my mum sighed), ultimately they’re all supporting us and sending us all their love, which is what makes me love them even more.
I am also extremely happy with Ankit’s family’s response. They were, understandably, sceptical by our plans – after all, the generational and cultural differences mean that they don’t completely understand why on earth we’d want to give up an amazing apartment, expensive car and stable jobs in order to travel with no fixed plan or agenda. But after sharing their concerns with us and hearing our side of the story, they’re also fully supportive and giving us their blessing.
We’re two very lucky people to have the families that we do!
Booked our tickets
This was another defining moment. Admittedly, we didn’t do this as soon as we should have, and then ended up panicking at the prices of the tickets. We’re travelling at what is a peak time for flights, as people tend to come and go quite a lot over the summer. Thankfully, though, we found some reasonable flights with Qatar Airways, and we booked them right away.
Bought our backpacks
We bought ourselves two Osprey Farpoint 70L backpacks from Blacks in the UK. First we had hoped we’d be able to find ourselves some here in Dubai, as you’re supposed to try them on for size before you buy one. Unfortunately, however, there’s only one store that sells backpacks and their selection was, to be frank, rubbish.
So after reading possibly a hundred different reviews and going cross-eyed in the process, we settled on the Osprey and ordered the packs, as well as a travel towel and some dry packs to protect our stuff from the elements.
Much to my amazement, less than a week later Aramex showed up at our door with our goodies – how is that for efficiency? We opened the package quicker than a kid opens his presents on Christmas Day – yes, we’re a couple of overgrown children. Ankit quickly tried his on for size – suits him, huh?
Thankfully, they both fit us perfectly and we cannot wait to fill them up, strap them on and get out of here!
Found a new home for our plants
In five things I’ll miss from our home I spoke about how much I was dreading having to part from our plants, which were a gift from Ankit for our one-year anniversary. Well, I’m so pleased that my fabulous friend Anke and her boyfriend John have agreed to adopt them from us! It makes me feel miles better knowing that they’re going to a good home. And yes, I realise that many of you may be reading this and wondering how the hell someone can be so attached to plants, but alas, I’m an oversensitive soul!
What we still need to do
Sort out the visas for Vietnam
Thankfully the process for this is pretty easy. We just have to send across some details to a travel agent and they’ll get our pre-approval letter ready, which we then take to immigration at the airport in Ho Chi Minh City for the visa stamp. When we went in May we used Hotels in Vietnam, who were quick and efficient, so we’ll be repeating this process with them over the next few days.
Sell the furniture
This is worrying me slightly at the minute, as we have so much to sell and only three weeks in which to do it all. Thankfully everything that we have is in great condition, but unfortunately for us summer is a time when most people are out of Dubai, escaping the horrible heat. So things are slower than usual.
Pack and ship our clothes
While we’re selling all our furniture, we will be keeping most of our clothes and items of sentimental value, and sending them to Cyprus to collect dust in my mum’s house. First we have to sort through everything and decide on what we’re going to give away to charity etc. I will also have to find a way to force Ankit to part from clothes that he hasn’t worn in years (whoever says that women are hoarders has clearly never lived with a man).
Once this is done with, we’ll have to put it all in suitcases and arrange for it to be sent via Emirates SkyCargo. I’m actually looking forward to purging myself of stuff I haven’t used or worn in ages. It’s cathartic to have a clear out once in a while!
Buy travel insurance
A necessary evil when you’re on the road! While many of the destinations we’re going to have dirt cheap medical care, it’s always best to be on the safe side when it comes to these things, as you never know what can happen while abroad. We’ve read that World Nomads offers the most comprehensive insurance for long-term travellers, so we’ll be sorting that out over the next week or so.
When all you’re taking for a never ending trip is whatever you can fit in a 70L backpack, the options of what you can pack are kind of limited! All the more reason why to shop for a few new things! While I am looking forward to taking a limited wardrobe and only using the bare essentials, I feel the overwhelming need to buy some new items for my wardrobe in anticipation of our trip. Who says you have to be unstylish when backpacking, eh?
While I don’t have a definitive list of what I’m going to buy yet, I’m thinking of getting some new tank tops, a couple of dresses that don’t crease, some amazing earrings, a colourful scarf to spruce up otherwise boring outfits, some new flip flops, a couple of warm tops for India and toiletries.
In terms of essentials, we will buy some form of a first aid kit, a whistle as recommended in this post by Jodi from Legal Nomads, and other toiletries.
And, I almost reluctantly have to admit that I’m contemplating buying a Kindle! For one, books are heavy to carry around. Also, I’m not too sure how many good bookstores I’ll encounter on the way, so the Kindle will kill both these birds with one stone.
Pack our backpacks
Eak! When it’s time to do this, we will really know we’re on our way! Knowing what we’re usually like, we’ll probably do this the night before we go. But then again, I have a feeling that excitement will have me packing a week in advance. Get me on that plane. NOW!
Say bye bye to our friends
Goodbyes, eh? Never pleasant, but they have to be done. We’re planning on organising a low-key get together a few days before we fly out for all our friends.
Get a cab to the airport!
Expect an EPIC selfie from the airport when the 11th arrives. That’s all I can say for this one!