4 – About 8 weeks!

So it is almost 8 weeks until I leave!

I have got my bag, shoes and camera (the most important things), and only really plan to get a few more things. What I figured out is that I can buy the same stuff overseas as I can at home, and it is basically guaranteed to be cheaper, plus it is a bit pointless to be carrying super cold weather gear when I went be in it until the second month!

But for now my concentration is on money and budgeting…

I had always had this mentality that money was not my controlling factor, not that I throw it around, but that I tried not to let it fully dictate what I would do. However as I come closer to my departure date, and start to realise that my original plans are now not going to be happen, I am (and have to) becoming a lot more money conscious and compromising. The original dream of 12 months of travelling is slowing becoming a reality of around 8-9 months with the high chance of having to work for a part of it.

But why?

I guess my initial ideas were highly ambitious and optimistic. that my first budget was unrealistic (with basically 99% of my income going into saving), and that I didn’t consider the fact of living expenses and interruptions like public holidays and family stuff. Naivety and ignorance! But I don’t think it is that bad, I mean we all have to learn, and I am fine leaving with the consequences as long as I don’t make the same mistakes.

So I can only continue to work, narrow down my essentials and keeping hoping that my bank balance might magically increase (or I win the lotto).

Maps, tours and visas

So since my last post, a fair bit has developed!

Firstly, I bought a map! A big one! haha

I know, so what? But now I can physically plan out a route and actually see the enormous amount of land I will be travelling!

It helps me to start investigating and figuring out how I am going to be getting in, around and out of each country. And it allows my to break down the journey into several parts, to make it manageable. A 1×1.5m wall world map is a must for anyone planning a RTW trip!

Secondly, I have finalised, booked and put a deposit down for my tour on The Cossack on Trans Siberian Railway! I choose to go with a tour in this situation because; a) going alone would be the scariest, hardest and most daunting thing that I could think of, and b) I probably would not have been allowed into Russia. I also choose to book through STA (the student travel agency), partly because that is where I found the tour, but mainly because I wasn’t sure of the process in booking these kind of tours. And they were really helpful, I had read some pretty bad reviews about their customer service and organising, but I didn’t seem to have this problem; although I did feel more comfortable and confident in organising my flights, visas and transportation alone, and I did at times feel like they we as ignorant as me to some of the process and did basically the same research that I could have done…

My third development is that now that I have my map and have spoken to the ‘travel experts’, I realised the difficulties, formalities and restrictions with visas. I found out that the possibility of getting a visas dictates where you actually go as much as your ideas and fantasies. Take Belarus, I thought that after my tour I would go from Moscow through Belarus and into Poland, however the Belarus government and immigration are a bit particular and like Russia, need you to be invited. So as I am no longer able to go through Belarus, or my originally planned Ukraine (they are a bit angry now) I have change my route to go through Georgia and the whole of Turkey! A change that I think is for the better. Which is an important mentality to have when planning your trip or even in life; turn every setback into an opportunity for a bigger and great adventure!

So what is next?

Well with the map on my wall and my tour booked, I guess my next step is to beginning organising my visas (at least Vietnam, China and Russia) and looking into camera and backpacking gear, and saving; because this trip ain’t gonna be cheap!

2 – It’s a new year!

So it is 2014!

I have successfully graduated my year 12, and will soon finalise my deferral. But for now I will be working, saving and planning!

It is daunting though… Last year my focus was on schooling and travelling seemed distant enough for it to not really settle. However, now that it is my main property, the prospect of leaving for 10 to 12 months is nerve racking… but at the same time sooo exciting!

My plan is to focus on the first part of the trip; Vietnam, China, the Trans Siberian and Russia. I think it will be easier this way, to plan my trip in sections.

So to get me started, I was given the Vietnam, China and Russia Lonely Planet travel guides; extremely comprehensive books, I think these will probably be some what of a corner stone for my trip.

But I need to read up.

Well basically the beginning of any plan is research, and in my case, lots of it! Books, documentaries, travel agents, people, embassies even. I will especially need to get info about transportation, borders and the Trans Siberian. And also I mustn’t get the idea that I have time, and that it is still 8 months away. Because 8 months isn’t a lot of time~

So along with my working, saving reading and learning, and am hoping to building up some sort of a photography name for myself (still not sure on what path I want to take on that) and to get into and get better at these blogs! Even after a 3 hour English exam I find this hard!

p.s My plan is many more and constant updates and posts!!

1 – Where to go?

Starting this blog, is like starting to plan my trip; I have so many ideas and dreams that its hard to find a starting point. But I guess I should start with locations.

So for me, I am interested in going to the places that aren’t the main tourists destinations, off the beaten track. I want to explore the continents and countries engulfed in the cultural and people, exploring our differences and the beauty that they offer. So,  like many, my original ideas were optimistic, expensive and to some degree unrealistic; a enormous list of all the places I want to explore. But now that I have narrowed that down to a more manageable size, the possibility of seeing the world is becoming more realistic.

Vietnam, China, Japan, South Korea (maybe), Mongolia, Russia, Eastern Europe to Greece some how and then back up to Croatia, through Western Europe to finish up in Scotland. Smaller than my first list, but still enough diversity.

And so now that I sort of have a list, Europe I think will just be however I get down to Greece and back up, I can start getting clear ideas of the sites, cities and towns I want to visit and the path that I will take.

Time to get my map!

Journal – 1

Wow! Writing these things is much harder than I thought! Oh well, she’ll be right, hopefully I get better as I write more. And hopefully I actually get some structure, style and consistency to these (I think I will also try a vlog…). I just can’t wait to buy that one way ticket to Vietnam and getting on that plane!

The beginnings


The beginnings of my planning. I already have a few ideas of locations (especially the trans-siberian), but now its time to some real investigation!
Might even become a journal… what about publishing a book at the end – ‘Going My Way’… Doubt it, but cool idea 🙂


G’day guys,

My name’s Matthew Thomson, and this blog is my attempt to document and share the planning for my gap year, and later on the gap year itself! 🙂 Here I’ll be exploring the good and the bad of planning a gap year and integrating my photography passion. I will also throw up some of my photography trips that I go on.

Hope you all enjoy 🙂