Quite a lot has been going on over the past few weeks, the best news being that the ticket and itinerary have now been finalised! A cool £1,743 in total for the trip, with a company called roundtheworldexperts.co.uk (http://www.roundtheworldexperts.co.uk/). Following a great deal of online exploration and pitting companies against each other over the telephone, ultimately nobody could beat the quote these guys were offering for the stops we wanted. All flights are direct and either with Quantas or British Airways. If you want to view the itinerary you can do so from here Itinerary.pdf. A 'travel butler' offering the ability to amend flights with no administration fees is also part of the service which you can check out here http://www.roundtheworldexperts.co.uk/plan-your-trip/whilst-you-are-away. It is well worth picking up the phone and discussing the places you would like to visit and getting advice on the best value from the companies you are considering booking with.
By far the most complex task to date has been pinning down which travel insurance company to use as there are just so many out there. The challenge has not been picking the best one but instead finding one which isn't complete pants. Seriously, if you have time type 'backpacker insurance reviews' into google and try to find the good ones. Whilst there are many who offer backpacker insurance or something similar, the prices range from around £100 to £1,000 per person with no apparent consistency in terms of price to value. A lot of the insurance underwriters have also changed of late, meaning that a company that was perhaps good in 2009 with AXA as an underwriter but has recently changed to a villanous company such as AIG may require you to think twice before diving straight in. Utimately, we nearly went with World Nomads but decided instead for price and reputation to go for the direct line 'Discoverer' policy, which is (potentially) amazing value at £355.46 which covers two of us Discoverer.pdf. If you wanted to purchase this online as an individual for 365 days travelling world wide, cover would cost £203.41. The true test will be if and when a claim may be required.
The next item on the list is money. We are currently scrambling to get our hands on a FairFX Prepaid Mastercard called the 'Anywhere Card'. This is like a debit card, but it can only be used where you would normally require a PIN such as Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) and some Point of Sale (POS) vendors. Unlike most Credit and Debit cards, this card offers very competitive foreign exchange rates and minimal charges per ATM use (1.5%) whilst being free for POS. It is free to load your money on and there are no monthly fees unlike some of its Prepay competitors. It is also free to 'buy' the card if you access the site via Moneysavingexpert.com (http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/cards/prepaid-cards). Hopefully ours will be in the post soon. We have some backup cash in Dollars, some Thai Baht to start and may also get round to ordering a few Traveller's Cheques. The FairFX card is by far the winner for meeting our needs and I can imagine its popularity taking off even for short haul trips very soon due to the convenience and value that it offers.