Working in hospitals can be utterly frustrating. Day and Night. You begin work when its dark and you get home after its dark. Sunlight becomes scarce. Clerking, following rounds, serving patients, executing every tiny order of the specialist, demoralizing on calls, one off day each week. Tired of this similar routine, I started planning for a “grand finale” to end my Housemanship. Housemanship, is a training of junior doctors after completing 5 years of study. In Malaysia, we’re required to complete this within 2 years, provided no mishaps or bad luck strikes along the way.
I started working on my ambitious plan 6 months ahead of schedule. It was my 5th posting (out of a total six postings) in arguably the busiest Emergency Department (of Hospital Kuala Lumpur). I started carrying my travel magazines, looking through possible destinations to land in. After days of reading and research, I made up my mind to visit Turkey, Greece and Italy. Duration of the trip, still remained a mystery.
I was sick of my ‘lifeless’ life at that moment; I convinced the hospital management to allow me to take the maximum leaves possible based on my eligibility. Apparently one year of service qualifies you for one month of unpaid leave. I chose the entire month for the vacation! Selfish and crazy, but true..
I started reading blogs of other travelers who accomplished similar journeys, and made customized arrangement myself to suit my interests. I spent about RM300, buying 3 quintessential Lonely Planet guide books, tailor-made for each country of interest. The publisher may be famous for a reason, and it was apparent based on the qualities the books had in them. Very highly recommended, absolutely wonderful companions!
Reviewing fellow backpackers’ itineraries gave me strong ideas on how to weave a thorough, lengthy trip around these countries. Mind you, the following questions are a must to yourself, when planning:
1.What is your interest. What do you want to see. What do you want to do
2.How many places you can squeeze in a day; then see next:
3.How many days do you want to spend in one country
4.How to travel from one town to another
5.Where to stay
6.How to go to your hotel/hostel from airport/bus station/ train station
7.What to feed your tummy
GET YOUR BOOKINGS DONE, STEP BY STEP
STEP 1: BOOK YOUR HOTEL.
When you have listed a place to travel, the next step is to book a place to rest at night. I used BOOKING.COM for all 3 countries I went. This app helps me to get organized. When you have more than 10 accommodations, you might pretty well want to consider using this fantastic this app. They will send reminders from time to time, check in and check out times, location and details of the hostels; all at your fingertips. Choose accommodations that are close to town, walkable distance from major attractions and accessible to public transport. Ideal accommodations for me must be clean, quiet and most importantly, free from the scariest creature on earth: the COCKROACH..!! I don’t mind paying more for the hotel as long as I get a good sleep overnight and recharge for my journey the following day. I chose to stay at HOTELS in selected places, such as in Greece, just to get the romantic feeling. In Turkey and Italy, Hostels were all that I could afford, due to financial and availability reasons.
STEP 2 BOOK YOUR FLIGHT / TRAIN / BUS
Scan through the cheapest flights through SKYSCANNER. I suggest you book flights from individual flight websites. This way you can collect points and sometimes a cheaper ticket too. Italy is interconnected through train. Book your intercity tickets months ahead to get the best price. The train tickets can be RM200-300 cheaper if you book early.
STEP 3 WHAT TIME TO GO.
Check the opening hours for your place of interest; for example, a museum. You have to plan accordingly based on the time schedule. You have to decide which attractions you’re supposed to go on weekdays, and which to go on weekends. You don’t want to end up queuing 3 hours under the hot sun just for tickets!
These are the major things to plan for a 30 days’ trip. Housemanship can be utterly frustrating, but there’s no use complaining. You have to make your life meaningful in your own way. Pick up a good book to read during on calls while waiting for new admissions. Have a good chat with your staff nurses and Medical Assistants. Have a good laugh with them. Make CPR a healthy competition. Plan something in advance so that time flies fast. I am not entirely passionate about medical; I hate reading medical books. But I love books. Fill your time with something you love doing. 2 years of Housemanship will become memorable if you tailor it to be..!