This trip has been loosely rolling around in our heads for years, but the actual, real, down-to-brass-tacks planning probably started between a year and a half to two years out. Plenty of time to figure out and take care of everything we needed to do before we left, right? You'd think so.
We've been enveloped in research and have scoured checklists and double-triple checked that our passports weren't in any danger of expiring in the near future, as many countries require them to be valid for more than 6 months out from date of entry. Check, check, check. Our passports were not only not in danger of expiring soon, they were actually almost new due to a very not-fun break-in we went through a few years prior in which our house was cleared of any "valuables" (there weren't very many, so, ha, take that robbers!), including our passports. So we thought we were in the clear. We've traveled a fair amount since, but nothing too crazy.
Then a few weeks ago (you know, right before we were about to send our passports off for our China visas), we thought, hmm, maybe we should make sure we have enough pages in there for a year of travel. And you know what, that shit was going to be tight! We'd be okay if each stamp was exactly neatly placed on its allotted quarter of a page, but that's probably asking way too much of government officials. Luckily, our passports, now graced with a Chinese visa (which takes up an entire page!), came back very quickly, giving us time to turn around and send them off to the US passport office for an expedited second passport + return of the old passport (fingers crossed they follow through with that) since that's where the China visas live. Luckily, China's okay with that whole scenario, so, even though this stupid mistake (the first of many to come, I expect) is costing us an extra $120 we could have avoided spending, we should be okay on the enter and entry fronts moving forward.