Personally I think that, although you will be trekking some long days, your trekking schedule is a good one and it will be nice to get away from the same old, same old routs that is pushed by most agents – So you will get away from the crowds and stay at mush more interesting places.
Alan has give you good advice on the best way to Thulo Syabru and you should take note of his alternative suggestion for overnight accommodation in case you are running late.
Exiting the valley on the old high-level traverse is an excellent idea and one that I always advocate myself
With hiring your porter – If it were me for a few extra $’s I would opt for a porter/guide as he will both guide you as well as carry 15k, so this saves you packing most of your gear, costs are $20 per day including his food and accommodation as well as his insurance but not transportation to and from the trail-head or tip + you will need to pay around $25 /$30 each for your own food and accommodation, $37.50 National Park Entry and $10 each TIMS ($20 if you organise this in advance through an agent)
When hiring out “Staff” the secret of a successful trek is to set the ground rules Before you leave Kathmandu and these rules should include
1) Always interview your “Staff” Before you go trekking with them, Preferably get them to give you a walking tour around Kathmandu, Then they are away from the office, will be able to talk freely and you will be in a better position to judge their ability to communicate, character and if you are going to be able to get on well enough with them on your trek.
2)Ask if he has already trekked the route you are going on and how many times
3) Tell them that You Always retain the final say where you will stay and where and when you will eat.
Personally I am Happy to look at places recommended by my “Staff” (As I am aware that some places look after Nepali’s a lot better than others, better accommodation as well as better / cheaper food for them + if they get a little kick-back then as long as I am happy with the standard as well as the price that I am paying this doesn’t bother me)
4) I also mention to them that as long as I am happy with their services then they will get a Good Tip – I think this clears the air and gives your “Staff” that extra incentive to ensure that you are well looked after.
5) The agent that I use provides all his “Staff” with a mobile phone – I also think this is an excellent idea so that if there is a problem then (providing you have a phone Signal) these can be Quickly sorted out.
6) Before I start a trek is to have a rough schedule, then I know approximately how many days I will be trekking for, to this I usually add one buffer day, so If all goes according to plan I am usually back from my trek one day ahead, With this the agent that is use I can claim one days fees back, but in reality, as I have always been happy with my treks, I have never done this, but have ensured that my “Staff” are still paid the extra day.
Another system that the agent I use has is that if you want to extend your trek, if it takes longer than originally anticipated or if for what ever reason you are delayed then you can pay your “Staff” direct. This works well for everyone as the “Staff” in actual fact get more money as there is no agents commission deducted and as the agent has already had his cut he is (Or should be) happy as well.
7) It is also worth making 100% sure that your “Staff” are insured and that the agent is making sure that their clothing is up to the standard for the area / season you are trekking in.
It may sound like a bit of a list – But personally I think it is well worth that little extra effort at the beginning of your trek to help minimise potential unforeseen problems later :-)
Finally, Take Care who you take “Advice” from as there are some posters who aren’t what / who they seem ;-)
Happy and Safe Trekking