We’re now only three months away from our big departure – eek! Things are truly starting to get real around here, though it hasn’t entirely sunk in. Here are the latest developments, where we’re at, and what we still have left to do.
I have finally given notice at my work. Aaron gave his notice about a month ago, but he’s a one-person team and will need more time to train his replacement.
I had fun divulging the news to my boss and team, though our team lead was quite upset to hear of my leaving.
Me: I thought you’d all be interested to know that this summer I’m going to Africa! …and Europe.. and South America.. and Southeast Asia.. and Australia.. and if we’re really lucky, Antarctica!
Team lead: Wow, that sounds like it’ll take a lot longer than just a summer… several months, in fact…
Boss: I don’t think I could approve that much PTO…
Fortunately, everyone’s very positive and supportive, leaving bridges unburned. I feel like, should our lives bring us back to Portland, and provided the company has a need, I would be welcome back.
Taking this step puts us closer to actually leaving, and it’s one more piece that convinces me this is really happening. Though something tells me I still won’t believe it until we’re a few weeks abroad.
With our employed days now numbered, we’re both working to get all the immunizations necessary before we go. As we’re going to areas like Africa and Asia, we’re getting boosted for Yellow Fever, tetanus, and hepatitis. The more routine shots can be handled by a walk-in pharmacy, and the rest we’re getting at a travel clinic. We might also pick up some pills for malaria.
Some of these also require boosters a month or six down the line, so we’re working to get these taken care of before our insurance runs out.
Speaking of insurance, we want to make sure we’re covered should the worst happen while we’re on the road. We fortunately don’t really get sick, but anything could happen. What if one of us breaks a leg while hiking? What if we get violently ill on the local cuisine? What if we need to be rescued from one of our big adventures?
While we’ll of course do whatever we can to avoid those situations, we’ll sleep a lot better at night if we know we’re covered.
Fortunately, insurance for long-term travelers is a thing. We’re looking at World Nomads, which not only includes health coverage, but also travel insurance. Should an airline lose our bags or a natural disaster strike, we don’t have to worry about blowing all our savings to get back on our feet.
Booking our first flight
EEK!! We’re finally pulling the trigger on booking our first flight, and let me tell you: that’s scary! Sure, we’ve booked flights before, so it should be no big deal, but it’s a big deal.
We debated back and forth the best and cheapest way to reach South Africa, our first destination on our trip. Originally, we were seeing all flights routing through New York, so we envisioned making a stay out of it, seeing the wannabe capital of the U.S. and visiting some family before we depart. Now, it’s looking like options are better for direct flights out of Portland, so we might skip New York altogether.
We have to balance expense, time, and convenience. We’re willing to pay a bit more if it cuts the trip time in half or we can avoid 4 layovers. However, we’ll soon be on a fixed income (our savings), so we’ll need to be overly cognizant of our spending. Every dollar saved is another day traveling!
We’ve also stocked up on most of the remaining gear. Aaron has his full array of apparel, and my last few items are in the mail. I’m a big proponent for Clothing Arts pickpocket-proof travel pants (get $15 off your purchase when you use this link), and I just picked up a pair of versatile kicks. I have all the lifesaving packing cubes, and I can’t wait to try out my indestructible sunglasses.
I’m also loving my Sony mirrorless camera, thought I haven’t quite pinned down the lenses I’ll take with me. I know I want my large telephoto and a mid-range prime, but I haven’t settled on a third lens. That might depend on what Aaron wants to use abroad, as I could possibly borrow one of his lenses. But I do know I need a wide lens – something I don’t have on the full-frame.
I’m also preparing my computer for remote data transfers, acquiring the appropriate stash of SD cards and organizing my external hard drives. Photos are the one thing I intend to not lose!
We only have three months left, for one 😉
But in all seriousness, there’s still far too much to do before we depart, but we’re working on it! Some of them include:
- Acquiring visas. If we want to go to China, for example, we have to get the visa here in the States. However, we can’t get a visa without a plane and hotel booked, which we won’t know or have for several more months. Therefore, we’ll probably book something refundable, get the visas, then cancel the bookings. China visas are good for ten years, so that should have us covered.
- International drivers licenses. We want to make sure we’re covered for our entire journey abroad, so we’ll be getting these as close to our departure as possible. They can post-date them up to six months in the future, but from that date, they’re only good for a year. We’ll have to time that carefully, especially as our plans currently span 14 months.
- Travel apps. We’re updating our phones with all the tools we’ll need abroad, testing things out now before we have to rely on them overseas.
- Selling our stuff. This is an ongoing effort, but we need to ramp it up. We have a lot to get rid of, and a lot to sort through. It’ll be easier to focus on this when we can work on it full-time, but until then, we’re doing our best to clear the clutter.
- Financial organization. I especially want to document all of our monthly expenses so we can budget appropriately. Expenses such as travel health insurance and property insurance aren’t included in the funds we’ve saved for the year abroad. We also have to make sure we have funds adequately allocated for when we return.
We’re very excited to be making this all happen, but it’s coming up fast. It wasn’t that long ago that we were talking about being five months out, and already two more have slipped by. We’ll be on a plane before we know it, and that’s both thrilling and terrifying. One way or another, though, we’ll be ready!
Have you ever taken a longterm trip before? What were you most excited about in the months leading up to it?
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