You know that anxiety feeling of getting ready for a one week vacation with the overwhelming amount of decisions and options that you must choose and can no longer put off? Will you pack enough? Will you pack too little? Will you need to dress up? What if your luggage gets lost? Will you get sick? What if Martians hijack the plane? Now imagine the anxiety from just that one week vacation and multiply it 104 times! That’s right, imagine trying to pack and prepare for 104 weeks of non-stop world travel, and the best part, you can only use one bag per person. And to really top it off, you also must get rid of everything you own before you go. A piece of cake, right? (Insert screaming sounds here)
So here we are, just 7 months until our family heads off into the great unknown on a 2-year round the world (RTW) adventure. Are we ready? Not even close! It seems everyday our list of what we need to do and buy becomes more detailed and complex. When we first thought of this plan it seemed so simple; get rid of everything we own, pack some clothes in a bag, and get on a plane. Done! Well, not exactly. Here are a few of the items that are we need to take care of before heading out:
When we first hatched the plan of traveling the world 5 years ago the housing market was strong and the prices were going up like never before. We had considered the option of renting out our house, but at that time rent in our area would not even cover the cost of the mortgage. Selling our house seemed like the best option as we do not plan to come back to this area when we are finished traveling. Another benefit of selling is we don’t have to worry about renters destroying our house. “Dude, what do you mean meth labs aren’t allowed?”
But in the last 5 years, something changed. The housing bubble burst and house prices are falling almost as fast as Brittney Spears’ popularity. Every week we see more and more foreclosures listed at prices less than when we bought our house 11 years ago. But wait, there’s more! Rental vacancies in our area are at an all time low, causing rent to go up. So instead of losing money selling our house, we can actually make money renting it. We’re not sure which way to go on this. We would really like to sell it and not worry about it anymore, but we don’t want to lose the money that we have put into our house. The current plan is to list it for sale in May, but if prices continue to fall, we may look more into the renting option. But before doing either one, we need to finish all of those house projects that we have been putting off. Yikes!
One thing that we still need to buy is travel insurance. When traveling anywhere, you need travel insurance! But when heading out to travel the world, you need specialized worldwide travel insurance to cover theft and medical emergencies. When I was young I could care less about insurance. But now that I am older and wiser (don’t laugh!) I really do see the importance of having proper insurance coverage in case something happens. I just read a news story about a guy who was traveling overseas and got seriously injured and had no insurance. His parents had to spend their entire life savings to get their son a medical evacuation. I would really hate for us, or our family, to lose our life savings because we were not prepared.
Getting Rid of Everything We Own
This is much harder than it would seem. We have been slowly posting items on eBay and Craigslist and slowly selling them. Every time we get rid of one thing, it seems like we find 10 more items that we need to sell. We had a yard sale a few weeks ago and got rid of a bunch of stuff, but the pile of junk we still have almost seems to be expanding. How did we get so much crap? Going through the process of trying to sell everything has made us super-minimalists. We no longer want to buy clothing or anything else that will not be going in our bag when we head out to travel. I see co-workers sporting new clothing, but not me. Who would want to take office clothing traveling with them? One thing we have been doing is taking the money we make from selling our stuff and buying items we plan to take with us. This method really motivates me to sell when I really want that new camera lens NOW!
Pulling your child out of school to travel the world sounds easy, but I guess we would be bad parents if we did not give her some sort of education beyond geography. Our current plan is to push the 3-R’s, Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic, and let her choose the other topics that she wants to learn. There are so many books and options that it is really overwhelming. If anyone has any opinions on this, please share.
Our vaccinations should be up to date, but we still need to make an appointment with our doctors to see if there is something else we may need and to run a full battery of tests to make sure we are fit for long term travel. Our daughter cannot resist petting a dog or animal, so we are thinking about getting her vaccinated for rabies. We have heard that this vaccination can be very expensive, but it will be the best investment we ever make if she does get bit by a rabid animal sometime in her lifetime.