WHY AND HOW, and misc advice for other travelers

Trip Start Sep 15, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , California
Tuesday, September 15, 2009

For some reading this blog, especially some of our new friends around the world ...you may be asking various questions that begin with "WHY" and "HOW".  Well, in short, Keith and I took the opportunity to embark upon our journey now while we are (relatively) young, healthy and physically able.  We also recognize that regardless of all our current wellness efforts, there are no promises that we will still be healthy and physically able when we both finally reach retirement...in fact there are no promises that we are both even going to live to see our golden years.  We both highly doubt that our dying last words on our proverbial death beds are going to be "I.. should.. have.. worked.. that.. one.. more.. year!"  Also, Keith and I have such an interesting mix of wonderful friends whose ethnic backgrounds originate from all over the world, and we absolutely love hearing about their experiences.  Getting to see these places in person will provide us with a chance to experience cultures other than our own first hand.  We are looking for a great exchange of ideas, experiences, hopes, dreams, while volunteering and helping along the way :o) 

Also, we had already been contemplating the possibility of moving from the west coast (California) back to the east coast (Boston) to be geographically closer to both our families before we started our own family...so the wheels in our minds were already in motion that one day soon we would be selling most of our stuff that didn't make sense to ship across the country (ex: IKEA and Craigslist furniture, beat-up jalopy car) and packing up the rest (mostly stuff in a closet or cabinet). 
So the stage was being set for us since we were already doing the necessary prep work to move across country that we would have had to do for a travel adventure anyway. We also felt that if we were to actually do this global mission, ideally it would be before we started having children...not that we couldn't do this adventure with kids (as we know many people who have), but it would just be different.  So the opportunity was presenting itself, and we decided the timing was right. 

And to answer a common question we have been asked-  No, we are not rich (by American standards anyway), or born with silver spoons in our mouths.  We have been saving and making sacrifices to make this possible.  We are traveling on a shoestring budget.  We are volunteering and "couchsurfing" when we can.  We are happy campers and happy to stay at hostels.  Meanwhile, I trust that The Ritz and The Waldorf Astoria variety hotels will miss us dearly this next year (uhm, just like they have missed us all the previous years of our entire lives LOL).

Here's some advice for anyone considering their own world adventure - JUST DO IT!   Here's some more advice- Don't underestimate the amount of prep time it takes to arrange your life at home before you go abroad.  I keep on saying "it's a lot of work to not work!".  At one point, I felt like I should have had that tattooed on my butt.  Maybe its not so complicated if you are young, still on mom and dad's insurance plans, and traveling right out of college...but when you are entrenched in the working world and have all your adult responsibilities screaming for attention, it takes a lot of planning and coordinating to eject from it all for longer than a couple of days away.  THANK GOD we have wonderful families and friends that are able to help us keep our lives in order while we are abroad.  We could not have done this without help at home.  Despite our efforts to set up electronic billing and automatic bill pay, my poor parents have been bombarded with enough mail to fill a Santa size mailbox.   And we hit MANY surprising snags along the way.    For example:  The best credit card for charging while abroad is Capital One.  This is the only card we could find that does not hit you with a million different fees for international transactions... the clear winner when we looked into all our options.  BUT if you want to set up automatic electronic bill pay don't leave this on your "To Do" list for your last week in town like we did!   We assumed we could do this online.  -SURPRISE-  They have to SNAIL MAIL you the form.  No online download, no email, no fax.  My theory on this one is that Capital One wants to make it as difficult as possible for someone to automatically pay the entire balance of their credit card statement because they make their money when people are late with payments or not paying the full amount off for the month.  AND another snag, when you actually finally get that auto bill pay form, "Federal Law" mandates that auto bill pay for a joint account must be set up with the primary card holder's bank account, NOT the spouse who's name is just added on the account, even if their Capital One credit card has their own name on it.  This will help you to avoid an initial rejection and another round of phone calls and paperwork.

Other great things abroad...SKYPE!  Skype is easy to use for even a technologically impared/technologically Amish/Luddite like me.  ("Luddite?  Huh...what's that?" you ask?  Yes, go Google or Wiki "Luddite" now...it is a great word that I hope makes a comeback as it perfectly describes me).  You can do Skype from your iPhone or laptop.  It takes a minute to set up an account.  You don't have to have a camera to use skype as I had though before I really knew anything about Skype.  But it is fun to camera call with friends and family back home and get to see the person you are talking to.  Skype is .02 cents a minute to call landlines or cellphones in the US & Canada from abroad.  If you are skyping with someone else who has a skype account (computer to computer), it is a FREE call.  Whereas my AT&T cell phone plan has "DISCOUNTED" rates of over $4.00 a minute in some countries.  Yep...those are "discounted" folks...as a result of those "discounted" rates we have made a rule that any Non-Skype calls from my cell are for reasons of impending death only!  So if you call my cell, there's a 99.99% chance that I won't answer, and now you know why.  Email me or text me and I will call you from skype.  The big caveat with skype is that we have to have internet connections/WiFi for us to use it. 

As I write this paragraph I think that our big learning curve regarding electricity is over.  When you research converters you will discover that there are converters that "step up" and others that "step down" the voltage.  Which one you need depends on what type of equipment you are plugging in.  But most modern day electronic equipment that you bring most likely already has dual voltage converter built in, so you may not even need a converter. (This goes for many cell phones, laptops, and camera chargers.)   Its possible that you don't even need a converter and all you really need is a plug adapter that allows you to put your American shaped plug into a foreign shaped plug.  Check before you go, you will save yourself a lot of hassle.  And don't accidentally plug your dual voltage travel size blow dryer into the voltage converter...it doesn't need voltage conversion and you will blow the fuse on the converter :o)  Keith rigged the fuse connection with a Mexican peseta, but soon we realized that we didn't even need a  voltage converter for anything we brought with us.

Also as we have begun our travel, I have realized that a couple of our intentions or "plans" to do certain things have changed.  One great idea (in theory) was to track how many miles we will walk during our adventures abroad.  I spent hours online searching for the perfect pedometer sports watch to track our travel mileage with...just to discover as soon as we began our trip that this is a total hassle.  So exactly how many miles traversed will remain a mystery. 

So after our intense exodus that included our first yard sale ever, multiple trips to local donation spots, packing the rest away in storage, a trip to the east coast to say goodbye to our families and friends, Burning Man 2009, and a final stop in LA to hangout at with Keith's best childhood friend and beautiful pregnant wife - while scrambling to finalize on as much as possible on our seemingly never ending "To Do" list....we were as ready as we were ever going be.........
Slideshow Report as Spam
Where I stayed
Brian and Luciana's
John and Masako's
Mark and Ang's
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Estrella on

You know, the best part of all this is, that all we are taking with us to the grave is what we've seen and experienced. The rest, can stay......
Travel the world, but come back home.......

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