Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Planning - Steps Taken So Far

Written by Karen
Yosemite, California
October 2010:  We started seriously talking about taking a “gap year”; what that means; were we willing to accept the consequences; could we afford it; and, what happens when we come back.  Do we really want to turn our lives completely upside down? Should we? Shouldn’t we?

January 2011: These types of general questions quickly became more specific in the New Year. Are we crazy to actually do something like this?; what about our careers?; in these grim economic times, we are going to walk away?; really?; can we afford this?; what about our home – do we sell it or rent it?; how do you plan something like this?; who do we tell now - anyone?; when should I give my notice at work?; can we afford this?; have we lost our minds?; how will we live as nomads for a year?; how does living like nomads actually work?; how do we pay our bills?; and, can we really afford to do this?
Yosemite, California
These questions still roll off of our tongues – even now – and although we have tried to seriously consider and respond to all of those questions, I don’t think either one of us is completely 100% sure about this plan of ours.  There is so much that is not known about this adventure that we really just have to take a deep breath and have faith that we will be ok – regardless. 

We read as much as we could about other people who had done what we were contemplating.  It was very comforting to read about their worries, anxieties and constant questioning and then read about how everything turned out ok.  Here are some interesting travel blogs that we enjoyed: Never Ending Voyage; Two Go Round the World; Me and Frenchie Couple Around the World Travel Blog; Traveling Savage; Jack and Jill Travel the World; and Forks and Jets.
I think we both know that the time is really right to do something like this now; the thought of not doing this adventure and regretting that decision in the future is really not an option.  Adam has already shut down his business due to the grim economic realities, but I am still in the game.  And, although we both intend to get back into the game again, the actual thought of me giving notice at my job without another one in the bag, still gives us pause.  Money, while not everything, can still solve a lot of problems.  We will be giving up that security blanket for awhile.  
Yosemite, California
April 2011: We’ve committed to this adventure.  We talk to our CPA and expect her to raise her eyebrows in disbelief and pity our misguided ideas.  Instead, she cheers us on and gives us some things to consider tax-wise. We share our budget, our thoughts, financial concerns and what we plan to do. She says we are fortunate to be able to do this type of traveling now when we can, and that if we stick to our planned budget, we should be ok. I tell a few close friends, just to whisper this secret out loud.  In the light of day, the words stand strong and I am buoyed by them.  
June 2011: We have decided to rent out our house while we are away.  We develop a timeline for needed house-related projects, including doing some postponed maintenance tasks.  Adam is heading up that project.  It is a complete handful.  Of course, we soon have an invasion of raccoons that tear apart our heating ducts under the house in search of someplace cool and safe!  Sheesh!  The house project list keeps getting longer as we try and rent-proof our house.  We give ourselves until September to complete these projects and start the rental process in time for the new school year.  
I find an account through Charles Schwab that won’t charge us any ATM or banking fees worldwide.  I am still working out how to pay our bills and transfer money from our accounts while on the road. I purchase our one-way tickets to Paris and find apartments in Hungary and France for us to live in for awhile.  We are definitely going now.  I continue to downsize clothes and extra stuff, and start packing miscellaneous items that I don’t think we will need between now and next April.  I now have a six-foot by eight-foot stack of small-sized Home Depot boxes along our bedroom wall.  
Santa Cruz, California
I start the process of disentangling ourselves from our monthly fees: landlines; magazine subscriptions; etc.  The goal is to reduce how many monthly checks we have to write, or that just automatically come out of our checking account or credit card.  I marvel at how difficult it is to cut these monthly ties to our checking account or credit card.  Hours.  It’s like, ‘you can sign up anytime you like, but you can never leave.’ I am determined, however, and eventually start to make some headway.  It takes a concerted effort to make your footprints smaller in this very interconnected world of bits and bytes.      

I have developed – updated – and updated again our budget.  I look at it nearly every day.  What we need to spend now, what we need to save now, how much this trip will cost, and how much we should have in our savings when we return. What have I not considered?  Are the numbers correct?  What if?  
Santa Cruz, California
September 2011:  We have pushed out our schedule for renting the house.  The list of projects keeps growing.  Adam has replaced the siding on the back of our house. (We can get hammered from the winter storms coming in from the Pacific Ocean.) He is trying to preempt any possibility of us being contacted by the property manager with a problem at the house.  We are going to try for January 2012 to rent out the house. We’ll have to move out of our house during the Christmas holiday break.  We’re starting to feel the hot breath of the ticking clock on the backs of our necks.  Go, go, go.  Faster, faster, faster. 
I have compiled our packing lists, taking from what we brought in September 2010 and adding suggestions that other travel couple bloggers have suggested. I’m sure we will cut these lists down, but they are a start.  I get my mini Moo business cards in the mail.  They may be small, but they are cute and different and I like them! 
It’s been exactly a year ago since we were exploring Europe for three weeks going slow by train and with backpacks.  Taking our time and just going with the flow.  We have less than 7 months before we leave on a new year-long adventure with backpacks, going slow on unscheduled time.  Taking our time and just going with the flow.  
But time does seem to keep flying in the here and now. Work days just fly by. Weekends just fly by.  I am busy in two very different worlds: one foot firmly in the present and one foot firmly in the future.  And both are traveling at the speed of light.  
Moss Landing, California
I wonder if time ever actually slows down anymore.  A fellow blogger and round-the-world couple traveler told me that the year they were gone went by so very fast.  So fast, in fact, that some of their friends didn’t even realize that they had left and already come back!  
A year goes by in a snap.  Life goes by in a blink of an eye.  I guess that is why we are getting ready to walk to the edge of the cliff, hold hands and jump together on the count of three into a world of the unknown.  Seven months and counting.  And, honestly, there really just isn't any planning for that.


moneyIQGuy said...

I have to say that I get all excited when reading your posts! I can just imagine how it must feel: the myriad of things to do, the nervousness, the checking and re-checking of balance sheets, but, also, the stacked up boxes, the disappearing attachments, each one bringing a sliver of increased freedom. How exciting! Your blog has caused me to re-evaluate my own approach to work and Life- like the 'Never Ending Voyage' blog says, life is short and the world is large. Isn't that true? It makes me wonder, how, exactly how, did I lose my own wanderlust, my own perspective of the world as an exciting adventure? But, the first step is recognizing the preciousness of time, that really helps to set priorities, I think, which is exactly what you two are doing. Keep on the blogging :)

Observers of Life said...

Hi IQ -

Thanks for the comments. I'm curious what you are thinking about as you re-evaluate your approach to work and life. Is there a chance we'll be meeting up on the open road somewhere?